Moving love story directed by Darlaston film-maker

By Heather Large | Darlaston | Entertainment | Published:

It's the moving love story of two teenagers who want nothing more than to be together despite facing hostility and prejudice.

Set across two decades, You Are My Sunshine follows teenagers Tom and Joe, who first meet in the 1970s.

Written and directed by Darlaston film maker Dave Hastings, it charts their humble beginnings in a world only just waking up to homosexuality.

The 90-minute film, produced by Troy Dennison and Kaush Patel, follows the two young men as they try to navigate their way through an uncompromising time in history.

The audience sees them from the day they first set eyes on each other to the present day which brings further conflict as well as a potential change in the air.

Filming on the production

Filming has just wrapped up on the movie, which has been shot at locations around the Black Country including Barr Beacon and Walsall Leather Museum as well as Rhyl

The first segments of the story which were set the 1970s were shot last year and saw Jack Knight as a young Joe and Steve Salt as young Tom.

Director of photography Will Bradshaw studied the look of former British films made within the era while set designer L.J. ‘Stark’ Greenwood researched various colour palettes as well as vintage props to help bring the decade to life.


Now the scenes showing their modern-day counterparts dealing with the repercussions of their early lives have also been filmed.

"I know we’ve had a lot of interest in the film already, with people all over the world asking about it, while some of the LGBTQ film community who have seen little snippets of what we’ve assembled already were in “floods of tears with happiness”.

"For me, that means the world because it shows off this immensely talented and passionate team and cast that have helped bring this film to life in the best way possible, and that is always important to me first and foremost to honour them," said Dave, a lecturer at Walsall College.

Tom is described as a 'typical young lad' who lives an isolated existence after being abandoned by his family prior to the film’s narrative.


He lives on odd jobs, concealing his sexuality, and wants to spend his life with Joe, regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.

Filming on the production

Joe, who is said to be reserved and shy, lives with his father, Martin, and his sister Ethel and works for his dad's painting firm.

Ernest, who lives in Cheadle, Staffordshire,said he has enjoyed bringing an older Tom to life. "The storyline, for me, revolves around the importance of everyone having a chance to enjoy life and to appreciate the value of living life in harmony, free of prejudice.

"This film tells that story in such an emotionally charged way at times, dealing with emotions ranging from anguish and frustration, through to warmth and understanding.

"It is a story that clings to the respect, tolerance and acceptance of other people’s cultures and way of life that, in turn, makes the world a better place to live in.

"From the first read through of the script, I was instantly attracted to the strong characters and the powerful and intricate emotional scenes that leapt from the pages.

"The script was so well written, that the characters immediately came to life for me, and even at the read through stage I felt inspired to portray my character, and compelled to tell his version of the overall story.

Modern Day Joe (Charles O'Neill) and Tom (Ernest Vernon)

"I could not wait to get involved. It was a great pleasure to be involved with such a brilliant production, and sadly filming had to eventually come to an end. I can’t wait to see the finished film, and I hope that all that see it enjoy it too," he added.

Rosemary Manjunath plays present day Ethel while Charlie Clarke appears as younger Ethel. "The script is emotive and emotional. well written and thought provoking.

"After reading it for the first time, I was left in tears and knew that I’d love to be involved in some small way," said Rosemary.

Johnathan Butler, who plays Ethel's son John, described as a generational bridge between the past and present, said: "I was originally attracted to the script because I believe the story and the themes are becoming increasingly important in today’s society.

"The character of John acts as a bridge between two people with totally different views and bringing him to life was a challenge I really wanted to take on."

You Are My Sunshine, which is a co-production between Lightbeam Productions, 5cm/Sec and Pat The Bull Films, is due to be released later this year.


Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.


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