Film maker Rob coming home to Poole with Pride

Wednesday, June 5, 2024
“We would sit there watching the actors on stage with all of us thinking: ‘One day, could this be me?’ And here we are, opening my film Legendary Children at Lighthouse. Who knew?”
As he prepares to show a double bill of his films as part of Lighthouse Queer Film Festival for Poole Pride, film maker Rob Falconer recalls his visits to Lighthouse, or Poole Arts Centre as it was then, as a teenage Performing Arts student at Poole College. 
“The Jellicoe Theatre course was run by a force of nature, Terry Clark. He had this knack of spotting what you were good at and knowing what would be best for you. He saw something in me and was absolutely fierce with me, he really sat on me to keep me on track.
“He told me to go to university not to drama school, but of course off I went to Guildhall in The Barbican that produced actors like Daniel Craig and Ewan McGregor. Sarah Lancashire and Shirley Henderson are the famous names from my intake. 
“I worked as an actor for 15 years, but actors don’t generally get to keep control over their art or voice. Terry spotted that I wanted to call the shots, not just be in them. Few film directors bridge performing and directing successfully – in no way am I Redford or Clint Eastwood! It was always Connery’s Bond that set me off. The scale of those Bond movies and suspension of disbelief, to find out how that all worked.”
Having taken over as producer in a movie in which he had been cast as one of the leads in the 1990s, Rob got the film a deal. It flopped, but the die was cast.  
“I never went to film school,” he says. “I learned a lot from watching and talking to crews on set instead and it all went from there. I do still perform, though you’ll never likely know it’s me. That way people approach your work at face value, no ego required.”
Rob’s double bill on Friday 7 June closes the Lighthouse Queer Film Festival in some style. The main attraction, Legendary Children (All of Them Queer) follows many of the original Gay Liberation Front through the summer of 2022 as Pride 50 celebrated half a century of a movement that has changed life in Britain (and around the world) forever.
Taking its name from Holly Johnson’s song title, with the nod from Holly, the 46-minute film is no mere history lesson, but a riotous recollection featuring pioneering gay activist Peter Tatchell and rock legend/broadcaster Tom Robinson, along with pop star movie actor Lanah Pillay, and more. 
Also showing is Sleeping Dragon, Rob’s short about and the remarkable George Hodson. Not so much a biopic as a love letter to a man who more than made his mark, it harnesses George’s talent as a storyteller to present an unforgettably emotional account of surviving with HIV for some 45 years until his death last year.
“George burst into tears when he watched the first rough cut of it. I thought I'd  blown it, but they were tears of pure joy,” says Rob. 
“Getting him to even let me change a frame of it after that was quite hard. Losing him in 2023 changed the film again. He even gifted it the powerful ending it has – because we’d lost him.”
George’s message of never forget, and that it’s high time to end HIV stigma, couldn’t be more relevant with the vast majority of HIV positive people in the UK still facing discrimination.
“Organisations like Dorset’s own amazing Body Positive have been a genuinely safe space and vital local champion for 38 years now – let’s celebrate that,” adds Rob.
The films have been screened in California (winning an Audience Award), Spain and India and are now coming home before going to streaming.
“These films were made for cinema, for people to watch together and will hopefully move on around the UK after Lighthouse.
“The GLF pioneers know what’s going on at Lighthouse with Poole Pride and they’re loving its cultural element, the film festival, and the exhibition of artwork in response to the Chesterman archive – it’s a real USP for Poole Pride.
“They love a new Pride, it’s what they do!”
:: Legendary Children (All of Them Queer) and Sleeping Dragon can be seen at Lighthouse from 7.30pm on Friday 7 June. A Q&A with Rob will follow the screening. Tickets available now at Lighthouse Queer Film Festival - Lighthouse (