LGBTQ History Month
Dale John Allen
A Film About Love
Originally Published During Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest 2016
‘A Film About Love’ depicts a story of friendship, adventure, love and loss, all entwined to create my own personal story of coming to terms with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.
Hi Dale, thanks for talking to The New Current, how is everything going?
Hey! Everything is wonderful. Very busy!
Your award-winning short film A Film About Love will be screened at Fringe! Queer Film Fest this November, what does it mean for you to be at the festival?
Fringe is definitely an achievement in itself and something I’m very proud to be chosen to be a part of. The programme is amazing and features artists and filmmakers who I greatly admire so to have my little film screening amongst them is a really proud moment for me.
The reaction to your debut short film has already been incredible, did you ever imagine you would get the response to A Film About Love the way you have?
Not at all. Nobody outside my tutors were ever meant to see it! I made it for a project during my undergrad at a really challenging part in my life. My mentor, CampbellX encouraged me to share the film and the response was super overwhelming. It’s such a personal story to me and to share this aspect of myself on the scale that I did was really frightening but such a liberating experience.
What has been the most surprising comment you've heard about the film?
Hmm…I think the most surprising thing to me is that people enjoy it haha.
How important is it for LGBTQ+ films like yours to have a platform like Fringe! Queer Film Fest to be screened?
It’s so incredibly important to have these platforms dedicated to Queer people. When I was growing up I would look to film to help me figure out my sexuality and it was rare to find spaces that focussed solely on the LGBTQ+ so to have entire festivals dedicated to queer stories is so so fab.
Do you think these types of film festivals open up LGBTQ+ lives and stories to a wider, perhaps mainstream audience?
Absolutely – It’s important to share stories from the entire spectrum of LGBTQ+ and make these stories more mainstream. I think we’re reaching a point now where queer stories are being recognised and validated by a mainstream audience (i.e Moonlight). Anything queer people can do to share their stories and get them heard is amazing and these types of film festivals help bridge the gap and give people a platform to do so.
"I hope people come away with a little more understanding about bipolar disorder."
Tell me a little bit about A Film About Love, how did this film come about?
AFAL was a university project where I was asked to explore the relationship between sound and visuals. I was going through a really terrible time with my mental health and remember sitting down to write a plan for the project I was asked to do. 10 minutes later I had written this huge diary-like monologue and thought I would just run with it.
As an autobiographical film did you have any apprehensions about putting so much of yourself out there?
Honestly it felt like the only story I had in me to tell so just went with it in order to pass the course. When I was making it I was terrified about how honest it was and just how revealing it was but that pressure sort of compelled me to go deeper with it. It was very all or nothing and I’m very glad I did it.
What were the biggest challenges you faced making A Film About Love?
I think the biggest challenge came after I’d made it in deciding to share it.
Looking back is there anything you would do differently on this film?
Probably not, no. When I was making it I always thought it would serve as a sort of time capsule which I could re-watch and remind myself how far I’d come on my journey with my mental health. It serves that purpose for me and it’s become very much a staple in my recovery.
Have you always been interested in filmmaking?
I’ve always been interested in cinema, but I originally studied to be a musician. I was doing a songwriting degree before switching to film. A Film About Love is very lyrical and is very much my transition from songwriting into filmmaking.
How much has your approach to your film changed since your debut short?
So much! I studied artist moving image and have always been very experimental in my practice. The stuff I’m doing now is a lot more linear and has much more narrative structure and involves actors. I think my attitude towards storytelling has remained very much the same. I like to create work that is honest and challenges the audience and confronts difficult situations – that hasn’t changed.
Do you have any advice or tips for any fellow filmmaker?
Write what you know and write it from your heart.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on post-production for my latest short, Don’t Blame Jack. This is my first venture into more traditional filmmaking and involves actors, scripts, locations etc etc etc. It’s a really big production in contrast to A Film About Love. It’s my baby right now and I’m very protective over it.
It is a story about learning self-love and self-appreciation and acceptance. It’s semi-autobiographical and is actually based on the story told in A Film About Love. We shot the film over 17 days in Manchester and Brighton and managed to crowdfund the project and source some independent funding, which was all very new and exciting to me.
It was a very heart-warming experience to get such momentum behind my little story and such immense talent involved in it and I’m so excited to share it.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from A Film About Love?
I hope people come away with a little more understanding about bipolar disorder. It’s so easy to churn out statistics and generalisations but I think what’s powerful about A Film About Love is that it bypasses all of that and just tells the story on a very human level. I hope it gives people a perspective that they maybe didn’t have before. It certainly did that for me.