About Us

Our Story

We are making a feature length documentary film that reflects how HIV and AIDS affected gay men, their friends and partners during the first years of the epidemic in the UK before there was effective treatment. Our aim is to interview and record the experiences of 100 people who have been touched by HIV and AIDS. According to government figures, 13,000 mostly gay men died before 1998 when effective combination therapies became widely available in the UK. We want to remember the lost generation of gay men who died during those years as their experience is barely recorded. And we want to tell the stories of those who survived.

Two film makers are looking for your help to make this documentary about those early years as well as the legacy of living with HIV today. Paul puts it like this:

“We are looking for help in making a film about one of the most important periods in recent gay history: the devastation caused by AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s. We need your stories, experiences and stories of those you knew and lost during that time. In the early 1980s the first news reached the UK of a fatal disease affecting men in America. It had been given the label Gay Related Immune Deficiency and was principally found among men who used bath houses in San Francisco and New York. To men in the UK – who might only dream of a chance to visit a bath-house, it seemed remote, strange, and something that would never affect us.”

In 1982, GRID was renamed AIDS. The next year a virus was identified as the likely cause, but HIV wasn’t used as a term until 1986. Although the first years were largely ignored by mainstream media, this rapidly changed, especially in the UK. “By 1987, we had John Hurt announcing on TV adverts that AIDS was a killer, there was no known cure, and it was spreading worldwide, while the TV screen slapped our faces with tombstones and lilies like some Hollywood horror movie.”

ABOUT THE FILM

“When images from that advert fluttered through the letterbox of all UK residents in a massive government campaign, it still seemed remote to me. But soon after, HIV began to affect my own life, first from people I knew only in passing, then to my own friends, my lovers and myself. It was a devastating time for everyone involved, changing all our lives forever and it worked fast and relentlessly. The spread of HIV and AIDS, in the UK and the resulting consequences were for me and many others, overwhelming. I knew many people who died, sometimes so quickly that it was hard to follow. People I regularly saw socially suddenly no longer appeared – they were there one week and the next news was that they had died. There were the hospital visits, the early treatments, the fear of watching those close to us fall apart both mentally and physically and the ultimate sadness of people dying when they were still so young.”

The public spectacle played out a horror film in real time – a holocaust of the gay community as many would have it. To much of the mainstream media and many right wing politicians – the Conservative government hung its policies on a framework of moral “family values” – gay men deserved to get AIDS as a consequence of our ‘unnatural sexual behaviour’.
In response to public bigotry – and the physical problems from complicated health problems, many men withdrew or became disconnected from their friends and family. It was difficult to be out and public about living with HIV and AIDS and fighting – and losing the fight – against AIDS related infections. In many cases the shame, fear, and ignorance contributed to this history and these people being lost from our own community history.

“I wondered what happened to those people and friends I knew, whose history had ‘disappeared’. Why have we let the life and death stories of those we knew so well be so swept away? Surely their stories were the ones we should know about, learn from, celebrate, give freedom to – allow a small space to let them speak freely in a way they were unable to as they were rushed towards the end of life? Or were there others out of the public eye, who did have a voice that went unheard? What of our own stories and experience? What is it to be a ‘survivor’ of those times? How does that affect us today?”
“An item on Sky News recently reported that it was quite likely that anyone with HIV today would not die directly of it, and that drug therapy was so advanced one would probably lead a ‘normal life’ with a ‘normal life span’. Just how normal did the reporter imagine life could be for anyone surviving those times?”

“For me the report came across as ‘forget the past’ and was the ultimate act of disappearing the experiences of people who lived thorough that time and died and people who lived through that time who are living now. The ‘gay holocaust’ of the time is a period of history not properly described or explored in this time. It is as if many of those who died, did so in a sort of secrecy, sometimes with the conspiracy of public and private influence.
I want to make a film to give voices to some of those who were lost, forgotten or disappeared, through the experiences and recollections of those who survived and mark this special period of our history.”

About the Film

The project will consist of two main elements: a feature length documentary which will initially be shown in cinemas and an archive of interviews that will be kept for future researchers to form a history of HIV and AIDS. The idea for this project grew from our own experience of HIV and AIDS, and the fact that we realised that the experiences and stories of those touched by such a momentous phenomenon might not otherwise be properly preserved to any great extent.

Although we have experience making programmes for mainstream broadcasters, we did not want this to become just another television programme that might not end up doing proper justice to a momentous story that belongs (for the most part) to the gay community.  We want to give the film the freedom to speak for itself, without agenda, to simply record the history of HIV and AIDS as told by those who lived through that time – up to the present day. We therefore decided that this project would be wholly independent. And so our project is to be the fruit of a small group of people directly involved with the story of HIV and AIDS – a grass roots approach to film making. We want to give freedom of speech to anyone touched by HIV, in a secure setting.

GOALS

  • Our film will reflect the true experience of our special history and our lost generation.
  • We aim to interview one hundred people for the film, from all walks of life who have stories to tell about living and dying, during and after the pandemic caused by HIV infection.
  • We will also film performance pieces and record music by artists inspired or involved with the history of HIV.
  • We are inclusive of all sexuality, gender and ethnicities, including people with or without HIV – anyone touched by AIDS in whatever way can participate.

 

AN ARCHIVE

The film will also form the basis of a substantial archive of in-depth interviews. The archive will contain all of the one hundred individual interviews in their entirety (around two hours for each interview) for access by researchers and other interested parties.  Art, performance pieces and music will also be put into the archive.

Get Interviewed

Tell Your Story

GET INTERVIEWED 2Do you have a story that needs to be told?

This can be about your own story of survival, about a friend or lover or your recollections of that time and the events that took place and how it affected you?  Can you help us document this period of history, which is now rarely reported and at worst, forgotten?

What we are looking for and what is involved?
We are looking to interview as many people as possible on film who would like to be included in our project about HIV and AIDS.  The project will culminate in a feature length documentary film to be shown initially in the UK.  We want to talk to people whose lives were affected by HIV and AIDS, primarily through the 1980s-1990s. We are interested in personal stories of that time.  Your stories may relate to yourself, to others or to their loved ones.

We understand that these were difficult times and that it might be difficult to reconnect with those memories – especially after 30 years when we have all found ways to move on with life. However, we want to hear about the good experiences as well as the difficult times.  For many people this might involve talking about long term survival and the effects of living though those times.  We would love to hear the stories of the people you loved and lost – what were they like?  How did they live life or face death?  Were they talented and remarkable or just themselves and wonderful?

Anyone wanting to take part in the film should email us at tellyourstory@twopointzero.co.uk and leave contact details.  The filming will involve around two hours of your time at a mutually agreed location.  The interview would be informal, usually with a film crew of just two and minimal technical equipment and you will have a chance to share your experiences in a safe environment.

Alternatively, please fill out the form below and we will then contact you.

Meet the Team

PAUL COLEMAN

Paul began working professionally in the Film and TV industry more than 35 years ago and has worked for a large spectrum of broadcasters including BBC1, BBC2, BBC World, ITV1, Channel 5, Sky, Disney and UKTV.  He specialises as Producer Director, but is also skilled in directing studio multi-camera  productions both live and recorded.  He has worked as Departmental Head and Executive Producer for a variety of life-style programmes but also has considerable experience in news and current affairs. Programming has included Documentaries (‘Jane’ BBC1), Live News (BBC1, ITV, SKY), Light entertainments (‘That’s Esther’, ITV), Current Affairs (‘Straight Up’ ITV), Children’s TV (‘The Mag’C5,’ Art Attack’ Disney Channel). Paul was BAFTA nominated for his work in Children’s TV, and picked-up an RTS Award and nominations for his work in News and Current Affairs programming.

ADAM ROBERTS

Born in Bogota, Colombia. Lives and works in London. Adam is an independent film-maker, curator and writer. He is co-founder of the curation outfit A Nos Amours, which organises screenings, retrospectives, conferences and exhibitions (most recently Chantal Akerman, a two year retrospective at ICA in London, and a large scale Arts Council funded exhibition at Ambika P3 in partnership with the Marian Goodman Gallery). Adam has made independent films for TV and a number of dance films (with Sylvie Guillem and Jonathan Burrows), and also worked as a film editor in television, mainly in current affairs. He has also written screenplays, journalism and academic papers. His occasional teaching has included teaching MA courses at the University of Westminster and Central Saint Martins among others.  He is currently working on a film for a gallery exhibition, as well as this project.

JAMES TARLING & ED MIDDLETON

James Tarling and Ed Middleton are supporting the film as researchers.  Neither James nor Ed come from a film background but are passionate about this project and are involved as volunteers.  James and Ed also currently volunteer at the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Stories from our Community

Paul Dangerfield’s Story

Paul Dangerfield’s Story

In many ways the story of my dear friend Paul Dangerfield was the springboard for the making of this film. Paul was one of the funniest, kindest and gentlest men I ever met in my life.  I had met Paul at University and we bonded very quickly to become what I had hoped would be…

33000
Tested HIV+ in the UK before 1996
103700
People living with HIV/AIDS in the UK (2014)
6151
New HIV+ diagnoses in the UK (2014)
36900000
People living with HIV/AIDS globally (2014)

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