Two years ago, documentary filmmaker Maja Bugge contacted me after hearing an interview I gave about men’s groups. She wanted to know if I knew of any groups in New York City that would be willing to be filmed. I told her that I did not know one off hand, but I gave her several leads to groups in the City. Knowing that I wouldn’t be filmed, I encouraged her to pursue the project.
A year later, Maja called me to tell me the best she could find was one group that let her film one meeting. With more than eight million people in New York City, after an entire year, she had only filmed one meeting. I could feel her panic as she questioned her concept.
Now my ass was on the line. I’d given her leads that had gone nowhere. I wanted her film to be made. So I had to step up; I said I would ask my group if they would be willing to be filmed. At our next meeting, a few days later, I asked the men of my group.
As the impact of being film sank in, I felt and heard similar concerns from group members. The first was the fear of losing face. I’ve certainly done that before and survived. The next was pride. I know my pride could use some humility. Then there was reputation. I realized that I would rather be known for who I am as a man than what I do. Then there was walking my talk. If I champion going for it, I had to go for it.
After a brief discussion all the men said yes. In fact this discussion was shorter than the ones we had a few years earlier, when we tried to decide about bringing a couple of women in to train to do women’s groups. Their yes gave me a huge sense of pride for being associated with these men. We all realized that we were opening up not only the inner sanctuary of our group, but also of each of our lives.
The more we talked about what the film could do for other men, the more excited we all became. We all felt the group had given us a lot, and this was a chance to give back and stretch ourselves. From eight years of these groups, we don’t know any better way to shift out of the old paradigm of the masculine into the new Manhood 2.0. If Maja filmed us, the world could see that men are emotional and we can express ourselves emotionally in a masculine, healthy manner.
It is an honor to reveal the mysteries of our group to others so they may create their own micro-community. I hope you enjoy the film as much as we enjoyed meeting Maja and working with her and her crew.
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