The film process
I have now been in Sandpoint/Idaho for eleven days, and Sandpoint is the most beautiful place in the US I’ve experienced. Sandpoint is surrounded by mountains and a big lake named Pend Oreille. The town has a lot to offer and it is clear that the greater county of 40.000 people takes advantage of Sandpoint, where only 7.300 people live. A lot of people do water sports and are sailing on the lake, while enjoying the small beach in town. The wild life is also worth mentioning, though I haven’t seen a moose or a bear yet, everybody living in Sandpoint regularly have a big animal like those visiting their gardens. However, I did hear a lot of coyotes two nights ago when I got to sleep in a tipi, and I’ve seen several big deers on my way home at night. Besides the nature, the arts and cultural activities are huge here compared to the size of the town, and with the farmers market the vibe in Sandpoint is simply amazing. Luckily I can combine the filming with all these incredibe activities and sceneries.
Lets get to what I was most excited about here in Sandpoint -the Men’s Group. When I arrived on Monday evening, I met most of the 10 men that are part of the group and that meets up every Wednesday for a four hour long meeting and basically tries to figure out what it means to be a man. First of all they have all been overwhelmingly welcoming to me and Nik (my boyfriend who is assisting the film production on sound), and while the camera most times has been a third character exploring with us, we have got to know the men and feel part of the community in a way that I could not have imagined before hand.
Sandpoint is no doubt very different from NYC, where I’ve lived the last two years and have taken as exemplary American. The people here are very much in touch with nature and they care for a sustainable life style and for being connected with oneself and ones surroundings. Before coming here I had only spoken on the phone with a couple of the men from the Men’s Group and I had met with one of them in NYC at a conference, so I had little idea about what to expect.
We live in one of the men’s house, which is a very big and decorative house facing the lake on the side of a mountain, so you can imagine how fortunate we feel when we wake up in the morning and are enjoying our breakfast on the porch facing that beautiful scenery. I simply can’t wait to show you the images from here!
Speaking about images, I have already filmed more than twenty hours and 400 GB and I have yet another week to follow the men around in their everyday life. I feel honored that the men are sharing their personal rich and inspirational stories with me and on camera, and I really feel how excited they are about their stories being put into a film for the rest of the world to see.
I have been doing a lot of interviews with the men from the Sandpoint Men’s Group and people outside of the group. Most of the men have been part of the Men’s Group for at least three years and it is very inspiring for me to hear the individual men’s stories.
One of the men’s dad past away recently and it has impacted him more than anything else in his life and made him understand how important his dad was to him and will continue to be for the rest of his life. He was spreading his dad’s ashes at a few memorable places in town before going on a longer journey with his wife to San Francisco to say goodbye.
Another man who has shared his story with me is the youngest man in the Men’s Group, age 31, and he is working with understanding his purpose in life and trying to build community and make a difference locally. He became a father when he was only 24, but his relationship to his son is making him realize and improve his relationship with his own father. However, his dad seem to not understand what it is his 31 year old son wants from him.
The group meetings on Wednesdays are difficult to describe, and the men themselves have a hard time defining the men’s group in a simple way. It is a sacred space, where the men get a chance to express an experience, a feeling, a belief without being judged – flip it and turn it around before taking it out to the real world. As it might sound it is big abstract concepts and beliefs and/or less abstract specific experiences at work – for instance the man feels too weak and insecure to say something that goes against his boss. They play out scenarios and try to visualize what it would be like in the real world and then get a better understanding of their personal needs, qualities (which they call “truth”), and this makes them more confident and comfortable when dealing with issues in real life. Basically the group meetings are about getting more in touch with feelings and learning to react to feelings in a positive and useful way. Each man’s journey inspires and helps the other men’s individual journies, and the safe space for giving and recieving feedback from equal men is what makes the Men’s Group so powerful.
Being a fly on the wall to these meetings, I have experienced the power of support between those men and seen men beeing able to express joy (and their inner truth) in a way I’ve never seen before. It almost feels magical and a bit scary – but I guess it is just human nature at it’s fullest.
I can’t wait to show it to you on film!