WINNER OF BEST FILM, BEST SCRIPT, BEST ACTOR IF AWARDS 2008

WINNER OF BEST FILM, BEST SCRIPT, BEST ACTOR IF AWARDS 2008
MEN AT WORK

9 Dec 2008

MEN'S GROUP GIVES MALE COMMUNITY A CHANCE TO SPEAK

Written By Andrew Fenton

THE film Men's Group doesn't pull any punches, but the stars, including A Country Practice's Grant Dodwell, had to fly by the seat of their pants.

The new Australian film Men's Group isn't about sensitive new-age blokes gazing at their navels.

Instead, it's about a group of unrefined working blokes who meet once a week to deal with problems ranging from teenage children to gambling addiction, abuse and being widowed.

Writer-director Michael Joy had the idea for the film two years ago.

"In my own life I needed to speak to someone outside my family and friends and found myself at a men's group," he says.

"I was fascinated by these men. The next morning I woke up thinking it could be such an incredible story and one that hadn't been told -- being honest about what's going on for men."

Shot on digital video in 14 days, Men's Group was made on the smell of an oily rag.

Much of what is seen on screen was improvised. None of the actors knew what the other characters would say or do in the group sessions.

The film's star, Grant Dodwell, best known for A Country Practice, says they were flying by the seats of their pants.

"I had no idea why the others were there or what they'd say," he says. "When the cameras roll, that's the first we hear of it. That was very exciting and a real leap of faith."

Dodwell has been working in community and fringe theatre for several years and Men's Group has allowed him to return to the mainstream. He absolutely inhabits the role of the coarse, hard-drinking Alex.

"He's an amalgamation of many good if fearful men I've met," he says.

A key element to all the characters is their relationship to their fathers. Dodwell says he drew on his own relationship with his dad.

"We had a tenuous relationship during my teens and early 20s when I was starting as an actor. A remarkable man but it was difficult for him to say 'I love you'."

Dodwell says acting jobs are sometimes just acting jobs, but this movie feels special.
"I'm very proud of it," he says. "This is a realistic film about men that pulls no punches."

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Graham said...

Hey great movie. I joined a men's group myself around the time I first saw it, and have to say it's pretty darned accurate. Men talking about men's stuff; a great way for a man to build self-confidence too. Check out my review of men's group. I hope there are more movies like this in the future.

Cheers,
Graham