Men's Group

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Men's Group
Poster - Men's Group 2008.jpg
Directed by Michael Joy
Produced by John L. Simpson
Written by Michael Joy
John L. Simpson
Starring Grant Dodwell
Paul Gleeson
Steve Le Marquand
Don Reid
Steve Rodgers
Paul Tassone
William Zappa
Music by Haydn Walker
Cinematography Geoffrey Wharton
Edited by Stuart Morley
Distributed by Titan View
Release date
  • 18 September 2008 (2008-09-18)
Running time
104 minutes
Country Australia
Language English

Men's Group is a 2008 Australian drama film. The film is directed by Michael Joy and produced by John L. Simpson.


The film follows the lives of six men over a period of months as they convene weekly in a self-help style group. They are all very different men with very different problems. Freddy (Steve Rodgers), Cecil (Don Reid), Lucas (Steve Le Marquand), Moses (Paul Tassone) and Alex (Grant Dodwell) meet each week at Paul's house (Paul Gleeson). They soon discover that they have something in common: being male. As trust grows between them they gradually begin to share as they learn to listen to each other and discover they are not as alone in their fears as they had presumed. It takes a tragedy for the men to finally understand that they must take responsibilities for their own lives and those of their loved ones.[1]



The concept of the film was conceived by Michael Joy and John L. Simpson, while working together on another project dealing with men's issues and their inability to communicate. At the same time, Director Michael Joy was experiencing depression and attended a men’s group on the advice of a telephone counsellor. The pain of the men in the room, and the safe environment in which they could express what they were going through struck him. [2]


Director Michael Joy worked with each of the actors separately, workshopping over two months. Using this technique, Michael and John L. would create scenes from key character points and events. Only then was a comprehensive screenplay drafted, and delivered to the heads of departments. [3]

The actors were not allowed to see the screenplay prior to shooting, and had little or no idea of other characters story lines. The filmmaker's did this to capture the actors first responses to what was unfolding in front of them.[4] There was only one take for each shot that appears in the film,[5] and was shot over only 14 days.[6] The film was shot in sequence, so the filmmakers could not go back to reshoot.[7] Before each scene, Joy spent five to forty five minutes talking to the actors quietly and individually about their lives at that point, using it to get them to speak about specific things that needed to happen in the film.[8]

The film was a micro budget feature film, created on a reverse finance model, with each key crew member and actor taking an equity position in the film.[9]


Men's Group has won Best Feature Film, Best Script and Best Actor at the 2008 Inside Film Awards.[10] Critically, the film was praised[11] and is particularly recognised for the strong performances by the lead actors.[12][13] Margaret Pomeranz awarded the film four stars and David Stratton awarded three and a half on At the Movies.[14]

AFI Fellowship and Tour[edit]

Following the theatrical release of the film by Titan View, Producer John L. Simpson was approached by men's health groups who wished to screen the film and use it as a tool to agitate discussions about men's mental health. [15] With this interest, John L. Simpson proposed to tour the film around Australia to non-theatrical venues for community group screenings, and in the process create a map of all venues in Australia suitable to screen from. For this proposal he was awarded the 2008 AFI Fellowship.[16]

The program has allowed the film to tour to town's such as Tamworth, Armidale, Bellingen, Dorrigo, Bowraville, and Bowral.[17] In early March 2009, Men’s Group was screened to men’s and women’s prisons in Tasmania.[18]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Film Critics Circle of Australia

  • 2009: Nominated, "Best Actor" - Grant Dodwell

Inside Film Awards

  • 2008: Won, "Best Actor" - Grant Dodwell
  • 2008: Won, "Best Feature Film" - John L. Simpson & Michael Joy
  • 2008: Won, "Best Script" - John L. Simpson & Michael Joy
  • 2008: Nominated, "Best Music" - Haydn Walker
  • 2008: DigiSPAA Award


External links[edit]