I'm currently doing a bit of research for my next short film - one in which I'd like to explore the transition from boyhood to manhood. This is something interesting to me as I'm pretty much right in that time period of my life right now, and defining what that means to me. But because I haven't yet become the man that I'm wanting to be, I'm not the greatest resource on the ending of the film! Which is why I look to all of you, and maybe some of you can provide inspiration in what it means to you to be a man, what events in your life shaped the transition into manhood - not adulthood... looking for manhood specific - and maybe an interesting story of how it happened.
I look forward to hearing from all of you! This is film is something that has quickly become important to me, and I really want to make something that will affect others of my generation. A film that will challenge notions of modern manhood as well as be relevant and contextually significant.
For me the transition to manhood was a process over several years, starting when I was twelve. A recurring theme played itself out in a few key moments of growing up and I think each of them led me to become the man I am today. Maybe for your film have your hero handle an issue repeatedly over time, or a theme. You could pick dishonesty, or cowardice and make your character struggle with it, overcome it, and face it down over the course of the film.
A lot of today's films look at loss of virginity as THE way into manliness, and of course it all ends with the guy realizing it was actually nothing at all (if not some minor milestone). In a broad context I could think of two examples:
"Overcoming fear, getting the girl"/fear of the known: I think of the first Back to the Future. The mentoring of Marty to George, (and overwhelming fact that if George didn't pull this off, Marty wouldn't exist) is a great way of showing how George McFly became a man. In fact, due to Marty, in the future George becomes even a better man and father realizing the actualization of his dreams. Not only is it one of my favorite movies, but it gives good life lessons... go after what you want, those who deter you are probably jackasses, and don't be a peeping tom.
"Overcoming the beast"/fear of the unknown: The Sandlot was another one of my favorites growing up. It had baseball, funny kids, life lessons, and a great ending. The film was from Scott Smalls point of view, but all the attention was on Rodriguez. All the kids knew he was "something else" and he knew it too. However, it took on taking the fear of the unknown that catipulted him into manhood and a professional baseball career.
There's a whole subclass of literature, the coming-of-age story. "Barn Burning" by William Faulkner shows this transition happening when the boy realizes his father's wickedness and detaches himself from it.
I personally came at it much later, at 38, through the ManKind Project's initiation weekend.
You might also look up how it happens in more ritualistic cultures -- not for the literal thing that would happen in your film, but for a model of the journey.
#1. I enjoy the company of Women for their company, not for the possibility I can "score".
#2. When I do "score" as it were, the thought to run and tell my friends does not even occur to me.
#3. It's funny when I screw up, not threatening.
#4. My long term health is a concern.
#5. I'm grown enough to admit, sometimes, it does matter what other people think.
"I'm grown enough to admit, sometimes, it does matter what other people think." I am one of the people that goes the other way. Instead of worrying about what other people think, I try to do what I need to do and not worry about what everyone thinks. That is the extreme position, based on fear; who cares what kids in the mall think of my tie, for instance? Naturally, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Right on, Cowboy. Thats kinda my point. The kids in the mall? no. My Boss? My girl? My associates? To some extent, yes. Keyword in the sentence.. "..sometimes .."
Be your own man, but meter it with the fact that most of us can't go around with a Marylin Manson attitude on life.
Thank you for all of your thoughtful replies guys!
@Dave Pope - Sandlot is a great example! In one of the earlier versions of my story, there is definitely the conquering of fear that dominated the story. It had a more primitive setting, where the protagonist literally faced the beast. I feel like this is part of being a man, but not at the core of it. A friend pointed out during a critique session that while this was symbolically clear, it was less relevant to the modern existence of manhood. Also, that it is harder to care about one character conquering his fears, because even if his life is on the line, its not really 'high stakes' - there is no one else depending on him, and its for himself. It becomes stronger if there is more to it.
@Paul Parker - May I ask what the theme was that kept recurring? Was it the conquering of a fear, or something else?
@Will - I've spent most of my life reading the coming of age stories, as well as the films (most of them seem to be in some way or another). I'm looking to narrow my scope in this short film I'm pursuing, specifically to a rite of passage that confronts and challenges a young man to become a man in a modern situation.
@Paul - I've seen Rudy, but not the other film you mentioned. I'll be sure to look it up soon.
@Michael and Denny - How significant do you believe that self belief is to achieving manhood? Or the concern/lack of concern for others opinions?
Also, thought I'd get input from you all on the question of does the film have to have a modern basis to become relative to the modern world? I tend to think no, but it might be a stronger base to build on.
lol. "Michael Denny", big guy.
Excellent question. Let me ask you to clarify a bit,, SELF BELIEF (as in confidence?) or SELF AWARENESS ?? I think both are pretty profoundly important. And are mutually exclusive. If you are not aware of who/what you truly are, you can't be ok with who/what you are.
It was often said by the creators that the comic series "X-Men" was ultimately a metaphor about being a teen ager and the life of a teen ager. Feeling like you're not exactly one of the group, don't quite fit in. Becoming a Man includes the realization that it is not that you need to fit in with the crowd, but to be comfortable with yourself enough you become your own Man. You don't fit in with the,... you fit in within yourself. It is ironically at that time, that you best become able to a member of the group.
Let me give you an example, though it may be a bit strained. Becoming a Freemason gave me a very strong sense of belonging, community and kinship within my community. One I never enjoyed as a rebellious, ill mannered teen ager dripping with testosterone poisoning and insecurities. But It was when I became comfortable and confident with myself enough that I was able to let go of my rebelliousness and childish "UP YOURS!!!! " attitude that I became a suitable candidate for Freemasonry. While joining the Lodge made me feel more like a good Man, it was becoming a good man in the first place that made me able to join.
I manned up when my father died. I was only 17, but my mom and my younger sisters leaned on me to be the man of the house. I knew I couldn't fill my dad's shoes, but I also knew that I wanted to at least try to be a manly presence for them. I wasn't even sure what that meant at the time, I just knew that I had to be strong for them. It was truly difficult but it manned me up quick.
For me I'd have to say 24 yrs old, that's the year my Father passed away and left a void that seemed as vast as the Grand Canyon. I had already been on my own for about five years and was just coming back from living in South Korea for the last year. During that year, I reflected on what being a new Father myself, what values I wanted to instill to my son and was blessed that my Dad was able to spend time with my son as a Grandfather/mentor while I was overseas. One month after returning from Korea my Father passed and I never got a chance to say goodbye seeing how I was living in North Dakota at the time. A lot of soul searching, outside looking in, knowing that my Father would be disappointed if I dwell on his passing for to long. So I took all that he showed me over the years on how to be the best man you can be to your family ... TIME !!! I watched, listened, and guided sometimes without saying a word just my actions. Fast forward to today, my son is almost 21 and I could not be more proud of him as he himself is making that transition into manhood attending college right now. My 17 yr daughter is blossoming into a wonderful young woman looking to the medical field with time in the Air Force after college. My youngest, almost 13, just had her first major life change starting middle school and is really handling it well. To wrap things up, like stated in a previous post, my transition was over time as well but it was the loss of my Father that set the wheel in motion.
I have to say my fiancee helped me become the man I am today. I've made some mistakes in my life, especially with her, but have came out on top. We we high school sweethearts, then went to college and grew apart, then became close again and from being with her again I realized some things about life that I hadn't before. She has also helped me to become less afraid of what might happen and just going for things. For example we packed up and moved across the country in 4 days. Lived for a year out on the West Coast then packed up and came back again pulling a uhaul, a dog, and a cat. We stopped at 4 national parts and Niagra falls to boot. From living with each other we learned a lot about responsibility but we also learned about giving. Just my two cents.
Like others have stated, I started to understand the responsibilities of being a man when my father died. For me this happened at 13. Other benchmarks for me were- My first job and the feeling of earning an honest dollar for honest work, my decision to join the Army at 17, and ultimately my marriage, which made me responsible not only for myself but to an extent the entire life, happiness and well being of another person.