Gaptooth: A Documentary Series On Masculinity
I met Kevin in London last year whilst on a trip to give a talk on sneakers, food and life. We both knew our creative paths would eventually cross again, perhaps to work on something bigger or at least support each other. So when he told me about his project with Sam and their ambitious goal to create a series of films that dive into the changing and vulnerable world of masculinity, I knew this was the right time.
Masculinity, gender and gender politics - it never felt so urgent and important to look deeper into these subjects and to free us as a society, as our governments often form old-fashioned views and prejudices. With their series, Kevin and Sam want to take a closer look into this issue internationally. From India to Nigeria, the U.K. and Portugal - masculinity has changed and growing up as a boy or man does not mean you have to fit into the same boxes and rules as before. There are still a lot of things that have to change and societies all around the world have to learn, respect and understand.
‘Gaptooth: A documentary series on masculinity’ is one of the things that will actively help to change perspective, minds, families, sons and daughters. But it needs your help to begin.You can help fund their project here and find out more about the project beneath in my interview with Kevin and Sam!
Please join me in supporting this!
Hey Kevin can you please tell us something about you, the documentary series you are planning and the people behind it?
So I am actually part of a creative duo, my partner is called Sam, and this project is a joint collaboration with him. We’ve worked together for three years now, making films – mostly music videos. We also regularly collaborate with an amazing upcoming cinematographer, Ray Miller-Davis (what a great name – I know) who will join us on this venture. The series came about when we decided to combine two different ideas together. Sam wanted to make a series about the transition from adolescence to adulthood, and I wanted to make one about the social construct of masculinity. They’ve both been a bit of a back burner for a while and now the time has come to make them as one. We feel the time is right as both of these topics are extremely relevant.
So how did you get into filming? What were there first pieces you worked on and when did you decide to go for an documentation?
Sam got into filming at university, where he studied a pretty vague media course. I, on the other hand, have a background in television, but it wasn’t really my calling due to the fact that the content wasn’t particularly liberating or inspiring and so I decided to make stuff that people like myself would want to watch - mostly short form content. Sam and I first worked together on a short film, After The Heat, back when Sam was taking a cinematographer route. After that, we decided that our workflow complimented each other and entered into a partnership. We share a very similar aesthetic and mode of storytelling. Sam worked at a documentary production company and was producing content there, so I think he always had some underlying interest of social anthropology. Doing a documentary series together was a logical step for us.
The changing face of masculinity - Can you please further explain to us what problem young men or men, in general, are facing right now and what role masculinity plays in this?
Masculinity is a definition that is being forced to change. Women have rightfully taken social justice into their own hands, whereas the male gender has been forced to watch masculinity change. This idea of taking a back seat in your own self-definition has made a lot of young men feel confused about who they are and where they fit into society. This problem is not just about men. Masculinity is not just a male trait, it is part of a spectrum that encompasses all, however, our documentary focuses on people that identify as male. We could go on for hours about the complexity of this issue but the best way to sum it up would be: gender is allowed to be a contradiction – that’s what we are exploring.
Where did you find the places and the people you gonna shoot and what can we expect from a global view on that topic?
Looking at other cultures with wonder is an important method of learning – we can all learn something from someone else. We are an interracial pair of creatives, Sam was born in the UK and I was born in Nigeria. With this in mind, we both wanted to make something that represented both our backgrounds. This idea of cross-cultural ethnography has always been a common theme in our work. This project is not an exercise of cultural comparisons, it’s simply us trying to offer pockets of insights into the hugely diverse topic of masculinity, without bias. Most of our contributors have actually come to us. As mentioned earlier, this project has existed for some time and people we know have put us in touch with contributors that they feel have something relevant to say. A lot of people don’t realise they have a great story so normally it takes a friend to prompt them! However, we are always on the lookout for more people so please do get in touch.
Can you tell us a little bit about the situation for young men in the UK right now? What did you experience over the years and what has changed?
We think that young self-identifying men in the UK are starting to become more aware of how toxic the archaic definitions of masculinity are. If you were to google ‘masculine traits’ the results you would get are ludacris. How can a young man grow up to be a progressive thinker when all the text around masculinity conditions us into thinking that men are simply ‘noise with dirt on it’ (that’s actually a quote!)? Now, men in the UK aged 20 to 49 are more likely to die from suicide than any other cause of death and are 40-60% more likely to kill themselves than women. This can only be described as a crisis, so films and texts exploring these themes are extremely socially and culturally relevant. This is not just a UK problem. Look at what is happening with young men in Japan or the persecuted LGBT community in Russia. Sam and I have experienced different changes in masculinity. I lived in Nigeria until aged 14, and Sam has always lived in the UK (near London). Even though our definitions of masculinity differ, there are universal similarities with the social construct of masculinity.
How can we support your documentation?
We need donations! No matter how big or small, every donation helps get us a little closer to making this project a reality. In addition to donating we would love it if you could share the campaign on social media or directly with people, you think care about the subject matter. We need to galvanise the support of people that share an affiliation with the topic, as this is a project for them.
If you only had one paragraph to get people to support your series and donate money what would you say?
Our rule of thumb with the project is to normalise, not to idolise. So often we see sensationalised media that doesn’t help promote a positive society. Sam once heard a comedian say that they find it more common to see talking animals on screen rather than two men kissing. For this reason, we want to make a set of films that are inherently ‘normal’ and respect individuality, highlighting our quirks and creating a sense of positive wonder.
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