Week 6: Heartbreak High

Hi and welcome to my blog! Over the 8 weeks of filming, I wrote about my experiences making the awesome television series, Man Up, including some of the amazing guys I got to talk to about what it means to be an Aussie bloke today. It’s been an incredible ride and I can’t wait to share it with you…

First up this week, one of the best school lessons I’ve ever had. Tom Harkin runs workshops for young men in schools all around the country, and he’s incredible. He challenges the boys to talk about masculinity and what it means to be a man. Frankly anyone who will take on a bunch of 16 year old boys has my vote.

At the beginning, the boys were mucking around and weren’t convinced about the workshop. But as Tom wove his magic, there were these incredibly honest responses from the boys, showing bravery they didn’t know they had. They all said they had cried recently but they knew ‘the rules’ were that they should hide their crying and “not get caught crying”.

Tom Harkin, Man Up, Gus Worland, masculinity Tom Harkin, Gus Worland, Man Up

I wish there were a thousand Tom Harkins going out and talking to our young blokes. His message is that men need to open up our emotions and maybe this is the age where we can really make a change. By the end of the day there were tears and the most utmost respect in the room. I was blown away and the most special thing of all for me was that my son Jack who (unlike his dad) is quite a reserved boy said he felt the day had changed his life. That’s a day to treasure.

Another man who has the power to change the way we think is ad man Adam Ferrier. He’s an advertising guru who’s written books, appears on the ABC’s Gruen Transfer and is partner at a big firm that works with big brands. I wanted to see if I could get his help with an ad campaign that would inspire blokes to open up about their emotions.

My elevator pitch sparked his interest, particularly after I made it in an actual elevator, but it took him a little while to wrap his head around how he could help. Especially after I told him we have no budget. What clinched it was when I showed him the Lifeline footage. Adam was really moved by it; like many of us, he has mates who have struggled with depression.

Gus Worland, Adam Ferrier, Man Up, advertising Gus Worland, Adam Ferrier, Man Up, behind the scenes

Adam gave me some homework so off I went, back to Man Up HQ to brainstorm. I put photos on the wall from all the shoots that I’ve done so far to see if that would give me some ideas. It was pretty cool to see everything I’ve done so far and all the amazing men I’ve met along the way put together like that, but after staring at the wall for a while, I knew I needed an outside opinion. So I phone a friend. Thank God for Tom Harkin.

Gus Worland, Man Up, Speak Up Gus Worland, Tom harkin, Man Up

Next week, I’m spending more time with Tom Harkin – this time doing a workshop with CEOs. And then it’ll be time to pitch my campaign idea to Adam. Wish me luck.