Meet the young director exploring toxic masculinity through his short films.

Dear Male Ego 2 - man blindfolded

Jasmine Lister

Boys will be boys, apparently. Whether it’s enforcing ‘lad’ stereotypes, discouraging emotion, or endorsing poor behaviour, this mentality dangerously damages these ‘boys’ and those that surround them.

It might not be a subject that you’d expect a 21-year-old to have enough depth or experience to tackle, but that’s exactly what East-London writer and film director Darnell Depradine has done with his powerful visual EP, Dear Male Ego 2.

A cinematically gorgeous follow-on from his personal first EP of the same name, this time around, the 15-minute, five-track film (which features several multi-disciplinary artists) explores toxic masculinity once again, but this time from a wider perspective.

“I watch you sitting heavy in your thoughts, battling some spirit you are less fond of. Whose words bear so much weight in your decisions, in your happiness,” reasons spoken word artist Thea Gajic in the film.

Greyscale shots of someone washed up on a beach, an enraged man screaming directly at the camera, a group of people holding each other’s blindfolds in place – it’s a sweeping, cinematic treat.

We chatted to Darnell about making the film…

What made you want to look at toxic masculinity?
I chose to tackle toxic masculinity because there are such specific expectations of what it is to be a man and what we should be like, especially in this society. I feel that there is a lot of pressure and people are not being themselves to fit into this structure. I want to show people that they can truly be themselves no matter what the case is.

What made you want to do Dear Male Ego, part two? How is this a move-on from part one?
Part one was really close to home, more of a personal outlet and not as open as this sequel is. From a filmmaker’s perspective, part two really explores different aspects of masculinity that part one doesn’t – which I feel gives it a much wider perspective on the topic.

What made you want to get into filmmaking in the first place?
I think it is a great form of expression for myself and other artists. I had a very good film teacher who I got along with in college who really drew my interest into the art of filmmaking.

Who are the artists featured?
Thea Gajic (spoken word), Navan (music production and performance), Anjelo Disons (music production and performance), and Justina Bryce (music production).
Did you write the soundtrack? 
I executively produced the soundtrack and worked with each producer and artist to create the sound. I worked with the musicians closely in the studio, directed them on how to create the beats and guided them on what to write about.

Dear Male Ego 2 - girl in confetti
Dear Male Ego 2 - men dancing

Jasmine Lister

Why do you think it’s important to shed a light on topics such as toxic masculinity?
I think it’s important to be an example and a voice to people that hide themselves because they don’t want to be seen as different or expose their vulnerability. I want to help people and show them that you can be your true self.

Tell us about some of the symbolism. What’s the significance of the blindfolds in the video?
Ultimately it is the fear of the unknown. I used the blindfolds to represent some men having a fear of understanding their emotions. Sometimes we decide not to confront how we feel because we don’t understand why we feel the way we do, or we think that we shouldn’t have these emotions, so we close them off. 

What is your favourite part of the visuals?
I really love the warehouse scene. It’s really aesthetically pleasing and we got some great shots in there. The combination of the song and scene really worked well together.

What’s next for you? 
Another audio-visual project is in the process of being written. All I know for sure is that I will continue to make meaningful art and at the moment I have a strong interest in visual albums and cinematic music videos.

What topics would you like to cover next?
I would love to work on something exploring the challenges that women have in society, work and home.

Dear Male Ego 2 - men with balloons

Jasmine Lister

Maybelle Morgan

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