Word by Geoff

Illustration by Lauren

It’s Fine
Not To
Be Fine

Men in the UK aged 20-49 are more likely to die from suicide than any other cause. A 2015 study by the Medical University of Vienna looked at male suicide survivors aged 18–67 and the family and friends of suicide survivors. It concluded that: “Almost all men reported that their masculine beliefs led to them isolating themselves when they were feeling down, to avoid imposing on others and instead relied on coping strategies that required less immediate effort and provided short-term alleviation of problems, for example, drug or alcohol use, gambling and working excessively.” Perhaps most worryingly “some men reported that adherence to masculine norms meant that feelings associated with being vulnerable provoke greater anxiety than the thought of being dead.”

I’m a film director so I thought I’d write a treatment for a piece of film communication to challenge expectations of what it means to “be a man” and to encourage men to embrace a broader view of masculinity as well as the freedom to define themselves without censure. With it, I’m exploring the hiding of the truth that occurs when we bottle our feelings, the fundamental contrast between what’s going on and how we say what we’re feeling. For Pillow Talk I worked with fellow Lover Lauren Humphrey to turn this idea into the striking illustration you see here. Lauren has captured a series of characters in different settings who are all struggling with their own emotions in some way, and insisting “I’m fine” — the all too common, yet paper thin response men often give to avoid talking about feelings.


We start in a working mens pub. A man (35) with a beer and a packet of crisps stares into his half finished pint. A friend comes over with another round and asks, “how are you?”...

The man avoids eye contact.
We cut to the POV of the friend and the man looks straight at us, the camera, and with little conviction replies, “I’m Fine”.

The rest of the scenes cut quickly into each other establishing character, setting and emotion.

A muscular man in a gym (25-30) is weight lifting listening to music on his stereo. He is holding back tears. He looks straight to camera and through gritted teeth tells us, “I’m fine”.

A man teeters on the edge of a 10ft diving board as the rest of his friends gather at the bottom beckoning him to jump. “I’m fine” the terrified man lies.

“I’m fine” the terrified man lies

A sleep deprived, anxious student at a university library is doubled over on a table ladened with books. As the camera tracks in, he looks up to us and says “I’m Fine” with a fake smile.

We are in a trendy hairdressers and a long haired, mustachioed man is receiving a cut. He’s forced to make conversation in this setting and the awkwardness is palpable. “How are things”, his barber asks. “I’m fine”.

A spotlight falls on a lone man in a black suit and tie as anonymous shadows offer him consolatory pats on the back from off screen. As the camera zooms out we see the outline of tombstone behind his turned back. We hear the man say “I’m fine”, but we don't see it.

A bleary eyed man with ruffled hair and 5am shadow stands in the doorway of his home in his dressing gown. He picks up a letter marked ‘final notice’ in red letters. “I’m fine”, he sighs resolutely.

A man in a car talking to his wife on a hands free device. He’s is in a storming rage. Through the sound of beeping horns and loud traffic we can hear his wife ask “Are you okay? You seem angry”. “I’m fine” he answers unconvincingly as he looks away to his passenger side.

A man in a suit with bags under his eyes and greying hair stares out into the distance as he waits on the platform of a train station. Dazed and bedraggled, his train is heard as it draws in. He looks up to the camera on the other side of the platform and quietly remarks, “I’m Fine’.

We return to the working man’s pub where we are reunited with our first man sitting with a pint opposite his friend.

The friend, concerned, replies, “Are you sure? What’s up?”.

Our man raises his head and looks at him. Almost shocked, eventually relieved, the man opens his mouth and begins to speak.

[Logo] : (Who would this be?)

[Super] : “It’s fine not to be fine”


Pillow Talk is a string of sweet nothings between , the design collective. More about us at lovers.co


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