DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

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BY LACHLAN ROSS

 

As sports documentaries fly onto Netflix, there is still an overwhelming lack of female protagonists on television.

 

For me, idolising pro athletes has always been about knowing their stories. I loved Michael Bevan because he was also a left-handed batsman and spin bowler, I worshipped Steve Nash because he was Canadian like my Mum’s side of the family. Their stories made these otherwise superhumans relatable. And relatability meant that maybe, just maybe, I had a chance too.

 

While sports docos are taking streaming platforms by storm, how many can you name that are about women’s sport?

 

Most Aussie sports fans have never heard WNBL players’ stories. My goal is to change that.

 

Soccer, cricket, and basketball filled up most of my days growing up during the 90’s in Canberra. Whether it was racing from one training to another, competing with my mates at recess and lunch, or shooting hoops solo for hours on end in my backyard, sport consumed me.

 

One of my first memories watching live sport was my Dad taking me to the 1999 WNBL grand final. An exciting Australian Institute of Sport side - made up of 17 and 18 year-olds - was trying to be the first AIS team to take the professional women’s title.

 

I was in awe of the way Kristen Veal carved up the court, and the sheer physical and skilful dominance of Lauren Jackson.

 

Both players signed with the Canberra Capitals the following season, and one of Australia’s most successful sports dynasties followed.

 

With an NBL team on the decline, the Canberra Capitals were the basketball stars of our city, and the pinnacle of basketball in the capital. While female athletes in most cities failed to get a mention in the media, the Caps consistently made headlines. Lauren Jackson was plastered across the side of a city bus, and fans filled the AIS Arena as the Caps took home championship after championship.

 

In an era where most players weren’t paid, the Capitals brought a level of professionalism to the league - while most of them worked full-time jobs.

 

After two seasons contracting as the UC Caps videographer in 2018-19, my connection to the team had grown even closer. I was not just consuming their stories, I had become the one helping to share them.

 

Inspired by The Last Dance, I approached Dylan Simpson, who had worked for the marketing agency responsible for the “Go BIG” rebrand of the UC Caps in 2018, and won him over with an idea of telling the Caps incredible story.

 

We presented the concept to Carrie Graf, Lucille Bailie, and Dan Jackson, and while still a pipe dream, got their support.

 

Then what really changed everything was the hub season - and the Caps decision to take me up to North Queensland. Through gaining full access to the Caps condensed season, we were able to capture everything from their first training in Canberra, to the locker room scenes after their final game.

 

While these all-access style sports docos are becoming more common and display similar themes of trials and triumph, it’s still rare for a women’s team to receive this coverage. As a fly on the wall to the UC Caps, I was also exposed to a new set of challenges which are unique to female athletes - the necessity to work two jobs for instance.

 

I think that if the end goal is equal pay across sport, the roots of that start with media coverage. Sport is entertainment, and getting fans to stadiums is no longer just about convincing them to watch basketball instead of footy on a Friday night, it’s promoting the spectacle of sport as worth leaving your living room.

 

Creating equality in media representation doesn’t just mean showing women on screen, it’s about HOW you show these athletes. On top of the narrative itself, I also wanted to bring cinematic techniques in to play such  as low angle shots, looking up at the players, placing emphasis on them as strong and powerful - the same way films use these shots for superheroes.

 

While the outcome of the Caps’ 2020 season may be known, this documentary’s purpose is bigger than capturing a single season. It explores the history of a club who has trailblazed equality in sport and uncovers the challenges professional female athletes face across the globe.

 

My goal is to provide female athletes with the voice they deserve. 

 

I was inspired by their story. I hope you are too.

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Lachlan Ross

Director 

JOIN THE TEAM

To complete production and post-production of the documentary we are currently seeking private investors and community funding through the Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF).

 

DAF is an organisation who enable impact documentary projects to raise tax-deductible funding and make it possible for passionate philanthropists to collaborate with filmmakers to tell stories that change lives.

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