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As young, basketball-obsessed boys growing up in Canberra, The UC Capitals were heroes to Lachlan Ross and Dylan Simpson.
There was no men’s division, ‘The Caps’ were the premier players in the state and if you wanted to go pro, you had to watch the pros.
Having held onto their unwavering respect for the best of the best, years later Lachlan and Dylan now work in media and have collaborated with The Caps in different capacities—until a crazy idea to reveal the trials and triumphs of professional female sport brought them together in a whole new way.
Joining forces, the duo is directing and producing a feature documentary, called Go Big, to shine a light on the power of The UC Capitals and elite women’s sport.
“Lachlan and I ended up going full circle and working with The Caps in different capacities and then it ended up just being the perfect time to try to broadcast this story and tell the world and potentially make them heroes for everybody else,” says Producer Dylan.
“Our vision for the project is to give these female athletes the voice they deserve, the platform they deserve and to really normalise the media coverage and broadcasting of women in sport.”
“If you look at the content that’s out there, sporting documentaries are on the rise, there’s so many out there at the moment but there’s still an overwhelming lack of female protagonists.”
Since 1987, The UC Capitals have grown to become the most successful Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) team in history and Canberra’s most awarded national sporting team, but Lachlan and Dylan believe amongst the team’s nine championship banners, a plethora of untold stories await.
“When you do look at the success of The Caps, not only in Canberra but nationally, they’re up there as one of the premier sporting teams through their success. But it’s also about what they’ve done off the court and how they trail blaze a number of social issues, whether it’s being the team to wear the first pride jersey in the country or signing Lauren Jackson, a female athlete, a million-dollar contract. They’ve really been at the forefront of pioneering for women in sport,” says Dylan.
Through the lens of the North Queensland WNBL COVID-19 ‘bubble’, Lachlan and Dylan integrated themselves into the life of the players, attending training, games, physiotherapy appointments and locker room talks, watching on as the team chased their first-ever three-peat amidst a global pandemic.
Paired with a series of interviews and archival footage, the 2020/21 narrative will be accompanied by the history of The Caps.
“We had access to the first training session and first goal-setting meeting in Canberra all the way through to the final locker room scene where they had lost the semi-final,” says Director Lachlan.
“For me as a storyteller that was the first time I’d really had access and been able to be a fly on the wall for those moments, which is all you can really ask for.”
With a vision to be ‘bigger than a feature documentary’, Go Big has taken it a step further and created a social impact campaign through the Documentary Australia Foundation, an organisation that enables 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.
Their hope is to normalise and hero the broadcasting and media coverage of women in sport by broadcasting the unheard voices of Australia’s female athletes during one of the toughest WNBL seasons yet.
“You can’t be what you can’t see…our hope is by showing these players as the heroes as they are on the big screen, we can help show girls growing up, or any kids growing up that this is a possible route for them to take,” says Lachlan.
In terms of the narrative itself, Lachlan and Dylan plan to cover three important topics: the legacy of The UC Capitals on and off the court, their relationship with Canberra and their role in diversifying women’s sport.
However, as they get ready to enter their second phase of production, they need a little support to get the basketball rolling.
With plans to release the documentary late this year, they are seeking philanthropic partners to help finance the final stage of production and post-production.
“What we really need right now is the support of the community and local businesses to get the funding together to finish,” says Lachlan.
As excitement and nerves build for the final product, both Lachlan and Dylan hope they can change the narrative and show young girls and boys that basketball is a possible route they can take, no matter where they come from.
To donate to Go Big, visit documentaryaustralia.com.au/project/uc-capitals-documentary