With the short films being released for viewing online this evening, we wanted to a know a little bit more about the thinking behind them and what Caris possibly learned from the project. So we asked her!
SK: You have made a series of documentaries about female footballers, can you tell us a little bit about them and why you made them?
CR: I made a short film in 2015 which featured a fictional girls football team, when we were researching to see if we could use local female footballers as extras we were shocked to discover that my home town, Harlow, we didn't have a women's football team. It was around December later this year that I came across a photo online of a girl in the Harlow Town kit and then I read up on the website and discovered that we now had a ladies' team...and they were doing incredibly well. But there was nothing in the papers and nobody had really talked about it which made me so curious why this little gem of a team was so hidden away from the spotlight.
So the curiosity of this team inspired me to put the story into film and as my research grew I realised that just in my town there were these talented girls teams that hardly anybody knew about, I wanted to give them to attention they deserved while also exploring a sport I am in love with.
SK: And what is the focus of the documentaries?
CR: 'Like a Girl' begins as I explore that journey of Harlow having a ladies' team for the first time in almost twenty years, but the series uncovers a lot of the struggles that many girls go through when trying to get into football and remain in a team that is constantly helping you to grow and further your hobby and possible career.
I speak about the best parts of the sport with the girls but also the not so good such as negative comments, homophobic slurs and the lack of career opportunities available for them. With such a variety of girls featured, I find it impossible for someone to watch the episodes and walk away thinking that all girls who play football fit the 'stereotype' that is unfortunately still present in many peoples' minds.
SK: What is your background in the game and connection to football and also in 'film' making?
CR: Where I grew up there were more boys than girls, so football was a constant thing when we'd all 'play out'. My dad taught me the basics and I learnt everything else I knew from playing with the kids on our street, unfortunately during school being in a team became impossible. We could never get enough players! There was little motivation there to have a girls' team, even if you did have enough players there was no certainty that other schools nearby would be available for matches.
In regards to the game now, it is my third love, behind films and my partner. But even being a female football fan can be difficult, it often feels like your opinion isn't validated and expressing your views on platforms such a Twitter can result in being mocked with comments like, "What do you know, you're just a girl!" But it was nice to know that this feeling was mutual with many of the girls I met during the documentary.
I've been making films for over three years now, starting with my best friend and sister and now working with an incredibly dedicated team based around the UK and across the pond in America. After making my debut feature film Demi I wanted to do something quite different and a bit fresh compared to my previous work which mainly focused on relationships and coming of age, creating a project around a sport that is loved by so many people in different ways felt like not only a challenge but an exciting journey to go on.
SK: Were there any things that surprised you when making the documentaries?
CR: The main thing that surprised me was the lack of attention the teams received from local media. You have these teams doing incredibly well in their leagues with impressive goal stats and yet they're not granted a moment to celebrate their accomplishments. It's well known that women's football isn't on top of many sports' fans interest lists, but success should be celebrated, especially when it could inspire a whole new generation of young girls to go into football.
SK: What was the most rewarding part of making them?
CR: Meeting the girls was the most rewarding part of making this series, I didn't just get one side of a story, I got about 30! I spent time with players aged from 8 to 25 and they each have their own background of getting into the sport, their own struggle, their own aspirations and it was refreshing to be around women who I could have a conversation with about the sport.
There was a bit of confusion from some people regarding the title being 'derogatory' towards womens' football, the whole purpose of this documentary series is to strip away thenegative connotations of that phrase, I hope in some way we have achieved that.
SK: Do you think that there are lessons learned from the series and does it make you keen that there are follow ups or more in-depth films (either by yourself or another film maker or production company) made about these topics in the future?
CR: I feel that there should be more media content about women in football. When I first starting making the series people would ask me 'Oh is it like Bend it like Beckham?' because that's the only film featuring women playing football that people think exists! I'd love to follow up the series with a second season and explore more teams and players, we shall see what the future holds.
SK: Who are the stars (if not already mentioned) and where can people watch them and find out more about the people who feature in the films?
CR: There are two teams featured in the series, Harlow Town Ladies FC who are now comfortably doing well in their second season and the girls of Sumners Youth FC aged between 8 and 16.
The two episodes (22 minutes and 25 minutes) will be available from www.riannepictures.com/likeagirl from 7PM on Friday 13th January.