Kellie Mitchell – Flying Queens: A Basketball Dynasty
By: Ruth Hill
Featured at the Artemis Film Festival this year is Kellie Mitchell’s Flying Queens: A Basketball Dynasty, which is not only a film about how one team came together to carve their niche in basketball history. It is also a human interest story about how these women, and the men who supported them, dared to live boldly as trailblazers throughout their lives. Recently Kellie, the writer and director of this documentary, was gracious enough to answer some questions concerning her documentary.
What inspired you to become involved in the film industry?
I have always been interested in the visual arts. I started out as the high school photographer. I’m also a writer. Over time, I developed a passion for telling stories. Caught in the 9-9 workdays of technology, I had little energy to pursue my passion of filmmaking.
My success as a Writer/Director/Producer has taken me across the nation and abroad. It was always my intent to create independent films. It was through deep personal loss that I found the courage to break away from comfortable success. In that loss, I gained something new – the courage to stare embark on destiny.
What inspired you to make this documentary?
Initially, I did not choose this project. It chose me when a friend at a fundraiser grabbed me by the shirt and pleaded, “You HAVE to meet these women and do a documentary about them.” Yet, over the course of interviewing over fifty men and women in five states and numerous locations via phone and on camera, the filmmaking journey with Flying Queens: A Basketball Dynasty became one of the great joys (and passions) of my life.
What would you like the viewers to know about it and take away with them from the film?
I would like viewers to take two main ideas away.
First, become aware of critical sub-themes and their significance regarding women; like the importance of higher education and how leadership, team-work, trust and reliability learned while playing sports translates into positive life skills. These women came from nothing and went on to accomplish and inspire greatness. For example, Kaye Garms became the first and most successful woman official who has inspired women like Violet Palmer (the only female NBA official). As a well-known Athletic Director, Alice Barron was instrumental in getting eleven sports sanctioned for girls in the state of Colorado, implementing Title IX when the law passed, getting equal pay for women coaches and referees as well as insisting on gender equity in sports at a time when equity could not have been further from reality.
Second, it’s important for younger generations to realize that many women before them fought hard to give them what they have today in the form of Title IX, scholarships and the opportunity to play professional women’s sports. Those possibilities didn’t exist even 30 years ago.
I want all women and girls (boys, too) to realize that regardless of their circumstance they can dream and those dreams can become a reality. They can rise far above their circumstance and/or station in life.
Why are you passionate about women in film, especially strong women?
To begin, I believe in gender equity. Second, women are very,Tit very strong. We are the creators of the world with cellular survival instincts. When women are involved, we have the power to change the world and make it the better place. Film is the most powerful medium in the world outside of Mother Earth. Through cinema, we can change attitudes, create equity where none exists and raise awareness and therefore vision where only blindness lived previously.
Any challenges you want to share from the filming process?
Budget was our biggest challenge. Our second biggest challenge was getting Wayland Baptist University to sign an agreement with us. Whew!
How did you hear about Artemis Film Festival?
Through Film Freeway or Without A Box.
Any other upcoming works you would like to mention?
There are a few things in the idea stage. I’m trying to decide which story to tell first.
As this is a historical documentary, how do you hope to use this in the future?
I hope to release an institutional version soon. However, I would like to add an educational element to it and ensure learning transfers. I’d like it to be shown in schools, colleges, community centers – all of those places. Anywhere we can reach our audience.
While I am not a major sports nor basketball enthusiast, I am one who enjoys a story about how people, especially women, who have overcome amazing obstacles to pave the way for others. I hope to be in the audience on Sunday, April 24, to see this fantastic documentary and I urge all of you to visit the following links to find out more about this film and possibly how you can get the opportunity to see it for yourself.