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Exclusive: Movie “Tall Poppy” Documentary Set To Inspire Young Girls And Boys

T
he Tall Poppy: A Skaters Story’ documentary is a new sport feature film, taking a look into the rise and life of Australia’s only female park skateboard representative in the Tokyo Olympic Games, Poppy Starr Olsen.

The film follows Olsen’s rise to become the number one female bowl skater in Australia at age 14, winning a bronze medal at the X Games at 17, and having the opportunity to represent Australia at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Speaking with Ministry of Sport Tall Poppy director, Justine Moyle (also Duo Films director), explained how the documentary came about and what effect it will have on future generations.

“It started out seven or eight years ago, we were down at Bondi working on a different project around skateboarders from an older generation,” Moyle told Ministry of Sport.

“The project didn’t get off the ground and we ended up looking at a bunch of younger kids.

“I thought Poppy was really cool and I wanted to make a short film about her.

“She was the only girl at the park, and she dropped in at the deep end of the bowl and it didn’t seem to phase her that she was surrounded by all these blokes.

“I would never have done that at her age and probably still wouldn’t do it at my age now and that was really interesting for me.

“It also made me think about what does it do to a kids’ confidence to dive in and fall time and time again but keep doing it.

“I started making a short film, then I went over to the US for one thing and decided to head over to LA when I saw she was entering her first professional competition, and she won it.

“From there, it felt like there was something bigger than a short film, then skateboarding at the Olympics became a reality and that gave me the opportunity to follow that story and see what happened and here we are,” she said.

On the motivation of the Olympics and the shift in mindset from being a young girl at the skatepark to representing her country, Moyle said Olsen started off with a passion for the sport.

“At that stage, she was focused on it because she loves it and just wanted to get better, she got a kick out trying and trying and missing but then finally landing it,” Moyle said.

“It’s the community of the skateboarders that has had the biggest impact on her.

“She grew up watching the Olympics and thought that would be an amazing opportunity but thought she’d never be able to do it for this sport.

“When it did happen, it was a wild dream come true that she never really knew she had.

“You’re seeing all these young kids now, and the Olympics is something that’s there for them now and it’s a new motivation.

“When she did that first pro competition, she was there with her mum, and it wasn’t an easy decision because it meant she couldn’t go back to youth competitions if she competed.

“She had no expectations because she was competing against all these other girls she looked up to, she thought ‘I’m just here to have a great time, be with my mates, skate the best I can, and however it lands, lands’.

“When she won, that was for her and her mum, a bit of a woah moment, they thought there could be a future in it, but they didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.

“From there, things changed and there was a bit more thought process around ‘if I’m going to win these competitions, what do I need to do if I’m going to continue to get better’.

“The shift was a big thing and the next competition we see her in the film is X-Games, it’s big and serious and there’s more at stake.

“She’s always had the mindset that it’s important to have passion and navigate pressure and do something for more than just yourself.

“It’s quite an interesting dynamic,” she said.

On the motivation to create the documentary, Moyle said: “The motivation for me was that I grew up watching films where the guy gets to do all the cool stuff and the role for woman was to be the girlfriend.”

“Hollywood painted that picture and it’s getting better now, but ultimately, its not about the girl being the centre of attention.

“The motivation for me was in showing that other narrative.

“The more I learnt about girls dropping out of sports in their teenage years, the more important that message became of showcasing girls in traditionally male dominated sports.

“Just because you see a girl, doesn’t mean it’s not something boys can see and be inspired by that.

“You wouldn’t call Poppy a traditional athlete when you think of swimming and athletics athletes who have had their eyes set on the Olympics and that success.

“She kind of breaks the mould of what you expect an athlete to be like, and that opened who sport can be available to and that anyone can find a passion in any physical activity.

“My original motivation was to highlight more opportunities for girls along with the narrative of women doing things differently and then that has a bit of a waterfall effect on boys as well,” Moyle told Ministry of Sport.

The Tall Poppy – A Skater’s Story documentary is set to appear in 31 cinemas across Australia from 27 June 2021, produced by Sydney-based production company, Candid Films Australia.

The film has received funding from Screen Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Company and is set to be distributed by Garage Entertainment.