Interview with Filmmaker Shantel Hansen (HER TURF)

HER TURF played to rave reviews at the February 2020 Documentary Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Shantel Hansen: This started back in 2014 when I conceived of the idea of filming women in male dominated sports. Here in the United States, this wasn’t a topic talked about or filmed that often until recently there are more conversations over all about women in male dominated spaces in sports, professionally, and workplace. When I discovered women in football officiating, I knew that there had to be stories to uncover, document, and share. What I didn’t know was how I was going to do it. As a first time director and producer, it took over four years to make this documentary come alive. There have been a lot of ups and downs. A lot of highs and low moments. Looking back, I can’t express how grateful I am to see it all come together in a way that I could have never imagined in a million years. These three incredible women that I filmed along with an amazing film crew (Annice Canday, Tangela Mitchell and Mary Podesta) took a HUGE chance on me, as a rookie. I knew what I lacked in experience (I didn’t go to film school) I could make up with heart, passion and dedication.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?


3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Real and Inspiring

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Honeslty, it wasn’t having a limited budget. It was getting access to film these incredible women. And when I did get access it was sometimes limited.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

BLOWN AWAY. The audience feedback is priceless. I love how this documentary has a diverse audience. Anyone can watch it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I knew that I wanted to film something/someone/topic focusing on subculture(s) that impact the larger culture(s) unknownly. Officials and refeeres do that. They are a subculture that is marginalized in that they are in-between the game, players, coaches and fans. You see them (typically when it’s a call that you don’t like or agree with) but you don’t know who they are, why they are there on the line of scrimmage or why they do it.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I’m a mix bag. Big time. I watch crazy pointless series to serious stuff that is at Sunday and Hot Docs.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

This was an overall a great experience to have FilmFreeway as a portal to submit my documentary and keep track of everything.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I listen to everything!

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I have several projects in pre-production and one heading into production in the summer of 2020. I’m going to build out the concept of fiming more women in male domianted sports including a bull rider, sky diver, jockey, smoke jumper, and drag car sisters. I’m also working on another series filming women that are attempting to do online dating in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.



By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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