When a 42 year old, non-binary filmmaker joins a new local women’s footy club in Regional Victoria a simple desire to play becomes a complex journey of inclusion and belonging. An unexpected turn means the team has to fight to play. Their campaign challenges age old sporting traditions and joins the wider movement for gender equity.


This film began as a Masters in Photography that Mitch undertook at Photography Studies College in Melbourne. Looking for a project where Mitch could use image making to challenge gender roles and stereotypes, they came across a poster for a ‘come and try’ day for the newly formed Mt Alexander Falcons football club. The poster called on ‘women and gender diverse people’ and it was the first time Mitch had seen a sporting club actively welcoming gender diversity. So despite having no prior interest in AFL, they went along. It was the perfect space to both participate in a new sport and document their experience. With the support of Masters mentor Amos Gebhardt, in the first semester Mitch explored filming from the perspective of their body as they began learning to play as a way of welcoming the audience into what it was to embody the game, from a body we don’t normally see as a footballer’s body – ie – gender diverse, over 40 and inexperienced.

Not long after joining, the club had their application to field a team in the local AFL women’s league rejected and Mitch knew there was a bigger story, which ultimately turned into a feature length documentary. At this point, Mitch enlisted the support of their second Masters mentor for semester 2 – Shannon Owen, who guided Mitch through writing a treatment for a feature length film, creating a pitch deck and developing the logline and synopsis.

Throughout the entire journey, Mitch had the unwavering and invaluable support and guidance of team mate and documentary impact producer Alex Kelly.

Securing funding as a first time feature film maker proved challenging despite Mitch’s 17 years experience running their own photography and video company. So Mitch brought Producer Tony Coombs on board, who then joined Alex and Mitch to move the film to completion. Ultimately the film was completed with just $16,000, thanks to crowd funding donors and Vic Health.

Equal the Contest was ultimately selected for 7 film festivals (5 in Australia and 2 internationally) and has now been picked up for distribution in Australia by Umbrella Entertainment.