'Skate Dreams' changes the conversation about women on the board

A person wearing pink pants and a striped shirt looks in the distance
Kouv "Tin" Chansangva in "Skate Dreams."
Courtesy of Skate Dreams/Film First

Sept. 22 through Sept. 25, Minnesota will play host to the Duluth Superior Film Festival. The fest will feature 90 films from the Midwest and around the globe. Jessica Edwards will be there and her documentary “Skate Dreams” will have its Minnesota premier.

It’s the first feature documentary to capture the story behind the rise of women’s skateboarding. She’ll be joined by one of the film’s five featured skateboarders Nicole Hause of Stillwater. Edwards joined Host Cathy Wurzer to talk about the film.

How many documentaries are made about women’s skateboarding?

When we started making the film in 2018, I knew of one other project that was was created to sort of showcase how limited the media coverage was. And that that film started out as a thesis project and it was it was very limited in its availability. And we I couldn't find anything else amidst the dozens of other films, both narrative and documentary, that showcase really women at all.

Why did you decide to tell the story?

Well, it's probably about as personal as you can get. My six year old daughter decided that she wanted to start skateboarding when we began to make the film and she was really the impetus to it, really looking for some positive narratives and some really incredible female role models that she could look up to as this young girl.

I couldn't find that in the mainstream media landscape but I was finding it all over social media. So social media really became this kind of catalyst for this community of women, non-binary people, people of color and all different kinds of humans who didn't look like the standard skateboarding stereotype to find each other.

A person poses for a photo with a salmon colored tie and jean jacket
Director of "Skate Dreams," Jessica Edwards.
Courtesy of Ebru Yildiz

And so that really became very interesting to me. My daughter would never really feel like she wasn't included, that was really interesting. She just kind of got her little pink skateboard and went out with the crew skating and that sort of disconnect between what it was like for me growing up and what it was like for her was something I wanted to explore a little bit deeper.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.

Did you get to have a front row seat to the community with Nicole?

I mean, absolutely. You know, Nicole was so open and welcoming. And like many of the skaters, I think that they're so used to kind of being sidelined by sponsors, by media that they just went out and did it on their own. And so anybody who showed interest to, that was all that mattered.

And, you know, that was extremely new five years ago when we started. It's changed slightly over the past five years, for the good in my mind. I mean, more women have gone pro in the last five years than I think in like the 20 years previous previous to that, including Nicole Hause who just went pro for real skateboards last weekend, which is really, really exciting. So we're really, really proud of the hometown hero.

A person on a skateboard wearing a hat
Nicole Hause of Stillwater, Minn.
Courtesy of Skate Dreams/Film First

But it's still hard to break through, right?

I think that the change that I've noticed in the last two years, it is easier now than it's ever been. But the caveat of that being, of course, that it was never easy. But you do have very big sponsors and companies paying attention to women in a way that they never have before. And we can only applaud that, right? Everybody just wants there to be more access. And that's frankly, what the kids are excited about.

One of the sort of silver linings of COVID for American kids was that they could use skateboarding and or be introduced to skateboarding. The industry really exploded during those couple of years. And you saw more kids get on a skateboard than you have in the recent past. The industry itself is paying attention to what the kids are excited about and what they're seeing is really from social media. So there's kind of a direct way that skateboarders can kind of connect with their with their audiences, with their crews, that then the big brands pay attention to.

Is your daughter still skateboarding?

She's still skateboarding. You know, she's got lots of other interests now too. But Nicole Hauser is her hero. When she found out that she went pro last week, she was super excited. We have a screening in Duluth and we also have one in Stillwater on Sept. 25. So come and hang out with us, see the movie and then go skate.

Click the audio player above to listen to the full episode. 

Subscribe to the Minnesota Now podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.  

We attempt to make transcripts for Minnesota Now available the next business day after a broadcast. When ready they will appear here. 

Audio transcript

INTERVIEWER: So we were talking about the children's book festival a few minutes ago. Now, let's talk about the Duluth superior film festival. It's September 22nd through the 25th and the festival will feature 90 films from the midwest and around the globe. Jessica Edwards will be there and her documentary Skate Dreams will have its Minnesota premiere. It's the first feature length documentary to capture the story behind the rise of women's skateboarding. She'll be joined by one of the film's five featured skateboarders Nicole Hause of Stillwater. Here's a clip from that film.

[VIDEO PLAYBACK]

SUBJECT 1: You used to have a couple guys at a magazine deciding what would get shown.

SUBJECT 2: Back then you didn't have phones with cameras. Now, it's so easy to film anything and this is why we're seeing so many more women. Girls needed more support. It's always, it's so dangerous. Like, what the heck. Something had to be done.

[END PLAYBACK]

INTERVIEWER: Filmmaker Jessica Edwards is on the line right now welcome to the program, Jessica. Congratulations.

JESSICA EDWARDS: Thank you so much and thanks for having me.

INTERVIEWER: Interesting subject matter, women's skateboarding. Of all the narrative and documentary films made about skateboarding, how many would you think are about women's skateboarding?

- When we started making the film in 2018, I knew of one other projects that was created to sort of showcase how limited the media coverage was. And that film started out as a thesis project by a wonderful skater and organizer named Amelia Branca and it was very limited in its availability. And I couldn't find anything else admits the dozens of other films, both narrative and documentary, that showcased really women at all

INTERVIEWER: There's always, as you know, a personal story behind most films that spurs a filmmaker to get out there and create. What's your story? Why did you decide to tell this story?

JESSICA EDWARDS: Well, it's probably about as personal as you can get. My six-year-old daughter, when we started making the film, decided that she wanted to start skateboarding and she was really the impetus to really look for some positive narratives and some really incredible female role models that she could look up to as this young girl.

And what I couldn't find, sort of in the mainstream media landscape, I was finding all over social media. And social media really became this kind of catalyst for this community of women, and non-binary people, and people of color, and all different kinds of humans who were very, you know, didn't look like a pretty standard skateboarding stereotype to find each other. And so that really became very interesting to me.

And my daughter never really felt like she wasn't included and that was really interesting. She just kind of got her little pink skateboard and went out with the crew and started skating. And that sort of disconnect between what it was like for me growing up and what it was like for her was something I wanted to explore a little bit deeper.

INTERVIEWER: I love the little pink skateboard. So you followed five women skateboarders for the film. One of them, as I mentioned, is from Minnesota, Nicole Hause. She's from Stillwater. She's been skateboarding, oh, gosh, I talked to her years ago, she's been skateboarding since she was 10. I think her dad built her a skate ramp behind the barn if I recall correctly. So she's been out there and is really interesting woman. I want to play a clip from the film because I wonder if it captures something about the culture of the women's skateboard community. I want you to comment on that. Let's play that clip.

[VIDEO PLAYBACK]

SUBJECT 3: I flew from Cambodia alone. Not so many female skaters at Cambodia No, and I'm so excited to be here, especially see so many females skaters and I just want to be a part of that crew especially. But I'm not in the team yet.

SUBJECT 4: You want to be on our team?

SUBJECT 3: Really?

SUBJECT 4: Yeah.

SUBJECT 3: Really? Yeah. Of course, yeah.

SUBJECT 4: We're going to have the best time

[END PLAYBACK]

INTERVIEWER: I love that because the women seem very open and welcoming. Did you see a lot of that and did you get to have a front row seat to the community courtesy of Nicole Hause?

JESSICA EDWARDS: I mean, absolutely. Nicole was so open and welcoming and like many of the skaters, I think that they were so used to kind of being sidelined by sponsors, by media that they just went out and did it on their own And so anybody who was showed interest or drive to skate, or learn to skate, or be part of a group of girls who was interested in skating, that was all that mattered. It's like you can sit with us if you're interested in skating.

There is very little in the way of posturing and that was extremely new at five years ago when we started. And this was really before the Olympics had happened and accepted skateboarding as an official sport. And then, a little, it's changed slightly over the past five years. For the good in my mind.

I mean, more women have gone pro in the last five years than I think in the 20 years previous to that, including Nicole Hause who just went pro for real skateboards last weekend, which is really, really exciting. So we're really, really proud of of the hometown hero. But yeah, there is an absolute change now. You see change from even when it was when we started making the movie.

INTERVIEWER: But, is it still hard to break through? I'm thinking of, when you think skateboarding, who do you think of? Tony Hawk, I suppose, right? Who's made millions off of endorsement deals. I would think it would still be pretty hard for female skaters to get sponsors, or am I wrong?

JESSICA EDWARDS: You know, I think that the change that I've noticed in the last, even two years is it is easier now than it's ever been. But the caveat of that being, of course, that it was never easy. But you do have very big sponsors, and very big apparel companies, and board companies, and beverage companies paying attention to women in a way that they never have before. And we can only applaud that, right? Everybody just wants there to be more access and that's frankly what the kids are excited about.

One of the sort of silver linings of COVID for American kids was that they could use skateboarding or be introduced to skateboarding and the industry really exploded during those couple of years. And you saw more kids get on a skateboard than you have in the recent past. So the industry itself is paying attention to what the kids are excited about and what they're seeing is really from social media. So there's kind of a direct way that skateboarders can kind of connect with their audiences and connect with their crews than the big brands pay attention to.

INTERVIEWER: I see. I have just seconds left. Because your six-year-old daughter, her interest in skateboarding, got you to make the doc, is she's still skateboarding?

JESSICA EDWARDS: She's still skateboarding. She's got lots of other interests now too but Nicole Hause is her hero. When she found out that she went pro last week, she just was super excited. And folks should come out and meet Nicole. She sign all your boards and hang out. We have a screening in Duluth and we also have one in Stillwater on September 25th. So come and hang out with us, see the movie, and then go skate.

INTERVIEWER: I love that. Jessica, thank you so much.

JESSICA EDWARDS: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

INTERVIEWER: Best of luck. Jessica Edwards is a filmmaker. Her documentary, Skate Dreams will have its Minnesota premiere at this weekend's Duluth superior film festival and, of course, she also mentioned the Stillwater screening September the 25th.

Download transcript (PDF)

Transcription services provided by 3Play Media.