Girls Like Us
TYCI speaks to filmmaker Sing J Lee and national boxing champion Molly Perkins about Girls Like Us, a short documentary focusing on the female athlete.
For TYCI readers who don’t know about Girls Like Us yet, how would you describe it?
SING: Girls Like Us is a short intimate portrait of young female National Champion and the challenges she faces within the world of UK Amateur Boxing.
MOLLY: It’s showing people that female boxing is on the map now and us females in the sport are just as good as the boys and sometimes better.
Where does the title come from and why did you decide to name the film that?
SING: The title actually comes from one of my closest friend’s band called PINS. It’s the title of their debut album. I’ve worked quite closely with them and had such admiration for what they stood for within their world of music, when they named their album Girls Like Us, it was like a statement, that statement transcended just playing music, it was like a new manifesto, it seemed fitting to this project.
How did the idea for the film come about in the first place?
SING: My good friend and Italian producer Alessandra Sutto and I discovered the intriguing story of Sadaf Rahimi, a young Afghan boxer and her frustrating journey to the last Olympics. We wanted to come up with a multi-narrative film that centred on female boxing in different cultures, the challenges they faced in their respective countries. This teaser was our visual pitch and a test to see if we could build on it.
What do you hope people take away from watching it?
SING: For a sport that’s so heavily invested in its male categories, it’s surprising, or maybe sadly unsurprising, how the female side of the sport is so vastly overshadowed by it, and it deserves the chance to be taken seriously. That’s what I’d like to highlight.
Sing, how and when did you first get into directing? What kind of projects are you most attracted to?
SING: I think I got into animation first, and that came about from the curiosity of wishing my drawings and graphic design moved. Once I got to university, I began freelancing as a music video director and started making short live action films during my studies, I was lucky to have some friends in good bands and to meet great people early on after graduating.
I’m drawn to projects that are daring and bold, matched by beautiful photography. Where the idea or story is key, and it will challenge or encourage conversation. Also, I’m really drawn to the element of danger, either in where we’re shooting, or if we can actually pull the idea it off, that’s what really excites me. With music promos, I love working with bands that have a strong visual style and open to all sorts of creative ideas. Filmmaking is such a collaborative process, that’s the fun part about it.
And Molly, how and when did you first get into boxing? How did you know it was something you wanted to do?
MOLLY: I did kick boxing from the age of 6 and I got told by my dad at the age of 9 why don’t I try a bit of boxing as well to see if it will help with my kick boxing and I fell in love with the boxing gave up kick boxing and had my first fight when I was 11 and after that I just wanted to do well and keep getting better and then slowly get somewhere with it but I wouldn’t look back now and glad I changed over to boxing.
You were the youngest Midlands boxing champ and also the first female to get into the Sporting Excellence Academy in South Leicestershire. What do these achievements mean to you?
MOLLY: The achievement mentioned means a lot to me but I’ve had a new achievement this season by winning the National title which made me number one in England for my weight group. I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved it means so much to me to win and getting into college was a massive dream for a while and now being there a year makes me so happy.
Would you describe boxing as a “boys’ club”? And, if so, what advice would you give to female TYCI readers trying to make it in male dominated industries?
MOLLY: Boxing is mainly a boys’ sport, but in the last five years it’s become more popular with females joining the sport and since the Olympics there have been a lot more females join which is great. If I’m honest, I advise TYCI readers to do what makes you happy and don’t listen to people saying you shouldn’t do it. They’re just jealous you’re doing something with confidence and you’re not scared to put yourself out there and show people that you want to do well. If I listened to people when I first started boxing, I wouldn’t be doing it today. My friends at first couldn’t understand why I wanted to do a sport which involved getting punched. But the thing is why stop something that you love and that makes you happy. Prove people wrong like I did.
What does the rest of the year have in store for both of you, and Girls Like Us?
MOLLY: Well I’m going to be training over the summer hard and improving my skills for the new season in September. Hopefully Girls Like Us gets noticed like it should, because people still don’t really understand how hard it is for females in the sport.
SING: I’m continuing to work within the music promo world, enjoying the time of working with fantastic artists. Later in the year, I’ll hopefully move forward with my next short film. Regarding Girls Like Us, I’ve been moved by how positive and great a response this small portrait has gained, off this, we have begun research into turning it into the fully realised story I want to tell. Hopefully we can take it all the way.