An award-winning BYU capstone film explores resilience from a new angle: mothers who skateboard.
Sophia Deighton Prestwich (BA ’20) was an amateur when she started dropping in at Provo skate parks in early 2020. As she navigated the concrete half-pipes and bowls, she immediately felt something was off, and it wasn’t her balance: “I noticed that there weren’t many girls at the park,” she says. The women she did see out shredding in their Vans and skullies definitely stood out in the male-dominated scene. And Prestwich, a media-arts major from Essex, England, recognized a story in the making.
Her idea for a documentary about the gnarly women of Provo’s skate parks was chosen by the film department as a capstone project. The film, dubbed Skaterhood, won the BYU Ballard Center’s 2021 Changemaker Film competition and Best Documentary Short at the London Independent Film Awards.
“Skateboarding is a perfect, fun medium to teach things like perseverance, getting up after falling, the importance of community, [and] facing fears,” says Alexandra “Xan” K. Marcucci (BS ’19), one of the subjects of Skaterhood. Marcucci and the two other subjects, Cassidy Andersen and Jennifer Begay, connected easily with Prestwich as she filmed them, sometimes from atop her own board. “Sophia has such a warm, inviting, and trustworthy air about her,” says Barkdull. Director of photography Skyler A. Sorensen (BA ’21) agrees: “I think the English accent also makes people feel less intimidated.”
As the crew got to know the women, their film “morphed naturally into the story of motherhood,” Sorensen says. Andersen juggled a toddler (a little girl aptly named Ollie) while practicing shuvits at the skate park, and Begay arrived early every morning with her shy 13-year-old son for private practice.
Marcucci was newly pregnant—her story grew more poignant when she experienced a miscarriage and opened up about her feelings on camera. Marcucci’s words impacted the whole crew. “I have so much more empathy and respect for mothers and . . . the things that they face as mums,” Prestwich shares.
While they may bail from an anchor grind, these skater mums, adds Prestwich, stick their biggest trick of all: maintaining their “strong sense of identity while also caring for another person.”