BY LACHLAN ROSS
When Blake Dean first approached me and said he was trying to re-learn cricket as a left-hander, I insisted we grab a coffee and chat more.
Working for a local sports media startup at the time, he thought we may write an article on his goal to play Grade cricket left-handed. Leaving that first meeting, I knew this story was far too good for a short write up.
Growing up playing cricket in Canberra, I idolised the Aussie cricket stars. My mates and I would announce we were Michael Bevan, Adam Gilchrist, or Mark Waugh as we stepped up to the backyard crease, then launch one over the fence ‘six and out’.
As my cricket career dried up around 16, my love for sports stories remained, studying writing and journalism at the University of Victoria in Canada while playing college basketball.
Upon returning to Canberra in 2015, I worked as a freelance journalist, publishing articles across Australia, Canada, and the US. My biggest interest as a journalist had always been peoples’ motivation. Blake was choosing to risk his reputation and everything he had accomplished as one of Canberra’s best cricketers, to try something new in an attempt to change the game he loved.
In five years as a sports journalist, I walked away from meeting Blake Dean thinking his story was the best I had ever come across.
As one season filming cricket turned into two, I realised I had accidentally jumped in the deep end of documentary filmmaking - and loved it.
In the five years since that first season, Blake and my lives have changed a fair bit. Blake’s ‘Southpaw Project’ has evolved into a successful full-time cricket coaching business, his six month old son is in kindergarten, and he and his wife Alyce now have a beautiful three year old daughter as well. Also in that time, my videography business has grown to have multiple team members, and our first 30-minute feature for the NBA just aired on ESPN.
While long-term documentaries like this involve a huge amount of uncertainty and sacrifice, the payoff of sharing these past few years with Blake and his incredible family trumps anything else I’ve worked on.
As The Southpaw Project has evolved over the years, it has become more and more clear that Blake’s story has the power to change lives. Despite the growing awareness around mental health, and in particular, men’s mental health in sport, we still need heroes to step up and share their struggles.
While Blake’s journey starts as a homage to changing the game he loves, I believe it will now eclipse cricket, and will serve as a story that sparks change in the awareness of men’s mental health.
The Southpaw Project has inspired me to chase my goals, even when they seem far fetched or out of reach. Now, I hope this documentary can do the same for you.
JOIN The team
To complete production and post-production of the documentary we are currently seeking private investors and community funding through the Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF).
DAF is an organisation who enable impact documentary projects to raise tax-deductible funding and make it possible for passionate philanthropists to collaborate with filmmakers to tell stories that change lives.