Ben Proudfoot prefers to make documentaries that are short, not feature length, for the freedom it affords him. Without the burden of a feature-length budget to raid, or backers to whom he must answer, he can choose his subjects and tell their stories the way he wants to. It’s a philosophy that has resulted in his second Academy Award™ nomination in as many years for QUEEN OF BASKETBALL, which he subsequently won for the remarkable, and stunningly unknown, story of Luisa Harris. She was the first woman to sink a basket at the Olympics (1976), or to be drafted by the NBA (New Orleans Jazz in 1977). She turned the latter down for reasons she explains in this 22-minute documentary. With no professional women’s basketball options, she chose a life outside the spotlight and, despite leading her college team, Delta State, to three consecutive national championships, was all but forgotten.
Proudfoot’s film changes all that. Word has spread, especially because of the Oscar™ nomination, and since speaking with Proudfoot via Zoom on March 5, 2022, Stephen Curry has joined Shaquille O’Neil as QUEEN’s executive producer. How Shaq came on board is a question I asked later in our conversation, but I started by asking if, despite his own preference for the short form, Proudfoot had been at all tempted to make something longer in order to include more details of one woman’s amazing life.
We went on to talk about how she could have been so thoroughly forgotten over time; the petition to pay her proper homage; and transitioning through time; and how Shaquille O’Neil got in touch with Proudfoot out of the blue.
We finished up with the smartest investment we can make as human beings; what it’s like to get an Oscar™ nomination for the second time; that award ceremony’s rule changes; and filmmaking in the time of COVID, and the impact that has on the B-roll.