"I chose my career because I love sport. But what gave me the passion to continue to fight for equal opportunities was the unshakeable belief that a sport experience can truly empower a woman, perhaps better than any other experience.”— Dr. Christine Grant
How do you summarize the grueling work, lifelong battle and astounding accomplishments that led to the involvement of women in collegiate sports across the nation? Trilix and the University of Iowa Athletics did a thorough job of paying homage to Dr. Grant’s legacy in the documentary “Unshakeable Belief: The Dr. Christine Grant Story.”
Dr. Grant had an unshakeable belief that women should have the same support to pursue athletics as men. When she enrolled at the University of Iowa in 1968 to continue her physical education studies, that belief turned into an iron resolve to change the culture at educational institutions across the state and across the nation. Dr. Grant said she was shocked to discover that women’s sports across America were considered a second thought compared to men’s programs. This “force of nature,” as friends and colleagues describe her, became the University of Iowa’s first women’s athletics director in 1973.
After Dr. Grant passed away in late December of 2021, University of Iowa Athletics reached out to Trilix for assistance producing a documentary to celebrate Dr. Grant’s life and legacy.
The result was Trilix’s longest documentary, a 90-minute narrative featuring footage of Dr. Grant’s comments and speeches throughout her career, interviews with friends and colleagues and game footage — all showing that Dr. Grant’s work paid off.
While the film honors Dr. Grant’s work, it also serves as an exposé on the rollout of federal Title IX legislation, which intended to prevent sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government.
"We make many documentary-style pieces, and we always want to balance the viewing time with doing the narrative justice. It makes sense that the longest documentary we’ve made at Trilix encapsulates the lifelong work of this incredible figure.”Nathan McNurlen, post-production director at Trilix
“This was a new challenge that we were thrilled to take on,” said Nathan McNurlen, post-production director. “We make many documentary-style pieces, and we always want to balance the viewing time with doing the narrative justice. It makes sense that the longest documentary we’ve made at Trilix encapsulates the lifelong work of this incredible figure.”
Before beginning to hold interviews and shoot footage, Trilix conducted extensive research and watched more than 30 hours of archived footage — dating as far back as the 1970s — of Dr. Grant. This included reading court documents from Dr. Grant’s testimonies in front of Congress on the impact and implementation of Title IX.
Over two days, Trilix also recorded nearly 40 hours of interviews with university officials and Dr. Grant’s friends, family and colleagues. Since a large portion of the documentary would entail interviews, it was important to define the look and feel of those clips and record the interviews in an environment that reflected the heart of the piece: Dr. Grant’s devotion to Iowa sports. A mural in the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame served as the perfect backdrop. Motion graphics throughout the documentary helped provide a visual explanation for technical Title IX information and context about Iowa’s sports conferences.
The film also examines the great strides made by women’s athletics since 1968, when Dr. Grant was first shocked to discover that women were considered second-class athletes.
“It’s perfect for Iowa to tell this kind of story because not only did they have Dr. Grant, but many other women featured in the documentary did so much work to support women’s athletics. They also had the support of many male colleagues on campus, which was unique for that period,” said Emily Seaton, video editor. “The societal ideals of the time were wrong and hindering women athletes across the nation. The university was actively trying to fix it.”
We can’t thank the University of Iowa Athletics enough for enlisting our help in telling this story. Trilix is thrilled the University of Iowa gave us this opportunity to celebrate Dr. Grant and conquer the challenge of producing our longest documentary. As we know from Dr. Grant, “We have nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain” from supporting equal opportunities for athletes.
Learn more about Trilix’s documentary filmmaking and watch more of our award-winning videos on YouTube.