OFF SIDES: To Them, It’s More Than A Game

Chris Hadley
10 min readDec 14, 2023

While some kids are practically born to become the next Patrick Mahomes (football), LeBron James (basketball), Shohei Ohtani (baseball), Alex Ovechkin (hockey), Alex Morgan or Lionel Messi (both soccer), other youngsters who may not have the athleticism or competitiveness of their counterparts see sports as a means of making new friends while absorbing important lessons about teamwork, effort and respect for their competitors.

However, not every parent who puts his or her child into youth sports feels that their experience on the field should be all about learning life’s fundamentals through the games they play. Many of these moms and dads go to huge and often obsessive lengths to ensure their kids’ success in sports, even if they’re not destined to be as legendary as their championship-winning heroes — or sometimes, the people who raised them.

The outlandish personalities of the adults who live vicariously through their otherwise level-headed children’s wins and losses is spotlighted in actor/writer/director Kaitlyn Brown’s wacky mockumentary Off Sides, a funny and incredibly relatable look at seven soccer-crazed parents whose fanatical focus on having their kids become the next stars of the beautiful game goes to amusing extremes both on and off the pitch.

Made in the mold of such classics as mockumentary pioneer Christopher Guest’s This Is Spinal Tap, Best In Show and Waiting for Guffman, plus the long-running sitcom Modern Family, Off Sides co-stars Shannon Bamburg as Amanda, whose joy in watching her daughter Maddie’s (Presley Britt) playful energy is as powerful as her mission of being a strong team leader.

Meanwhile, Amanda’s younger peer Olivia (Anne Nichols Brown) has a new man in her enemy’s ex-husband, and the mind games she plays against Olivia soon become more entertaining than a World Cup final determined by penalty kicks.

As Amanda and Olivia start a rivalry as dramatic as Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, a sillier one emerges between the cat-loving Eddie (Arms Brown) and order-obsessed Todd (Logan Sledge), who sweats every detail before every game to the point where he thinks he — and not Amanda — is calling the shots on the sidelines.

Brown portrays Rebecca, whose obsession with making her daughter Lilyanna (Annabelle Johnson) into the next Alex Morgan literally leads her to rename her Lilyanna “Alex Morgan”, while her husband Rob’s (Josh Talley) uncontrolled temper makes Liliana’s otherwise fun match an excruciating experience. Amidst the zaniness, newcomer Susan (Lauren Treme) is as baffled by the behavior of the other parents on game days as she is by the rules of soccer itself.

Off Sides was one of the top 5 finalists (out of 19 films) at the 2023 Louisiana Film Prize, while Brown was one of 5 filmmakers honored with the event’s Founder’s Circle Grant (which provides $3,000 for its recipients to shoot their next short for the 2024 Film Prize). Recently, Brown discussed how this zany tribute to soccer moms, dads and their kids went from the page to the pitch, and how her own past as a soccer mom kicked off the development of her debut work for the Film Prize.

Chris Hadley: What inspired you to make Off Sides?

Kaitlyn Brown (writer/director/co-star, “Rebecca” — Off Sides): My main inspiration for Off Sides was my daughter. She played competitive soccer for years and my husband and I became great friends with the parents of her teammates. One day at a soccer game we had our usual friendly banter on the side line and I thought at that moment that our jokes, conversations, and quick wit with each other would make a hilarious film. On the way home from that game, I told my husband about my idea and he gave me the encouragement to take the leap and start writing a script. The rest is history!

CH: Since this film is a mockumentary comedy, and since it’s also a sports comedy, were there any specific films of those sub-genres that inspired you as you put the concept and characters for Off Sides together?

KB: Although not films, I referenced Parks and Recreation. Modern Family and The Office the most when creating many aspects of the film. I also referenced reality TV shows (mainly Dance Moms) to further the details of making the mockumentary seem more realistic. Surprisingly, I did not reference any other sports comedy films. I’ve been told that I need to watch Ted Lasso (don’t come after me for not seeing it yet! It’s on my list!)

CH: In what ways (if any) have your own experiences with youth soccer inspired those elements of Off Sides?

KB: Great question! I think what I brought most from my personal experience are the characters and their personalities. I wouldn’t say that all of the characters are based solely on individual people, but more so a collection of events and people that I have experienced as a soccer parent. I think that’s what makes them so relatable.

CH: How did you come up with the story and characters for this film?

KB: The script morphed multiple times throughout my writing journey. I knew from the beginning that we needed to tell each individual character’s story through interviews, yet connect them all in some way with an overarching story. One of the first things I started with was writing each character breakdown and developing the personalities and unique traits that each character would have. Fun fact: I didn’t name any of my characters until my final script was finished, I only titled them with personality traits.

I wrote as many details about each character as I could think. I even went to a local soccer field during busy practice days because I wanted to immerse myself into that world as I was writing. This really was a catapult of creativity for me. Once I had a solid character breakdown, the story just appeared as I began to write.

It’s fun to go back and look at the original character breakdown and script to what we ended up with — it’s definitely a testament to (trusting) the creative process and being willing to pivot or change depending on what’s best for the story. I have characters that I ended up not using and multiple unused story lines from when I first started the concept.

CH: Were the kids you cast in this film already playing soccer, or did they have to be trained to play it for this project?

KB: I believe out of all the kids on our production, only 1–3 (of them) actually play soccer. The beauty of this film is that it was not crucial that the girls could play soccer at all. In fact, it was not even a concern for me if they could play or not since the child-like nature and beginner level soccer skills highlights even more so the absurd and over the top behavior of some of the parents.

CH: What was the production process like, including for the soccer sequences?

KB: We shot our film over the course of 2 ½ days. We started with shooting individual interviews from all of our characters. We had a few locations but we knocked all of those out first. The last bit that we filmed were all the scenes on the soccer field. We started with the scenes with all extras and children and funneled it out from there.

Another fun fact: we shot our soccer sequences not only on Father’s Day, but in the middle of a city-wide power outage. We had crazy weather this past summer in which we had to reschedule the shoot multiple times due to rain. When we finally scheduled it, most of our cast did not have power. We had a strict schedule and detailed shot list we worked from. I am also a choreographer so it was fun to block the soccer plays and move players around similar to how I move people through dances.

CH: This is your first film for the Louisiana Film Prize, and it was one of the top 5 honorees for this year’s event. How did you first hear about the Prize, and what are your memories of being part of and seeing all the films and filmmakers that were part of the 2023 festival?

KB: I am unbelievably honored to have my film make the top five. I first heard about the Film Prize from my husband. He took me to my first prize fest when we were still dating and I have been hooked ever since. Every year I have attended (since 2018) I have always left with an overwhelming amount of inspiration. There’s nothing quite like the environment of being around so many creative people who love what they do and are so talented.

However, this was the first year I acted upon my feelings of wanting to create a film. Being a part of the filmmakers this year was an amazing experience. The other filmmakers in the top 20 are so talented at what they do. The support and friendships I made through the experience are so special. Meeting with esteemed judges and receiving feedback on the film was also an experience that I could not even put a price on. I grew so much as an individual and a filmmaker throughout the entire experience.

CH: What have you taken away from the experience of having Off Sides be in the top 19 films for the 2023 Prize, and from making Off Sides for the festival this year?

KB: I think the number one thing I took away from this experience is a belief in myself. I really doubted myself at the beginning of this process and often wondered what I was thinking acting upon this idea, but to have the film received in the way it was really gave me confidence and a reminder that it’s important to honor yourself and to take chances.

There’s always room for growth and experience to gain, but I could not have asked for a better first experience. I’ve learned things that will make me a better filmmaker for my next project and a new found confidence in myself. Also, it’s just really, really fun to make films!

CH: Because Off Sides is among the top 5 finalists at this year’s Film Prize, you have qualified not just for a $1,000 grant that will help you bring the film to and attend other national festivals, but also the Prize’s $3,000 Founder’s Circle Grant, which will help you and the rest of the finalists to make another film for next year’s event. How will this help you to improve not just your work behind the camera, but also the quality of your next films?

KB: I learned rather quickly through this project that filmmaking is an expensive craft. Having a grant opens up a whole new set of resources for my next project. Filmmaking is a collaborative project as well and I believe that everyone who is putting in work deserves to be paid, so having the grant money will allow me to expand my budget and access a whole new set of resources and expand the team of people who I had the pleasure of working with this time around.

CH: What projects are you working on now?

KB: I currently work for a local theater company, Stage Center. We just wrapped up Anastasia, where I was the choreographer. We are now working on a 15 minute excerpt from Moana Jr. (the hour-long stage adaptation of the 2016 Disney animated movie Moana) to take to the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta, Georgia in January which I am also choreographing. After that, I have plans to utilize our Founder’s Circle grant and make my second short film. I’m in the beginning process of writing the script and am very much looking forward to the next project in filmmaking!

CH: Now that Off Sides has made a successful debut at this year’s Prize Fest, where and when can audiences see it next?

KB: We are in the initial stages of submitting the film to other festivals. For now, we are waiting to see how it does in the festival circuit and then will make plans to share it with a wider audience. Stay tuned! Please follow our social media pages to stay updated with where the film goes, and eventually, where you can watch (it)!

For more information on Off Sides and its future screenings, visit its Facebook page:

On Instagram:



Chris Hadley

Writer, @SnobbyRobot, @FSMOnlineMag, Writer/Creator, @LateLateNewsTV