Nothing signals the approach of the winter season like a new crop of ski films. The first one to drop in Park City this season is Matchstick Productions' latest feature All In, screening September 28-30 at the library. Featuring locations in far flung destinations from Japan to South America as well as our backyard on the lift-accessed terrain of Snowbird, All In is sure to get you stoked for the upcoming season.
True to ski film formula, it's high on action, light on story, full of personality, and features shot after shot of athletes sending it. But there is a twist. This time, audiences are following a more balanced line-up of athletes (read: they're not all dudes). That said, All In also isn't your typical "women can shred, too" film. It just happens to feature an equal number of women and men in the skiing-is-for-everyone spirit. Leading the charge are big mountain rockstars Angel Collinson, Michelle Parker, Tatum Monod, and Elyse Saugstad with Mark Abma, Wiley Miller, Johnny Collinson, and Cody Townsend tagging along as they hit up the slopes.
We caught up with Elyse Saugstad ahead of the film's premiere to find out about the filming process and why All In is simultaneously about the athletes' commitment to the sport and the inclusive nature of skiing.
When and how did you first get into skiing? And filming?
I started skiing before I can remember, when I was 3 or 4 growing up in Alaska. The freedom, adrenaline, being up in the mountains on your own, and building confidence stuck with me my whole life. I started filming when I became a professional skier and began competing to showcase my talents for sponsors. In 2008, I got my first chance to be on screen with Rage Films. It took a lot of time to get into [the industry]. You need to put in a lot of work to become a good film skier and it's hard to get opportunities, especially as a woman. But I was really passionate about making it happen.
How did "All In" come about and what was your involvement with the project?
It all started with a group of women--Ingrid (Ingrid Backstrom), Michelle, Angel, Tatum, and myself. We wanted to ski together and make a film. It was a good time to make it happen in the industry so we put together a concept and started looking for a title sponsor and shopping it around to companies. Ingrid really took the reigns for this part. MSP thought it was a great idea and jumped on it. Unfortunately, Ingrid didn't get to be a part of it because of an injury and having a baby.
What was is it like having more women around in the filming process?
The token female has been pervasive in filming, so I haven't had the opportunity to work with many women in the past. The one time, before this, was filming with Michelle for Drop Everything. I think society has this idea that women don't get along, but it's not the case at all. Instead of being ultra competitive, we really brought out the best in each other; and it got us thinking about making a project like All In happen. I'm personally inspired by these women. Of course, men inspire me too, but it is different when it's the same gender because you think: if she can do it, I can do it. Men don't think about it because there have always been men to push off. When you're the token female, you gauge your ability off of men and sometimes it's hard to tell if you're pushing yourself hard enough or going to far. Women bring something different to the table. It was different and super fun.
What was your favorite filming location on the project?
When I was filming in BC around Whistler, I had the best conditions. So, for the sake of pushing myself in skiing, that was the most fun. But filming with Michelle and Angel in Alaska was also really special. We didn't have the best conditions, but Alaska has some of the most challenging, big mountain skiing in the world; and to be up there with two women was pivotal. With the variable snow conditions, there were a lot of things to take into account, especially the communication. We have so much trust in each other's decision making processes so we were staying safe while still charging. The fact that director Scott Gaffney -- who's been so influential in the ski industry and seen so much -- was there capturing this was not lost on any of us, including him. It's indicative of where we are now in the industry.
Why do you think it’s important for women to have equal time in the spotlight in ski film and the sports world in general?
In a sense, the question is almost "why not, why don't we deserve equal spotlight?" We're evolving as a society and because of it, women have always been trying to play catch up in sports. Even a generation ago, women weren't perceived as sporty and parents didn't push their daughters into sports. It's still a relatively new concept. The more visibility women have in sports, the more progress women make in sports. It comes back to being inspired by your own gender and knowing what's possible. It's a snowball effect.
Don't forget to tune in when All In screens as part of the Park City Film Series from September 28-30. Opening night will feature athlete appearances and opportunities to win some great swag. Tickets are $15/person (available here).