Sometimes you interview people and they have nothing to say. You can avoid that by asking the right questions or picking the right person to interview, but sometimes it still doesn’t work. That’s probably why the journa-gods invented the profile, the perfect solution for combatting half-assed answers. So when I set out to write a profile about the first lady of Snowboard cinema, Leanne Pelosi for Snowboarder.com, I figured I just needed a few quotes to suppliment my research. So you can image my delight when I got back thorough, well thought out answers to every one of my questions. So even though I wrote up a nice, neat profile for theother site, I felt like the snowboarding public needed to hear everything Leanne had to say. You should definitely read the profile, but if you’re hungry for more, here is the unabridged Leanne Pelosi interview.
Let’s start broad with a question about broads. How do you feel about the state of women’s snowboarding?
There are always going to be the riders who sit on their coattails and then there are the ones who are pushing the envelope. And then there are all the other girls who talk shit on each other, and that doesn’t help our sport in any way at all. People like to talk shit, because it can be a hobby of some sort. And they say girls suck, but I get to see firsthand that it is actually getting better and better. We’re trying our best and our sport is still quite young in comparison to the men. So far, we’re doing pretty well. It will keep getting better and better, exponentially now because there is a lot more involvement these days.
Obviously women have come a long way, but what’s the next step in the quest for complete female domination of snowboarding?
Hopefully seeing 7’s in contests as the standard this year. More technical runs than in the past. I don’t like seeing so many safety runs. I would love to see just jam format contests. For complete female domination…I guess that would mean for girls to not to be expected to be a pretty face…I think the bar is being raised in terms of work ethic. The girls who will dominate will have video part, contest results and a lot of exposure in the mags.
Are you still doing MGT Snowboard Camps? Do you get a lot of people confusing you with the band MGMT? But seriously, how is that going?
Yes, sometimes people are like, “Are you still doing Management camps?” We’ve been running a really successful camp, and we’re going into our 7th year. This year we made the move down south to High Cascade for our summer camp and also had a summer camp in Argentina, partnered with South America Snowboard Sessions. During the course of the winter, we hold 2-day weekend camps and also an AM contest throughout Alberta and British Columbia.
How do you feel about competing? How often do you do it and is it something you do for yourself, or your sponsors?
Last year I didn’t focus on competing at all, other than the X Games where I made finals and hit my head right before I had to do my 2 final runs. I think contests can be fun and a good way to make some money. I have nothing bad to say about doing contests because that’s what brought me here. However, the last few years, I competed a lot and wanted to change it up. When you’re filming, there are no boundaries. I think it’s a million times harder to get a good video part than a good contest result. The sport progresses faster through videos; it’s how we’ve come to learn what snowboarding is. If it weren’t for the TB series, Mack Dawg’s, Robot Foods, we wouldn’t have all this. So that’s something I like to do for myself and for the sport in general, but sponsors would probably rather see me on the podium of some contest. It’s like instant gratification. You win, get money and exposure. Filming is a yearlong process, with one big hit at the end. Thankfully for me most of my sponsors were stoked on whatever I wanted to do.
So obviously you like to stay busy, but why the decision to start up Runway? Who is involved in the behind the scenes of that project with you?
Jeff Keenan is the producer and director. He steers the ship, and worked his ass off for us. Thank you Jeff. Matt Standish was our marketing coordinator, and then we had myself, Jake Zalutsky our editor, and Jan the wild man Snarski, our Aussie filmer. For all of us, it’s a full time gig from December until July, finishing it off with premiere tours in Sept-Nov.
What is your personal role in the video making process?
I wore many hats. From accounting to organizing to sponsor relations, to organizing the girls, to the website, to updates, to music rights, to putting out fires, to etc etc etc! It was never ending. There was always something to do. I held it together along with Jeff.
It seems like most all-female film companies in snowboarding have been short-lived. Why do you think that is?
Because its a thankless job, year round. And for the people at the top like Jeff, it didn’t pay the bills. At some point to have to take a step back and wonder if it’s the best decision for your career. For me and all the other girls, we are so lucky that this even happened to us, and it would be great for the sport to have this outlet forever. But it’s hard when there’s minimal support financially for the people who run the company.
Do you plan on making another movie?
Unfortunately not. We worked our asses off, and it was a full time job on the side of snowboarding. Studies say that multitasking never works.Mentally, it was hard to focus on both producing and riding. This upcoming season, I’ll solely be focusing on snowboarding. I have more tricks that I have in mind to learn.
What were some of the biggest challenges in getting a crew together to make the movie?
The fact of the matter is that many of the top female riders want to be on a guy’s crew. They see all girls movies as a last choice kind of thing. I feel that since we’ve had Misschief and Runway to film for the last 4 years, our impact in the sport has skyrocketed to the point where every team in snowboarding is supporting the female side. Women in snowboarding are too few to divide and united we stand stronger. However I do understand that riding with better people will make you push yourself harder. It looks like Priscilla pushed herself with the Standard guys, but also Raewyn Reid pushed the limits of rail riding for women in our movie. It would be nice to have everyone commit 110%. We make a schedule based around photoshoots, contests, appearances, other commitments, etc. etc. etc. Filming for girls movies are not like the other crews, where you hang with your one tight crew all year long and film 99% of the time. There were only about 2 or 3 girls on our crew who didn’t do any contests this year. So you could imagine what it would be like if we had a full time commitment. It would really be insane.
Do you feel you’ve attained satisfaction in the level of riding that Runway has captured?
We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what’s beneath. The season goes so fast. With the time we had, we were close but I don’t think we captured the current level. Everyone has their best tricks, and I know for sure that some of them weren’t in our movie. I can’t wait until the day that everyone is super psyched on their section. But that’s an ideal world, and it’s not realistic. It would be sick to do a project like how skateboarding does it. You film until you feel satisfied.
Have you gotten any feedback that will change the way you approach videos in the future?
I think these days the story behind the riding is the best way to go. It gets boring watching shot after shot. It’s cool to see something unique. I loved the way Travis Rice’s movie was narrated. I think it made it interesting for not only a hard core snowboarder to watch, but anyone from the general public could pick that video up and enjoy it.
I read that Erin Comstock was bummed a lot of her shots got cut. Did you have a lot of extra footage and how did you guys decide what went in and got left out?
I stayed out of the editing room, and the boys had their reasons for why stuff was cut. When you make a movie, things have to flow and I’m sure they used certain shots for a reason. I’m disappointed and upset that she was bummed, but if everyone had it their way, we would probably have a super long movie with no flow. We put trust in our editor to make it happen and overall he did a great job.
Has the process of making videos been more “political” than you expected? i.e. Is it hard to hear one of the riders upset about their part?
Yes definitely I get strewn as the mean boss who cut all the shots. But that’s not the case. It’s definitely a struggle to be a fellow snowboarder and then also one of the producers of the movie. I don’t like being in that position of telling someone they have no shots, or whatever. It sucks either way, because our editor chooses what he likes and runs with it, to make the movie flow well. I end up feeling awful when I hear that a rider is pissed about their part, and then I question myself why are we even making this when certain girls are going to do is complain. It’s a really stressful job to undertake, we put our blood sweat and tears into this thing.
Do you have any plans to move away from the riding side of snowboarding in the near future, or is it more a wait and see kind of thing?
No. I am still inspired by snowboarding and I feel I haven’t reached my full potential. This year I finally felt comfortable in the backcountry and I want to explore that area of riding.
What are your goals for your own riding?
I want to be able to ride in a creative way.