As a ski-crazed Midwestern girl growing up in the 80s, I watched a lot of Warren Miller movies with my dad as a way to prep for our annual Colorado ski trip. You might notice some anachronisms in those classic films today, like the absence of both helmets and women…besides the requisite shots of babes skiing in bikinis.
Fast-forward 25 years and little has changed. Despite a wealth of tremendous female big mountain skiers like Lynsey Dyer, Rachael Burks, and Ingrid Backstrom, female participation in ski movies hovers at around 14 percent, despite the fact that women make up 40 percent of skiers on the slopes today.
Dyer decided to do something to change that.
Back in 2007, she joined Claire Smallwood and Vivian Pierce to found an organization called She Jumps, with the aim of increasing female participation in outdoor sports. A national organization, She Jumps often partners with existing groups such as the Boys and Girls Club to lead outdoor education events across the country. In 2012, Dyer dreamt up the idea to produce an all-female ski film that would feature much-needed role models for young girls. “If she can do it, so can I,” co-producer Smallwood says of the mission of the film. “You have to find someone to relate to for this to really ring true.”
At first, Dyer intended to splice together select footage of female skiers left on the cutting room floor from mainstream ski films by Warren Miller and Teton Gravity Research. But eventually she decided she’d shoot her own scenes and use crowd-sourced footage from female skiers all over the world. The end result is the feature-length film, Pretty Faces: Story of a Skier Girl.
Technically, Pretty Faces is not the first all-female ski movie. Say My Name, which was co-produced by X Games champion Grete Eliassen, was released in 2010. Pretty Faces, however, is the first entirely crowd-sourced, crowd-funded action sports film ever, raising more than $110,000 on Kickstarter.
Dyer and Smallwood thought the Kickstarter campaign launched last January would gauge interest and excitement about the film. “We were so scared that we would fall on our faces,” Smallwood says. Instead, they raised $40,000 more than then their goal and gained corporate sponsorship from companies including Eddie Bauer and REI.
To reach as wide an audience as possible, the film is set to screen at 24 theaters—from British Columbia to Boise, ID—after the premiere in Boulder on September 30.
Pretty Faces isn’t just ski porn. Although you’ll definitely see jaw-dropping extreme skiing in the film, Pretty Faces is meant to portray the real lives of “skier girls:” their friendships, dreams, day jobs, and more. The message is “if you can dream it, you can do it, ” Smallwood says. “There’s a whole army of women to help you.”