(Photo:Addy Jacobsend, taken by Bianca Germain)
It’s no secret that skiing is a male-dominated sport. Plenty of men (not all, of course) think women are somehow less capable; that they’re less serious, less driven, and certainly less accomplished. Women can’t possibly know as much as men about gear and technique. And hey, they’re probably in it just to get a boyfriend, or maybe even just for the apres. It’s part of why I started TheSkiDiva waaaaaay back in 2006; to give women skiers a space where they can get the respect they deserve, without being judged or pigeon-holed because of their gender.
Professional skiers Sara Robbins and Addy Jacobsend have another way of dealing with inequality in skiing: They’re producing a feature length film called Advice for Girls. Slated for release in October, 2023, Advice for Girls will dive into the not-so-pretty details of being a female professional athlete, talk about the lessons that women skiers have learned, and pass advice onto the next generation of skiers. With an all-female cast and production crew, the film aims to deliver a high-quality cinematic ski experience that’s sure to inspire skiers and creatives across the world.
I recently spoke to Sara Robbins about what went into making this new film:
SD: So what inspired you to produce “Advice for Girls?”
SR: I’m one of three founders of a production company called The Road West Traveled. The other two founders are male, so in a lot of productions, I’m typically the only female around. So gender and racial diversity are really important to me. What’s more, I’m also a competitive skier. That’s how I met Addy Jacobsend. We became friends while we were both competing in the Freeride World Qualifiers. Anyway, Addy had written this poem called Advice for Girls; it’s like an anthem to all women to show up as themselves and take up space [ed note: see trailer above]. There’s a tendency in the industry to put us in boxes as women; you know, you have to look a certain way, show up a certain way, act a certain way — other ways are not typically allowed. Her poem really goes against those norms, and I find it extremely beautiful and very valuable.
Anyway, Addy knew I was a filmmaker, so she proposed we do a short film together about the things she talked about in the poem, and I was absolutely on board. But as we talked, we began to realize that it’d take a feature film to do justice to the poem’s ethos. That’s when we started reaching out to other athletes, to see if there was any interest in getting involved in a project like this. From there, it kind of caught on like wildfire. I’m just extremely, extremely grateful for the way it’s evolved.
SD: Is the movie only directed to athletes?
SR: Not at all. The audience is everybody. But most particularly, it’s for all women, whether you’re a creative, an athlete, or a female working for a ski brand. There are so many ways in which we should no longer be the token person in the space. We want to showcase the amount of value that women can bring when there’s effort and momentum behind them. We feel really passionately about trying to challenge the industry in a way that uplifts everybody, and hope this helps provide opportunities to women of color, people of color, transgender athletes, transgender creatives — anybody who identifies as a minority in the space. We think that rising tides raise all boats, and we hope we can create a space that’s just more equal and valuing of all human beings.
SD: Who’s in the film?
SR: We wanted to showcase the depth and breadth of the female talent out there. Some of the female athletes we’re including are ones I’ve looked up to for years. Sometimes I actually feel like pinching myself! For example, there’s Lynsey Dyer. A few years ago she produced the first all-female ski movie, Pretty Faces [ed note: you can see my interview with Lynsey here], and as one of the first women to appear in ski films, she brings a lot of experience to the table. Then there’s Caroline Gleich, who’s done some really incredible feats as a skier and hasn’t always been valued for her achievements. And there’s Devin Logan, who was one of the first women to medal at the Olympics in Slopestyle; it’s incredible to see how she’s bringing up other women in the park community. Two of our athletes are actually transgender women. I think that’s a first for a ski film. They’re both incredible humans, and I’m just so, so excited to support them and hopefully give representation to other types of women like them.
We’ll also focus on the future generation. We have four young women in the film; three are 12 and one is 17. We wanted to feature the up-and-coming talent and show what these girls are capable of. For example, Riley Watson, who turned 12 during shooting, was the youngest female to ever do a double back flip.
SD: And these women will be sharing their thoughts on being female in the ski industry?
SR: Yes. I think it’s important to get to the heart of every story and bring out what makes people tick. So we’ve done in-depth interviews with every athlete involved, and one of the components is their advice for girls. We’ll be talking about their experiences in the industry, as well as their hopes and dreams and what they hope will change.
SD: All this sounds fantastic. What’s the release date, and where can we see it?
SR: We have an entire tour planned in the fall. It starts October 21st with a premier at a private residence in Park City. The tickets will be priced higher to help us continue to fund the film and to support the types of people we aim to get into the sport. We’ll also have an impact campaign tied to this, where we’ll be donating money to nonprofit organizations that support getting women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ individuals into the outdoors. We’ll have a premiere for the public at Woodward Park City shortly thereafter. Then we’ll be touring multiple different resorts. We’ll have a showing in Sun Valley that’s being supported by Wild Rye. We’ll have one in Denver, supported by Powder 7. And then we’ll have a handful of other small ski shops that’ll host it — this will include all evo store locations. We’re also working at getting into some film festivals, as well as showings in the East.
SD: I know you had a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for production, and I see you’ve managed to meet your goal. That must be pretty encouraging.
SR: It is. It’s incredible. We had a pretty lofty goal, and Kickstarter is only a portion of that. We’ve had a handful of sponsors come to the table to support us financially, but even with that and Kickstarter, we’re still underfunded because we want to pay everyone — both our athletes and our production team — exactly what they’re worth. You know, I can’t tell you how many times I and other members of the team — athletes and creatives — have been asked to work for exposure or for a small portion of a fee or just for product. A lot of brands aren’t necessarily used to that and what things actually cost. So we had to get creative. We had to go to our community and ask for their support. But they really came to us and backed us in a very powerful way. So I’m feeling extremely encouraged and also just grateful for the support and how the community has really showed up for us. Our Kickstarter campaign has ended, but anyone who wants to donate can send an email to me at [email protected].
SD: Thanks for spending time with us, Sara. Can’t wait to see the film! Everyone at TheSkiDiva wishes you the best of luck.