It’s late September, the summer is drawing to a close and as the days get shorter my thoughts have switched to the coming winter. I have just finished watching the Full Moon film and now all I want to do is go snowboarding.
The brainchild of snowboarding icon Leanne Pelosi this all girls film takes legends from the past, present and future generations of snowboarding to locations across North America and Europe. The crew are charging and blazing a trail for female snowboarders across the globe. The engaging and fun mentality of the riders shines through in every section.
Leanne was kind enough to chat to me about her snowboarding career and the Full Moon film.
photo courtesy of Jussi Grznar
Hey Leanne, how’s it going? For those who don’t know, how did snowboarding all begin for you?
“My parents emigrated (from Wales UK) when I was two although my extended family still lives there. I first started riding with my friends in high school, as a late bloomer for sure – as far as becoming a professional snowboarder down the line. But somehow after I went to university I decided to take a breather and move to Whistler for one year which turned into 12 and I’m still here! Snowboarding was just about getting to the mountains with my friends and having that social time. When you’re snowboarding you forget about all of life’s complexities and you just get to live in the moment, and that’s what I enjoy most.I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to make it all the way to Whistler and call that my home because it’s truly one of the best places in the world for backcountry snowboarding…the hill is amazing! It has everything that you could ever want from a ski town… culture, snow, quality people.”
You were bitten by the snowboarding bug straight away, so was it an easy decision to make putting a career on snow ahead of university and a ‘proper’ job?
“I wanted to snowboard before my parents even allowed us (me and my bro). I wanted to be a part of this culture that was anti-establishment. My parents didn’t want me to do it and it made me want to chase it even more! When I won the overall US Open Title my mom was there and she realized that a ‘real job’ could take the sidelines so that I could pursue snowboarding competitively. In the big scope of things, following my heart and passion to be in the mountains full time is it. I’ve gone through ups and downs throughout my career, but I always figure out how to still be a part of this community and I think it comes down to working hard and not taking no for an answer. So that would be my achievement … being true to myself and following my dreams.”
12 seasons in, with numerous awards and recognition within the snowboarding world, when did you decide that directing and producing your own movie was the next thing to achieve?
“This was (always) a dream of mine (and I wanted to) include the past present and future (of snowboarding) all in one movie. I’m pretty stoked to have been able to pull it off, I really didn’t know what I was capable of and the last two seasons were a big grind to the max but somehow we all pulled through to make it happen. My creative team was amazing and we worked our butts off to bring this to fruition. I can’t thank them enough for everything: Laine Cherashore, Clayton Larsen, Ben Webb, Athan Merrick, Matt Porter. My inspiration is Travis Rice for producing his films and starring in them. it’s an incredible amount of work and he does it so well.”
Once the concept was on lock and pitched, was it easy to get the riders involved?
“We were chilling at dinner at Annie’s house one night and decided to make a film, and that was it. (The girls) are all our friends and they’re also the best girls in the backcountry hands down, so it only made sense to come together. We had the idea that we’d have two crews of 3-4 max. In the backcountry it’s hard to have bigger crews than four girls because it’s a time intensive scenario filming out there!”
Did running a Kickstarter campaign enable you to achieve everything you wanted from the project?
“We tried everything to raise funds. The industry gave us all they could but to make this film we just needed a little bit more. The thing with movies is that you can always improve on the quality of the film and all we wanted to do was work with some seriously talented people and the stars aligned for us to be able to do that. It’s not like we had a crazy budget to make this film at all, it felt very DIY at times, but we just made it happen somehow and we’re all so thankful for everyone’s generosity and support.”
See the Full Moon trailer here
When making a film do you have an idea of how you want it be be perceived and received by the viewer?
“If you got stoked (watching it) then I guess we’ve done our job, right? Lol. I think being genuine is the key ingredient. We were just showing our true colours in the film and I think it’s contagious. Everyone wants to have fun, and if we can inspire others to do the same then we have a good movement going!”
So the project has been drawn up, the riders are all on board and the months of planning have come to fruition. How did it feel to drop in on that first run with the girls knowing that you were now making the film?
“It was an honour to be able to ride with the crew we had, all the girls had so much to bring to the table individually so it was a real treat to be able to ride with them all.”
Riding wise are you based out of Whistler for most of the winter? Where did the Full Moon project take you in terms of riding locations?
“Whistler yes. We planned to make the entire film about whistler and then we had two of the worst seasons for filming. We didn’t even manage to ride the Whistler backcountry for one day the first year, hence the decision to make it a two year project. Full Moon took us to Bella Coola, Alaska, Italy, Golden Alpine Holidays, Mica Heli, and Whistler. Everything was new for us. We rode lines the entire winter. It was so refreshing.”
Alaska is obviously a highlight in backcountry snowboarding. Do you remember what it felt like stepping out of the heli and looking around at the endless possibilities for the first time?
“The first time was scary as all hell. I was out of my element, but that’s what the attraction is – to test your mental strength and grow. I think that’s the biggest draw to these mountains is their power and how humbling it can feel. I want to go back and explore my inner power more.”
photo courtesy of Leanne Pelosi Instagram
Whilst filming there were serious injuries and avalanches to contend with. How do events like this affect you as individuals and as a crew of riders together?
“It affects us mentally but I think one thing that pro snowboarders have is the ability to be present and to let things go. Obviously there are life or death scenarios and they’re what keep us in tune with the present moment and always realizing there’s a risk involved, but you have assumed somewhat of a risk coming into the mountains so you have to be able to let go the worry and turn it into excitement. Those moments of making lines happen from your own creativity are the moments that we are most connected to earth and have the strongest feelings that we will always remember. The mountains are so powerful, and although we need to respect them, we can also flow with them and that’s when we are in harmony and loving life!”
You’ve had a series of film premieres across North America and around the world. What has the feedback been like?
“We had all emotions present at every stop! It was so great to hear the good feedback and stoke for the upcoming winter from everyone who came. We couldn’t have asked for a better turn out. (There has been) Tons of interest from all over the world! It’s awesome, and we just got the cover of Snowgirl Japan with all of us on it. It’s been so amazing to be able to reach that far.”
Everyone appearing in the Full Moon film can stake a claim to being at the forefront of the progression of women’s snowboarding. Where do you see things heading next? The sky is the limit right?
“I do see more Alaska in our future…and more projects! We had so much fun we are looking to figure out how to do this again!”
“We are currently brainstorming for another one. Stay tuned.”
photo courtesy of Leanne Pelosi Instagram
Huge thanks to Leanne for taking the time out to talk to me. Check out the Full Moon website for more about the film and the crew.
To see what Leanne has been up to click here