Freestyle skier Lynsey Dyer is releasing her first feature film, "Pretty Faces", this September, with the intention of inspiring more girls to get outside. Despite the energy behind the movie, it hasn't been an easy road for Dyer. Without a succesful Kickstarter—she nearly doubled her goal of $60,000—and the support of countless friends, the movie wouldn't have come to life. We caught up with Dyer in her editing studio, the Unicorn Cave, to talk about what it took to get this film made and the role of girls in adventure sports.
OUTSIDE: How did this film come to be?
DYER: For the last 10 years, I’d watched a lot of worthy footage [of female skiers] hit the cutting room floor. In all the movies we’d get the quick, short segment and that was it. I knew that if that was happening to me, it was happening to other girls. So I called up all of the production companies and asked for their unused or seldom-seen footage, and I made a two minute edit to represent girls the way they could be, give them some overdue recognition. It got 150,000 views within four days without any push from us. It showed me that people did want to see girls ripping. And when I saw that it got that much attention, I felt a responsibility to give back to the sport that gave me so much, on behalf of other girls.
It was funded on Kickstarter, right?
Yes. At first no one took us very seriously, understandably. I’d never made a ski film. So I looked for another way. We put it out on Kickstarter, originally asking for $60,000. After two weeks we’d only raised $20,000 and I thought, this isn’t going to work. Then all of a sudden we had an overwhelming response and doubled our ask. It ended up being the most successful Kickstarter campaign for an action sports film. It was another nod that people actually do care.
What was the process of getting the whole feature film made?
It’s very community-centric, and it’s taken the community to put all of these highlights in one place. It’s also taken multiple years. There are so many people who have made this possible by either contributing footage or licensing footage. We’ve had a couple of tough years as far as avalanche conditions go too, so it’s definitely been a huge community effort. We did some of our own filming, but we wouldn’t have been able to do this alone.
Had you ever worked on a project like this?
No. The learning curve was awful. It’s been the best and worst year of my life. Every day when I thought it couldn’t get harder, it’s gotten harder. But in a lot of ways I learned that I could handle more than I thought I could. It’s been painful at times, but every entrepreneur I’ve ever heard of has said something to the effect of, “If I had known how hard it was going to be, I never would have done it.” And I knew that going in. I knew being ignorant was probably the only thing that was going to get me to try.
Why have women in adventure sports had such a hard time being taken seriously?
I hate to say it, but often times, because there are so few females out there, people give them a chance only out of charity. But watching girls do these kinds of sports can be entertaining and awesome. Females are so dynamic but no one has really taken advantage of all the flavor that girls bring, good and bad. I wanted to celebrate that so we could all find a little more self-acceptance. It’s important for girls to see that we do have a place. We belong here. We don’t have to be guys, and we don’t have to be super sexy to be accepted. There’s a place for us to be who we are.
Where did the name Unicorn Picnic come from?
I have a nonprofit called SheJumps and the logo is a unicorn giraffe—a girafficorn. Every time someone sees it, they smile. You see this hint of nostalgia. I think it reminds us of when we were kids and anything was possible. Since my focus is to try and get more girls outside, I knew I needed to make it less intimidating and more playful. Bring back the magic of what we see in the mountains rather than, it’s so gnarly and scary. It’s fun. The picnic part is about community. Find that magic and then come together.
You’ve been an advocate for getting more girls outside for awhile. What led you to take on that role?
I think I just came out that way. Maybe it’s an untapped niche, but I just wanted better role models for girls. I didn’t have many that I could relate to when I was little. I was always wondering, where are the ones that I want to be like? They exist, they totally exist, but we don’t see them in mainstream media, young girls aren't exposed to them on a broad level. I wanted to expose more of them. We need girls to see that what these women are doing is possible for them.
What’s the thing you’re most proud of?
Trying to give girls a voice. Trying to give girls a platform where they can showcase their talent without any of the other icky political stuff. I hate the word empowerment, but we need to empower more young girls to believe in their dreams and to show them they have value beyond what they look like. To believe in themselves rather than worrying about being accepted.