Editor’s Note: This feature was made possible by our partners at The North Face. See more from them here and here.
Mary Rand is one of the most exciting snowboarders on the planet. She’s got plenty of accolades to prove it. Since winning Transworld Snowboarding’s “Rookie of the Year” award in 2015, her style of riding has had the snow world transfixed, and her career trajectory is proof. She’s certainly someone who could draw an audience with a film solely about her, but in All Right Here, her new project, Rand chose to focus instead on what matters to her: the people she surrounds herself with in her relatively new home in the Pacific Northwest — and more specifically, the crew at Mt. Baker. She calls her film a love letter to the mountain and the people who ride it.
Rand didn’t grow up riding the PNW’s rugged terrain. Far from it, in fact. When she was younger, she took trips to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire, where her family had a tiny ski cabin. By 14, she was winning local contests and rail jams on the East Coast. She really found her love of snowboarding, though, in Rhode Island, riding at 310-foot tall hill called Yawgoo Valley. Deep powder wasn’t even on her radar. Along with her older brother and a handful of friends, Rand focused on what she had — rails and street riding. And then she went to Mt. Hood in Oregon for a snowboard camp and knew she needed more. More snow. Bigger mountains.
“I grew up surfing and riding powder just felt like a super natural transition,” she told me. “That isn’t to say that it was easy. I think that challenge was really exciting for me too. Learning about how to move in the mountains safely. My world of snowboarding just became so much more complex with getting into the mountains and I was just fired up about it. Now I’ve learned to love it for so many more reasons that I didn’t even know were possible. I definitely never looked back.”
In 2016, she moved to Washington, where she spent the winter at Steven’s Pass, and she started down the path to where she is now. Four years later, she relocated to Glacier, a tiny town just a few miles from Mt. Baker.
“It’s a village,” Rand said. “There is no service. We call it the ‘valley of darkness.’ There’s a lot of commitment from the people who are locals here. There are no amenities. There are no fancy restaurants. There is no grocery store. It’s like you’re fending for yourself. It takes a certain type of person, and it’s almost like that type of person barely exists anymore.”
The fact that All Right Here isn’t focused on Rand was interesting to me. Generally when I interview someone, the conversation revolves around them, but when Rand picked up the phone, she spent the first 20 minutes asking about me. That interest in other people, I think, is what makes All Right Here so good.
“The people are shaped by the place and the place is shaped by the people,” she told me. “It’s this reciprocation amongst the people and the mountain. The mountain is so hardcore and so gnarly. It’s so alive, and it just breeds these people who are just so passionate about the mountains, and for all the right reasons.”
Mt. Baker is not an easy place to ride. The weather is often bad. Bluebird days are few and far between. The snow is wet, the air is moist, the visibility is poor, and you’re often soaked to the bone. But the people there wouldn’t have it any other way. Those people are what made Rand decide to shine a spotlight on the place, but by her own admission, it wasn’t the easiest thing to convince them to do. That’s because they’re not riding there to be seen — they’re riding there because they love it.
“They’re all the most ultimate hardcore souls,” Rand laughed. “That’s just who they are, and they don’t want to be filmed…. that’s why it was important to me to convey the people and the place and not just the shredding, because that is what makes it so special and so beautiful.”
Aside from the fact that she wanted to film her love letter to the place, she had another reason to make All Right Here. She just didn’t want to leave.
“I just so badly wanted to stay at Baker,” she explained. “I wanted to get to know Baker and I wanted to surround myself with the people who live there and ride there every day, because they’re my favorite snowboarders and my favorite people. This was essentially an excuse for me to get to stay. I get pulled in so many different directions to go do shit. I’m like, ‘Oh, God, I gotta go somewhere else.’ And so to have the project be based around Baker, that took the pressure off.”
All Right Here has a very distinct feeling. It’s reminiscent of a film you might have made with your friends before GoPros and editing software made even a 10-second clip on Instagram feel as though it’s a high budget production. Generally, snowboard films have a single person at the center, but All Right Here feels like the kind of film you would make with a few friends just goofing around, and that was very much on purpose. It’s shot on a variety of cameras, HandyCams and Super 8s. No RED cameras, drones, or Steadicam gimbals. Rand made the film with Liam O’Neill Gallagher, and it was partially thanks to him that the film came out looking the way it does.
“Liam’s got a super distinct filming and editing style,” Rand said. “It’s definitely grassroots inspired. I don’t like RED cameras. I don’t like drones. We were trying to convey a feeling that’s deeper than the snowboarding.”
In the end, All Right Here feels precisely how Rand wanted it to feel. A love letter to a place she adores. A love letter to a community she feels lucky to be a part of. In making that love letter, Rand created a film that not only showcases absolutely incredible snowboarding, but showcases an incredible group of people in a way that feels like watching friends just having fun. And that’s exactly the way it should be.