With the upcoming Pirate Movie Productions release 'PERCEPTIONS' right around the corner, we thought it would be the perfect time to sit down with snowboard legend and original Pirate Gigi Rüf for a small history lesson and to gleam some insights on the new movie.
So you’re pretty much the OG Pirate. How did you first get involved with the Pirates?
Pirates all started out of friendship, but to start something like a movie company, we needed a captain and a crew, so we gave each other roles. It was really Flo (Eckhardt), who has been my filmer for the last two years, who drove the whole thing from the beginning.
The initial spark was a snowshoe camp that Flo and my sister made, and that was the first thing that Flo did really as a company. We called it the Backyard Camp and Basti (Balser), me, and Ludschi (Tobias Ludescher), were all snowboarders. We would go there and spend our time at the camp filming each other with our cameras.
And how did that turn into a full scale production?
Well, Flo and Basti tied bonds a bit better, I think they even moved together in the same house in Innsbruck, and it just gave them something to do to channel their creative minds. After that first film the Pirates thing evolved really slowly – not really knowing if it would become something eventually.
Obviously the steps went along with the technology a little bit and when we started, we shot purely in Super 8. Eventually it moved to 16mm and that’s where I pretty much tapped out with the filming, although I still kept my Super 8.
How have you managed to put out at least 2 heavy parts if not more for a decade or so?
Well, to roll a bit back in time, when Pirates started I filmed Kingpin productions as well, so that filled up a good portion of my season. I always tried to be home for those camps and I just continued from there. I guess it was my mindset of snowboarding - to just film video parts.
Eventually I started filming with Absinthe too and I guess we all fed off each other. I tried to keep it so that when I was abroad I would film my video parts with Absinthe or Kingpin, and at home I filmed with Pirates.
The release of Pereceptions is right around the corner. Can you tell us a little bit about the movie and the trips you went on? What can we expect?
Expect it to be my only video part (laughs)! We started off going to Japan. Elias (Elhardt) was my riding partner there and we just hiked around, although I had to leave a bit earlier to do the tradeshows.
I guess I tried to film at home for the mid-season until I went to Alaska, also with Elias. It was more or less a promise to him that he could come with me and he was like a little kid again! I did not expect him to really take it on, but it seemed every wish came true for him. He was so in the moment, it was really cool.
Was it his first time there?
He tried last year but this year he went all in, we planned it ahead, we chatted about it during our trip in Japan, basically everything led up to that grand finale: searching for that last bit of powder. Alaska was a big thing.
I finally made it so that Pirates were my priority, so that was great.
I had some unusual experiences as well up there. It was definitely lacking on snow, and conditions were not that good but also I got caught in my first avalanche – it will probably transpire somewhere throughout the edits they’re gonna do.
I’m really looking forward to the movie though, this was definitely a ‘go for it’ season again, especially because I rode just with Pirates and not for any sponsor affiliations. I was thrown in with long time friends that I never really got to ride that much with. I definitely felt like, especially with Elias, that he just really wanted to ride with me! (laughs). That kid is hungry though! You will see it in his footage, you’ll be amazed.
We're really excited to see the footage from Greenland. How was that trip?
It was great to have the chance to go to Greenland, but because I pretty much spent all my time away, I brought my family with me, to also show them a little bit of the North. I thought that Greenland would be one of the places we wouldn’t be able to go back to again any time soon. I was just there with the filmer, so I tried to get the most out of it.
If I look back, it was good season for me. Maybe a little bit off the gas pedal because of the challenging snow conditions, but I finally made it so that Pirates were my priority, so that was great.
Have you seen the movie yet?
Even though I didnt have much of an agenda this year I hope I still managed to deliver some goodies, then I’ll be happy!
No, I haven’t seen anything really. I watched the footage of my avalanche, and obviously we looked through some of the footage from Greenland but I have not seen any of Japan or which choices Basti will make for the movie because strictly throughout my whole career I tried to focus on just doing my part - the snowboarding.
If I start mingling, you know, “I want this and that", it makes their job so much harder and their creative vision gets flattened. It’s not easy to let go with everything you put in, but really it’s just not my job to make the movie.
But I love to watch the final movie on the big screen, that was another big step throughout the Pirates. We would watch it at Pirate premiere parties which were always really loose and on a small screen and the music, the live acts and the whole stuff around the movie added so much. To watch it now on the big screen in such great quality just shows how far we’ve come.
But yeah, I just do the snowboarding part, travel and get new experiences. Even though I didnt have much of an agenda this year I hope I still managed to deliver some goodies, then I’ll be happy!
We're sure there are no shortages of those Gigi!
Stay tuned for more exclusive Pirates parts, behind the scenes galleries and comps dropping all week here at Onboardmag.com.