Get excited: we are just hours away from the Canadian premiere of The Little Things in Whistler, BC (pick up your tickets here for the show on Thursday, October 16).
Let’s get one thing straight: this is not your average snowboard film. The Little Things tackles the complex relationship between snowboarders and the environment, a conversation that is all too often glossed over in the snowboarding industry.
“I wanted to create something that would give back to snowboarding while promoting environmental awareness with a non-preachy, more positive approach,” says pro snowboarder Marie-France Roy. Marie-France is used to being in front of the camera as an athlete, but The Little Things marks her producing debut. “I didn’t initially do this because I had an interest in film making. I did it because I couldn’t find the right support to get a real producer and crew to do it all, and I didn’t want to lose control over the initial goal and vision,” she says.
She found a partner in filmmaker and director Darcy Turenne. “When Marie approached me a few summers ago with the idea of making an environmental snowboard movie, it was something I had never considered doing,” says Darcy about the film’s inception, “Because she is so awesome, I invited her over to hang out and talk more. After drinking a bunch of tea and hearing her motivations for making the film, which I still very much admire, I thought it was an interesting idea that had a lot of creative potential.”
Though Darcy is an experienced director, The Little Things presented her with more than a few new challenges. “I had never filmed snowboarding until we started the film. Also, it’s the first feature film I’ve ever made, which is SO different from short films,” she says.
What they lacked in experience, Marie-France and Darcy more than made up for in vision and passion. In this case, inexperience was more of an advantage than a hindrance – it meant the duo could start with a clean slate, eschewing conventional snowboard film practices and clichés. “This kind of film isn’t really common in snowboarding,” explains Marie-France, “So it often felt like we were on our own and unable to follow any specific guidance or format. But that is probably what made it so interesting and rewarding, because we were kind of making our own rules as we went!”
“Unlike most action sports films these days, we are really proud to say that there was no sponsor buy-in from any rider involved,” she adds – a factor that allowed the pair to work with a lot more freedom than most action sports filmmakers are granted. Of course, the money had to come from somewhere: Marie-France’s sponsors pitched in what they could, and a successful Kickstarter campaign raised $29,504 to fill in the gaps.
Money will only get you so far – The Little Things needed a solid a team of athletes and a crew that weren’t afraid to shake up the status quo. The reel of athletes, which includes legends like Jeremy Jones, Gretchen Bleiler, Tamo Campos, Nicolas Müller, and Marie-France Roy herself, all but guaranteed spectacular on-snow action. “We chose the riders based on the value of their inspiring stories and lifestyle,” says Marie-France, “They are all incredible athletes, but they shine in so many other valuable ways.” “I was blown away by the brilliance of each of the riders,” agrees Darcy, “Not only in their riding — although that, too — but by how they all followed their own paths and took action to make the world a better place by improving their own lives. They are such strong, influential characters, yet they’re relatable, humble beings.”
With the premiere just around the corner, the buzz within the snowboarding community is at an all-time high. Marie-France and Darcy are getting excited, too. “Marie and I joke that the best part of it being done is that we are still good friends at the end of it,” says Darcy, “But I find it amazing to see how the film has formed its own identity, in a way. The editing process, although the most crucial and rewarding, is brutal when you’re compiling years of footage and trying to make something out of it. I’d spend all day and most nights this summer alone toiling over the most miniscule details. I actually felt what it must be like to go a bit insane!”
Surely, all the hard work and minute details – the little things, if you will – will be worth it in the end, when snowboarding fans walk away from the film with more than just the typical snow stoke. “I really hope that people can learn something positive from watching it,” says Marie-France, “Even if it’s just starting a conversation — that could eventually lead to action. There is this big misconception nowadays that we have to be a hippie or not drive a car or live fully sustainably in order to claim that we care about protecting the environment. I think it’s unrealistic to expect things to change with that perception – it only slows down our work towards finding solutions. The little things are often the only way most people can act right now, but they can become very powerful and exponential down the line.” “My biggest hope for the movie is that people see it and are inspired to take action in their life, in some positive way,” adds Darcy.
If you can’t make the premiere, The Little Things is being released on iTunes today. Proceeds from the film will the Auclair Fund. Please consider donating to help support JP’s young son Leo and his loving partner Ingrid during these hard times.
It takes a village to make an awesome snowboarding film, and The Little Things team wants to acknowledge the supporters who donated to their KickStarter campaign, as well as partners and sponsors from Oakley, Whistler Blackcomb, ClifBar, Axis, Sandboxland, BeaverWax, Redbull Canada, SBC, SnowboarderMag, Karakoram, Goal Zero, Protect Our Winter, The David Suzuki Foundation, Elegant Seagulls and Beyond Boarding.
Marie-France credits her partner in the project, too: “It would not have been the same without Darcy. One of the greatest achievements of the project for me is that even after all the hard work and stressful times, we were able to remain great friends. I am forever grateful for all her generosity and I think she accomplished a masterpiece!”