Story by Mark Sissons
When you think of people trying to save the planet from an ecological apocalypse, professional snowboarders don’t normally come to mind. Big mountain, big money, big sponsorship — snowboarding is normally associated more with unbelievable skills, insane thrills and hyper competition than with environmental activism.
Enter Quebec-born Marie-France Roy, one of the world’s best all-around snowboarders, as comfortable riding urban features and radical parks as she is plummeting down backcountry chutes and off cliffs for the cameras.
For the past two years, this former Rider of the Year and snowboard movie star has been nurturing a long simmering passion project — a feature documentary she is producing entitled “The Little Things”. It features environmentally conscious riders who are as inspirational for their innovative approaches to life as they are for their unbelievable athletic skills.
Chasing powder around the globe as a professional boarder, Roy says she got to see the effects of climate change first hand, including the considerable environmental footprint associated with the way we live.
Driven by that knowledge and determined to do something more fulfilling than just another video part, she decided to produce “The Little Things” herself.
To direct her first feature, Roy tapped Darcy Turenne, a former pro mountain bike racer turned award-winning filmmaker who she met through their common sponsor, Oakley. Also boasting a university degree in environmental sciences, Turenne, was an inspired choice.
Partially funded through Kickstarter, the film sees Roy team up with a dream cast of environmentally conscious snowboarding stars in support of the environment. Among the snowboarders featured are Jeremy Jones, Meghann O’Brien, Nicolas Muller, Jonaven Moore, Gretchen Bleiler and Tamo Campos, founder of Boarders without Borders, an organization dedicated to spreading interest in humanitarian work within the snowboarding community.
“There are world-class snowboarders who are doing amazing things and barely anybody knows about it,” says Roy. “I wanted to do something that would feature them and inspire people to take action.”
Canadian Snowboard Star Fights for the Planet
Roy’s initial inspiration came from fellow riders like Jones, founder of the non-profit group, Protect Our Winters, which works to reduce the effects of climate change through education and activism. Another role model is O’Brien, who has reconnected with her aboriginal culture and is living the way her ancestors did, because she says it is the best way to lead a sustainable existence.
The latest trailer for “The Little Things” was recently released to coincide with Earth Day. Fittingly, the first person you see interviewed on camera is David Suzuki, the godfather of Canada’s environmental movement. Suzuki states emphatically that “what is or is not done in the next few years is going to radically determine the future or the fate of all young people in the world today.”
Roy is quick to point out that her film will not be an exercise in finger pointing. Rather, she hopes it will provide people who often feel helpless in the face of such a complex issue with inspiring examples of the little things that we can all do to make a difference.
“Any time someone tries to do something good people tend to pinpoint what they are doing wrong,” she says. “I think it’s critical and urgent by now that we stop blaming each other and concentrate instead on solving the major issues together.”
These simple and positive actions, so the thinking goes, eventually influence our family, our friends, our children and ultimately our political leaders to make the major changes that we need on a bigger scale.
An action-packed snowboard film featuring the stories of big-name riders who are advocating for environmental sustainability, “The Little Things” promises to be one of the most unusual and exciting snowboarding films of 2014. It is scheduled to open in September.