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Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Marie-France Roy's "Little Things"

By Colin Whyte
XGames.com

Marie-France Roy is a relative rarity in what's now a sea of male pros known by their catchy TLA's (three letter acronyms). And, like MFM, LNP, or DCP, she's allowed to roll a three-letter name, because ... well, she's that good. The 29 year-old B.C. resident, originally from Québec, made a big name for herself with her first part in Rome's "Any Means" and set a new standard for women's snowboarding that she's since maintained. From hairy handrails to technical cliffs, MFR is a beast -- but a very down-to-earth one.

A new enviro-shred movie, "The Little Things," co-produced by MFR and Directed by Darcy Turenne, is now underway. As we head into snowboard movie teaser season, it seemed a good time to check in on it.

Along with Roy's fierce commitment to a sustainable lifestyle, "The Little Things" will include the stories of other snowboarders with a strong environmental focus in their careers: Jeremy Jones, Nicolas Müller, Gretchen Bleiler, Meghann O'Brien, Jonaven Moore, and Tamo Campos. We caught up with MFR and Director Turenne -- a 29 year-old professional mountain biker and avid skier, also BC-based and also formally trained in environmental studies -- to pick their brains a bit on what they're trying to accomplish, as well as how they'll avoid preaching to the choir on this two-year project.

XGames.com: How did the idea for "The Little Things" pop into your head?
Marie-France Roy:
I had been feeling the need to do something new for a while and this idea came about last summer. I felt like it was the best way to bond to things I feel passionate about, e.g. snowboarding and making sure to treat the earth fairly so that the next generations can enjoy the same quality of life as we have.

Darcy Turenne: [We] are Oakley teammates, and [Marie] had seen some of my videos and really appreciated my aesthetic/style, so she suggested I direct the project. She has a lot of amazing things going on beyond snowboarding -- as do many riders -- and she wanted to send a positive message to the snowboard community through her status as a [pro].

MFR is one of the most respected female snowboarders around. Her great attitude is one reason why.

I know what it's like to be an athlete and to want to do something "bigger," so I was stoked to help out, especially because both of us…want to do what we can to spread the "green" word through what we do best…

What are you each trying to accomplish with the movie personally ?
MFR:
I just want to create something that would make people focus on hope and positive vibes. There were quite a few riders out there taking action and making positive changes and [I felt] their stories should be featured more.

DT: The main goal is to highlight the environmental solidarity happening within the snowboard community. There are so many high-profile riders using their "fame" to do amazing things beyond snowboarding and we just want to give them props. We want to show that there are many ways to lessen your impact on the environment -- it's all about the little things! [laughs]

Three other riders involved in the film are also pretty high-profile and well-known for their enviro initiatives -- Jeremy, Gretchen and Nicolas. Why them?
MFR:
I just think all three of them have taken so many [steps] already towards a more sustainable world and I admire that so much. I think their stories haven't been told enough.

DT: They are all using their stardom to start up very impactful green businesses and initiatives. They are giving back as best they can from the privilege that they've earned…so that's pretty inspiring! Plus, they are three of the best snowboarders in the world!

In an ideal world, what will the finished product look like and inspire in viewers?
MFR:
There could be all kinds of riding in there because it's all snowboarding. I'm not claiming that it will be a carbon free movie or anything like that... As snowboarders, or even just as soon as we are born in today's society, our impact on the environment is huge.

The last thing I want is to be preachy or tell people what to do because I have major improvement to make myself… We are so lucky to be able to be snowboarders and I hope we can keep that going by not ruining it all.

Here's the other reason...

DT: In my ideal world, it would be a dreamy, avant-garde, art-house movie with some snowboarding in it and a strong eco message…but it would be way too "out there" to appeal to the masses, so I've needed reigning in a lot [laughs]! It will change and change again over time, but it's taking shape to be a bit more documentary style to get the stories of the riders across.

I hope [that] seeing their heroes doing great things beyond snowboarding inspires the viewers to take some action themselves. I also hope that the disconnect between global warming and the future of snow sports closes a little bit…

Did you have a big turning point in your own life re. environmental awareness?
MFR:
Ever since I was a kid I have been passionate about the environment, like I always felt so connected with nature playing in the woods or in the creeks looking at plants and bugs and stuff. I feel like I always understood that it's a whole ecosystem in which each species directly depends on each other. I also felt really sad to see human activities that would destroy it all.

I took a three-year Ecology course course in college and I always thought I would be doing this for work. But I was also very very into snowboarding and that took over the initial plans I guess... Now I'm trying to connect the two.

DT: I have a degree in Environmental Studies, so learning about how badly we as a species are shooting ourselves in the foot really made me more passionate about garnering environmental awareness in the public. Obviously, "The Inconvenient Truth" changed the public perception of global warming more than any other piece of media has, and it had quite an impact on me when it first came out.

How will you avoid "preaching to the choir," i.e. making a movie that only other environmentalists will watch?
MFR:
The last thing we want is dramatic images of destruction and making people feeling guilty about what they're doing wrong…because we are all guilty in a way. I think the goal of this movie is all about inspiring people to act within their own abilities to make little changes.

DT: Making it artistic and going the way of character profiling. People want to know about other people, regardless of what the message is.

How does this movie diverge from regular snowboard movies and how will it be similar?
MFR:
It will be different in a way that it won't be your usual snowboard porn but it won't be a full-on documentary-style feature either. It's hard to even describe whats it's gonna be like. I just hope it will portray some really good snowboarding mixed with some really cool stories of riders who are inspirational for what they do outside of snowboarding.

DT: This movie is going to be very different from most snowboard films. I don't like conventions, especially in action sports. The movie won't be snowboard porn, fueled by industry consumption norms; it'll actually be informative. 

To keep up with The Little Things crew, go here.