When an 11-year-old Marie-France Roy first followed her older brothers to the slopes with a snowboard in hand, she could not have imagined where the sport would take her. From turning pro in 2002 to winning TransWorld Snowboarding’s Rookie of the Year award in 2005 to shredding through snowy backcountry in notable video parts, she’s been a prominent figure in the sport for the past decade.
Now 29, Roy sits on the cusp of making her biggest impact yet. The Quebec native and Ecology major has spent years cultivating an environmentally conscious lifestyle. And now, she’s producing and starring in The Little Things, a snowboard film project featuring environmentally-aware riders and their stories, scheduled for release on September 30.
The film is the brainchild of Roy and director Darcy Turenne, and 100 percent of its proceeds will go to Protect Our Winters and the David Suzuki Foundation, organizations dedicated to fighting climate change. The idea hit Roy in 2012, while she was working to build her own cob house on Vancouver Island.
“Basically I was stepping in the mud, building my walls and I thought, ‘What can I do to make a difference snowboarding?’” Roy says. “It’s something I love and enjoy so much. I want to make sure my grandchildren can be pro snowboarders, if that’s what makes them happy. Being out there so much, seeing the glaciers melting—the destruction is all over the place. It’s hard not to notice.”
Filming began shortly after Roy’s big idea, and wrapped up earlier this year. In hopes of appealing to an audience beyond the typical snowboarding fans, The Little Things features breathtaking imagery and footage of top riders, including Jeremy Jones, Gretchen Bleiler, Tamo Campos and Meghann O’Brien coupled with an environmentally-conscious slant.
“There are so many snowboarders I know and look up to who do amazing things and make a difference towards protecting the environment,” Roy says. “People know about their medals, their video parts, but I felt like more people needed to hear their stories and it would be a positive thing. I felt making a movie was the best way to connect all these things together.”
Aware of how a heavy-handed environmentalist tone can turn off listeners, Roy and Turenne have used a different approach in the film’s production. The riders are meant to serve as inspiration for change through their actions, rather than through a preachy tone.
“Everybody’s telling their stories,” explains Roy. “They’re not telling you what to do, they’re just sharing their own experience. They’re all so different. I'm proud we were able to include some of the top snowboarders in the world, but we were also able to include some more underexposed riders.”
“I think that’s the best way to inspire people toward change,” Roy continues.” It’s not telling them what to do. We need to have a more open mind. A lot of people are criticizing and pointing the finger, I think the issue’s too urgent to worry about who’s doing what wrong on the small level. We should just embrace what people are doing right and go in that direction instead.”
The Little Things was entirely funded through Roy’s personal sponsors and her own personal efforts, which included a successful Kickstarter that raised $29,504. She calls the project “challenging on the financial side,” with her efforts as a rookie filmmaker initially met with trepidation. Roy’s love for the environment is evident, and the film has been the perfect combination of her two passions.
“When I was a kid, I was always playing outside in nature,” she says. “I always wanted to be a biologist or someone that works to protect [nature]. I’ve always been fascinated by that, that’s what I wanted to do for a living. Then snowboarding kind of got in the way.”
It’s safe to say that for Roy, the sport is no longer an obstacle.
“Anything you do, as much as you love it, you take it for granted after a while," she says. "If you do something too much, it’s like eating cheesecake—it could be your favorite thing ever, but if you eat it every day and don’t keep it fresh, you don’t appreciate it as much. [Through filming] I gained a whole new appreciation for the mountains and being out there, living the life that I do."