Darcy Turenne is an anomaly. She enjoyed a long and successful career as a professional mountain biker, and when that ended she almost immediately turned to the spotlight of documentary film making. Despite her background in action sports, Darcy has created a name for herself by telling stories rather than making shred edits, and her latest project promises to be no different. With "The Moment," she digs into her passion for mountain biking by telling the history of freeride.
We talked with Darcy about how she found mountain biking, "The Moment" the movie, and what it takes to produce a feature-length documentary. The film will premier at the Whistler Film Festival in late November and in Vancouver at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts on Dec. 8, with a full tour following, including a December 14th stop with Bike magazine at the La Paloma Theater in Encinitas, California. The film will be available publicly for purchase in March. Help fund the films Kickstarter here.
Bike: You have quite the background in the mountain bike industry. What got you first interested?
Darcy Turenne: In grade 7, my librarian at my junior high school started an all-girls mountain bike club. That was in 1996, so it was still a pretty fringe sport back then. I'm from Vancouver Island, it was just something that people did on the Island. I joined and brought my crappy little hardware store bike out and then started riding trails and within a couple weeks I was racing in the local cross-country races and that was the end of it.
Bike: As a pro mountain biker, you were in front of the camera a lot. How did you make the transition to being behind the camera?
DT: I got pretty badly injured near the end of my career, I had to get a major ankle surgery, so during that time I went back and did a masters degree. I did an undergrad in environmental studies and when I got injured I was like 'Oh I better do something with my life' and so I went a did my masters in communications, not thinking that I wanted to be a film maker. But then I thought it would be really fun to do my thesis as a documentary film. At that time DSLR cameras started shooting video and I bought a 7D and went to Indonesia and made my thesis documentary. As soon as I started shooting I was hooked. It was so unexpected, but after I graduated I got some commercial clients pretty quickly and then I had a new career. It was pretty convenient.
Bike: Where did the idea for “The Moment" come from?
DT: This movie wasn't my idea, it came from Christian Bégin, who made the first "Kranked" film. He came to me a while back, saying, ‘I want to make a "Dogtown and Z-boy-esque" story about mountain biking because it's a very similar history, very similar roots and I would say even more drama than the Dogtown story.’ He was too close to the footage but he really wanted the film to be made, so he asked if I would do it. He had seen an environmental snowboard film I made and he thought I had a strong focus on story as opposed to just sports filming. So he brought the story to me and I signed on and became the director of the film with full creative control. He got the project off the ground and then I've carried it since.
Bike: Has the idea evolved or has it stayed true to what you first came up with?
DT: I wouldn't say it has evolved much. The thing is, the story is so deeply rooted in the history and the truth–there's not really much I could do even if I wanted to make the story different or more creative. It was what it was, and luckily for me it was very interesting and drawn-out with conflict and amazing characters and things that make a movie good. So I've stayed true to my original vision and the story really speaks for itself. I've been really lucky in that I haven't had to create much drama out of nothing or entertainment value out of nothing. These guys are just legitimately entertaining.
Bike: Is it mostly shot in B.C.?
DT: We did all the interviews in B.C. with the exception of Greg Stump down in Oregon, and then the archival footage is all from British Columbia, because British Columbia really was the hub and the birthplace of freeride. There were three spots, Kamloops, the North Shore and Rossland, and these three little hubs were all unknowingly contributing to this birth of freeride. It's really interesting how that was all happening within a relatively small geographic location but they were all making these massive contributions to the sport.
Bike: Through the process have there been many struggles or has it been smooth going?
DT: I wouldn't say it has been that smooth. It's been a struggle. Funding has been a major struggle. Because of that I have done everything on my own, from writing to editing to going through transcripts, producing, trying to raise money, trying to create buzz, doing the social media and all the while trying to actually make the movie. So right now I'm realizing I need to stop everything and just finish the film or else it will never get done. It has definitely been the hardest thing I have ever done. There are so many characters and so many interwoven stories and trying to piece them together in a cohesive way, it's like this giant jigsaw puzzle. If I kept in all the little stories and every single character that we planned to include in the movie, the movie would be seven hours long. I think the biggest challenge has been killing my darlings and trying to make a clear, concise film while still staying true to the story and the characters that made it happen.
Bike: Other than the characters, have you had anybody else on board?
DT: It's been me. I have shot everything myself with the exception of a final reunion shoot in Kamloops where we got all the original riders from the "Kranked One" Kamloops team back together. So I had a bunch of camera people on board there and then I had another camera person when I did a large round of interviews in Whistler, but other than that I've shot everything myself. Everything has been done by me with the exception of music. I've had this amazing music guy for the whole film. And Christian did some early producing on the project and got the initial seed money for it to happen.
Bike: That's a lot of work for one person.
DT: Yeah, it has been a lot of work. I'm pretty tired. But I still love the story a lot. You know after a while it's easy to start feeling frustrated with the story, but I'm still as enthusiastic about this story as when I started so I'm really grateful that Christian brought me this project. And now I'm back to the fundraising part to finish it off and make it as good as possible.
Bike: Now that you've been living in the past of freeride for the last year, what do you see in the future for the sport?
DT: I guess I keep seeing a lot of connections between what they were doing in the early stages and what's happening now. I feel like there's this resurgence of big mountain riding and that's where these guys were originally coming from. A lot of them were pro skiers and snowboarders, like Richie Schley and Brett Tippie. The photographers and filmers, Eric Berger, Christian Bégin, they were ski and snowboard photographers and so they approached the sport in that big mountain way, and I feel like a lot of riders are starting to appreciate and work the big mountain lines again and shoot them. That is what freeride is according to these guys. It's choosing your own adventure, choosing your own line and I think there's a real resurgence in that.
Bike: Moving forward you will also be launching a Kickstarter for the movie?
DT: That's going to launch with the trailer. Everyone involved in the movie has been super generous and really enthusiastic about the project so I have so many amazing prizes, like riding with the Rocky Mountain team, to Richie Schley's signed jersey, to Brett Tippie's old shorts. We have heli drops, we have five Whistler passes, there's a bunch of swag from the film, we have autographed Polaroids of the guys on the final shoot, all sorts of really really cool stuff.
Bike: And will it be funding to finish the film or to go on tour or something else?
DT: Both actually. It’s finishing funds for the movie, so things like color correcting, sound design, animation, graphics, those engaging things to keep the movie moving forward. There's also so many stories that were cut out of the film that I want to do a small series of behind the scenes videos that were never shown in the actual film. The more money we raise the more content we can push out for free. It will also go toward the film tour to bring it to as many places as possible.
Bike: Do you have any words for aspiring mountain bikers or film makers that might be reading this?
DT: Just go out there and shoot and ride. Just do what you love. The moral of this story is that these guys didn't have any intention of a new sport spinning off or being wildly successful, they were just out there having a great time doing what they love and it became a huge thing. And same with me as a filmmaker. I've been doing it without any intention of going anywhere with it, it's just something I like to do. I think if you are passionate about something just do it and see where it leads you.
Learn more about the film here.
The Kickstarter Video