A former rider produces feature-length documentary on the history of freeride
For Darcy Turenne, the pressure was immense. Handed the archives of a legendary mountain bike filmmaker, Turenne was tasked with telling the story of the birth of freeriding. Three years later, the result of many hours of work is now complete. Themoment, a feature-length documentary about the birth of a new discipline of mountain biking on Canada’s West Coast, recently wrapped up a tour with stops in B.C. and California.
“I’ve had a bit of a panic attack,” Turenne said in late November, only hours after the final edits on the film were sealed. “Now it’s locked. I cried tears of ‘holy shit, I hope I didn’t mess this up.’ I’m dwelling on the omissions I had to make and all the little bits and pieces that aren’t perfect in my mind that nobody will probably ever notice.”
What made her so nervous about the final product is also what made her the perfect person to produce it: Turenne is not only a talented filmmaker, but she’s a former professional mountain biker. She raced cross country as a youngster, and then switched to downhill, where she made the Canadian national team before switching to freeride and riding for some of the biggest sponsors in the industry, such as Oakley, Dakine and Norco, a company she also helped design some women’s freeride bikes for.
When an injury ended her riding career, Turenne used a master’s degree as a catalyst for her film career. She has since produced a number of documentaries, commercials, music videos and short films, including Jackieland, a short movie about a B.C. woman which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. But it was the deep archives of mountain bike film pioneers Bjørn Enga and Christian Bégin that led Turenne to produce Themoment.
The two felt they were too close to the story – which needed to be told so badly – to produce the documentary properly, so they turned to Turenne. “The opportunity to tell this story was so huge,” she said. “I owe freeride mountain biking so much. It made me who I am and allowed me to travel the world and have these incredible experiences. To be the person to tell the story about its beginnings is really humbling.”
Following in the footsteps of skateboarding’s Dogtownandz-boys, and rock climbing’s Valleyu prising, Themoment is a feature-length documentary that entertains viewers with archival and recent footage, and dozens of interviews with some of freeride’s founding fathers, such as Wade Simmons, Greg Stump, Richie Schley, Brent Tippie, “Dangerous” Dan Cowan and many others. “The characters who made up the story are all friends of mine,” Turenne said, “so the first element of pressure was to represent my friends in a positive, yet accurate way.”
Turenne also wanted to be historically accurate, while not wanting to make a boring chronological record. “I wanted it to be as entertaining as possible to represent mountain biking in a way that non-mountain bikers would still find really engaging and respect the sport for its really cool beginnings,” she said.
After premiering at the Whistler Film Festival in December, Themoment toured around the West Coast of Canada and the U.S. As of Jan. 1, Turenne opened the show for screenings anywhere around the world, which can be booked through the film’s website.
As for what comes next, Turenne said she’s going to take a break from taking on a project as big as Themoment for a while. “I would take on another project like this, but I need a bit of breathing room,” she said. “I would do it very differently. I’d have a much stronger team around me, because this was a bit of a lonely process.”
In the meantime, she’ll get back to her commercial work and producing short creative projects. Turenne is also in the midst of writing a feature film script she intends to pitch to a production company.
“I have no idea what 2018 holds,” she said.
“The characters who made up the story are all friends of mine.”