Marie Clements started out as an actor, writer, director and producer in theatre before transitioning into film and television. “It’s been a long creative journey to be able to see and tell stories across disciplines and genres.”
“I wrote a lot of bad poetry as a kid,” she confesses, “but it wasn’t until I was touring as an actor with a children’s show in Northern Ontario that it occurred to me I could use this time, these long winter nights in small Canadian towns, to focus on the word.” Marie wrote her first play during that time, and she was hooked. “It’s liberating to be a writer, to not have to wait to tell a story. To look to yourself to tell a story and have the control and the ability to do it anywhere or anytime.”
Writing is anything but easy though, as Marie can attest, and it takes a very disciplined focus to hone one’s craft. “I was creating my own discipline, my own practice. Some days you think you’re brilliant for a moment, and other days you earn every letter, every word. But you have to write like there is no alternative, you have to be curious, be hungry to get to the story you’re meant to tell.”
Story is what drives Marie; it’s the focus of everything she does. “I’ve always been affected by the stories that have never been allowed to be told. I’m also motivated by stories that are affecting our realities right now, stories we are bearing witness to.” It was with that in mind that she set out to write Red Snow.
The inspiration for Red Snow happened eight years ago, and the story came to Marie like a bomb. “I was looking at a photo journalism spread on the war in Afghanistan and the Canadian government’s involvement. It occurred to me in certain angles that the people there didn’t look that much different than Indigenous people here. I was curious about what was similar and what was different and sometimes the only way of finding that out is to sit across from someone and look them in the eye. Red Snow was about that engagement, that conversation.”
With Red Snow, Marie set out to investigate the idea of modern tribalism by telling the story of a First Nations Gwich’in soldier from the Canadian Arctic caught in an ambush and taken hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan. “Each story has its own bones, its own way of being told. Red Snow took a considerable amount of time to get to the screen, but it brought together serious creative and cultural collaborations that could only have happened because we have an extraordinary diverse talent pool in B.C.
Marie wants to engage people in stories they might not normally be engaged with, and that starts with getting out into different markets. “Creative BC has allowed me to travel to markets where I can network and expand my circle. They have supported my work and invested in stories I am working to bring to the screen that are fighting for integrity, both culturally and artistically.”
It wasn’t easy to tell the story in Red Snow, but the collaboration and collective energy from her team made the journey worth it. “We understood that we had a unique chance to tell a story and that it was going to be demanding – the weather, the landscapes, the languages, the tight shooting schedule, it was all extreme. We had to trust that we were the right people to be doing this, we had to believe in each other and commit to the choices we were making and that they were the right ones.”
Marie continues to write and explore new stories from her home on Galiano Island. “Living on an island is not for everyone, but it’s great for artists. It’s nice to be quiet so I can write, think, and breathe before I start ramping up for the next project.”