Of Souls+Water: Forge Motion Pictures premieres Skip Armstrong's Nomad
Over the weekend, director Skip Armstrong and the Carbondale-based Forge Motion Pictures crew premiered Nomad and The Mother at the 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale. The films are the first in a planned five-part web series titled Of Souls+Water, profiling five different people whose lives revolve around water; the series will be released online over the next five months through a partnership with NRS Films and New Belgium Brewing. We caught up with Armstrong for a chat about the series and a full look at Nomad, a portrait of adventurer Erik Boomer (video after the jump).
Photo by Tim Kemple, courtesy Forge Motion Pictures Erik Boomer sends it over Sahalie Falls during filming of "Nomad"
Westword: Can you tell me a little about the concept behind the Of Souls+Water films?
Armstrong: The concept was not to feature any sport in particular but to use these sports as a vehicle to tell the stories of each individual character and, in the bigger picture, to examine the ways in which water courses through all of our lives. We wanted to show an even balance of the good and bad of these adventure lifestyles, focusing on each athlete and their story. It's easy enough to make adventure porn and to make these sports look good on film, but the more we keep at it the more we gravitate towards the stories behind those adventures. For these films we sought out characters who had a fair amount of depth, people who've had both triumphs and tremendous struggle, and we set out to ask some fundamental questions about why they do the things the do. I set out to make each of these films a portrait.
Erik Boomer, "Nomad". Photo courtesy Forge Motion Pictures
Can you introduce us to some of these characters?
Well, we've only shot two of the episodes so far -- we're really depending on Mother Nature and waiting for the seasons to change before we can shoot the other three. But the first up is Erik Boomer, in Nomad. He's run some impossibly difficult whitewater and always approaches any challenge as a philosopher. He was one of the National Geographic Explorers of the Year this year, along with John Turk, for their Arctic exploration completing the first circumnavigation of Canada's Ellesmere Island National Park, and for our film we also followed him through the streets of Washington, DC and around Baja, Mexico and filmed him going over Sahalie Falls on the McKenzie River in Oregon.
Erik was super intriguing to me, and some questions I had going in were "What goes through somebody's head before they take on adventures like these?" and "What is he searching for?" There's two worlds with Erik, the physical world and the internal world, and he's very much immersed in each. Following him around each of those worlds for two or three months has been a very rewarding experience for me.
The next character in the series is Melody Shapiro, an avid sea kayaker who is 67 years old. I wanted the perspective of somebody with some more life experience, somebody in the later half of their life, looking both backward and forward, while also living in the moment. The Mother will be released online next month, on May 28.
Melody Shapiro, "The Mother." Photo courtesy Forge Motion Pictures