Director Skip Armstrong on The Warrior, fourth film in Of Souls + Water series
This morning Forge Motion Pictures, NRS Films, and New Belgium Brewing released The Warrior, the fourth of five short films in Carbondale-based director Skip Armstrong's series Of Souls + Water profiling a series of athletes and adventurers whose lives revolve around water in different ways. We've been following the series closely over the last four months, and caught up with Armstrong for more on surfer Chris Peterson, featured in The Warrior, and what's next as the series concludes in late August.
Westword: What do the Of Souls + Water represent to you collectively, now that you're four films into your series?
Skip Armstrong: Every film is pretty different and each character has their own story, but the thing that unites them is water. I just love how it is in all of our lives and affects us differently, and I'm proud of the series and how it has demonstrated that. Water shapes every single thing that we touch or interact with every day, in one way or another, and each of the characters in these films has been uniquely able to express how it has shaped their lives.
What drew you to surfer Chris Peterson and his story?
I first met Chris about a year ago at a dinner party in Idaho and we started chatting and I found out he'd once been a surfer trying to make it on the pro circuit after growing up surfing the North Shore on Oahu. I was like, "Wait, you're from Hawaii? What are you doing in Idaho?" He just rolled his eyes and was like, "It's a crazy story." I was all ears, and got this whole story about his decision to leave it all behind to come out and take care of his grandmother, who had been a pivotal figure in his life. He's an incredible surfer and just found a way to make that work in his new life in Idaho.
Were there any challenges this film presented that were different from the previous films in the series?
The only major challenge was timing it to get the water levels right for that particular wave, the Pipeline wave on the Lochsa River in Idaho, near Missoula, Montana. That thing's only good for a week or two each year and it's very unpredictable, so we had to do a lot of juggling of schedules.
What has the response been like to these films as they've been rolling out? You've said before that you set out to create something different than all the adventure porn out there.
In the interactions I have with people one-on-one, everybody I talk to will mention a specific detail from one of the films and how they related to it or connected to it. And they tend to be those little things that I would obsess over for days in the filming and editing process, you know, trying to get that water droplet to fall just right. It's been rewarding to have a pretty wide audience paying attention to those same small details.
What can you tell us about the final film in your series?
We're calling it The Elder and it's due out in late August. It's about this guy Rob Elliott, whose grandfather was the very first commercial outfitter on the Grand Canyon. Rob is getting close to 70 now himself, but spent his life on the river and is still guiding on the Grand Canyon. For the film he's going to write and narrate what he calls an "ethical will" to his children. The whole premise of the film is this idea of passing information and knowledge on from generation to generation. It will be shot in the Grand Canyon but the focus won't be on rafting so much as the place itself and the "infinity and beyond" vibe that you get in the midst of this incredible oasis that stands in contrast to all that dry red sand and stone that surrounds it. That's going to be the conclusion of the series, for now, and it's a fitting end because it's really about communication and the responsibility to pass collected wisdom about our world on to the next generation.
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