'Of Souls + Water' Makes High Art of Paddling

Epic film series portrays five lives tied together by water, adventure
Staff Writer

Forge Motion Pictures  and NRS Films just released the last of their five-part web series titled Of Souls + Water. It's a gorgeous series, moody and contemplative and celebratory all at once, and beautifully filmed, to boot. The shorts, below, are more than just adventure porn (though there's some of that, too); they use water-based sports—rafting, surfing, whitewater and sea kayaking—as narrative threads that tie together five characters whose lives are deeply affected by water. It's an attempt to explain what drives us all to our adventure lifestyles, pointing out along the way that hardship and failure are part and parcel of the adventure experience, as real and as frequent as "stoke" and success. This stuff turns the outdoors—and a love for the outdoors—into high art. Take a look:

1. The Nomad: This short is about pro kayaker Erik Boomer, who's paddled off of towering waterfalls, kayaked and skiied 1,500 miles around Ellesmere Island with fellow adventurer Jon Turk and lived on the streets of Washington, DC. All the while, he's searching. Read what director Skip Armstrong has to say about Boomer.

2. The Mother: Melody Shapiro, 67, is a retired psychologist and avid sea kayaker. But above all, she's a mother to two children and grandmother to five. That experience, even more than her time on the water, influences every aspect of her life. Shapiro is filmed paddling on Lake Powell.

3. The Shapeshifter: Ben Marr is one of the world's top whitewater kayakers, landing first descents, hucking huge waterfalls, surfing monster waves and winning creek races. In this film, he surfs (appropriately) Black Mass, a huge wave on Quebec's Mistassibi River, at night with a flare attached to his boat. It's about pushing your limits to new, undiscovered levels.

4. The Warrior: Chris Peterson was once a North Shore surfer, striving to make the ASP Tour. But family responsibilities called him to landlocked, mountainous Idaho. I'll save the tragedy that forever changed his life, but suffice it to say that he still shreds huge waves, only now on the waves of the Gem State's rain- and snowmelt-swollen mountain rivers. Read what Armstrong has to say about the film.

5. The Elder: Rob Elliot's grandfather was the very first commercial outfitter guiding the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Now at 68, he's guided 200+ trips on the same river, and is thinking about what legacy he's leaving behind for his own grandchildren. He writes and narrates an "ethical will" to them in this film.

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