American Rivers, an environmental group, has released an inspiring new short film that captures the sense of wonder and adventure people can experience in the wild outdoors.
The video features one little boy named Parker who exudes enthusiasm as he runs, jumps and explores the rivers of the Olympic Peninsula. We listen to fast-paced music as the scenes change quickly, jumping from one place to the next, while Parker demonstrates his “top 50 favorite things about Northwest Rivers.” (Be sure to watch in full-screen.)
“We wanted a video that would connect with people on a fun, personal level, reminding all of us why healthy rivers matter and why rivers make the Northwest such a special place to live,” Amy Kober of American Rivers told me in an email. “Wild rivers are amazing places for kids and adults; they can make us all feel like Parker.”
Amy said she chose filmmaker Skip Armstrong of Wazee Motion Pictures “because of his talent, unique style, and creativity — and his own love of rivers.”
Skip says he got the idea for a simple film about unbridled enthusiasm and curiosity while watching his fiancee’s nephew playing on the beach. When it came time to shoot the American Rivers video, that particular boy was not available. Skip looked around his hometown of Hood River, Ore., and found an equally energetic and curious youngster named Parker Arneson, son of Emmie Purcell and Shane Arneson. This high-powered 8-year-old is an avid snowboarder and skateboarder.
Skip spent three days last summer scouting out locations on the Olympic Peninsula, then came back in the fall with Parker for an eight-day shoot, traveling the Highway 101 loop around the Olympic Peninsula in a counter-clockwise direction. Being a home-schooled student, Parker did not miss any school.
“We just followed Parker around when we got to locations,” Skip said. “He literally did everything else. He’s an amazing person. What struck all of us on the shoot was his ability to engage us and the camera and to come up with ideas. He’s a ton of fun to be around.
“We only had one comical setback,” he said. “Hayden Peters and I set off to scout a location and got a bit lost on the way back to the van. It was pouring rain. We finally got to a hillside that looked like the road was above it, so we set off to climb the hill. Only problem was a benign-looking puddle that I stepped in with great confidence, only to sink immediately to my armpits.
“Shortly thereafter, we arrived back at the car, me smelling like a swamp and totally soaked. Parker thought it was pretty funny.”
Parker took some pretty good falls while running around, but he always bounced back and was ready to go again, Skip said.
Parker even got a speeding ticket from an Olympic National Park ranger for running too fast in the Staircase area near the North Fork of the Skokomish River. It was a joke, of course. The ranger was one who accompanied the film crew as part of the permit requirements for shooting video in a wilderness area.
Emmie, Parker’s mom, said he had a great time shooting the video.
Skip has produced numerous films with a water theme. Check out “featured work” on his website, WazeeMotionPictures.com. He says it is important to remember the joy we feel in wild places.
“To me, there is no faster access to unbridled joy than through the eyes of a young person or child,” he wrote me in an email. “It was refreshing for our team to spend so much time with Parker, and it’s cool to see audiences connect with his enthusiasm, too.
“American Rivers works so hard to protect our precious resources, and I love that Parker shows us why this is important. When we were shooting, we met so many wonderful people of all ages enjoying the rivers and sights of the Northwest.”
Skip’s film reminds us that some of our best times can be had outdoors. As the weather improves, I’m inspired and eager to get back to some wild places with my own kids and grandkids.
I also want to thank Skip for sending along the still photos that show Parker and the film crew out and about on the Olympic Peninsula.