The Movie Waffler Waffling With ARMSTRONG Directors Kerry Carlock & Nick Lund-Ulrich | The Movie Waffler

Waffling With ARMSTRONG Directors Kerry Carlock & Nick Lund-Ulrich

armstrong movie
Kerry Carlock and Nick Lund-Ulrich directed Armstrong, a unique, thought-provoking and enormously entertaining superhero drama that premieres on VOD (and on DVD at Walmart) next month from Screen Media.

It’s quite the time for superheroes… and I imagine that’s why it was time to do this movie now?

NICK: The market is so saturated with superhero movies - but a specific kind of superhero movie.

KERRY: We thought it would be interesting to do something that was antithetical to what the big studios are doing.

NICK: Yeah, we’re fans of Marvel and DC but we also love small indie movies that are all about interesting characters and we thought the two could exist together.

The tone isn’t that of your standard superhero movie. Can you describe to the readers what you have here?

NICK:  Well, Armstrong is a unique take on the superhero genre because it’s not about the superhero.  Its told through the eyes of an everyday person.

KERRY: We want the audience to feel more inside the story and experience what is happening to the lead character, Lauren, as she discovers a superhero.  So the tone is more grounded and intimate.

Commercially and critically speaking, how has the movie been going for you?

KERRY:  We’re about to find out!  It’s going to be out in the world on October 3rd and we hope to get good feedback.

NICK:  WalMart has an exclusive DVD release and if you get it on itunes it will include some fun extras. We're excited to get it in front of an audience! It's a perfect time for this movie and we're really hoping people check it out! 

When do you consider the movie a raging success?

NICK: A raging success for us would be having people watch it and love it!

KERRY:  It's so hard to get eyeballs on independent films so finding an audience of like minded genre movie fans would be fantastic!

Is this your first movie?

NICK:  This is our first feature but we’ve both done short films and worked in the industry for a long time.

KERRY: We’ve been talking about making a movie together since our third date so finally being able to do it was amazing!

How much research did you do before tackling the project? Any Googles on emergency workers?

NICK: Lots of Google searches!

KERRY: And we have a friend, Ben Dengerink, that is an EMT and was our technical coordinator.

NICK:  He helped us when we were writing the script and then he flew out to LA to rehearse with the actors in the ambulance and be on set for questions.

KERRY: He was an amazing asset to the movie!

NICK: First responders are real life superheroes and it was important to us to get that aspect of the film right.

Is it hard to ‘ground’ a superhero movie?

NICK:  I think it can be hard to ground a superhero movie successfully. When you're dealing with the fantastic it's always challenging in any movie to make it feel believable.

KERRY:  For Armstrong we did a lot of research into current events and technology to ground the movie as much as possible in the real world.

NICK:  We wanted to make sure everything that the arm can do is based in reality. Medical jet injectors, drones, EMPs - this is all technology that is being used in real life, high-stakes situations whether it be the battlefield, espionage or humanitarian relief. 

KERRY:  And it was important for the actors to really elicit honest performances in regards to the more out-there elements of the story. At the end of the day, if you don't believe the actors you're not going to believe what’s going on around them.

NICK:  To paraphrase Eddie in the movie, we have to believe it’s some "crazy shit they're seeing." 

In terms of effects, what can we expect?

KERRY: Nick did most of the visual effects himself and he has a group of friends and colleagues that pitched in.

NICK:  The movie has 406 visual effects shots.  Most of the scenes when they are in the ambulance or driving the ambulance is on green screen so a lot of the visual effects are not even noticeable. 

KERRY:  The 3D work with the arm and the helicopter - the Richter 5 - are the real stars.

NICK: The helicopter was designed and built by Morgan Mcdermott and animated by me. The arm was built and animated by Morgan and another friend of ours, Ryan Markley. Morgan did the forearm and Ryan did the shoulder.  It was fun to come up with interesting ways to bring production value to the movie that didn’t break the bank.

Is it hard to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day, being that so many of these movies are, I imagine, quite emotionally and physically gruelling projects?

NICK:  Since we have been living Armstrong for three years now, we can say 100%, it is very difficult to switch off. When we were working on it we would have to actively dedicate times together where we wouldn't talk about the movie, just to let our minds decompress and think about other things! 

KERRY:  And we both have full time jobs on top of trying to get the movie made and finished, so it is definitely a grind. But nobody’s complaining!

NICK: We loved every minute of it and can’t wait to make our next one.

What’s the best thing about working on indies? Less pressure, I imagine?

KERRY:  Well, I think it’s a different kind of pressure. We don’t have a studio to answer to but it was self-financed so that was incredibly stressful.

NICK:  The schedule was very tight - we shot it in 15 days - and we could not go over budget if we wanted to keep a roof over our head and food on the table!

KERRY:  Filmmaking is a crazy combination of wide-eyed optimism and brutal reality.  It’s like skydiving - the rush and euphoria of a freefall that could end in total disaster.

NICK: You’ve never been skydiving.

KERRY: I don’t have to! We made a movie instead.