Directed by Kerry Carlock and Nick Lund-Ulrich, and based on a script by Nick Rufca, Armstrong tells of a rookie EMT officer and her partner who pick up a wounded superhero and are drawn into his mission to save Los Angeles from a shadowy organization.
On her first night as an EMT, Lauren, an ex addict trying to atone for her brothers death, is partnered with Eddie, a jaded cynic, exiled to the graveyard shift.
Their first call, a mysterious warehouse explosion, sends them into the industrial wilderness outside of Los Angeles. On the way, they’re stopped by a wounded drifter: Armstrong.
When trying to contact dispatch, they realize that their radio and cell phones aren’t working and they’re on their own. Once in the ambulance, Armstrong begins to exhibit strange behavior and becomes violent. Before they can get him out of the vehicle, a fanatically assassin violently attacks them. The soldier is hunting Armstrong and wants to kill anyone who comes in contact with him. Before he can finish off the EMTs, Armstrong saves them and defeats the soldier.
It is revealed that Armstrong is a high tech vigilante on a key mission: to stop a murderous doomsday cult, The Fifth Sun, from detonating a series of nuclear devices underneath Los Angeles to cause catastrophic earthquakes. To complete his mission, Armstrong needs their help.
Pulled into this hidden world, Lauren must make difficult choices and overcome her personal demons to survive the night, help Armstrong carry out his mission and ultimately become the hero herself.
Wow! What a powerful movie – do you think people will be surprised by it?
KERRY: Thanks! I think people will be expecting more traditional superhero storytelling, so they’ll definitely be surprised by where the story goes.
NICK: Yeah, we wanted to do a superhero movie that didn’t lean on the more predictable elements of the genre. Armstrong isn’t a typical hero, there isn’t a typical bad guy and there isn’t typical action.
KERRY: Everything happens through Lauren’s eyes so we don’t even have the typical protagonist!
NICK: Usually it’s all about the superhero. But Armstrong is actually about this female EMT and what happens to her when she’s with him.
Would you consider it a difficult one to market? The artwork makes it look like an action-packed sci-fi movie – but there’s much, much more here isn’t there?
NICK: We didn’t set out to make an action movie but we understand why it’s marketed that way. We want to do a movie that was about interesting characters and one of them happens to be a superhero.
KERRY: And they happen to be racing down the street in an ambulance. And Lauren happens to be having an identity crisis.
NICK: Right. But that’s kind of harder to put on a DVD cover.
How much say do you get in the marketing?
KERRY: We’re so glad you asked! As indie filmmakers, we have NO say in marketing.
NICK: Zero, zilch, nada.
KERRY: We hope even if some dude buys it thinking it is going to be a straight up action superhero movie, audiences will get drawn in by the story of these characters just trying to get through the night. And they’ll stick around to see what happens in the end.
NICK: You won’t be disappointed!
What drew you to Armstrong?
KERRY: Nick and I have talked about making a film together since our third date. And we always talked about doing a mashup of our favorite things…
NICK: I’m into the Sci-fi comic book stuff and Kerry likes small intimate character pieces.
KERRY: He kept dragging me to the big superhero movies and although the spectacle is fun to watch, I like to still be thinking about a movie days later. I want to have an emotional experience.
NICK: We figured there has to be other fans out there that are looking for a new twist on the genre.
Tell us about the premise of this one?
NICK: The premise came from the idea that we wanted to have normal every day people interacting with a superhero.
KERRY: Yeah, how crazy would it be to come face-to-face with someone with super powers???
NICK: And who would be interesting “regular person” to meet a superhero? Well, EMTs are basically real world superheroes. They’re equipped with a lot of knowledge and know-how and they’re pretty fearless. So that’s two really interesting characters that could interact.
What came first- the character or the story?
KERRY: Nick came up with the logline.
NICK: Two EMTs pick up a wounded superhero and have to help him finish his mission.
KERRY: I asked him if the rookie EMT could be a woman and the story really kind of feel into place from there.
And what makes your hero tick?
NICK: Well, it depends on who you’re considering our hero…
KERRY: To us the hero of the movie is Lauren. She’s a person who has fought back from great personal conflict and loss and she’s trying to make a life for herself so she’s willing to take chances to turn her life around.
NICK: As far as Armstrong, we wanted to create a superhero who was kind of unsuccessful. He means really well but can’t really get it together. He wants to help and “save the day” but the situation is overwhelming and he’s ill-equipped.
KERRY: We thought that was an interesting twist that we hadn’t seen before.
Are you a fan of superhero films?
KERRY: I love the idea of the great big mythical characters and storytelling of superheroes.
NICK: Yeah, comic books are American mythology! The characters are part of our cultural fabric and they’re amazing stories.
KERRY: We heard someone say recently that Superhero movies today are like what Westerns were in the 40s and 50s. They are really popular because they say something about our world view right now.
NICK: But there is room in the marketplace for more than just the big budget blowouts. You can do anything with the genre you want.
What do you think is the most powerful element of the story?
KERRY: I’m most proud of Vicky’s performance as Lauren. I think it’s the most powerful part of the film.
NICK: Our goal was to go on this ride with that character and if we don’t connect with then her then the movie wouldn’t work.
KERRY: She is so in the moment and engaging that you want to go along with her.
NICK: I agree. Too often we’re just watching the characters running through the visual effects or away from the big bad monster. And with Vicky you just believe every moment and you just see the extraordinary circumstances play out on her face.
Last question, can you see yourself doing a sequel?
NICK: Of course we would want to do a sequel! It wouldn’t be a comic book movie without the next issue! We have a lot of great ideas for the characters and would love to do another one.
Vicky Jeudy, Shawn Parsons, Jason Antoon and Christian Anderson star in Armstrong, available on VOD and DVD (Walmart only) from October 3.