Fiscal Sponsee – Skagit
Directed by Nick Thompson
Produced by Leah Trangen, Hailey Williams, Tracey Breese, and Rachel Price
Skagit follows four young adults from Seattle as they set out for a fall getaway weekend in Washington’s grimly beautiful Skagit Valley. Elsa and three of her oldest friends from Seattle arrive at their destination cabin, but as they explore the surrounding wilderness, it soon becomes clear that the valley has its own plans for the four. One by one, the friends wander out alone and quickly succumb to dark and confused visions of themselves. Trapped in the tangled landscape’s alternate reality, Elsa finds herself fighting for her life, trying to get back to a place of safety in a sinister natural world, while the valley itself attacks her in ways both physical and psychological.
Skagit is a horror film in which an environment is the source of the horror. Writer/Director Nick Thompson grew up in Seattle and now works here as a filmmaker. Within an hour’s drive of the city are a bounty of eerie and beautiful landscapes inhabited by utterly unique people. When the Northwest is presented on film, though, it’s often with a sheen of drone-like perfection, which obfuscates both the peculiar attraction of the landscape and the sensibility of the people who inhabit it. Alternatively, its unusual natural character may not be referenced at all. This film is a corrective to that mode: Shot entirely on location in November in Western Washington, Skagit foregrounds the primeval atmosphere of the Skagit Valley as it molds, terrifies, and eventually destroys the minds of the four friends.
This movie is the culmination of many of the elements that have driven Thompson’s other projects, which employed the poetic capabilities of film to approach some of the themes that define life in the Northwest: physical upheaval, anxiety about change, and a deep connection with the natural environment. Climate change and development are deeply impacting our region, dramatically altering the psyche, worldview and culture of its inhabitants. Other parts of the world are already experiencing their own periods of rapid environmental change and dealing with the cultural fallout. At levels personal, artistic and cultural, Skagit is a film that needs to be made and seen now.
These broader concerns had a direct impact on how the film was made: shot on location on a shoestring budget, with a local cast and crew paid with small amounts of funding from local backers. The characters reflect the diversity Thompson experienced growing up in Seattle’s South End, and many of the extras and bit parts are played by people the team met while filming. From its conception to its execution, Skagit is a product of the Northwest, and the filmmakers are excited to bring it to a larger stage.
Executive Producer Rachel Price on her decision to get involved:
“While the horror genre is certainly having a moment, that was not my motivation for investing in Nick’s film. After talking to Nick and Leah and reading the script, I was completely on board. The characters are authentic, the dialogue rings true, and the story is mesmerizing. It’s gratifying to see more and more filmmaking take place in Washington state, and I think Nick’s film, with its fabulous use of unmistakably Skagit sites, is a marvelous representative of the kind of film that can come from nowhere but here.”
Official website: www.skagitfilm.com