Mark, facing a lung cancer diagnosis, wants to cross one thing of his bucket list, storm chasing! With the tornado season fast approaching, and his unknown life expectancy, he enlists his friend’s much younger nephew and the two partners start to hunt the weather. Will they be able to witness nature’s phenomenon? In The Last Storm, Liam Saint-Pierre conveys to the screen an unusual story of passion and friendship with a fascinating background dictated by Mother Nature.
Director Liam Saint-Pierre was working on another documentary when his subject started telling him about his friend Mike, an amateur storm chaser, who had just been contacted by a fellow Minneapolis local about hunting tornados together. His documentary filmmaker instinct took over, and once home in the UK, he followed up and decided to turn this atypical story into his next project.
The storm season was about to start and Saint-Pierre did not want to pass on the opportunity of telling, at the the time a potentially, interesting story. He took a gamble and got in touch with Mike. The eccentricity of his request – following them with a camera, got our two storm chasers to allow him to join them on the road and film their adventures.
Saint-Pierre, a former documentary camera operator, knew perfectly how to capture those breathtaking moments with a cinematic realism. His incredible footage captures both the majestic aspect of the twister and the risk and danger of the situation. With his use of a mellow soundtrack providing a tension breaking contrast to the adrenaline rush Mark and Mike experience as they get closer to the eye of the storm and overall how, despite the situation, at peace the pair is in front of the tornado.
You can also tell from the film that the subjects have a great rapport with their director, the small crew – just Saint-Pierre granted a very intimate shoot. Furthermore, storm chasing is not a constant adrenaline rush, having patience is also part of the deal. Saint-Pierre used the downtime to connect and build trust with Mark and Mike. Hence the deeper meaning of the film on an emotional level.
At first sight, The Last Storm might appear as a film about two storm aficionados, forming an odd pair and their quest for a storm. It is actually the tale of two very different men, at almost opposite stages in their lives reunited by a shared passion. No matter what said passion is, we use it to find meaning and it also helps us deal with the chaos of life.
Saint-Pierre succeeds at recounting Mike and Mark’s story in an extremely relatable manner. Mark fights cancer by living out his passion and getting re-energized from it, building a new sincere friendship on the way. Men, not uncommonly, do tend to struggle at maintaining the bonds of their friendships. The need for that connection is present in the film, making their newly formed friendship, built on their shared interest, all the more compelling.
The Last Storm had its world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, and premiered online as a New York Times Op-Docs. Still inspired by Mark and Mike’s story, Saint-Pierre is currently working on a feature narrative film adaptation of the documentary.