Father the Flame Movie a Must See for Pipe Enthusiasts

James Foster, CST
Father the Flame Logo After 7 years and 6 countries we’re finally seeing a finished product that the pipe community has been anxiously waiting for. We’ve seen snippets and previews at the Chicago show, and you might have run across Chad Terpstra, Jeremy Rush, and team filming throughout the years enough to be excited about this. Personally, when I heard about this project on the Pipesmagazine radio show with Brian Levine I immediately became a community backer and then like you, I’ve sat and waited… and waited. But now as of today, it’s out and available on iTunes and Amazon for purchase. Fair warning, if you aren’t smoking a pipe when you watch this movie, you’ll have this gravitation to find your favorite pipe and light up.
Find the movie on iTunes here.

From the movie packet synopsis:

Father The Flame follows Lee Erck, a world-renowned pipe maker from far Northern Michigan, as he travels the globe to explore the nearly forgotten art of tobacco pipe making. Featuring a charming cast of characters—from the royal family of Danish pipe makers to the Italian briar cutter known as the world’s greatest, to a fourth-generation Native American sacred pipe maker—this story speaks to a slower pace of life, a luxury in our sped-up world. Contemplative and hypnotic, Father the Flame immerses the viewer in the cultural and spiritual significance of the tobacco pipe and what it can teach a modern generation about legacy and the things we leave behind.

Lee Erck Movie Still
Father the Flame weaves together a tapestry of stories of legacy, sadness, friendship, and family that leaves the viewer, pondering some of lifes’ greatest questions.
And that left me surprised as the credits rolled. Going into watching this movie, I had only seen a trailer or two and hadn’t seen any previews of the movie so it allowed me to go in with a fresh perspective without too many preconceived notions. It’s narrated by Lee and the primary characters in the movie talking about their lives as Lee travels the globe selling pipes, meeting people, and discussing life. The interwoven message of legacy is shown through Lee, Mimmo, his father Pippo, Sixten, Lars, and Nanna Iverson, and Travis Erickson as we see the torch of knowledge passed through generations and the traditions of craftsmanship and artistry told from their perspectives. The movie cultivates a feeling of melancholy and pride in a careful balance to leave the viewer pontificating where we are in our universe and what we leave behind.
Birds Eye

“There is sometimes you sit back in awe and say look what the hell I did” – Lee Erck

Father the Flame also goes between factory pipes and the cultivated artisan pipe makers as it delves into what is art when it comes to craftsmanship, and why people collect pipes for their aesthetic beauty. Comparing artisan pipe making to other master artworks, like a Van Gogh painting it shows a reason why some of us are attracted the hobby of pipe collecting. Looking at the picture above, the birdseye in the grain, one can see the similarities to the famous painting Stary Night and draw comparisons to how we view and work with nature in art.
Nanna Iverson
The music is done by Kyle Calvin Campbell and is a perfect match for the story especially when the movie weaves in our cosmic place in this life towards the end. Hearing the score I’m reminded of another similar movie with a haunting soundtrack – The Fountain. While the score of Father the Flame may not be as percussive as the Fountain, it does build to an impactful climax that helps close the movie out in a grand fashion.
Bowl with flame
After my first viewing I wanted to follow up with Chad to ask him a few questions about the film:
How does it feel to finally have the movie out after 7ish years?
It feels amazing to finally be at this stage. We started this project, in part to learn how to make a feature film ourselves from beginning to end. I’ve worked on a lot of other short and long-form projects before, but have never experienced this stage of content creation where something you’re deeply invested in gets to go out and find its home in the world. It’s a little nerve-wracking, but I’m mostly just excited to share it. I’ve been so floored by the overwhelmingly positive responses by those who’ve experienced the film so far. I hope it is well-received by a larger audience
Did the story change much as you captured more film and interviews?
It sure did. Having met Lee first, we always knew he’d be some kind of central figure or backdrop. But I cast a very wide net in terms of where the film would go. We delved into everything from nuanced details of pipe making, to pipe history to family relations and spirituality. A lot of that stemmed from where I was in life as a new father searching for stories of lasting legacy. But the film just kept revealing itself as we went, where new pieces would emerge as beautiful little dots that needed to be connected. My editor and good friend, Scott McCambridge made that possible.
What were a couple of things you learned when doing this movie?
Man… I learned a lot during the making of the film. There were countless pipe-related discoveries, for example, when we started I was really still relatively new to the pipe world. I’d been smoking for about three years, but still had no idea about the upper-end artisanal pipe market, nor what qualities went into those high-end pipes. The material of briar, the way it’s unpredictable really spoke to me once I grasped all that goes into it. Then there was the Native American use of the “peace pipe,” which deserves an entire film in itself. But the overarching takeaway for me is just the idea of being generous and improving upon the world you’re given. This is how lasting legacy is built, and how knowledge moves from one generation to the next. These were the bigger themes that the film seemed to want to explore.
What did Lee say when he saw the final movie?
Apart from an occasional, “Oh boy…!” he was pretty speechless from what I remember. We were worried at first it might get too personal for his liking, but he praised it effusively and was humbled and honored to have been included. From the beginning, he didn’t want it to be about just him and insisted we meet Mimmo and Frank Burla and a number of other folks. He continues to stay as active as he can it helping us promote it and attend screenings.
Lee in his workshop
“I got too much good tobacco at home, aged stuff that….that I gotta smoke some of it.” – Lee Erck
When looking at the twilight of life, Lee’s words ring home for many pipe smokers and gives us a final grin as we think about our own tobacco cellars and the things we want to make sure we accomplish before we pass the torch ourselves.
Wrapping up I’d like to thank Chad for answering my questions, sending over the preview, and for completing this movie. As you get a chance to watch the movie, let me know what you think about it.
Find the movie on iTunes here
Additionally, it will be available on the following platforms:
Google Play
Xbox / Microsoft Video
In the following territories:
Antigua and Barbuda
Cayman Islands
St. Kitts and Nevis
Trinidad and Tobago
United States
British Virgin Islands

James Foster goes by the online handle of Pylorns in the forums, and he is the creator of an app for keeping track of your tobacco cellar inventory called The Pipe Tool, serves as the President of the Austin Pipe Club and is a Certified Tobacconist.
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6 Responses

  • Unfortunately I’m not able to edit my responses but I just had to comment on The Fountain’s soundtrack, it’s one of my favorite scores, performed by Mogwai & Kronos Quartet so I am just that much more excited to see this movie to hear the soundtrack!

  • Yeah Hawky454, one particular part will stand out when you hear it and contrast the two scores.

  • The score was beautiful! Great visuals as well. I just wish they would have focused on the tobacco industry some. I think this documentary will cater more to the pipe enthusiasts of the world, now we need a part 2 for the tobacco enthusiasts of the world. Lol