International Premiere
Selection 2020 On Demand

Survival Skills

Directed by Quinn Armstrong


Official selection

Cinequest 2020


Quinn Armstrong


Quinn Armstrong


Tyra Colar, Spencer Garrett, Stacy Keach, Ericka Kreutz, Vayu O'Donnell


Mike Downing, Colin West


Allie Schultz


Keara Burton


Survival Skills, LLC

USA 2020 84 mins OV English
Genre Comedy

Join us on September 1st at 6:00pm EDT for a live Q&A with Director Quinn Armstrong, producers producteurs Colin West et Keara Burton, Cast Vayu O’Donnell

Welcome, cadets, to SURVIVAL SKILLS – a Survival Solutions production. Today, along with fresh-faced cop Jim (Vayu O’Donnell), you’ll learn all the skills you need to survive in the modern police force of the 1980s. See how Jim handles his first 911 callout. Observe his professional interactions with fellow Middletown Police officers. Note Jim’s sunny disposition, his willingness to go the extra mile to assist those in need. And stare in horror as his drive to solve problems at any cost sends a delicate situation careening hopelessly out of control. Don’t touch that tracking dial, folks – this videotape is under the watchful eye of the omniscient and gravelly-voiced Narrator (Stacy Keach). Nothing could go wrong – and if it does, it’s only a video. Right?

Writer-director Quinn Armstrong’s feature debut, expanded from his 2017 short, is simultaneously a throwback to a bygone age and very much a film for today. Drawing from the wild VHS heyday of law-enforcement training videos like “Surviving Edged Weapons”, “Satanic Ritual Abuse”, and “Reality Check”, Armstrong builds a comedically wholesome world of scan lines, Americana, and educational-film naiveté, before shattering it with the grim reality of domestic violence. As the police-training construct begins to unravel, so too does officer Jim’s smiling facade, his hell-bent protectiveness and limited methods only escalating a situation he’s ill-equipped to handle. In a time when police conduct and training takes centre stage, SURVIVAL SKILLS casts a bleakly satirical light on the disasters that can occur when simplistic training, complex ethics, and the dark side of human nature collide. Be safe out there, rookies. – Andrew Todd