Peter Olsen – no relation to Sigurd – grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where his father started putting cameras in his hands almost before he could ride a bike. After being honored as a regional finalist in the Student Academy Awards for his first 16mm film Interstates, he was accepted into the graduate film program at NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts, where his work garnered several honors, including a Graduate Teaching Assistantship, a Warner Bros. Production Award, and a nomination for the American Society of Cinematographers Greg Toland Heritage Award. Peter was also awarded a $25,000 development grant from IFP/North and the Minnesota Independent Film Fund as co-writer of the feature film screenplay Ice Nine, now in development.

Peter taught a four-week workshop on documentary filmmaking at the distinguished International Film & Television Workshops in Rockport, Maine, and a six-week course in cinematography at the Kochi University of Technology in Japan. He has served as director of photography on dozens of films including documentaries, television series, shorts, and more than ten features. His work has been seen on network outlets including PBS, The Discovery Channel, The Sundance Channel, ABC, Showtime, ESPN, A&E, HGTV and in theatrical distribution. Peter brings an invaluable distinction to the projects he shoots since he is also a writer, producer, and director. His debut feature, Kaaterskill Falls (co-directed with Josh Apter), on which he also served as director of photography, received the Critic’s Jury Prize for Best Feature at the 2001 IFP/West Los Angeles Film Festival, and was nominated for two 2002 Independent Spirit Awards. It aired eighteen months on The Sundance Channel, was released by Wellspring Media on DVD and video, and is available on Peter is currently Filmmaker in Residence at The Ross Institute in East Hampton, NY. He is based in Brooklyn and Southampton, New York.

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  1. 1

    Happy to make a contribution, as I’ve read every book Sigurd wrote and probably every book written about him. I’d really like to get a pair of the salad paddles. Please let me know how I can do that.

  2. Peter #

    Thanks Kevin. They’re not “in production” yet. I have a friend who has made a couple of prototypes, and we haven’t looked at a way to make them in larger quantities yet. I was thinking of offering them as a premium at the $100 level. If you want to make a donation, however, I can get you a set right away!

  3. Alexander W Lehinger #

    To Peter Olson,
    I am a great fan of Sigurd Olson, and all my passion and love for the wilderness is emulated in his works of literature. I am very enthusiastic in the support of teaching this passion as well as raising awareness of Sigurd Olson’s great achievements. He is my idol, without a doubt. Having said this, I would be more than happy to help in any way with the making of this film, so I will gladly donate as it is the least i can and am willing to do to further this admiral effort of yours. I wish to convey my deepest veneration in your work thus far.

    Also, I am curious as to how this is progressing and I may have some other questions if I could only remember them. So if you have the time, my email is
    If you don’t have the time or inclination, I understand. Thanks and good luck with the film. Looking forward to it!
    Best regards,
    Alex Lehinger

  4. Allan Craig #

    Dear Peter,

    It was a pleasure to meet you and your mom, Alis, and Josh at the portage from Duncan to Bearskin last Monday. I forgot to mention that I have pictures of Square and Baskatong Lakes from 2010 and 2012 – the years before and after the Pagami Creek fire. If it helps, I did find fresh moose tracks (and droppings) on John Lake and tracks on Kawishiwi last year.

    I also took the liberty of sending the following suggestion to the Sawtooth Outfitters (where I rent the Bell Rob Roy):

    “It occurred to me that all the outfitters and other businesses serving the BWCA might perhaps get together to support his work! I have absolutely no idea if it would qualify as a tax write off, but it might be good for business anyway!”

    I hope it helps!

    Finally, just as the forests are being renewed after the Pagami Creek fire, the “Singing Wilderness” will keep on singing. So your film can only relay a portion of the ongoing song! I hope you can release it soon!

    Pastor Allan Craig

  5. Allan Craig #

    Dear Peter,

    I forgot to mention the “musical rain” I witnessed on Square Lake. It was dead calm and the raindrops were coming straight down. Each drop fell with a different pitch – and formed a bubble! I have a picture of the bubbles, but, alas, no video with sound! The “Singing Wilderness” literally sings at times!

    Pastor Allan Craig

  6. Peter #

    Thanks Allan,

    It was good to meet you too. And thanks for your suggestion to Sawtooth (not Sawbill? They know about the project). It absolutely can be a tax write off; I have a non-profit fiscal sponsor.

    I like your description of the ‘singing’ rain. Thanks for visiting the blog and for getting in touch. Hope to cross paths (trails) again someday…


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