A movie about trails includes Nome
Max Romey of Anchorage has traveled the world shooting video for documentaries and advertising. He’s worked with clients such as Go-Pro and ski manufacturer Salomon. He’s traveled to the Azores off the coast of Portugal and to Hong Kong to film wild trail races.
“I got my start when I was filming Mt. Marathon,” he said, referring to the famous 4th of July race up Seward’s nearby mountain. He went to watch and it didn’t make sense to him. Since he could find no documentary about it, he said “I guess I’ll make one.” The documentary led him to jobs traveling the world as a film maker.
His current project is making a film about the trails of Alaska and how they connect communities and people.
Nome ultra-distance runner Carol Seppilu is part of the film. “I met Carol last spring and we cooked up this idea to run all three roads of Nome, which was a lot of fun,” said Tim Lemaire, Seppilu’s partner in many of her runs. “Max was there for some of that. He saw that there was a place for that adventure in his film telling the story of Alaskan trails.”
Carol Seppilu, who survived an attempted suicide in her teens, suffered from depression. Her health was poor and she was overweight. Her friend Crystal Toolie, a runner and fitness enthusiast, nudged Carol into running. As one foot fell in front of the other, one thing led to another until Carol Seppilu was travelling around the country running long distance races. For her, the trails have been a path to a new life where depression no longer is a dominant force.
“Mt. Marathon led me to the southern trek of the Iditarod Trail, that led me to hook up with Carol and Tim at the Resurrection 100, which led to Carol’s running in Nome,” said Romey. “I’ve been running in Anchorage and skiing from Anchorage to Talkeetna and then from Unalakleet to here. And now I’ve meet up with Carol and we’ll finish the final 20 miles.” They skied and ran recently from Safety to Nome.
Asked what the movie about trails will look like Romey answered that he was now so deep into the experience that it’s hard to see the big picture. “What I’d like to do is make the movie I wish I could see,” said Romey. “I feel like when it comes to trails it’s hard to explain what kind of impact they could have in your life. There are so many facets. Trails can encompass everything.” Romey paints beautiful water colors along the trail. He keeps them in a small notebook. As frozen water is a problem a lot of the small pictures are painted using alcohol instead of water.
“It’s like seeing a tiny piece of the puzzle without all of it being put together,” said Romey, holding up one of the small paintings. “What I’m hoping to do this year is combine all these different angles and maybe show the big, complex amazing picture of trails in Alaska. It’s just a couple communities in one state but I think it talks about something much bigger.” Romey says he enjoyed experiencing the trail from Unalakleet with Tim Lemaire and then being able to talk to Carol and hear her story.
Romey is dyslexic, unable to deal with words and with writing. So he paints and makes films. “I’ve been sketching forever so I’ve been painting for this whole journey and my hope is to be able to use watercolors in addition to film in this adventure to be able to connect complex ideas and I think I’ll be able to use the creating of the watercolors and a little bit on animation to fill in some of these big gaps.”
How long until the film is complete? “It’s like climbing a mountain,” said Romey. “You think when you get the final shot you’ll be done. But when you climb a mountain you reach the summit and you feel like ‘I did it.’ But you’re halfway. Same with a film. I’ve been really inspired by what Carol is doing and I feel like she’s had such success in being able to share her story to a wider audience and help people find inspiration that way. And so I’m inspired to help tell stories, like Carol’s, like the other stories we’ve found on the trail. Share the inspiration and what trails can do.”