Denver-based photographer Matt Trappe has built a strong relationship with the running brand Altra over the years. Matt has wanted to create a video story about Gediminas Grinius, a Lithuanian ultra runner and member of the Altra Endurance team. Recently, he got the chance to do just that.
Gediminas had a dramatic introduction to competitive running. Originally, he started to run long distances as a way to combat the symptoms of PTSD and eventually became pretty good at it and finished 5th in his first 100km+ race, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in 2014.
The concept for this video was fairly simple – use interview and race footage to present a compelling and inspiring look at Gediminas’ path to success.
An engaging story and visually appealing film brings social media engagement and builds a connection to the Altra brand. But, my goal was to tell a compelling story and inspire others that may be in a similar situation to run or just spend time in the outdoors because it can help.
Matt was able to schedule the shoot time around the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc and link up with Altra Athlete Coordinator Mike McKnight for help navigating the course on the race day. Due to budget constraints, Matt chose a minimalist video kit and flew solo to Chamonix, France. Keeping production small helped Matt stay nimble in the face of changing weather conditions and solid planning ahead of time ensured he was able to capture the shots he needed.
I felt confident shooting the film alone because I knew exactly how I wanted to tell the story and had storyboarded the piece very well so I could be efficient when it came to production.
Gediminas had invited Matt to stay with him and his family prior to the race, which maximized their available shoot time and Gediminas’ rest time. Race day was an endurance affair for both Matt and Gediminas, with nearly 24 hours (Gediminas finished the 170km race in 21:24:19) of constant activity.
We had all food and water we would need stocked in the car and ready to go so we could be self-sufficient for the next ~24 hours. The mountain weather was a wildcard and the forecast included rain early on followed by really cold temperatures. Thick clouds kept the mountain views hidden so hiking high up the mountain didn’t make much sense and we never had to stray too far from the car to get the footage I needed.
Furthermore, access issues at the start and finish lines forced Matt to compete with spectators for clean shots, but he was able to stay nimble and capture the footage required. Post-production was handled by Matt’s production company, NINE MIND ASYLUM.
The response to Controlled Silence has been overwhelmingly positive. Matt and Altra are planning on continuing their relationship with future projects, and Matt is working together with photographer Alexis Berg to pitch a long-form project on Gediminas.
It is great to see the messages from people that are ex-military that were inspired and empathetic to his story. The feeling that PTSD shows weakness and should be ignored is very dangerous but very real and there are a lot of groups that help veterans through running and the outdoors. It was also great to feel like I really nailed the planning and execution with so much efficiency. I had been excited to tell this story for a long time and felt like I really took advantage of the opportunity.
Brand Manager (Altra): Chris Jones
Athlete Coordinator (Altra): Mike McKnight
Production: NINE MIND ASYLUM
Score: Mike Wideburg
Rough Cut: Garrett Creamer
See more of Matt at trappephoto.com!