'We wanted to make something that was kind of a love letter to this town'
EUGENE, Ore. - Alexi Pappas is not just a long distance runner who qualified for the Rio Olympics; she's also a filmmaker and she's wrapping up work on her latest feature about TrackTown U.S. A.
This is Pappas' second feature film, but it's her first time directing and acting.
The film is simply called "TrackTown" and it took three years to make, but the timing of the movie premier couldn't have been better.
At the historic Hayward field, Pappas poses for photos for her movie.
She and her partner Jeremy Teicher fell in love with Eugene. Teicher also co-directed and wrote TrackTown. As a filmmaker, he says he saw something unique about Eugene.
"Everyone is in love with running, like, the same way a town is in love with football," Teicher said.
So they blended fiction with reality. The film is about a woman played by Pappas who trains for the Olympics.
"It's a fictional story, but it's based on my experiences living and training in TrackTown," Pappas said.
Everything was shot in Eugene and they cast real athletes.
"We wanted to make something that was kind of a love letter to this town as well," Teicher said. "It's amazing to be working with people who are actually, in real life, training for the Olympics."
Teicher says the film gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at an athlete's life.
"Underwater treadmills and other crazy stuff that you couldn't just access and I had no idea existed before I came here," he said.
There is an emotional aspect of the film, something Teicher says everyone can relate to.
"But we also have this story that's just about trying really hard," he said.
Juggling two time-consuming projects, the Olympics and the movie, requires discipline - a term Pappas knows well.
"It takes that extra effort to hone your craft and become the best," Pappas said. "That I have a teammate in Jeremy is why TrackTown is possible and why my running is so successful."
Pappas says running is important now, but filmmaking is something she wants to do for the rest of her life.
Pappas says she's grateful for co-producer Jay Smith and other businesses that made TrackTown the movie possible.
The movie will premiere in the LA Film Festival in June. They will host a showing in Eugene in the near future.