Charles Dye, Co-Producer/Director


Quick Facts:


  • Home: Earth
  • What got you into filmmaking? Some hardy thorny desire that grew from having my own black & white TV in my room when I was child. I had no idea what Kunfu or Catch22 were about when I was seven (probably still don’t) but they obviously changed me.
  • Why did you become involved in Nikki’s Long Trail expedition / the making of the film? Years ago, Rick Smith told me about an article he’d read about human evolution and endurance running. As a runner turned cyclist filmmaker I immediately wanted to build a film around the topic. But we needed the right story, and years passed. Then one day Rick told me he’d just sat next to Nikki on a plane and that she was planning to run the Long Trail. Shortly thereafter I first met Nikki running up and down the trails at Pipestone, as we filmed the trailer for this film.
  • Greatest inspiration: Almost every film I see.
  • Proudest moment: I’m grateful for every moment.
  • Biggest fear: That someone will notice that Patrick McLaughlin was also involved in this production.
  • Favorite food on a shoot/in the field: When it’s hot: coconut water. When it’s cold: chocolate. But of course anything will do.
  • Best adventure: my son Colm & daughter Maeve
  • 3 Things People Should Know About You: I’m cautious and relentless.
  • Ambition / What’s Next? Indian Relay will air on Independent Lens this fall–that’s pretty cool–as that production shared a lot of crew with this one. In the meanwhile I’ve got an ear out for a good story about a Moroccan musician. I’m also looking for the right screenplay(s) for a fictional short or two. And then there’s my goal to run 50k on my birthday after next.

David Wolfgang-Kimball, Pacer and Support Team Member


Raised in a log cabin on a Colorado mountain, David has always loved nature.  Skiing and running help him take in as much of it as possible, as quickly as possible, although he does stop to smell the foliage occasionally.  You may also find him camping, swimming, cycling, taking pictures, or eating cookies.  David is Nikki’s cousin, and they have been lifelong buddies.  He’s been thrilled to watch Nikki’s relentless progress since childhood, although he occasionally misses holstein-with-rifle biathlon years.  In regular life, David works at UCSF coordinating technology for a set of neuroscience labs, and periodically helps manage really good conferences (previously TED, now EG).

Quick Facts:


  • Nickname/Trail Name:  Cousin, or just Cuz
  • Home:  San Francisco, CA
  • What got you into running?  Crewing for Nikki at Western States 100 over the years
  • How did you first meet Nikki?  Chasing each other around in a sprinkler in our diapers
  • Why did you become involved in Nikki’s Long Trail expedition?  How could I not?!  What a challenge, what an expedition.  And I always love supporting Nikki.
  • Greatest inspirations:  A sunny day.  San Francisco.  Good people who strive.
  • Proudest moment:  Running a successful conference!
  • Biggest fear:  Broccoli, no question.
  • Favorite food on the trail:  Pizza and reject shattered Santa maple candy.
  • Best adventure:  Heli-skiing…it’s just stupidly fantastic.

Danny Schmidt, Producer / Director of Photography

Quick Facts:


  • Nickname: Schmidt
  • Home: Originally from Salt Lake City, currently residing in Fort Collins, Colorado
  • What got you into filmmaking?  My first foray into filmmaking was in high school when my friends and I would shoot and edit skateboard videos.  I will date myself here, but our original editing setup involved two VCRs…
  • How did you first meet Nikki?  I first met Nikki in Bozeman, Montana, when producers Jaime Jacobsen, Charles Dye, and Rick Smith asked me to come run around with Nikki on the trails with my Stedicam.
  • Why did you become involved in Nikki’s Long Trail expedition / the making of the film?  Nikki is an awesome person and I immediately felt that the story had potential.  I really enjoy working wtih Jaime, Rick, and Charles and I was just really stoked that they wanted me to help!
  • Biggest inspiration: My Mom


  • Biggest fear: Awkward social situations
  • Favorite food on a shoot / in the field: Coffee and gummy worms
  • Proudest moment: Turning 30
  • 3 things people should know about you: I wanted to be a professional skateboarder, I love the Utah Jazz, I might be funnier than I look.
  • Ambition / What’s next?  Stay healthy, keep learning, and have a good time.


Dennis Ball, Lead Pacer and Support Team Member


Dennis Ball grew up in the mountains of Colorado but didn’t get involved in endurance sports until he moved to New York in 2003. Since then he has competed in everything from turkey trots, Ironman, to many ultra-distance running events. Dennis has a passion for endurance sports and it was this passion that inspired him to go back to school. Currently Dennis is finishing his degree in nutrition at Queen College and will be graduating this spring. When Dennis is not running or studying he works as a running coach for TriLife Coaching.

Quick Facts:

  • Home: New York, NY
  • What got you into running? My friend Jasmine Pierce called me one day and asked me if I wanted to run a 5k with her. I thought why not and ever since then running became a part of my life.
  • How did you first meet Nikki? I first met Nikki when I was the coach for The North Face Endurance Challenge in NY. I had to speak on a guest panel with her. I was very nervous and she could tell but she helped put me at ease.
  • Why did you become involved in Nikki’s Long Trail expedition? I became involved with this expedition because I believed in the purpose and message Nikki wanted to send with this project. Endurance sports are a lifestyle to me and they have a very transformative power. I hope that this project will inspire people to become active as well as bring more attention about equality in sports.
  • Greatest inspiration: When people realized that they are capable of more than they thought they were.
  • Proudest moment: It will be this May when I graduate from college!
  • Biggest fear: Running into a mountain lion
  • Favorite food on the trail: Gatorade’s Carb Energy Chew
  • Best adventure: By far The Long Trail
  • 3 Things People Should Know About You: 1) I am currently applying for my dietetic internship and my number 1 choice is in Bozeman, MT. 2) I am a vegetarian that hates eggplant. 3) I cheated on my vegetarian diet during Nikki’s Long Trail expedition. Shhhh.

Patrick McLaughlin, Sound Recorder / Still Photographer / PA / Wilderness Adventure Guru

Quick Facts:

  • Nickname: Pat
  • Home: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • What got you into filmmaking? I have always been interested in telling interesting stories. I began college as a screenwriting major, but graduated with a degree in biology, and I currently work in West Africa as a conservation biologist. Like filmmakers, scientists are essentially just telling stories, trying to understand and convey what they learn about how the world works. I have always wanted to have a foot in both worlds, to help convey science through film instead of just statistics and specimens. As a scientist, broadening your audience beyond other scientists is vital to both conservation and education. To that end, I have always had a keen interest in filmmaking.
  • How did you first meet Nikki? I met Nikki the day before she began her epic Long Trail attempt, in the middle of the woods of Northern Vermont.  
  • Why did you become involved in the making of the film? Jaime and I spent some time leading a National Geographic Student Expeditions trip in Tanzania this past summer. She told me about Nikki and the Finding Traction film, and I was just blown away by the entire story. Knowing that I was looking to gain more experience in filmmaking, Jaime graciously offered me the chance to join her crew. The chance to be a part of such an amazing project was an easy decision, and quite an honor.
  • Greatest inspiration: I guess it’s a tie between Forrest Gump and Gandhi
  • Proudest moment: Becoming an uncle 
  • Biggest fear: Questionnaires
  • Favorite food during field production: Dried Mango
  • Best adventure: Driving a 1983 Ford Fiesta from England to Mongolia
  • 3 Things People Should Know About You: 1. I study frogs, 2. I like bacon, and 3. I type with 2 fingers.
  • What’s Next? I am leading a research expedition this month in West Africa. We’re looking to document primate abundance in the remote tropical forests of Bioko Island, one of their last strongholds in the region where they are protected from hunting. Additionally, we will conduct extensive surveys for new species of amphibians and insects, while also inventing new and creative ways to cook SPAM.

Andrea Cady, Doctor, Chef and Support Team Member

Quick Facts:

  • Nickname/Trail Name: Wench. Or little wench.
  • Home: Pittsford, Vermont initially.  Bozeman, Montana now.
  • What got you into running? Runner parents in the 70s.  High school XC running on trails in VT.
  • How did you first meet Nikki?  Our moms taught junior high together and decided we each needed a female friend.  I was 11 and Nikki was 10.  We built a fort in the woods together and she seemed pretty cool.
  • Why did you become involved in Nikki’s Long Trail expedition?  Chance to hang out in the woods and cook and help Nikki.
  • Greatest inspiration: changes month to month.  Right now it’s my love of new soup recipes.
  • Proudest moment: Tuckerman headwall in leather laceup tele boots and wood (3 pin binding) skis, 1995ish.  Followed Nikki up.
  • Biggest fear: same headwall, same trip.
  • Favorite food on the trail: jerky.  Soup’s good, too.
  • Best adventures: life with a poodle, and a boyfriend who taught me how to kayak and mountain bike and dirtbike.
  • 3 Things People Should Know About You: (1) the farthest I think I’ve ever run at once is about 18 miles,  (2) when we used to pretend we were the Beatles when we were 12 Nikki was Ringo and I was George Harrison, and  (3) the most helpful advice I’ve received is “Never criticize your own cooking”.
  • Ambition / What’s Next? Would eventually like to find a job as cook/ physician on a South Pacific dive boat or private yacht.  Anyone hiring?

Stefanie Watkins, Finding Traction Editor

Stefanie has been editing factual shows and films for over seven years, specializing in natural history and science, and working on programming for the BBC, National Geographic, The Travel Channel, ESPN, and PBS. Originally from a small town in the Colorado wilderness, she was raised by a wildlife biologist to have a thirst for science and love of the outdoors. After attaining her B. S. in Environmental Studies/Biology, she marched off into the wild blue Montana yonder to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Science and Natural History Filmmaking.

Since recently moving to the UK, Stefanie has been editing for “Planet Earth Live” on BBC 1, “Sophie Grigson in the Home Counties” on the Travel Channel, and “Spirit of Sport” on ESPN Stars. She also regularly works on-location in Montana as an editor and writer for the Nat Geo Wild series, “America the Wild”, earning a finalist nomination at the 2011 International Wildlife Film Festival for Best Human-Wildlife Interactions for her episode, “Inside a Grizzly Attack”. She spent five years as a lead editor and astronomy producer at NASA, winning Best Promo at the 2007 International Wildlife Film Festival for her editing work on “Destination Earth”. She also edited several one-offs for National Geographic, Montana PBS, and the commended children’s science series “Untamed Science” for Pearson Education.

Quick Facts:

  • Nickname: Steffie, Steffers, Stefanaynay (as dubbed by cameraman Ricky)
  • Home: Bristol UK, originally from Evergreen, Colorado
  • What got you into filmmaking? I always wanted to be either a vet or CGI animator.  After trying both, and not enjoying either, I found the MSU science and natural history graduate program in Montana.  While making student films, I had an epiphany that editing was my true calling and I’ve been stupendously happy ever since.
  • How did you first meet Nikki? I have yet to meet Nikki.  I only know her through my edit suite (aka our back bedroom) here in the UK.
  • Why did you become involved in the film? The lovely Jaime Jacobsen called me up–to my great surprise–asking if I could help edit the Finding Traction trailers and eventually the show.  I immediately said yes.
  • Greatest inspiration: Editing:  Chris Dickens, editor extraordinaire for Slumdog Millionaire, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz.  Living:  Aung San Suu Kyi and Oscar Pistorious for their dedication to amazing causes.
  • Proudest moment: Landing my first BBC job as an editor.
  • Biggest fear: Gremlins, ridiculous I know.
  • Favorite food during field production / in the studio:  I love Late July Mojo Green chips when I’m working in Montana.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find them across the Atlantic. 
  • Best adventure:  Taking a 1920s steamboat down the Nile River a la Agatha Christie.
  • 3 Things People Should Know About You:  1. I have a twin sister…and am married to a twin, 2. My favorite film is The Princess Bride, 3. If I wasn’t an editor, I’d be a full-time surfer…if only I were good enough.
  • What’s Next?  I’m currently editing for the landmark series “North America”, due on the Discovery Channel in 2013.  It should be epic!

Jenny Pierce, Lead Pacer and Support Team Member

Jenny Pierce grew up in Ronan, Montana, located in northwestern Montana.  She spent her childhood years horseback riding, hiking, and llama packing in the mountains.  More focused athletic endeavors were inspired by not being allowed to play tackle football, which led to Jenny joining the 8th grade cross country team (she was the only member).  Jenny participated in cross country and many sprint and olympic distance triathlons through high school.  After graduation from Montana State University with an Earth Science degree, Jenny and her husband Josh eventually settled in Livingston, Montana.  Jenny is currently a geologist for Stillwater Mining Co. at the East Boulder Mine near McLeod, Montana.

Quick Facts:

  • Home:  Livingston, MT
  • What got you into running?  In 8th grade I came home with the sign-up sheet for tackle football.  My parents said no, so I did cross country instead.  I was the entire middle school cross country team.
  • How did you first meet Nikki?  I was referred to Nikki for physical therapy for an achilles tendon injury that kept me from running for seven years.  She fixed it and we started training together.
  • Why did you become involved in Nikki’s Long Trail expedition?  Nikki is my closest friend and I knew the Long Trail expedition was very important to her and that it was going to be very difficult.  I wanted to help her complete it and be part of the expedition.
  • Greatest inspiration:  Anyone I meet that is pushing themselves to achieve some goal that will make their life better.
  • Proudest moment:  My last race of 2012, Le Grizz in Hungry Horse, Montana. Everything fell into place and I had the most fun/best race to date.
  • Favorite food on the trail:  Bacon
  • 3 Things People Should Know About You: 1.)  I have the fasted known time, 2min. 55sec., for the 69W652+90 slusher stope ladder (~250 vertical feet) at the East Boulder Mine,  2.) I having an operating letterpress shop in my basement which includes two Chandler and Price letterpresses (circa 1899 and 1950ish), many fonts/type cases of lead and wood type, and a motorized paper cutter that scares me because it’s enormous, and  3.)  When my knees no longer want to run, I plan racing rally cars for Subaru.
  • Ambition / What’s Next?  Ambitions for the new year include staying healthy, injury free, and fit so running is fun!!  Upcoming races in the next few months will be ski mountaineering races in Montana and Utah.

Tyler Duke, Finding Traction Cinematographer 

Born and raised in Wilson, Wyoming, Tyler has spent his life in the Mountains.  From an early age he traveled throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.  After graduating high school he went on to earn his BA in Media and Theater Arts and then his MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking from MSU Bozeman.  While attending school he independently produced two documentary shorts through his company, Stormlight Productions: “To Kill a Wolf” which covered the controversy over the wolf re-introduction in Montana and “Death of the Fishermen” that portrayed the dying salmon fishing communities in Oregon and Washington. “Death of the Fishermen” earned three Telly Awards.  Tyler currently develops and produces compelling broadcast television series and one hour specials for domestic and international distribution. Now with Wit House Productions, he continues to explore the possibilities that lie in the ever expanding realm of new media. His work has appeared on National Geographic International, The Travel Channel, Speed, OLN, Montana PBS and Rush HD.
Quick Facts:
  • Home: Lone Tree, Colorado
  • What got you into filmmaking? Making ski movies with my friends in Jackson, Wyoming.
  • How did you first meet Nikki? I met Nikki in the airport in route to Vermont for her epic journey. 
  • Why did you become involved in the film?  It gave me a chance to reconnect with some filmmakers from grad school and go on an incredible journey both physically and mentally.  
  • Favorite food during field production / in the studio: Coffee
  • Best adventure:  Shooting BASE jumping in Switzerland
  • What’s Next? Continue to pursue adventures and films throughout the world.

2012 was a big year for the Finding Traction team.  We wanted to share our top 10 highlights from the year.  Here they are:

1.  Receiving generous donations from Petzl, the Greater Montana Foundation and MontanaPBS to fund Vermont production activities

These companies and organizations provided crucial support for the Fours Five production team, a 5-member filmmaking crew consisting of Producer/Director Jaime Jacobsen, Director of Photography Danny Schmidt, Cinematographer and Sound Recorder Devon Riter, Cinematographer Tyler Duke, and the multitalented Cameraman/ Sound Recorder/Production Assistant Patrick Mclaughlin to travel to Vermont to film Nikki’s expedition…which brings us to number 2.

2.  Completing the week-long, whirlwind adventure to document Nikki’s Long Trail expedition with a fantastic crew of runners and filmmakers

Nikki ran day and night for over 4 days through the beautiful and brutal Green Mountains, and our film crew was right there with her to capture the pain, glory and hardship she experienced on the trail.

During the expedition, we became very close with Nikki’s support team, pacers, family members, and friends who were there to guide and accompany her along the trail, provide nutritional guidance, medical attention, emotional support and motivation.  We drove all over the State of Vermont in an attempt to follow a moving target (aka Nikki) over the course of almost 300 miles, hiked the area’s highest and most rugged peaks, camped out under the stars, filmed Nikki entering aid stations in the middle of the night (we won’t forget Mad Tom Notch at 4am), endured wind, rain, fog and scorching heat, and all came out a bit stronger for it in the end.  Little did we know we were all signing up for Nikki’s Long Trail marathon by embarking on this film!

3.  Organizing the debut of the Finding Traction trailer for an enthusiastic audience at The North Face Endurance Challenge in Atlanta

In conjunction with a winning run at TNEC in Atlanta, on Saturday, October 13th, as part of a North Face panel discussion in Atlanta, Nikki first shared the Finding Traction trailer to a captive, 75-person audience.  The trailer received rave reviews, and we knew we were ready to let it loose and send it out into the world.

4.  Launching our Facebook page to create an amazing fan base around the world

We currently have a growing following on Facebook (over 1,500 Likes since our launch on October 23, 2012) where we share project updates, character vignettes of our cast and crew, links to our recent Indiegogo fundraising campaign, and news of interest to runners, athletes, filmmakers and Finding Traction fans.  Building this online following in advance of the film’s release has already created an audience waiting in anticipation for the finished documentary.  We can’t wait to share it with you!

5.  Watching the Finding Traction trailer go viral (thanks to features by Trail Runner Magazine and many others!)

We logged over 5,000 plays of the trailer in just 5 days once the the news started to spread.  To date, together the trailer and Indiegogo pitch video have logged over 13,000 plays across the U.S. and around the world, with huge followings tuning in in Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan and Germany.

6.  Screening the extended Finding Traction trailer for athletes in San Francisco at Sports Basement Presidio

Our first public screening of an extended, 10-minute version of the Finding Traction trailer took place on November 29th at Sports Basement Presidio in San Francisco.  This special movie night was organized in conjunction with The North Face Endurance Challenge and brought runners, race directors and community members together to celebrate an evening of trail running movies and race stories.  Nikki Kimball and Finding Traction’s Producer/Director, Jaime Jacobsen, were both at the event to present a special extended trailer (sneak preview of new scenes for our live audience), field questions, and spread the word about our Indiegogo campaign.

The trailer debuted in front of an audience of 300+ and generated a great Q&A and panel discussion afterwards.  Three generations ultra runners – Nikki Kimball, Anna Frost and Emilie Forsburg – shared great insights on health, nutrition and training from a women’s perspective. We had the chance to personally met and connect with a number of our fans at the event.  We are psyched to bring the finished film back to the Bay Area community in 2013!

7.  Meeting the talented folks behind our crowdfunding campaign at the Indiegogo HQ

Indiegogo’s film and sports campaign managers shared their insights on spearheading a successful outreach campaign while creating a sense of community around Finding Traction.  We implemented a number of their ideas for new perks in the final weeks of the campaign, including offering Holiday DVDs of Finding Traction and securing a Vermont Ski Tour Package at Bolton Valley.  Our visit to HQ and the wonderful buzz that resulted in the final week of our Indiegogo campaign was key to our success.  Thanks for the wonderful advice and support, Indiegogo, it was great working with you!

8.  Recording a stellar (and hilarious) podcast with Trail Runner Nation in their mobile studio

Nikki Kimball and Jaime Jacobsen joined TRN host Don Freeman and special guest Jimmy Dean Freeman to talk about the making of Finding Traction and how Nikki dreamed up and prepared for her 273-mile Long Trail expedition.  If you missed it, check out the hour-long podcast here (it’s also available on iTunes).

9.  Launching our new website and blog

Web designer Jon Burrill worked with us to create a beautiful new website and blog to keep our fans in the loop on the film’s progress!

10.  Reaching our $30K Indiegogo goal with the help of our supportive fans and friends – thanks, everybody!

This is a huge milestone for the Finding Traction team.  We hope to raise over $100,000 to finish the film, and the Indiegogo funding will help us pay for initial post-production costs while we continue to apply for grants and foundation funding, and bring additional sponsors on board.  With your help and generous support we are on target to finish the film in Summer 2013!

If anyone missed the Indiegogo campaign deadline, and you’re interested in supporting the film, tax-deductible donations via check can be directed to our non-profit partner, MontanaPBS (MontanaPBS/KUSM-TV, RE: Finding Traction, ATTN: Aaron Pruitt, Director of Content, Montana State University, VCB 183, Bozeman MT 59717).

Upon the completion of the film, our distribution plan includes national broadcast on public television (we just received word that Independent Lens is interested in considering the film for their upcoming series!), film festival screenings (we plan to submit to the Banff Mountain Film Festival, among others) and community screenings in select markets across the country.  We are also working to secure international distribution.  Finding Traction fans, stay tuned!

The film was funded!