Ivy Vainio & Nate Maydole

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Ivy Vainio & Nate Maydole

Dr. Arne Vainio, a Native American physician on the Fond du Lac Reservation in northern Minnesota, is about to have his fiftieth birthday. As a doctor, he encourages his patients approaching the age of fifty to come in for a series of health screenings to determine their risk for health conditions such as diabetes and colon cancer that have tendencies to appear at midlife. Despite the life prolonging benefits of obtaining these screenings, many men are reluctant to undergo the tests, including Dr. Vainio.

The new Emmy-nominated men’s health documentary Walking into the Unknown tells the story of Dr. Vainio, as he undergoes a series of medical examinations that will change his life, and the lives of those around him. Directed by Nate Maydole and produced by Ivy Vainio (Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe), Walking into the Unknown takes the viewer into the doctor’s office as Dr. Vainio undergoes health screenings “that all men, regardless of race should have done,”  explains, Ivy Vainio. Dr. Vainio plays the role of storyteller in Walking into the Unknown, “culturally that’s what Native Americans have always done, they have taught through storytelling,” says Ivy.

Aside from Dr. Vainio’s personal story, the film examines the broader impact that such medical examinations can have on family members, children especially. “We brought younger people into the film to tell stories about their fathers,” explains Maydole. These shared experiences speak to the impact felt by family members when fathers pass away from health complications that had gone undetected and untreated for too long. Ivy Vainio, Dr. Vainio’s wife, explains that, “what we want people to get from this film is that they need to take responsibility for themselves in regards to living better lives, not just for them but for their families.”

Nate Maydole is a film and multimedia producer. He does commercial, short documentary and music video productions through his media production company Visumm. “I like doing what I’ve been doing, storytelling through minute to two minute films,” says Maydole. He has gained fame online through his Nate’s Word of the Day production at natesword.com. The website features an annually released short documentary montage of video shots featuring him saying a single word each day of the year. The first annual release of Nate’s Word of the Day hit number one on Youtube.com’s featured video list. Now on his fourth year of Nate’s Word, “the big push is to get me on Conan (O’Brian) or Ellen (DeGeneres),” says Maydole.

Walking into the Unknown is Ivy Vainio’s film making debut. She is the multicultural student services specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. When asked about how she became involved with Walking into the Unknown, Ivy said, “the role of producer fell into my lap, and I took it and I ran with it.”