WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Vietnam veteran walking across New York state and a pair of filmmaking brothers from Luzerne County who documented the journey.
The result was an award-winning film that’s gotten national exposure.

The documentary “Walk with Frank” is about a Vietnam veteran’s trek across NY state to bring awareness to PTSD, but the film was made by a pair of Wilkes-Barre brothers who, not too long ago, were borrowing their parent’s camcorder.

Little did they know it would turn into an award-winning career.

“We would get our hands on our parents vhs and make silly movies on a snow day. Over time we realized we liked doing that more than anything. we tried pursuing it as a career and become as good as we could,” said Ryan Mayer the filmmaker.

Walk with Frank chronicles Frank Romeo’s 750-mile walk from Buffalo to Long Island. Romeo was ambushed and critically wounded in the jungles of Vietnam. That led to years of alcohol abuse and prison. Eventually, he came to a better understanding of his past, and his walk was aimed at helping others open up and share their experience.

“It peeled back the layers and uncovered a lot of things. I came to terms with a lot of issues that I had suppressed. it was about just as much helping me as it helped the other veterans,” says Romeo.

The Mayers brothers heard about Romeo’s walk through a friend and realized it was a project they wanted to be a part of. they not only filmed his three-and-a-half-month walk across NY state, but they also stayed in homeless shelters and shared meals in food kitchens. Hoping to get a realistic idea of what it’s like to be a veteran struggling with mental illness.

“We really connected on a personal level, connected with frank’s story, who he was and his family, who they were. really it felt like this was a story that needed to be told,” added Matt Mayers filmmaker.

“Most of these vets wouldn’t have opened up to us the way they did to Frank, so just being with Frank, and having the opportunity to talk to people, allowed us to hear what really happened. A lot of times we would hear the Hollywood version of it. This is the reality of what was going on,” continued Matt.

When the brothers screened “Walk with Frank” at the Kirby Center in May, it had already won several awards at film festivals and aired nationally on PBS.

Matt and Ryan are working on another documentary about the merger of GAR and Myers High Schools.

You can find out more about their documentary on Walk with Frank.com.