Jim Drake’s Entertainment Blog: Show me the way? Director talks about movie stars and the inspiration of ‘Walking the Camino’

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that the topic of a major spiritual pilgrimage has made an appearance in my blog for the second time in as many weeks. Last week, classical guitarist Peter Fletcher played a piece called “Diario dun Camino,” based on composer Jeremy Gill’s personal journey along the 500-mile trail, and this week, filmmaker Lydia Smith will be at the Mt. Hood Film Festival with her award-winning documentary “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.”

Not too long ago, I watched a movie called “The Way,” which is about, you guessed it, the exact thing that everyone’s been talking about lately, the Camino. It’s a great film. And it was even more fun to learn that Smith was responsible for providing the actors in “The Way,” including Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, with footage that trained themselves and others on what the Camino was really about.

My only hope now is that Lydia gets to hear Peter’s music sometime, and somehow, incorporates his version of “Diario” into the background music of her film.

That would be great, and it might finally make me stop humming Peter Frampton’s 70s hit song, “Show Me the Way.”

Interview with Lydia Smith

The first thing I have to ask is, are you familiar with the movie “The Way”?

Oh yes, we did a 20-minute trailer of our film, right after we came back from filming, to try and raise money to do this, and I sent it to Martin (Sheen) and Emilio (Estevez), and they used our trailer to train the actors for that movie, because neither of them or the actors had ever walked the Camino.

So they used our trailer to help people understand what the pilgrimage is really about. Martin really liked our film, which was really sweet.

I understand this is the 13th film festival for your movie.

It is, every time we’ve either won an award or sold out or both. We were at “Heartland” which is a really important festival in Indianapolis for positive, uplifting themed type films — about 900 people saw it.

There’s been a huge surge in the interest in the Camino, so we worked out a deal with the theater where we were supported for over six weeks of showings. In Portland we sold out 7 days in a row at the Hollywood Theater, now we’re going into our 9th week there. It’s pretty exciting. We’ve had people fly in from other states, or driving for five hours to go to our screenings.

One thing people don’t know is film festivals don’t pay filmmakers to show their films, so we spend a lot of time and money for outreach programs. Film festivals sometimes lead to theaters wanting to run our movie, which helps us recover some costs.

What is the name of your film company?

It’s a non-profit called Future Educational Films, which was incorporated in the early ‘80s. I studied film at Berkley, and was inspired by a film I saw on child abuse, “Breaking Silence, ” by Theresa Tollini-Coleman, who became my first boss. I was so impressed with how the message was so transforming. She showed me the incredible positive difference you can make in the world with film. Theresa also helped on “Camino.”

You filmed over 300 hours for this project and edited it to 84 minutes. What do you want people to take away from this film?

The Camino is an amazing thing because I believe people literally get called to go do the pilgrimage. They say, “I have to do this,” and “I need to know everything about it.” When I hiked it, that was my experience, that’s what happened to me personally. The moment you hear about it, you know that is what you’re supposed to do. That was the common sentiment of all the people we followed in our film.

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