It’s been twelve years since The Way, a movie about the Camino starring Martin Sheen, and directed by his son Emilio Estevez, was made.
That film was the impetus for a lot of people to walk the Camino – and in commercial terms, the film made a lot of money. It did really well.
What’s interesting is that there hasn’t been another English language film made since. My movie, The Way, My Way, from my book of the same title, will be the first.
Why hasn’t there been another movie made since? There have been a lot of documentaries, and a few non-English speaking movies – but not an English language feature film.
One of the reasons is that logistically, it’s very difficult.
To capture the essence of the Camino, you really do have to traverse the entirety of The Way – 800kms. For a major production, that’s logistically difficult – what with all the trucks, finding accommodation for all the crew and cast (for a movie, that could be upwards of sixty people, usually more.) And anyone who knows the Camino knows that finding that number of beds – hotel beds, not albergue beds – is a big ask.
Film people wouldn’t ever sleep in an albergue!
The other thing that makes it difficult is that shooting a movie is disruptive. And you can’t disrupt the day-to-day operation of the Camino. You can’t “lock down” sections of the Camino to have your stars walk along an empty stretch of track, and stop pilgrims from walking through shot.
Pilgrims just wouldn’t cop that.
Then there’s the issue of the trucks. Any film production has a massive number of trucks. Moving them through historic towns and villages, often through very narrow lanes, would be a nightmare.
These logistical difficulties have haunted me these last several years.
I want my movie to be authentic, and truthful to the spirit of the Camino. I want it to be real. And whilst I admired The Way enormously, they got a lot wrong. You don’t wear jeans on the Camino, number one. The actress Debra Unger wore jeans and yes she looked great in jeans but it bugged the shit out of me the whole movie. So did the James Nesbitt character, the Irish actor. He wore jeans too. You don’t wear jeans on the Camino.
The actor playing the Dutch pilgrim had two trekking poles and he used them all wrong. That bugged the shit out of me too. Plus partway through the movie the poles disappeared and then he used a wooden staff. What happened to his poles?
I’m being picky, I know – and as I say, I admire the film greatly. And it’s done a huge amount to bring awareness of the Camino to a huge number of people. I aspire to that film’s success.
So what am I going to do?
For quite a while, this was going to be a big budget movie with star casting. I always felt uncomfortable with this approach, because of the logistical difficulties that I’ve mentioned. I always felt it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get that degree of verisimilitude that I sought.
And then Nomadland came along and for me, everything changed.
It won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress. It used a mix of actors and non-actors. It was shot in a way that I was familiar with, from my earlier films such as A Street to Die, Backlash, Malpractice, Mortgage, Kiss or Kill, In a Savage Land, and Tempted.
Suddenly I could see a way to make my Camino film without compromise.
And so that’s how I’m approaching it – with a stripped down crew, using many of the actual pilgrims that I met during my walk – they’re coming back to play themselves – and shooting it in such a way that the film captures the true essence of what it’s like to walk the Camino.
In a later post I’ll talk technical stuff – but just to say that it will be super wide screen – 2.40:1 format, and we’re using vintage Leica lenses – 1970’s and 1980’s glass.
Using these lenses will present some major technical difficulties for us, but the “Leica look” will be worth it. From an artistic point of view, I’m very excited by this. It will give the film quite a unique cinematic look and feel.
Once again here is a pic from that Camino I did ten years ago:
It will be an epic experience.
It’s going to be a hoot Kurt!
Thanks so much for taking us along on this adventure, Bill! xxoo
Good luck with it all, Bill. I look forward to seeing the finished product. I suppose there’s no chance you’ll be back in Mudgee in late June? Amanda and I are doing a road trip which includes passing through Mudgee for a couple of days. It would be good to catch up after so long.
That sounds like an adventure right up your alley. Have fun with it all, and I can’t wait to hear how it all goes. Hugs XO