Skip to main content

Filmmaker Fridays: Lydia B. Smith

By May 22, 2015September 16th, 2016Filmmaker Fridays, News

After walking the Camino de Santiago in 2008, Lydia became inspired to film and direct her first feature film about the Camino pilgrimage. Get a glimpse of what it was like to walk the Camino de Santiago by hearing what Lydia had to say about her experience filming. 



1) What inspired you to document Walking the Camino and when did you decide the right time to film this journey?

As soon as I returned home after walking the Camino in the Spring of 2008, I felt almost immediately that I was called to go back and film this documentary. I am a licensed Science of Mind practitioner trained under Rev. Michael Beckwith, founder of Agape, and through the visioning process that he created, I really wanted to make this documentary a film of how the Camino would want to present itself. So it wasn’t about making my point of view of the Camino – but share the universal experiences of walking that everyone could relate to.

2) How did you discover these six pilgrims featured in the documentary?

I really wanted to let the Camino cast the film, with the exception of one pilgrim, Annie O’Neil, who I knew before shooting the film. When I mentioned to her that I was planning on going over and shooting the documentary, she felt called be involved by walking the Camino and being a part of the documentary. When I look back on this, I realize it was really important to have at least one person who I knew would be 100% open and honest with her emotions along the way. The rest of the pilgrims kept crossing paths with our cameras and it was clear the Camino wanted us to follow them on their journeys. We actually shot 15 pilgrims (a combination of solo walkers, pairs, or small groups) and had to cut it down to 6 for the final cut of the film so that it wouldn’t be a six hour long documentary!

3) Walking the Camino De Santiago is definitely not easy. Where there any challenges you faced while both filming and traveling?

When you are making a travel documentary, both filming and traveling at the same time, it just makes everything a lot more complicated because you not only have to hire the crew and make sure they do their jobs and have all the equipment you need, but you have to work out all the travel, food and sleeping arrangements.  I had scouted the Camino in Feb 2009 and managed to get quite a few hotels to donate rooms to the film – so every once in awhile we had a night or two in a five star hotel then the next night we would end up sleeping in an albergue along with the pilgrims.

4) The film presents a number of topics that relate to spirituality and self- learning. Where there any other messages you made sure were presented in the film?

I think the advertising industry and our consumeristic society has tried to convince us that a bigger TV,  a nicer house,  a more luxurious car will bring us happiness and now people are starting to realize that really isn’t the case. People are looking for more fulfillment and deeper connection with themselves, with God and with their communities and I think that’s why the interest on the Camino has exploded. So many people are questioning what is the purpose of life, why are we here – what am I to do with my life?

On the Camino a mechanic could become best friends with the CEO – it becomes about who we are and how we help one another more than who has money or more prestige. All the things that keep us apart dissipate on the Camino and our common bonds of humanity (blisters, aching knees) bring us together. 

I think many people are ready for a more meaningful life and realizing the gift of service and doing things for others can bring much more lasting joy than the titillation of a new toy. For so long, I think life in America has been about what we can get for ourselves and usually that’s a physical getting but truly it’s the emotional giving and receiving that I think is what really feeds our souls.

I really wanted to emphasize that no matter what our backgrounds are, we all have a shared human experience and can all relate to one another and are connected on a basic, fundamental level that transcends barriers of race, religion, nationality, language, etc.

I also wanted to convey what I think is the most common challenge of walking the Camino for many people is not trusting ourselves, listening to our own bodies and our own intuition. We frequently try to keep up with others, compare our journey with that of someone else or feel like we should be doing it differently than we are doing it. If people are trying to keep up with others and they’re not walking their own pace and that’s when injuries happen, and that translates to our daily lives as well.

5) Any advice you would want to give out to aspiring filmmakers?

Only do it if you are 100% passionate about your subject matter and that it will fuel you as well during the process.


Watch Walking the Camino



Virgil Films

Author Virgil Films

More posts by Virgil Films