Director and producer Lydia Smith found herself at a crossroads in life. While she was unsure of what lay ahead in her future, she was sure of the next step.
Smith decided to take the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage through Spain — a trail that gave her direction and passion.
The Camino, which was depicted by Emilio Estevez’s film “The Way” starring Martin Sheen, has been named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site; millions of people have walked the path over its long year history.
After her experience on the Camino in 2008, Smith sought out to capture the essence of the trail that has changed the lives of millions — and hers.
“The Camino Documentary,” directed and produced by Smith, will is being shown in the Haymarket Theatre in Squires Student Center next Monday Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. The film will be followed by a short Q & A with Smith.
Collegiate Times: What made you want to go on the Camino?
Lydia Smith: I was in transition phase of my life and I had always known about the Camino because I lived in Spain for six years. I wasn’t sure what my next step was in life; it came out of nowhere. I felt like I was called to it. It is pretty common that people feel called to the Camino.
CT: You mentioned living in Spain. When did you live there and what was that experience like?
Smith: I went to Spain in my junior year of high school as a part of a study abroad program for a year. I lived with a family, and they became my family. I am still very much in touch with them and whenever I go back to Spain I always stay with my Spanish mother.
CT: You said you went on the Camino at a transition phase of your life. Did you receive any clarity?
Smith: There is a saying that your real Camino starts when you get home and that is when things got clarified. What that clarified is that most of my life as producer or camera person, I have been mostly helping other people’s visions come to life; I was always the support person. Being on the Camino pushed me to step into my potential and become who I really am. It helped me align more with who am.
CT: What compelled you to make this documentary?
Smith: As I was walking, people would come up to me and tell me I should do a documentary. I originally said absolutely not. But I couldn’t help myself; I knew it would be hard but I was going to do it anyways. It is not easy. Part of me always thought, “Oh, if aligned with purpose then it would be easy, smooth and effortless.” I think that was mistake in belief on my part.
CT: What were some of the struggles that you encountered?
Smith: It is a great honor to be shown on PBS, but not only do they not pay any money, they require filmmakers to raise money for airing costs. I was able to get enough to shoot, but I needed a lot of money to finish the film. We have had literally thousands of donors, everything from $1 to $20,000. That takes time, but at the same time it has been extremely gratifying to connect with so many people who have walked the Camino. They have such a spirit of giving. It has all worked out as it was supposed to, just not how I thought it was supposed to work out.
CT: What were you trying to capture by telling this story?
Smith: We are all different. What may work for you may not be right for me. We all have to find our own way. I want to try to replicate the experience you get on the Camino through the film. Through experiencing others’ journey, you can experience who you are.
CT: What would you like viewers to get out of watching the documentary?
Smith: I want them to be inspired to find their own passion. My passion is the Camino, but by no means am I hoping that becomes others’ [passion]. I want them to find a way of living a life that is enjoyable.
CT: Thank you. Is there anything you would like to add about the film?
Smith: I really had a judgment of thinking that you had to do a fair amount of time on the trail, but it’s not about the time, it’s about the intention behind it and the depth of the experience. I have met people who have had life-changing experiences after walking for only four days. That goes with everything. We often think things are too big so we don’t do them. Even just a little bit can make a huge difference.