I really didn’t want to make this film. I didn´t want to make a film about myself; about my failings, about my suffering, about my stubbornness and fixed myopic opinions. But there were some around me who’d read my book, The Way, My Way, and it had impacted deeply on their lives.  They’d laughed and cried through the reading of the book, and they were certain it would make a terrific film.

I didn´t agree.
I couldn´t see it. 

But finally they convinced me to take a swing at writing the screenplay. 

Some seven years later, and after more than forty drafts of the script, I finally found a way to tell my story. I detached myself from myself and wrote the script about that man over there – not me – that stupid horrible man over there who, under certain lighting conditions and with the right wardrobe, might look a bit like me. 

I’d found a way in to telling my story,  
It wasn’t really about me.

Once I had a screenplay I was happy with, I then turned my mind as to how best to make this damn film. How do you make a movie on the Camino and make it real? Make it authentic? Not make it some Hollywood star-driven artificial confection. 

I decided the only way to tell my story truthfully was to shoot with a very small crew and use the real pilgrims I’d walked with ten years earlier. I’d stayed in touch with them – we’d become lifelong friends – and so they agreed to come on board this crazy adventure! 

I wanted to be small enough and nimble enough to work within the ebb and flow of the Camino. To become invisible. Only by doing that could I, as a filmmaker, respond to light, to shifts in weather, to the pulsating electric current that is the Camino. 

My carefully crafted screenplay had to become malleable in my pursuit of authenticity. I wanted to capture the real Camino. I wanted an audience of pilgrims watching this film to say at the end: Yes, finally, a true depiction of what it´s like to walk the Camino. If the film elicited that kind of reaction from a Camino audience, then I would regard the film a success.

With the pilgrims, they never saw the script. I kept it from them. I wanted their responses to be true to what was happening in any given scene. I didn´t want them feeling obliged to give me a performance. In fact, I didn´t want a performance at all. I wanted the truth of the situation, whatever that might be, moment to moment.  

The pilgrims proved to be stellar. If they´d been highly trained professional actors I couldn´t have asked for more from them. But – with the decision to cast the real pilgrims, that one decision then dictated so many other major creative decisions for me as a director. The shooting style, the editing style, the tone of the movie, the staging and blocking of scenes – even what gear we should use – cameras and lenses and how best to record location sound, all these creative decisions were made on the basis that we were using the real pilgrims. I called them “the actuals,” as against “the actors.” 

The “actuals” set the benchmark. They held the truth. They held the authenticity. The professional actors had to step up to the pilgrim´s benchmark. They had to find their own truth – just as we all had to, all of us standing behind the cameras as well. 

Now having almost completed post production, I feel I’ve achieved what I set out to do – to make a truly authentic film about a man, dogged in his views and amusingly self-centered, who ultimately undergoes a fundamental shift in character and outlook, just through walking the Camino.

Bill Bennett,