“Walking The Camino”: How To Successfully Self-Distribute Your Film!

Lydia Smith, director of 'Waling The Camino"How do you take a documentary on the road and sell it to the public?  Don’t you need a Distributor?  A Marketing team?  Someone to handle PR?  How about a Booking Agent?

2014-03-19 21.16.19 Lydia Smith is an enterprising filmmaker from Portland, OR.  Her award-winning documentary, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago, is an amazing film about six pilgrims walking the 500-mile Camino Trail in Spain.  Beautifully photographed with inspiring and touching stories, the film explores the impetus to take such an arduous journey and the struggles that these travelers overcome. Lydia has led a grassroots campaign to finance the film. 2014-03-19 21.39.57 Traveling the country in a custom-decorated RV and driving or flying to different cities each week, Lydia’s bringing her film to the receptive audiences.

Lydia Smith interview

At benefit screenings, Lydia Smith and her team sell promotional materials: books, hats and t-shirts, dvds and the film and soundtrack to raise funds. The donations (and a percentage of the door) are then used to rent the next venue to screen the film!  The audiences spread the message to see the film “through word of mouth”.  At the screening I attended in Boulder, CO, the audience grabbed handfuls of postcards to distribute: I heard one man say, “Round it up to $200”, as he purchased some film swag!  This was obviously an audience that was willing to support and promote the film!

2014-03-19 21.15.03 Starting with a successful run in Seattle (six weeks!), Lydia’s team has booked the film in smaller art-house theaters across the country.  The last two months, every weekend, Lydia’s been speaking at multiple screenings of the film.  Walking the Camino is now among the top 350 documentaries in ticket sales in the United States.  Success has come without a large publicity campaign–no television ads, no print ads–just Lydia and her team hitting the road!

Like the pilgrims in her film, Lydia Smith has been traveling a long distance.  And along the way she’s discovering that audiences of all backgrounds and ages are responding to her film and are stepping forth to continue the journey with her!  They are promoting the film to friends through social media, volunteering their time and money, and traveling for many miles to attend screenings.

My review of the film is here:https://drinkswithfilms.com/2014/03/24/walking-the-camino-seeking-for-truth-along-the-trail/

When the film is coming to a theater near you is here:

http://caminodocumentary.org/

If you live in the Denver area, Walking the Camino is screening at the Chez Artiste Theater on Friday, March 28.  In Boulder, the film is screening at the Boedecker Theater, Dairy Arts Center on Friday, March 28.

“Walking the Camino”–Seeking for truth along the Trail

Video

When Lydia Smith walked the Camino de Santiago in 2009, she was not looking for material for a film.  Like many other pilgrims on the 500-mile journey, she was searching for truth.  There are probably as many reasons to walk as there are travelers on the path but most people seem to be trying to understand something about themselves or the world.  Beyond blisters, a chance to see the world or a nifty story to tell; those who choose this path are often searching for peace.

Fortunately for all of us, Lydia returned from her experience in Spain and was compelled to make Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.  Her five-year journey to raise funds, find the crew and decide which of her subjects to include in the film is an amazing tale.  Martin Sheen even used some of her 300 hours of footage as a training video for the actors in his 2010 film, The Way, so that they could understand the realities of the arduous journey. He was so moved by her film, that Martin Sheen took the time during his own preview screening to promote her film-in-progress!

The film follows six travelers from very different backgrounds, ages and skill sets, and explores their intentions and motivations as they travel from France to the city of Santiago.  From a deeply religious mother bringing her three-year-old son and just-along-for-the-adventure brother, to a pair of friends walking to commemorate the death of a wife, to the middle-aged woman who struggles to complete the walk as she struggles with extreme physical pain…each person reveals their touching personal journeys along the way.

The simplicity of the day’s journey and the beauty of the countryside are captured with gorgeous camerawork.  A film best enjoyed on a big screen, the Spanish countryside and mountains seem to dwarf the walkers as they wind along the paths in pairs or alone, then in small groups.  Ebbing and flowing along the path; each of them finding companionship, solitude, inner strength and some measure of peace as they persevere.  You are drawn into their stories and feel their joy as they arrive at their destination, the beautiful Cathedral of Santiago de Compestela.  This a moving film that celebrates the pursuit of truth; as one of our pilgrims says, “I went to find the answers and realized, I don’t even know the question!”  A joyful film that is a remarkable achievement by Lydia Smith and her production team, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago is being self-distributed.  Check out the links below to find when it’s playing near you (or to host a screening!) and look for it in October when it’s released for video on demand!

Rating: 4 bottle of potable water

My interview of director, producer Lydia Smith about self-distribution for her film, “Walking the Camino”. Shot on my phone in Boulder, CO. March 21, 2014

https://www.facebook.com/TheCaminoDocumentary

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/camino-documentary/id805778634?mt=8

How will you celebrate SWAN Day?

SWAN Day/Support Women Artists Now Day is an international holiday designed to showcase the power and diversity of women’s creativity. Be a part of SWAN Day by creating or participating in a local event or online activity that celebrates women artists!

The official date of the Seventh International SWAN Day is Saturday, March 29, 2014, but please feel free to celebrate it any time during March or April that is convenient for you. The spirit of SWAN events is far more important than the exact dates.

There have been over 1,000 SWAN Day events in 23 countries in the first six years of this new holiday. To see the events listed for 2013, please visit our SWAN Day Calendar>>

http://www.womenarts.org/swan/

One recommendation is to make plans to attend the inaugural Boulder Art Week–March 28-April 26, 2014.  There you can find many women artists to celebrate!

There are also screenings of the film, Walking The Camino: 6 Ways to Santiago, directed and produced by Lydia Smith at both the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder and Chez Artiste in Denver March 28, 2014!

Kelsie Huff is the featured performer in square product theatre’s “Live Lit: an Evening of Storytelling,” which closes out the “Fringe-y Double Feature” on March 29, 2014

Where to find films made by women?

When I read statistics about the lack of women in movies…both as filmmakers and as stars, instead of getting angry…I get motivated!  Sure the movie theaters are full of action movies right now, and yes, most of them feature men or have male-driven stories, but there are ways to support women filmmakers even in small towns and suburbs.  It just takes a little research.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/11/mans-celluloid-world-study-finds-women-under-represented-film

One of the first things I did upon moving to a smaller town from the film-blessed City of San Francisco, was to find small venues that screen art-house fare.  Museums, art galleries, colleges, even local Community Centers often have film nights.  I joined a film-oriented Meet-up Group and found local film-lovers to bond with and, to offer advice on where to find MY FILMS…the non-Hollywood fare.

I look to Indiewire to supply me with film news as well as my favorite film magazine from London, Total Film.  I also read a number of Entertainment sections of both local and national publications for film reviews and discussions.  Women in Hollywood is a great blog featured on Indiewire that often has a list of what female-centric films are in cinemas that week and great blog posts like this one :http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/in-honor-of-international-womens-day-here-are-the-things-you-can-do-to-support-female-filmmakers-and-female-films

So, don’t despair.  Make yourself AWARE!

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Here in Longmont, CO, there’s a lovely museum called the Firehouse Art Center. (http://firehouseart.org/)  There are movie screenings on the first Friday of the month.  March 7,  there was a screening of short films created by two women (Gloria Chung and Marcella Ernest-Kwe) and a Skype interview.  The event was free with a suggested donation of $10 and there was free popcorn and beer & wine.

In the city of Boulder, CO, only 15 minutes away, there are a couple of art house movie theaters.  There is the single screen at the Century Cinemas that features Cinearts films.  There’s the classy single screen theater at the Dairy Art Center called the Boedecker Theater—where you can have wine and beer and wander the art gallery before or after the screening (http://www.thedairy.org/venue/boedecker-theater/).  The historic Boulder Theater downtown occasionally has screenings (and hosts the Boulder International Film Festival).  And finally, there is the Colorado University International Film Series, IFS, (https://www.internationalfilmseries.com/) with screenings in two auditoriums.  Tonight there is a film by a woman filmmaker, Lydia Smith called Walking The Camino.

In the nearby town of Lyons, we have the new Lyons Cinema and Photography Art Center featuring short films this Friday, March 21 (including short films by MaryLee Herrman);  And if you travel to Denver, there are many art house theaters (Mayan, Chez Artiste) and the SIE FilmCenter – Denver Film Society.  This week is the Women + Film Voices Film Festivals featuring over 20 films by and about women!

So don’t despair…become AWARE!  Seek out the films that fuel your imagination and support the women who tell our stories!