“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:


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.

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