Back in the spring of 2004 (A Holy Year), with nothing more than 2 shirts, 2 pairs of underwear and one pair of pants I set out on a 60 day adventure of a lifetime on the Camino de Santiago with my camera man Drew Dekker. We walked 850 km across Nothern Spain from Roncessvalles to Santiago de Compostela and then to Finnisterre (the western most point in Europe).
I was 40 years old at the time, disallusioned with my jazz piano music career, secretly hoping for a miracle cure for tinnitus and suffering from a mild mid-life crisis. While most guys would just go out and buy a new sports car or find a mistress, I decided on a pilgrimage. Anyway, what jazz pianist do you know that can afford
a mid-life crisis? It was time for something to happen in my life. I was emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally ready for change.
If Dante, Michelangelo, Shirley MacLaine and Paulo Coelho could all be artists greatly inspired by the Camino, surely it would contain the same magic for me! I decided to see first hand how this pilgrimage could inspire new music. Oh ya, and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to film the journey as well.
So I posted an online ad “camera man for hire” and a DOP named Drew Dekker responded within 5 minutes. He spoke spanish, had sufficient professional credits, was a world-traveller and he was young enough and strong enough to cary most of our camera gear. I said, “You’re Hired,” with little to no hesitation. And, am I ever glad I did because Drew carried over 26 kilos in his backpack, spoke amazing Spanish and was just an excellent friend!
Our journey was simply amazing and we shot over 60 hours of incredible footage! But, it’s been 2 years now and I’m still sitting on it. I keep promising pilgrims that I will get this movie done. But regardless of my really good intentions, I have yet to find the financing and the time ! And truthfully, I haven’t been able to convince a TV station that my story is worthy of airtime. So, instead, I did a quick edit of the footage, added my music and voila… “a humourous but candid story about a modern day pilgrim.”
We carried our equipment on our backs, suffered from major blisters, sore knees, bruised bodies and so on. We had no back-up camera crews or gear waiting for us. If our equipment went down, got stolen, or we injured ourselves, that was it. This was going to be done on pure will alone. But because we were authentic pilgrims, actually doing the hard work, our cameras were allowed in places that no professional crews would be allowed in. Honestly, Drew had a way with women…I mean people! (and yes, we did get release forms!)
In this film I interview some interesting pilgrims, take you inside a refugio (pilgrim’s hostel), perform an impromptu concert on a 300 year old organ, jump from a 40 foot bridge and participate in the famous pilgrim’s blessing at Santiago de Compostella. Visually there is some beautiful filming that takes you directly on the pilgrim’s path.
What is the pilgrimmage like? Ask anyone who’s ever done it, and you’ll get a completely different picture about what it is, how hard it was, what did you learn, how much walking is there, what kind of shoes did you wear, what is there to eat, where did you sleep, what did you do with your free time, how many people did you meet etc etc etc….every Camino is different.
What was my Camino like? I walked the camino as a pianist and composer and so my pilgrimmage was extremely musical and ended up writing 22 compositions. The really interesting part is that I am a jazz player, which means I tend to write for small ensembles. Yet, for some reason, I wrote mostly for symphony. Composing for symphony was the furthest thing from my mind when I left Canada and I’ve never written anything for it before. So what inspired me along the road? Who knows! But 2 years later, I get to be at my own world-premiere of this music with the symphony next Feb 18th, 2007! The music is almost a film-score type of music with influences of classical, jazz and spanish folk. It’s big, inspirational and filled with emotional bliss. The Road does work in Mysterious ways! Perhaps I found my miracle after all….
This article has been ammended Sept 18th 2006
NEW! Two new Free Movie Downloads of the Camino de de Santiago are now available at http://www.paultobey.com/filmmaker.html
Free Movie Downloads
“Oh Ye Of Little Faith” – an inspiring pilgrim’s tale of a pilgrim’s journey on the famous Road to Santiago.
and “The Brotherhood” – meet Padre Ramon from the Order of the Benedictine Monks in Santo Domingo de Silos. Famous for their Gregorian Chants, Verve Records have sold more than 8 million albums world-wide!