Horseshoe Bay man filming pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

Mark Sommer, owner of Adastra Video Productions, talks about his upcoming documentary, 'The Spirit of El Camino,' which will tell the story of a 530-mile pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago across France and Spain. The trek follows the Way of St. James, an early Christian church leader. Sommer is in the fundraising and planning stages of the project. He and his crew of two will walk the path this summer, filming and interviewing people along the way. People interested in supporting it can learn more at  www.facebook.com/spiritofelcamino or www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-spirit-of-el-camino. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Mark Sommer, owner of Adastra Video Productions, talks about his upcoming documentary, ‘The Spirit of El Camino,’ which will tell the story of a 530-mile pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago across France and Spain. The trek follows the Way of St. James, an early Christian church leader. Sommer is in the fundraising and planning stages of the project. He and his crew of two will walk the path this summer, filming and interviewing people along the way. People interested in supporting it can learn more at www.facebook.com/spiritofelcamino or www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-spirit-of-el-camino. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

HORSESHOE BAY — Mark Sommer admitted this project was well out of the scope of what he’s used to tackling. In fact, he’ll tell people it’s bigger than anything he’s ever attempted or even dreamed of doing.

“That’s why I know it’s from Him,” Sommer said pointing up. “This is what He wants me to do. It’s His project.”

Sommer, owner of Adastra Productions of Horseshoe Bay, will head to Europe along with a camera assistant and a sound engineer this summer to begin filming for the upcoming documentary “The Spirit of El Camino.” The documentary will tell the story of “peregrinos,” or pilgrims, walking El Camino de Santiago.

El Camino de Santiago is considered one of the three great Christian pilgrimages (though walkers include Christians and non-Christians alike). Also called “The Way of St. James,” the pilgrims follow a 530-mile trek starting at Saint Jean Pied-de-Port in southern France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Along the way, walkers traverse the Pyrenees Mountains and numerous other geological features.

“Each person walks it for their own reasons,” Sommer said. “What this documentary will do is tell the story of El Camino de Santiago through the eyes and stories of those walking it. What makes somebody step out of society for a month, a month-and-a-half or even longer to walk it.”

Sommer and his crew will follow the same trek as the pilgrims. They’ll film and interview as they go, staying in the same refugios, or shelters, along the way or just camping out under the stars.

Since this is a project larger than he typically tackles, Sommer is turning to crowd funding to support it. He’s set up a page at www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-spirit-of-el-camino that outlines the project and gives people an opportunity to support it financially.

Much of Adastra Video Productions’ work focuses on helping businesses get exposure through professionally produced videos and social networking. He’s done a couple documentaries in the past, but nothing compared to this endeavor. Until three months ago, El Camino de Santiago was just something he scribbled down on his bucket list after watching the movie “The Way” starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez.

“I had a revelation,” Sommer said. “I had this dream, and it came to me complete, so I know it was a revelation. It was this message from God — I know it — that showed me every part of the documentary and the way I was going to tell it. It was basically, ‘The messenger is you, and you’re going to walk it and you’re going to tell the story of it.’ It’s bigger than anything I’ve ever dreamed of doing, so I know it’s from God.”

While a lot of information about the trek is available, Sommer said his project is significantly different on its scope.

“A lot of the things you see on YouTube or the Internet are pretty much just personal diaries of those on the walk or more travel videos,” he said. “This is going to be so different. We’re going to tell the story of the walk through those on it, but we’re going to be there walking with them.”

Once the documentary is complete, Sommer said he plans to submit it to film festivals such as Sundance and Cannes. But mostly, it’s about the bigger picture: sharing God’s message.

“When I first began planning this, I thought, ‘Do I keep the Christian part out of it?'” Sommer recalled. “But then, I realized since He’s the one who wants me to do this, I can. It’s all about glorifying God.”

The fundraising portion is under way. And Sommer has faith he’ll reach his goal and he and his crew will be in Europe this summer filming.

“I think we’ll probably have a lot of people with us,” Sommer said. “Since I’ve put it up on Facebook and Indiegogo about a week ago, the response has been great. People are excited about this.”

People who donate to the project will get listed in the credits while major sponsors will get their names placed at the beginning of the film. While Sommer knows there’s always a risk of tackling such a project and relying on crowd funding, he knows it will happen.

“Usually, it’s in the 11th hour or last minute, but it will come through,” Sommer said. “He will make sure.”

Go to www.facebook.com/spiritofelcamino or www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-spirit-of-el-camino to learn more about the project.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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