Ex-Bundaberg student films Camino Skies documentary

Camino Skies film
The Camino Skies film was co-directed by Fergus Grady and Bundaberg's Noel Smyth; they are pictured here with one of the cast members Julie Zarifeh.

Camino Skies is a film about the story of life, love and loss on the Camino de Santiago, and was co-directed by Bundaberg’s Noel Smyth.

The 80-minute film is a documentary of the inspirational journey of six pilgrims from New Zealand and Australia, as they embark on the historic 800km Spanish odyssey and will be shown at Reading Cinema Bundaberg next month.

Noel, 32, grew up in Bundaberg and attended Shalom College before moving to Melbourne where he co-directed the film with Fergus Grady.

Noel said Camino Skies was an uplifting story about everyday people doing the extraordinary.

The Camino de Santiago is a life-changing experience for hundreds of thousands of people around the world. It's an experience that brings people together from all walks of life to find comfort and friendship in the company of strangers.

This is what lured Noel and Fergus into the idea of telling the intimate stories of strangers through the Camino Skies documentary.

Filming Camino Skies a unique experience

The pair walked the challenging trip averaging 25km a day with six strangers over 38 days and filmed as events unfolded, taking in the emotional stories from each of them as they bonded and shared their grief.

In the face of overwhelming odds, the Camino forced the group to defy their age and physical ability as they each came to terms with recent loss.

“There are six different stories from strangers, who are pretty amazing people dealing with grief in one way or another,” Noel said.

“Some people had lost people they loved, and others like Sue, was dealing with degenerative arthritis and was losing the function of her body and was coming to terms with it.”

Camino Skies film
Camino Skies film

He said in the pressure cooker environment of prolonged physical and emotional struggle, the Camino would be a melting pot of human emotion, and the characters would finish with different people form when they started.

Fond memories of Bundaberg for Camino Skies co-producer

Noel said his favourite memories of the Bundaberg Region were the ocean and the outdoors.

“I miss the beach a lot,” he said.

“Growing up in Bundaberg my brother and sister and I hated the beach, but I miss it now.”

Noel said he used to go camping all the time and he now shares those stories and fond memories with my wife now.

Noel said Camino Skies was his first documentary and the first feature film he had made after stepping away from the world of advertising.

During his time at Shalom College, Noel said he didn’t take film classes, and his main passion was watching films.

“At the time they (Shalom) had photography but not film and I just loved watching films, and this led me in this direction,” he said.

“When I left Shalom mum gave me advice not to rush and get a job and just to wait and see what would happen.

Camino Skies film
Noel Smyth grew up in Bundaberg and has now co-directed a feature film called Camino Skies.

“I worked as a dispatch clerk in advertising before a video editing position came up.

“I trained myself on the job, which was a steep learning curve!”

Noel said creating a documentary gave them the freedom to go at their own pace and he hoped the audience found it as captivating as he did.

“It’s quite a fresh and raw story; we were really fortunate to have found the people we did to film and are thankful they opened up really fast and shared their stories,” he said.

Camino Skies has been shown in cinemas all over the world and will screen at Reading Cinema Bundaberg on 4 December.

It's available online here.