Emilion Estevez indie "The Way" expands its run in the Philadelphia area this Friday, adding several screens (including The County, Edgemont Square, Brandywine, Towne Stadium, King of Prussia, Hamilton, Warrington Crossing).
Estevez wrote and directed "The Way," and put dad Martin Sheen in the lead as a father who grieves for a son by taking Spain's Camino pilgrammage, an 800-kilometer trek that concludes with a mass at Santiago cathedral. He shot it on location in Spain and France, and raised some of the money there.
Hollywood wasn't that interested.
"I showed this to people in the industry, and you could see their eyes glaze over," said Estevez, who's been promoting the movie via an old-fashioned bus tour, which stopped in Philly several days ago. He talked about his guerilla approach to shooting "The Way," using small, mobile cameras, steadi-cam, and shot on the fly.
"I spent two months running around Spain on the El Camino putting things together," said Estevez, who didn't have it locked down until Sept. 20 of last year -- filming started on the 21st. And some locations weren' t booked until the last minute, including the climax at the Santiago cathedral -- no feature film crew had ever been allowed in.
"It was uphill all the way, and you can understand why. Here are these americanos, from Hollywood, who want to film in one of Spain's national treasures, and they're thinking it's going to be sarcastic, or cynical. And the Church was feeling, I'm sure, like it didn't need any more bad press," he said. What's raised the movie's profile with faith-based audiences is the way it takes spiritual issues seriously. Distributors have opened the movie in the Midwest, and placed in suburban theaters.
"The Way," by the way, is Estevez fifth theatrical release as writer-director (also "Bobby," "The War at Home" "Men at Work" and "Wisdom." He's also directed episodes of "CSI: New York" "Cold Case" "Numb3ers" and "The Guardian."
" I'm a storyteller, and have been since I was 7 years old. I wrote a script for 'The Night Gallery" on my school notebook, and submitted it to the studio. It came back, of course. My first rejection slip."