By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
At last year’s Fantastic Fest I watched and enjoyed an intense, edgy and visceral film titled Camino. Because the film stars stunt person-turned-actress Zoe Bell and director/actor Nacho Vigalondo, I went in pretty certain I was in for an exciting treat. Though I was mostly familiar with Zoe’s previous stunt work and her acting/appearances in some of Quentin Tarantino’s films, I had never seen Zoe take on such an emotionally charged role as an actress. As for Vigalondo, I have seen and been impressed with some of his feature films as a director, but had never actually seen him act. Both stars of Camino do not disappoint in their respective roles and director Josh C. Waller makes a film that mostly delivers what it promises–adrenaline-fueled entertainment.
Bell stars as Avery Taggart, a talented photojournalist whose work tends to embrace visceral and powerful imagery. Taggart gets assigned to Colombia, to follow and document the work of a revolutionary/missionary known as “El Guero” (Nacho Vigalondo). It seems as if Guero’ s intentions are honorable and he does appear to do some admirable work. However, Avery accidentally discovers committing some not-so-honorable crimes and captures these acts with her camera. Pretty-much instantly discovered, the courageous photographer must flee from the missionaries whom she discovers are really guerrillas who will stop at nothing to kill Avery and retrieve her photos.
Though the character types and scenarios are not all that original, the movie still delivers solid thrills and entertainment. With a screenplay written by Daniel Noah, director Josh C. Waller offers his audience a dark and violent journey that would make anyone fear the jungles of Colombia. Both Bell and Vigalondo offer stellar work and prove themselves as talented actors. Director Waller does well in creating and capturing some fierce and emotional, nail-biting scenes with his outstanding leads.
I had the wonderful opportunity to sit with Zoe, Nacho and Josh C. Waller during Fantastic Fest last year. This delightfully charming and funny trio was having a great time during the festival and during their promotional work for the film. The New Zealand-born Zoe really is such a sweetheart, but I still couldn’t help being in awe of her, as I am familiar with some her truly awesome stunt work. Spanish director and now actor, Nacho Vigalondo may have developed quite the wild reputation at previous Fantastic Fests, but was actually quite charming during the interview, but with a wicked and sly sense of humor. As for Josh C. Waller, he comes across as an intelligent man who is obviously enamored with the art of filmmaking.
Mark: (To Waller) How difficult was your shoot and what kinds of obstacles did you have to overcome making this movie?
Josh C. Waller: It’s a tiny, tiny film. Well, it’s a big film that we were trying to make for a tiny amount, so you don’t have a lot of the luxuries you’d have when you typically shoot. We didn’t have any trailers. We were all kind of underneath a big tent. The last part of the shoot, everyone was hanging out in the back of an old Hertz van. We were generally shooting in a rain forest (in Hawaii).
Mark: (To Waller again) Talk about the photos featured in the film. (In the film, actual photos are shown and are supposed to be the work of protagonist Avery Taggart.)
Waller: All the initial photographs were photographs of real children that were killed in genocides. The pictures were donated by our technical adviser Zoriah Miller, who is a war photographer. That is also the reason the film is dedicated to the victims in the photographs. It’s a really touchy position because you’re looking at images with such a crazy, emotional impact, and there’s the moral part of you that’s going, ” How do I feel about this?” because this is a movie we made for entertainment sake and these are pictures of real victims.
Mark: (To Zoe) Do you consider yourself only an actress now, or do you still do stunt work for movies?
Zoe Bell: It has been about five years now that I have been hired as a stunt double or worked in the stunt department. The only stunt stuff I have done has been for my own characters. I’m greedy because I want to do my own work, and unless someone tells me me I can’t do it for my own character, I want to do it. I did, at one point, make this choice (to focus on acting) because I wanted everyone else to see me as an actress and not just a stunt girl.
Mark: (To Nacho) Last night at the premiere, you compared directing and acting to BDSM. Talk about this co-relation you discovered directing and acting.
Nacho Vigalondo: I didn’t mean so much that directing is being dominant and acting is being submissive, but I was talking about the different pleasures of both. As an actor, I enjoyed the pleasures of receiving instructions and being useful to another guy (director). As a director, I also enjoy the pleasures of being in charge. Both pleasures are possible.
Mark: (To Waller) What was it like to work with Zoe Bell, a badass woman known for her amazing stunt work and Nacho Vigalondo, a fascinating filmmaker who has made some great films?
Waller: I had two of my closest friends that were leads in the film, but have previously dominated in their areas of expertise. So, if I had any questions in regard to stunts or action, Zoe and I could talk about that stuff. And to have Nacho working with me, I was able to talk to him about shots. It was great to have a good friend giving me suggestions and ideas about certain scenes.
Vigalondo: (Very modestly added) I haven’t made that many films. I have only made four. My experience is really limited, and I am still learning.
Mark: (To Zoe) Besides action films, what other kinds of movie would you like to make?
Bell: (Excitedly) I want to do comedy! I love the idea of spending my day making people laugh. That would make me very happy.
Mark: (To Nacho) Now that you have acted in one film, and performed well, would you consider acting in other films, or would you rather just focus on being a director?
Vigalondo: I don’t know if I could have made this movie five years ago. Being an adult really helps, and understanding yourself. I don’t like the idea of just being a filmmaker or everyday of your life, being a filmmaker because if you invest all of your life in being a filmmaker, what is your life about? If I have the choice to make something else, equally as awesome, I wouldn’t hesitate.
Camino will open in some select theaters on March 4, 2016 and will be available for viewing on VOD and iTunes on March 8, 2016.