A couple of years ago, Studio West got a call from Elizabeth Ann Guevara (executive producer of the film, El Camino), looking for an affordable sound designer. Although the shooting and editing had long been finished, the film languished for years on the shelf because the filmmakers didn’t have a proper budget for post-production. Enter Studio West.
When Elizabeth called, lead engineer Mark Kirchner thought he had the perfect fit: Alec Moore, who as a recent graduate of The Recording Arts Center was looking for film and television projects to boost his resume. Studio West made it possible for the filmmakers to work directly with Alec by providing them with studio time and equipment. “This is the kind of thing we do for our graduates,” says Studio West owner Peter Dyson. “We give graduates a set amount of free studio time to make it possible for them to get experience and gain a foothold in the industry.”
“I was surprised after calling many studios,” says Elizabeth. “This was the first studio that actually gave me the time of day and was interested in helping us complete our film.” That phone call soon turned into a close collaboration between Alec and the film’s writer/director/editor Sean Daniel Bauer— native San Diegans who went on to create an award-winning independent film.
The story behind El Camino
El Camino is inspired by a real experience, the theft of Elizabeth’s briefcase during a business trip in Texas, a situation which ultimately lead to a profound spiritual awakening, chronicled in her novel ‘Separated by Dreams.’ Elizabeth began having vivid dreams about the man she calls Miguel. She saw him in his squalid surroundings using drugs, heard the music he listened to and smelled the stench around him. More than that, she felt his despair and could even sense his thoughts. For many years she felt she lived in two worlds, one in California, and one in Texas with Miguel.
Feeling someone else’s despair was not easy. But one day, Elizabeth felt something shift in Miguel. His life began to turn around. She attributed this to her positive affirmations notebook that was in her briefcase that Miguel now had in his possession. Elizabeth wrote a book about these other-worldly connected dreams, and eventually pitched the book to Sean, a graduate of the New York Film Academy who had been working in LA but had recently returned to San Diego.
The making of El Camino
Sean wrote a screenplay inspired by aspects of Elizabeth’s book, although the film focuses solely on Miguel. “I really love the way Sean took elements from my story & incorporated them into a film that speaks for itself,” Elizabeth says.
The film shifts back and forth between Miguel’s past and present, and is imbued with an atmospheric mist much like the effect of the drugs Miguel takes, giving it a poetic and existential quality. “Alec’s sound design and mix is layered with acoustic nuances that really complement the vibe of our film and the abstract way I went about cutting it together,” said Sean.
Awards and Accolades
After finding Studio West and Alec Moore, Elizabeth and Sean finally finished their film, which went on to win a handful of awards. El Camino was done on a micro low budget and we couldn’t afford a proper sound mix until Studio West came along,” says Sean. “Using the studio’s top of the line soundboard, Alec’s sound design and mix gave our film the legitimate production value it needed. This was Alec’s first narrative feature film, he was nominated for best sound design and rightfully so. He’s very skilled at what he does and really knocked it out of the park with our film.”
El Camino is now available on DVD and video on demand.