On our first trip to Spain in preparation for shooting a film on the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola, we settled on the walled town of Artajona, in Navarra, as our location for the Battle of Pamplona. It was here that Ignatius was critically injured by a French cannonball, a traumatic experience that set him on the path towards renouncing his vain dreams of military glory, and becoming one of the greatest saints in history.
Spain is marvelously beautiful, of course, but I’ve realized that location scouting is not the most ideal way to visit a country for the first time. You’re traveling too fast, through too many places, and focusing too narrowly on getting your film’s checklist done.
At the same time, writing a historical film has forced me to dig deep into the past of each location I visit, and has given me a vast appreciation for the amount of human blood that had been spilled on the soil I’m now treading on with my 21st century sneakers.
It is both sobering and inspiring to know that the echoes of battles past still linger in the stone and the earth, and to hear the warriors’ whispers remind me that my duty is to tread lightly, listen carefully, and write them well.