He’s a veteran, husband, father, outdoorsman, and Catholic. He also has Stage IV cancer.

For years, Phil dreamt of walking the 500-mile ancient pilgrimage route across Spain, El Camino de Santiago. Although this was an unattainable dream due to weekly chemo treatments, it did not stop him from walking. Crafting a path through wood and pasture on his 10-acre plot of land on Vashon Island, Seattle, Phil re-creates the Camino path in his own backyard. After each 0.88 km lap, Phil plots his progress on a Camino map. As he measures his daily steps towards the end destination of Santiago, Phil finds that the rhythm of walking presents healing in a way he had never experienced before.

Through the act of walking, Phil learns to stop fighting to cure his cancer, and embraces physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. For those who have the tremendous privilege of taking part in Phil's journey, it is evident that he does not allow circumstances to define him; but views cancer as a catalyst to a life of rich moments in the tension of suffering and gratitude. Phil’s Camino captures Phil’s story from Vashon to Spain and back again. His determined character, life of simplicity, and joy in the everyday presents a story of what it means to live vibrantly in the face of adversity. 




WINNER: Audience Favorite: Palm Springs Int’l ShortFest
WINNER: First Prize Humanitarian Award : Flickers Rhode Island Film Festival
WINNER: Audience Choice Short : Tacoma Film Festival
WINNER: Best Short Documentary: La Costa Film Festival
WINNER: Jury Award Best Short: YES FilmFestival
WINNER: Best Short Documentary: Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
WINNER: Audience Award : SFDocs Film Festival
WINNER: Special Jury Short Film : deadCenter Film Festival
WINNER: Best Short Documentary : Black Hills Film Festival
WINNER: Special Jury Award : WorldFest Houston Film Festival
WINNER: People’s Choice Award : Julien Dubuque Film Festival
WINNER: Honorable Mention: Myrtle Beach Film Festival
WINNER: Nominated Best Doc: Heart of Gold Int’l Film Festival
NOMINATED FINALIST Best Doc : SXSW Int’l Film Festival
WORLD PREMIERE: SXSW International Film Festival



Award winning short doc, PHIL’S CAMINO tell the story of free spirit Phil, a man living with Stage 4 cancer and dreaming of walking the 500 mile spiritual pilgrimage Camino de Santiago across Spain. Unable to make the trip, he does the next best thing: he builds a camino in the forest behind his house, starts to walk,  and traces his progress on a map.  Phil's journey is one of hope, acceptance, and freedom, and is sure to inspire anyone who has ever dreamed of doing something that sounded impossible. Upon reaching ‘Santiago de Compostela’ -- without ever leaving his backyard -- Phil gets a clean scan and his doctors grant him a 'chemo holiday', or permission to miss one chemo treatment.  He now has 28 days to go and walk the ancient route in Spain.  Along the way he realizes his true pilgrimage is the one he travels within.


The “camino” of this film started and ended with the phrase “come walk with me.”

After a series of events that led to an invitation for filmmaker Annie O’Neil (co producer and featured pilgrim of Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago) to walk with Phil on Vashon Island, she was immediately captured by the way Phil lives with a transcending peace and quiet tenacity in the face of death. She sensed that his story was one that would inspire others to live a journey of meaning and gratitude. 

The pieces began falling in place during a trip to Chicago, when Jessica asked Annie if there was any advice she could offer for her filmmaking career. Answering Jessica's question with another question "Do you want firsthand experience?" brought Jessica to Phil's Camino. Joining Jessica on the journey, DP Todd and Co-Producer Rebecca were a dynamic trio of a team. Telling Phil's story has been an experience they will never forget and anticipate sharing with others through this short documentary film.


Annie O'Neil, Director/Producer

Annie O'Neil

Annie has worked as a producer on her own original series, as well as a Co-Producer and featured pilgrim in the documentary film Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago. In 2014, Annie was finishing her first book Everyday Camino with Annie, when she was contacted by Phil Volker. In meeting Phil, Annie realized that she was writing this book for him. It has been a delight to produce this incredible project as part of a talented, inspiring, and dedicated team. If you are interested in reaching Annie, email her at 









Vince Werner of Clatter and Din: Thank you for so selflessly starting us off on the right foot. To Harriet and David Zucker, a brother and sister duo to be reckoned with, thank you! Your enthusiasm has been a great support to the film. To Phil's wife and daughter, Rebecca and Tesia, along with friend Ivette Silberman, thank you for all you've done at the earliest stages of fundraising for this project! To Fr. Tom Hall, Theresa Tolini Coleman, Lois & Bob Boardman, Maggie Lynch, Charlie & Francis Stewart, Mrs. Caroline Hartwell Stewart: we are here because you were there.


Thank you to Kevin Paquette, Donor #1! To Arthur Rogers, Esther Hobbs,  Leila Kenzle, Clare Elkin Baum, Denise Williamson, and Scott Dean! Your generosity is greatly  appreciated. Thank you to John Douglas, Hugh Epping, LouAnn Ross, David Schoenwald, Shannon Warner, Eric Ireland, Karen Monteith, Dave Higley, Barbara Zito your support has helped us make our way along this journey.  Thank you Adriana Tovar, Janey Brancheau, Mathew Cuyle, Leila Kenzle and John O'Neil.  Thank you Sarah Horvath and Paul Lewis, Christopher Gaynor, Lauren Lindberg, Linda Benson, Slim Chandra-Shekar, Joan Hanna, Yoav Elinevsky and Mary McKinley.  Many thanks to Angela Montano, Theresa Weems, Laura Sue & Sid Hoover, Susan Schaeffer, Helen Belletti, Brian Forbes Colgate, Bill Satoris, Esther Jantzen, Renee Butz, John and Pat McGinnis, Jane Rasinski, Jim & Tia Sylvis, Donna Kellum, Alida Lechter, Fadia and Roger Nassar.  Thank you to Ellen Ralph, Megan Lewis, Karen Bean, Suzanne Pinckney, Tom & Debby Theno, R. Rev. David Godsey, Ana Garcia, Tara Laidley, Pam Ray, Virginia Killfoile, Mark Wyrick, the Camino Documentary, and Rev. Bonnie Barnard for your generous support.  Many thanks go to John E. Kahn, Judy Stockwell, Michele McBride, Amy Soden, Dorian Frankel, Julie Johnson, Amy Robison, Herbert A. Medina, Jane Valencia, Quinton Klabon, Sarah Spitz, Wesley York, Eric Bingham, Cynthis, Kathleen Kinney, MaryJane Dunn.  We are so very grateful to Tamara McNeill, Theresa O'Toole, Taylor & Nikki Phelan, David Hayward, Carole Warner, Christopher E. Landry, Patrick M. DeVaney, Sil Nilsen, Jodi Barke, Cathy Hill.  Thanks go to Eric Wojtanik, Linda Stemer, Cherry Pennycuick, Michelle Maynard, Michael Civmy, Margaret Ketner, Ron Henry, Maggie Cech, Peter Engbretson, Maxwell Romey, Sheila Eckman, Shannon Buckner, Sarah Schmidt.  Thanks and gratitude to Victor Fugelsang, Melinda G. Brovelli, Susan Faulkner, Nancy Ewing, Ofelia Gonzalez, Christine Goering, Annette St-Pierre, Janice Perry, Steven Occhipinti, Barika Croom, Barbara Sletmoe, Meredith Lockwood, Alexandra Montgomery, Daniel Dacri, Henry James Walker, Katie Kett, Emily Ring, Nancy Morgan, Christin Scholze, Susan Burns, Nancy Fornasiero, Lucia Botindari, Lisa Cole, Peter Wehrwein and Natalie Hayes Stewart.  

The Thanks Continue:

Thank you to Sherif Tamim, Nikki Brant Sevy and Blayne Harper, to Rev. Bonnie Barnard, Steve and Joanna Sunde,  Alice McMahon, Weston Roberts and John Koh.  Thank you Jordan Smith, Sarah Skoda, Robert Miller, and Charles Sandy.  Your generosity helps put one foot in front of the other as we walk this Camino to completion of this beautiful film.  Thank you to Bronwyn Marmo, David Busse, Michael Rob and Jodi Floyd, Raelynne Holmes, and John Lauria!  Thank you to Maryanna Harris, Signe Drake, Michael Butler, Richard Skillman, John Conway, John and Joann Branson, Kathryn Brue, and Teresa Cullen Bueti. Muchas Gracias to John Morrit, Sherif Tamim, Stephen Linehan, Brian Lemke, Marc Randolph and Sarah Cohen.  Big thanks to Hannah Hochkeppel, Lynne Essex, Kendra Bourne, and Sarah Finneran.  You are now part of the Phil's Camino family and we are grateful!