Joe Camp, Creator of Benji, Happily Living in San Diego

Monday, September 15, 2008, 17:47 —by DLS
This item was posted in Interviews, San Diego People category and has 2 Comments so far.

Not all celebrities live in LA.

Take Joe Camp, who resides in a nice 5-acre ranch in San Diego County.

He is of course, the creator of all those “Benji” movies. Well, I met Camp a few years ago and was impressed by his writing, as well as his love of animals. I recently had a short conversation with him about his best selling book called THE SOUL OF A HORSE: Life Lessons from the Herd (Harmony Books; Hardcover, $24.95) that is already on its second printing – and it was just released in April!

As his bio states: “As the creator of the beloved Benji series, Camp has spent most of his life luring us into the heart and soul of a floppy-eared dog, but now in this engaging, emotional, and often humorous story, he deftly lures us into the heart and soul of a horse.

“Written for everyone who has ever loved a horse or even loved the idea of loving a horse, this memoir leads us on a riveting voyage of discovery as Joe and his wife, Kathleen, navigate uncharted, often politically incorrect territory on their way to discovering an astonishing truth that will change traditional thinking about horses forever.”

It all began when Joe received a surprise birthday gift from Kathleen. As complete neophytes, Joe and Kathleen were without a clue as to what horses needed or wanted, but they plunged head first into this new world and the result is THE SOUL OF A HORSE: Life Lessons from the Herd.

“The parallel journeys of a fabled herd in the wild and a wide-eyed couple thrust into the enigmatic world of horses are blended into a riveting expedition of discovery about relationships, choices, trust, and love. One that will change traditional thinking about horses forever,” according to Camp’s camp.

Camp has long been considered an animal lover and an advocate for increasing awareness of animal issues including adoptions and the proper care of horses, i.e., as seen on the cover of this new book with “Cash” one of his herd. Cash was adopted from the Animal Rescue League.

He has said that he believes that anything is possible if you work hard enough and have faith in yourself.

Industry “experts” told him not to bother with the original “Benji” film; that it wouldn’t work. He proved them wrong, and now he’s at it again with his new book.

Joe wrote, produced, and directed seven theatrical motion pictures (including all of the “Benji” movies), which cumulatively grossed well over the equivalent of $600 million in today’s dollars, making him one of the most successful independent filmmakers of all time, according to his bio.

Camp has written three novels from his own screenplays, the inspirational nonfiction book Benji & Me , several children’s books and produced, directed and wrote four network television specials and a series.

To produce the original “Benji” movie, Joe raised the money from private sources. When the film was completed, it was turned down by every major film distributor in Hollywood. Joe and his partner then formed their own distribution company and released the picture worldwide. In spite of the many obstacles, Variety reported that the picture was the third highest grossing movie of the year. The fifth Benji movie, Benji Off the Leash, was released in 2004 and is available on DVD.

In terms of his new book, Monty Roberts, author of the New York Times bestseller The Man Who Listens to Horses, said, “Imagine how inadequate it makes me feel to realize how recently Joe came into horses. The man is a natural when it comes to understanding how animals tick and a genius at telling us their story. The Soul of a Horse is a must-read for those who love animals of any species.”

When he isn’t busy at his ranch or writing or thinking about his next film, Joe speaks to families, churches, corporations, civic and philanthropic organizations, pet adoption and equine groups, as well as students, inspiring everyone within earshot to reach beyond any conceived perception of his or her limitations. He spells out the choices that will create success.

Joe and Kathleen, along with their three kids, five horses, and four dogs including Benji, as well as two cats, reside on a five-acre hilltop in Valley Center, north of San Diego.

What’s the difference between the horse venture and Benji other than the obvious? “In many ways, no difference at all. Both are trying to connect with an animal … To have a relationship … To communicate … To not dominate. The difference is how that is accomplished,” he said.

With thousands of horse books on the market, I was curious as to why he decided to write yet another.  “I didn’t actually. I mean, yes, of course, it has to do with horses, but first and foremost, it’s a story. I’ve spent most of my life telling stories, most of them involving animals. And I found this one particularly fascinating. Two complete novices — my wife and I — leaping into this enigmatic world of horses literally without a clue. The mistakes, the fear, the fascination, and the frustration with some of the answers we were getting. And ultimately, the discovery that something was very wrong in this world of horses. Imagine a couple of newcomers wrestling with the notion that either we were completely nuts or that we had truly stumbled upon something that was very wrong. That’s where the book got started. It’s a story about the journey.”

You can read more about the book and his journey at

Joe Camp and Benji enjoy the ranch in San Diego County

Joe Camp and Benji enjoy the ranch in San Diego County/photo Tony Denim

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2 Responses to “Joe Camp, Creator of Benji, Happily Living in San Diego”

  1. valvet said on Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 17:03

    Greets! Really interesting. Big ups! Tnx!

  2. DLS said on Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 18:10

    Thanks, he really is a fantastic person and does so much for animals.

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