Midwestern-born Joe Camp worked as an advertising account executive before making numerous local TV commercials in the Dallas, Texas, area in the early 1970s. In 1974, he segued to the big screen with the independently distributed "Benji," an adventure yarn starring a lovable dog who thwarts a kidnapping. The film's surprise success (it grossed over five times its budget of $500,000) led to a series of film and TV sequels, including "For the Love of Benji" (1977) and "Benji the Hunted" (1987). In between, Camp wrote, produced and directed "Hawmps!" (1976), a based-on-fact comedy about camels trained by the US Army in Texas, and the family thriller "The Double McGuffin" (1979).