Climbing Everest. Swimming the English Channel. These are mere tasks compared to what Travis Mills of Running Wild Films is trying accomplish.
Mills, ASU film graduate, actor/writer/director, and in his spare time he’s trying to crack the Cold Fusion code, is attempting to shoot 52 short films in 52 weeks – a feat that has never been accomplished – let alone attempted. Mostly because it is just “this short” of insanity.
Early last year, Running Wild Films started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to help with the cost of shooting the 52 short films, based on short stories from writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, and James Joyce – all adapted to take place in present day Arizona. After hitting their goal, they were, literally, running ever since.
Think globally, act locally, is something he is very passionate about and to that end has enlisted local artists, actors, producers as well as local rock bands like the Former Friends of Young Americans, Serene Dominic and The lovelost, to score his countless trailers, features and shorts.
I caught up with him right after he completed shooting the 23rd film in the series to get a glimpse into his mind, passions, and if he actually sleeps.
TM: I’ve always wanted to make films at that pace. I don’t see any reason why not to. Call me an extremist. I’ve also always had a passion for adapting literature to the screen, specifically public domain works. We have these rich stories at our disposal and the chance to re-imagine and re-invent them. The ideas came together and birthed the 52 project.
Me: It’s cool that you’re not only a local filmmaker but you are serious about using local resources.
TM: Again, we have all these underused gems at our disposal: local music, businesses, historical sites, etc. I hate to see local film that doesn’t take advantage of Arizona. It’s time to own our town, our state in our creative endeavors.
Me: Which one of the short films is your favorite adaption?
TM: I can’t pick an absolute favorite. I adapted all of James Joyce’s The Dubliners, a fifteen story collection. It was the hardest writing I’ve ever done. I’m proud of that.
Me: Is it true you don’t sleep?
TM: That’s the rumor. The truth: I sleep just as much as anyone else. Anyone can do what I’m doing. All they need is the drive.
Mills plans to screen all 52 shorts over a weekend showcase – but not before each of his backers through Kickstarter has received a digital download. I don’t believe him about not sleeping.
You can view the progress of the 52 films on the Running Wild’s YouTube channel here.
|Travis Mills with Jon Nangle and Frank Gonzales.
All Photographs courtesy of Travis Mills of Running Wild Films.
Trevor Denton of Sun Ghost fame is a musician for the Electronic Age. He’s so successfully made the transition to Google + that he’s hosting public performances right from his living room to yours. Partial Request Live is your opportunity spend a nice quiet evening at home with friends, drinking your own beverages purchased at store (not bar) prices, and enjoying some live and local music from one of the Valley’s most talented songwriters.
Promising a mixture of covers and originals (and maybe even a guest performance), Trevor has even been taking requests. So far the request list includes such eclectic offerings as Paul Simon and Lagwagon. It’s going to be a good night for music. Make sure you tune in here tonight from 8 to 10 pm. Just click “Join the Hangout” and you’re all set! Head over early if you want to plead for a last minute song request…
And, if for some reason, you are unable to set aside the live viewing time (or you’re reading this after Wednesday) you can watch the event after the fact through Trevor’s YouTube account here.
Given enough studio time, anyone can sound like a million bucks on an album (maybe). Making a live album, however, can be a bit more difficult for some folks. It’s sort of like proving your salt, showing your chops, throwing your skills down… I’ll stop. A live album can offer a lo-fi intimacy not found on studio album. Here are a few worthy and recent examples from our noble state.
Bisbee Royale Live EP
The earnest indie rock of Race You There has a down-to-earth folksy quality that strikes a comforting chord with listeners. Recorded in December down at The Bisbee Royale, this album has all the adroitness and artistry you’d expect from a Race You There studio release. The EP opens with the airy track “Revelations” that tethers uplifting pop crescendos to a homey core that carries through the rest of the album. Take a listen here. You won’t be sorry you did.
Live at La Cocina
The experimental dreampop of Tucson trio Liila has a decidedly Western sensibility and it’s not just the pedal steel that leaves listeners with that desert feel. The six track album opens with “Rainydaysunshine” – a visceral, punk-tinged soundscape – before giving way to the more familiar and, perhaps, more inviting but still not devoid of dissonance sound of Liila with “Ghost”. Definitely give Live at La Cocina a listen here and get out to see the band live ASAP.
Recorded at the Hayden Flour Mill in good old Temps, Hi from the Mill offers fans a few of the new tracks from their upcoming studio album. One or more of our editorial staff has a vested interest in this band. So, if you’ll notice, I’m not actually saying anything opinionated with regard to this band. I’m just suggesting that you take a moment and listen for yourself. Or not. This is a no pressure situation… but you should, maybe. Listen here.
Good Friends Great Enemies previewing some new work for fans (which should include everyone).
Dogshow performing at the Beautiful Noise Festival in April.
Terry Holdbrooks is an Arizona author and activist. His first book Traitor, released earlier this month, recounts his time as a soldier in GTMO and his conversion to Islam. Get your copy here or through Amazon today.
Zoroaster & Two Devils
Fans of Michelle Blades, like myself, should not enter into Zoroaster & Two Devils with any expectations. Turns out the sweet and pensive songbird of yesterday has flown into the fire and emerged fiercely throated and flame crowned. Listeners will hear no ukelele on Blades’ latest and that is only the beginning. Modge podging such disparate elements together as the innocence of bubblegum pop, the earthiness of indiefolk, and the spaced out elements of 60s scifi sound tracks, the album is a strange but worthy ride. I was super excited to hear some of the ass-kicking (vocally speaking) found in Michelle’s other musical enterprise, North Dakota, has bled over into her solo work. Zoroaster & Two Devils marks Michelle’s first album on her Parisian label Midnight Special Records and, although, she might have relocated across an ocean but she’ll always be counted among us desert folk. One of us! One of us! Take a moment to join in the chant, then listen to the album here.
The seriously not-radio-friendly but oh-so-perfect for a house party sound of Drunk & Horny makes lively nerd rock for the unfettered masses. Ryan Avery and Andrew Jemsek, under the moniker Drunk & Horny, are not afraid of the tough to tackle topics, i.e. excessive masturbation, nor are they above the occasional slight. The songs approach daringly strange, playfully skirting outright nonsense on some tracks. One might ask, “Is it shallow art or is it sophisticated for its simplicity?” I ask, Does it matter? Either way, Drunk & Horny knows how to have a good time. And, “Bow Down and Die” is good on any level. “Enjoy Yourself” provides yet another crowd-pleasing anthem for the apocalyptic “YOLO” generation. The album closes with “I’m Crazy,” a dissonant, shout-it-out tune that might offer listeners a bit of insight into the underlying nature of Drunk & Horny. Check out the album here and be sure you head out to catch this act live! They’re playing this Sunday (May 26th) at Funny World, more here.
The genial shoegaze rock of Tucson band Dream Sick that greeted me on my listen to Morkkis immediately left me with a nasty case of late-comer’s remorse. How could I have lived for years with no knowledge of this band? What is wrong with me?! The only listener’s remorse greater than this comes from really bad music you secretly love, since we’re on the subject. Thankfully, Dream Sick fans are totally safe from this latter condition. The music contained on Morkkis is both intelligent and inviting, a combination less common it seems with every passing year. And, this is not to say the band is without its more dissonant moments, like those heard “Gone”. The word “morkkis” refers to a “psychological hangover” according to the group’s bandcamp page. An apt title given the album’s tendency toward pensive, deeply reflective lyrics that tug at the heartstrings with love and remorse. I suggest spending some time with Dream Sick’s latest here.