Travis Mills is a young, up-and-coming director and writer from Phoenix, Arizona. He’s the cofounder of both Running Wild Films and GUERRILLASTAR PRODUCTIONS, both based out of the Phoenix area, although GUERRILASTAR has roots in New York as well.
I first came across the work of Mills at the 2010 Arizona Underground Film Festival, which contained two projects Mills had worked on: Bloody Basin in which he was producer and script supervisor, and The Ruffians, his debut into both the worlds of directing and writing.
Both short films were impressive, but The Ruffians is the one that truly stood out to me. The film was visually interesting and had a story that pulled you in. The short had all the signs of a director that knew exactly what he was doing. I immediately new Mills would be someone I’d like to keep an eye on.
Well, the newest project from Mills has certainly sparked my interest.
Currently, Mills is in pre-production on his first feature length film, The Big Something, a record-store-murder-mystery that will be shot entirely in Arizona.
The Big Something is the tale of Lewis, a record store employee who also happens to live at the record store. One night Lewis stumbles home to find his boss, Marcus, dead with a bullet shot to the head and our murder mystery begins.
A classic who-dun-it? Ok, I’m listening. From the director/writer of The Ruffians? Go on. Shot and filmed entirely at local Arizona locations? SOLD!
While I’d like to be able to tell you more about the actually story and plot of the film, because of its current pre-production phase, I don’t have a whole lot of details. What I do have, however, it’s a list of some of the locations, and those have me very excited.
The Big Something has been fortunate enough to get the permission of some local businesses to use their facilities for filming. This is terrific news. As a local filmmaker myself, it’s great to hear about local businesses helping with independent and local film projects.
When local businesses and filmmakers come together, everybody wins. The filmmakers get the use of sets and locations, which add production value to their films and help tell their stories. The businesses get their name out to more people–people that may not have heard of their business elsewhere. If I know a business is willing to help out local filmmakers in any way they can, I’m certainly more willing to shop there, and I’m not alone in feeling that way.
“A big part of The Big Something is the locations. They are a cast of their own, chosen because they are more than just buildings,” says Mills. “Amidst the plethora of suburbs and cookie-cutter restaurants, there are some fantastic local businesses in Arizona…We cannot ignore these places and we need to show them attention or they will become an extinct breed.”
Two locations secured so far for The Big Something are Tracks In Wax record store and Gold Bar Expresso.
Tracks In Wax is one of the last real record stores in Phoenix, located downtown on Central and Camelback. For the past 28 years the record store has been owned by Dennis and Julie Chiesa who have been gracious enough to let Running Wild Films use it for one of their main locations. Tracks In Wax will be home to the record store Lewis works and lives in and where The Big Something takes off with the murder of Marcus, the record store owner.
Gold Bar Expresso is a coffee shop located in the East Valley on the corner of Southern and McClintock. Gold Bar will be a pivotal location as it will play host to the chess-playing hangout where Lewis tries to get some information on who he thinks may be responsible for the murder of his boss.
Businesses like Gold Bar and Tracks In Wax are the type of places that help turn an art and film scene into a community. These are the type of businesses we need to help thrive. If you’re in the Phoenix area I highly suggest you check out both of these places and have your friends do the same. Even if you’re not directly involved with the film scene, the continued success of Gold Bar, Tracks In Wax and other similar businesses impact you in some way.
Travis Mills and the Running Wild Films gang plan to start shooting this June on The Big Something. Casting and pre-production are already well underway. For more information on The Big Something and supporting local arts and businesses please visit: http://bigsomething.wordpress.com.