These are diary entries, tracking my progress and process making the 12 Westerns in 12 Months project. Every now and then I will be publishing these daily notes that were taken on my phone. They have not been edited at all.



To learn more about my 12 Westerns project, visit our Facebook page and to donate to this project, please visit our GoFundMe campaign here.

AUGUST 1, 2019

Bastard’s Crossing is harder to schedule than I thought it would be… these are going to be long challenging days for sure and just because it’s one location doesn’t mean it won’t be as hard or harder at times than Texas Red which is more than 15 locations. 

Hour of the Gun was mostly great, a nice surprise in a sea of movies about Wyatt Earp that rarely do anything different from each other which turns out successful. 


AUGUST 4, 2019

Yesterday I tried to rest a little with the Porches premiere behind me. It mostly worked. Of course I didn’t really take the day off. My mind didn’t. I watched The Stalking Moon and Butch Cassidy. I drove to Vicksburg for the latter. 

Today I am back at it hard. I’ve selected four actresses to invite to audition for Deputy’s Wife. And I sent two long shot emails to male actors today. One to Jim and one to Tom. If either really wants to be involved by some crazy chance, it will be a good problem to have. 

I finished the Bastard’s Crossing schedule. At least the first one. I sent it to Jared. It’s rough. It’s going to be a hell of a hard one to make. I have to rehearsed the hell out of these actors. They can’t be unprepared and guided on my sets like they were before. Nope. They have to be ready. 


AUGUST 7, 2019

I’m in Oxford today, taking time away from the Westerns except in my mind. The cinematographer I was interested in for Texas Red finally gave me a no yesterday, after many delayed responses. He said he really regretted not being able to do it, that he really wanted to. Apparently not enough to answer me for a week or two… 

So I returned to Jared who expressed a lot of passion for the project. Passion always wins.


AUGUST 8, 2019

I finally finished the rewrite of Heart of the Gun last night and this morning, powering through over 30 pages. It feels good to be done but also just means there’s more to come. 

I’m thinking of sending this to my top two picks for the lead female role and see how they each react. 


AUGUST 10, 2019

Today I woke up with urgency: perhaps I need to choose what all 12 Westerns are more quickly, perhaps I need to be more aggressive about funding, perhaps I’m more behind that I realize. 


AUGUST 11, 2019

I’m surprised but should not be at the number of actors and actresses who did not submit videos on actors access after two weeks. Some of them have even asked for more time. After two weeks! It shows how much a waste of time this process is when you go through pages and pages of actors, select 15 of them to audition and even a third of those don’t submit their tapes… 

We had an emotional freak out from a collaborator who decided he doesn’t want to act any more. This effects both my current projects and one of the Westerns I’d chosen him for, both for cast and crew. So we are back to square one. I cannot afford these kind of stressful people on my team, people who are dramatic. They hurt the work. 


AUGUST 12, 2019

This morning I started making day pages for a film that won’t shoot till March but I learned something very valuable: this is the kind of task that energizes me, that gets me buzzing more than coffee. I need to do more of this, breaking the script down into days and props and costumes. This is not only what helps me see the production better but it gets me in production mode. 


AUGUST 13, 2019

Casting for Bastard’s is tough. My instincts don’t line up with Joe’s nor some others I’ve shown the tapes too. I trust them but I have to follow my instincts at the end of the day. 


AUGUST 14, 2019

On the drive back from Natchez yesterday, I argued with my friends as I suggested an unconventional idea for keeping costs low on a stagecoach rental. They immediately jumped on it with the kind of doubt I’ve seen time and time again on set. I was mad. I explained to them that half the movies I’ve made wouldn’t have been made if I listened to such immediate skepticism. 

They kept talking and when one of them decided to explain to me how horses have personalities I said, “Yes I know. Now I insist we change the subject.” What a waste of oxygen. 


AUGUST 16, 2019 

Well we lost another location for Texas Red. First the warehouse for the Rhythm Club, though we never really had that one, and now the cabin in Freewoods. They got dollar signs in their eyes and when they realized I wouldn’t have many, the answer turned to no. The main disappointment here is we might not film in Freewoods, at least at a structure of any kind. 


A picture of one of the two locations that fell through


I messaged Josh to remind him we need to get serious about the locations… months away but time is running out. 

I still haven’t heard definitely from Cedric’s people. It’s driving me nuts. If only I could lock that in, I’d have some security for what to do next. 


AUGUST 17, 2019

Being at this book festival makes me wonder why film doesn’t get this kind of attention on a local level. And will the 12 Westerns be really noticed or just another dud, the diminishing returns I keep feeling when I realize films. 


AUGUST 18, 2019

Another one bites the dust. A makeup artist who seemed so promising for BASTARD’S and maybe even Texas Red has flaked. She did test makeup to prove her abilities but then kept delaying reading the script. I explained to her how important being focused and on top of things is, doing what you say you’re going to do, and she didn’t even have the guts/professional to respond. The sad part is, this is more common than the opposite. 


AUGUST 19, 2019

Well this has been a crazy day. I got yelled at by the widow of an actor who cried on the phone for a half hour and then threatened me with legal action because we’re playing a film her late husband was in… I chose to play the damn film to honor him! And we’ve gone through the legal process to license it.  People are amazing. 


A picture Bill took of me observing the space of the Bastard’s Crossing set.


This morning Bill and I went down to measure the inside of the trading post. It’s smaller than I thought but workable I’m sure. Of course Bill couldn’t resist and had to break out the chainsaw. Suddenly he was cutting everything he could, with the presumption that I could haul off the branches to fire piles which of course I did. But after a while I yelled out that we’ll have volunteers in September for this kind of work. Nevertheless he kept cutting and I kept piling. Finally the owner of the house next door came with his bush hog and ran over everything. I basically had to drag Bill out of there to keep him from cutting more. 


AUGUST 20, 2019

Today I drove down south for a radio interview in McComb and a look at a stagecoach in Folsom, Louisiana. Though it’s debatable whether the coach will work out, it was good to meet the guy who owns it. He’s a professional in the animal coordinating for film world. Our conversation turned to my need for snakes and snapping turtles in Texas Red. It may have been luck that I met him for that purpose rather than the other. 

I returned home with little time to work on much. Travel/driving as I’ve written before eats up my time. 

I feel the Westerns Facebook page taking off, surging to a new level of audience interaction. It’s getting hard to manage but it’s a good problem to have. 


AUGUST 21, 2019

An interesting day, the highlight being a phone conversation with the manager of one of the “hail mary” actors I contacted for Deputy’s Wife, literally one of my current heroes. I found it encouraging to know they’re approachable and that he might be able to be in one of the Westerns. 

I was on edge inexplicably today otherwise and didn’t have a good reason till it was almost over when arguing with a festival about their crazy rules. This industry is so full of bullshit that I’m surprised it’s ever taken seriously. 


AUGUST 24, 2019

The showings wipe me out. Not just that day but the day after. Yesterday was almost a waste. I am so happy next year I’ll just be making films, not showing them. 

A lightbulb went off today when I realized I might have two locations for Texas Red right here in Brookhaven. We’ll see. It would be nice. 



A stylized picture I made of Ward Emling before the casting announcement.


I was pleased to finally cast Cam the other day. Ward and I went to the location. It’s interesting to see different peoples’ reactions. They all have opposite concerns about the place. What I see, and I think what Bill sees, is nothing but possibility. 


AUGUST 25, 2019

The last two days have ended with mental exhaustion but I just wrote two good scenes for the Pearl story, I spoke to Anabella about being in Turn and Burn, I mixed Deadbeats and went live and did other little things all damn day. That’s good enough till tomorrow. 


AUGUST 26, 2019

One of my collaborators and I keep butting heads. He wants to do things immediately, spur of the moment, and I want to plan. I want to cross the Ts and dot the Is before we attack. I also want to take full advantage of my time and energy before charging the battlefield without a plan. 


AUGUST 27, 2019

Today I drove from Vicksburg to Jackson and back home. I did a radio interview about the festival and opened a bank account. I made a personal appointment and completed most of my tasks. It was a good day. 

This character I’m writing, Joe Boot, is one of my favorites. I could feel that before I even started writing, when I first read the story of Pearl Hart, but now he is living right in front of me. 


AUGUST 28, 2019

My head aches today, filled with so many things: locations, people, schedules, funding, how to shoot on film, when to make this film and that. 


AUGUST 29, 2019

Jared wants me to buy a camera for all of the 12 Westerns. It’s a good idea but not an easy one. It involves the say so of four DPs and somehow scrounging up the money from a whole bunch of budgets. The real problem is that I don’t have funding for two thirds of the Westerns yet. Yeah. That’s the real problem. 


AUGUST 30, 2019

I’m slowly losing all desire to have a personal life during this project. I mean a personal life with other people, be it male or female friends. Week after week, it feels like a waste of mental energy with little fulfillment, a distraction not because of the time it takes away from the project but because of the effect it has on my mind. I may need to abandon these desires completely and find satisfaction in simply spending time with Bandit and watching movies when I need to decompress. 


AUGUST 31, 2019

An opportunity has presented itself that might take one thing off my to do list. Jared wanted me to buy a camera for all 12 Westerns. It’s a good idea but the problem is the money for that up front investment. Then I spoke with Nick for an hour or more yesterday on my drive to Hattiesburg and ironically he’s been thinking about getting a camera and wondering if the 12 could rent it for most of the year. It might work out best for both of us. Hopefully the next couple weeks will lead to an answer. 

Like Texas Red, Nick doesn’t seem jazzed about the Natchez Trace project. He’s right. It needs work. It isn’t there yet but he does sound passionate about the barrel racing film without having read a single page… that’s good. So it’s not for sure but I think i might be looking to find another DP for the Trace project. Jared’s already shooting 4 of the Westerns. He’s a beast and brave so I’m sure he could take this on too but the move he’s planning may hinder that. It might be possible to reteam with Mario. 

I’m still fighting the nature of that project and whether I want to go with the direction it’s headed or return to my original desire for a Devil’s Rejects like disturbing western. The latter is what excites me most. 

I heard from two of my potential Arizona investors now that say they can’t do it. Things are so dry there for me, like the weather. I can only hope that making these new films will bring some new funding out of the dust. 


-Travis Mils