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.
JULY 1, 2019
I have once again traveled across the country. Bandit and I made the journey to Colorado yesterday. He is a completely different dog in different places, which is a funny and fascinating to observe. He’s getting older and I hope he will live through the Westerns with me.
Another investor has committed to Texas Red, which is great. It’s coming together a little at a time.
JULY 3, 2019
It’s been hard to focus in Colorado. I don’t feel productive even if I have been. I long for some solid focus on specific projects but it may not happen until I return to Mississippi in a week.
Mario is talking to the investor tonight. He and I are supposed to catch up tomorrow. I really hope this means movement for Deputy’s Wife.
JULY 7, 2019
I’m in Tombstone now. Most of my mind is occupied with thoughts of Bandit. He isn’t doing well the past few days and may have an ear infection. But he is tough and with keeping a close eye on it, I think he’ll be fine.
The last minute nature of putting this Ranch Hands short together proves how valuable the planning I’m doing for the Westerns is. Even having to find a gun or blood the day before is stressful.
We got good news about the investor for Deputy’s Wife. She wants to see a budget so I sent Mario three variations. I want to move faster but I will have to be patient.
JULY 12, 2019
I felt the energy Monday night while making Ranch Hands. That extra kick that comes when I go into production. It’s great, knowing it’s still there, waiting for filming to start.
The scout with John went well. Coronado is a good landscape for Westerns. I did not feel the spiritual feelings he did and mentioned others feelings… I rarely do in these places. I feel only an interest but not some anything that isn’t intellectual and creative.
I am back now in Mississippi having crossed the country again.
JULY 13, 2019
Several times now I feel like I’ve reached out to someone about funding and I’m just two to three months late… another filmmaker, sometimes people I know (some I admire and some I don’t), got there before me.
I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate vodka into one of the Westerns. It’s first appearance in America and presence in the 1800s is unclear.
JULY 14, 2019
While making the shoot schedule today for Guide to Gunfighters, I realized how hard it’s going to be, how I need to have a firmer grip on this script than any I’ve done before both because I won’t be able to shoot chronologically and because I must have a good hold on what I want to change and play with on set to remain consistent.
I proposed to Jared the other night that we shoot one of the Westerns on an iPhone and I’m serious about this. I also am exploring filming one on 35mm.
JULY 15, 2019
Today I took a shot in the dark and emailed Cinestate, probably my favorite company making movies right now, to see if they might be interested in one of my Westerns. They wrote me back almost immediately saying they’re actually on the lookout for a good western to make. I was giddy. So I sent them Bastard’s and Deputy’s Wife. Who knows what will happen. It’s a long shot. But that was a great feeling and makes me think I should throw more Hail Marys like that one.
JULY 17, 19
I think the Georgia deal is dead. The nail isn’t in the coffin but it doesn’t seem very positive anymore.
JULY 18, 2019
I realized yesterday that it might be interesting to have each of the Natchez Trace sections narrated by a character within that section. For instance, Swaney in one. I had not thought of this before and it might do well in explaining the different perspectives of the narrative.
JULY 19, 2019
An opportunity has arisen that is even better than the Georgia deal but equally uncertain. If it happens, it could change the whole landscape of what I’m doing.
I spoke with Jared yesterday at an hour and a half about Bastard’s, Texas Red, and Slow Death… he is interested in all three. I’m waiting to close the door with someone else on Texas Red who has become non responsive in the last couple weeks. I’ll wait one more week before making that decision. Jared is in on Bastard’s. For Slow Death and Frontier, which he was already attached to, I’m thinking of doing them back to back and shooting one on the IPhone and the other on 35mm, respectively.
It’s amazing some of the DNA Heart of the Gun shares with Deadly Companions. I had no idea, approaching the movie for the first time, that they would share so much in common. And the film’s weaknesses almost spoke to me, saying what not to do on mine.
JULY 20, 2019
My rhythm has been thrown off by actually have a little fun the last couple nights. I feel like, especially next year, I’ll have to be like a film monk. My life will be the Westerns and nothing else.
JULY 22, 2019
The casting call was well attended and the best part was seeing some new talent that I’d never met before. That’s encouraging that there are still good actors left to discover here and also some mentioned they’d recently moved to Mississippi. I left feeling content but without having seen someone who really blew me away, someone who absolutely had to be cast.
JULY 23, 2019
The phone call with Mario and the Deputy’s Wife investor went about as well as it could have. I sent her the contract today. If this goes through, we will be halfway funded on the film.
It feels like we are all leaning towards making it in Arizona. That’s where my instincts are though I really want to shoot in New Mexico. Perhaps it will be another of the 12.
I also submitted my business plan to the big, big opportunity today. Who knows. It would be a game changer for me and the project.
I’m struggling through The Duel. It’s slow and dull, interesting only because I can compare how we used the same location for Blood Country. It does show me that much more can be gotten from that town. Also, it was fun to see an actor/person I strongly dislike get smashed in the face with the butt of a rifle. And he didn’t even have a speaking part.
JULY 24, 2019
I’m catching up on rest today between tasks after being up late on Miles’ shoot last night. It was interesting to see another set run and odd to see many of the people I used to work with. I have thought of hitting them up to work again but last night showed me that we are too different, they are used to another way of working now and maybe have always been more suited for it than the way I run things.
I threw a couple Hail Marys today for Bastard’s Crossing casting. The rep for Brad Dourif replied asking for a pay or play offer. I figured as much. I hate agents.
JULY 25, 2019
My routine has switched to 20 mins per task/project a day instead of 30. I wonder if eventually it will have to be 15 or 10.
Actors Access feels like a waste of time. Joe made the comment that after a while everyone just looks the same. Exactly. There’s no personality the way you see in person at casting calls.
I have a phone call with the Deputy’s Wife investor in a half hour. She says she’s still on board but I’m nervous. I’ve seen things fall through before and I hope there are not issues.
JULY 26, 2019
It’s official. We’re halfway funded for Deputy’s Wife, one of the most important moments yet for the 12 Westerns.
I started Jack Nicholson’s Goin South last night.
JULY 27, 2019
Last night I finally got a date range from Cedric’s people which allows me to start planning the schedule for Red, or at least seeing how it might go. Breakthrough!
JULY 28, 2019
Once I get going with something it’s hard to stop. I had to break my rules about time today and just finish the Deputy’s Wife schedule. My head was in it and there was no good reason than to pull it out. I feel over the next couple weeks I will change my multitasking strategy and try to focus on certain projects in order to make some major accomplishments.
I’m determined to finish the Heart of the Gun rewrite by August 7th. And the Pump script too which I need to finish to have a little living money.
JULY 29, 2019
Once again, traveling really throws off my routine. I go to Jackson for a great lunch with Dorsey then Vicksburg then home to work but I get back and need a power nap and just don’t have the momentum to do as much as I’d like. I have to force myself to work a little and then rest to hit the reset button tomorrow.
I came up with this idea the last couple days about casting Richard in Bastard’s Crossing after telling Jared that this is the final part in our unofficial trilogy with Bride of Violence and Deadbeats. I really feel this way and find it ironic considering that I didn’t write two of those three scripts. But they have shared DNA. I’m thinking of calling it the “Good Men Gone Bad” trilogy. So I contacted Richard today about pulling double duty as cast and our gaffer. We’ll see what happens.
Gosh the deaths at the end of Magnificent Seven are so bad they almost ruins the film.
JULY 30, 2019
For the first time, but certainly not the last, two actors have turned down offers to be in my 12 Westerns. One was because of not having enough time off work and another is just too busy to work indie movies, even ones with SAG ulb pay…
Travis, I just read your July Diary. You are working so hard on the 12 Westerns and to accomplish a task no one else has tried. I can sense the disappointment you must have when some things fall through on your different projects. But perseverance you have and everything will fall into place. I’m sure the Investors , Actors, locations contracts, will be there in the final days so you can start filming and production. All of us fans and friends are rooting for your success and are with you. I know you will be making some great films very soon. I can’t wait to see them.
Thank you, Larry. I appreciate you reading it and the words of encouragement. I’m glad I have supporters like you!
Just as with a jigsaw, little progress appears to be made at first as you sort through the myriad of pieces before you but as you slowly lay down those outer edges and corners the complete picture is already becoming much clearer in your mind. Little bit little it takes shape and gets easier. Investors will wait until a clearer image of the big picture and is visible and it’s beauty and promise more obvious. Have faith in your ability and everything will fall into place I’m sure.
That’s a very good analogy. Thank you!