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.


MAY 2, 2019


I’m in a Walmart parking lot waiting to pick my mom up from the airport watching Johnny Guitar on my phone.
The tasks of the last couple days have killed my writing time.
I contacted Luckett and Watts about connections.
I offered Maxwell the role.


MAY 9, 2019


Once again this diary has been neglected.
In the past few days, I’ve crossed most of the country. I’ve seen two western towns, one near Austin and one in New Mexico. I’ve arrived where I’ll be living for a month: Superior, Arizona.


Scouting in New Mexico at the Town of Gabriella

I made the mistake of listing all the things in my head that I needed to do on arrival only to discover that I have barely any cell service here and that without WiFi, I’m highly limited. Also, the first day there was no water, working toilet/shower, or fridge. Still there was a roof over our heads, the roof of an RV to be specific and that’s what matters. It felt more important than ever to be next to Bandit, reminded more than ever of our closeness when surrounded by less.
Since then, some of the issues have been fixed and I am still waiting on WiFi, doing what I can without it while making trips to the local bar and library to email people.
I started revising Texas Red today as best as I can. Don’s notes are hard to read at times, which is another argument for writing notes digitally instead of by hand.
In terms of the towns, they each have their strengths and weaknesses but that is just going to be the case with these movie sets. Unless I write a movie specifically for one of these places, changes will need to be made to any existing script to fit.
In a little while, I’ll start watching Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee which I got from the library since I’m unable to finish the Westerns I was watching on the criterion app for now.


MAY 10, 2019


I met with Butterfly today. It’s my natural inclination now to be skeptical about partners since other producers have turned out so poorly but I like her. She seems to be no funny business and practical, though I don’t think we’ve quite figured out how to listen to each other yet.
I also met with Gus today. He shared thoughts on Deputy’s Wife and the Natchez Trace. He felt the Trace should wait till after the 12 and be given more time to make, like a whole year. I know what he’s saying but fuck it, I have to go for it.


MAY 13, 2019


It looks like the investor I met with on Saturday is going to follow through, which is encouraging. Another investor who promised 15k has been nearly impossible to reach… I’m trying to not worry but it’s hard to not.
A woman I met in Natchez called today and we had a lengthy conversation. She asked me many questions about filmmaking. She has the ability to invest but I’m waiting to ask.


MAY 15, 2019


Yesterday I signed the deal with this new investor, which is great progress. I decided that Bandit and I should celebrate so we walked down to a local restaurant with patio seating. We waited 15 mins while the waitress served everyone but us. Finally I gave up and left, ordered a pizza. Then we tried to finish watching the Cowboys and the disc wouldn’t stop skipping… sometimes celebrating is a bust.




MAY 16, 2019


Had a great meeting with Wendy last night, revising the Guide script. She was very open to my thoughts and we came up with some good changes together.
Part of me thinks that I should abandon any form of a social/dating life I’m trying to have till this project is over. It leaves me tired and rarely fulfilled.


MAY 17, 2019


We may have 15k for Deputy’s Wife to start, which would be a huge step forward. Fingers crossed. Another funded western would be incredible…
Gus and I discussed The Cowboys today over Indian food. He hesitates about the idea of it being remade with anyone less than John Wayne because of the twist. I see what he’s saying but I still want to see it done.


MAY 19, 2019


The auditions went mostly well yesterday. The first four hours flew by and then the rest went on at a crawl. But I can’t complain much. We saw good people. It’s amazing how few people tried out for the lead roles. Young people must just be lazy or not understand being proactive. Perhaps most of the “serious” ones are starving for roles in LA. They could be in Tucson auditioning for a paying lead…



I watched Cowboy last night and had mixed feelings about it, wrestling with scenes I liked and didn’t like.
For Guide to Gunfighters, I’m trying to think in terms of comedy. It’s a different kind of casting. And what to watch… this book on Fellini I’m reading makes me wonder if his work might be a good reference for Guide.


MAY 20, 2019


As soon as you’re up, you’re down… the 15k for Deputy’s Wife that sounded like such a sure thing a couple days ago is now gone. Why? I don’t know. Mario sent me the text from his contact today saying to that he’s “reluctantly” passing and to let him know when he works with a different company… I may be reading into something that isn’t there but different company? Did he see something about me he didn’t like? It all seems so odd and of course discouraging but what the hell, we’ll get the money somewhere. I don’t even have time to let this or things it bother me. I have no time.


MAY 21, 2019


I have a new way of working. I have these tasks listed in my calendar and they keep getting longer and longer. From 20-25 a day that involve everything from writing to editing and other things. The problem has been on what to approach first and how long. I will spend too long on one and not enough on another. Some days I’ll want to do one task and not another but they are all equal in worth. So… this new way. I set a timer for 30 mins and pick a task. I have only those thirty mins to work on it and as soon as they’re up, I’m done and have to move that task (if not complete) to the next day. Then I go onto the next task and set the timer again. It’s working.


MAY 24, 2019


A photograph from scouting Pioneer Village.


The scout with Butterfly went well. We spoke from Tempe to Prescott without much of a break. It was funny because I said, “This is good. I think we’re getting a better sense of each other which will help on set.” Sometimes when I say things, she doesn’t respond which is something I haven’t gotten a sense for yet or figured out about her. I’m not sure if she’s processing it or doesn’t agree or perhaps there’s another option. Regardless, I like her directness. She’s no funny business when it comes to work but can joke around. My fingers are constantly crossed that this collaboration works out.
We met with Patrick and Mark of the C-Bar series and shot the shit for a while. They’re doing pretty much the same thing as me and unlike a lot of filmmakers out there seem to have no petty animosity towards me. They realize we can help each other and we can. I like Mark. Like me, he doesn’t mind cutting someone out of the work process if they’re a pain in the ass.
Speaking of process, working with Wendy more on the script revision has been fun. We’re coming up with new ideas and sharpening what’s there. I am curious to see what this next draft looks like.


MAY 25, 2019


This has turned into a rough week. I was crossing my fingers for nothing and have lost another collaborator. It felt lonely to read the words that came via email, claiming that though the person’s experience with me has been nothing but good that they must no longer work with me… if everyone whose experience with me was good actually stood up with me and for me, there wouldn’t be a problem. The issue isn’t the enemies. It’s the friends who are quiet…
I struggled most of the day to not feel sorry for myself. The DH Lawrence quote that I try to live by didn’t do any damn good at getting my head back on track. Finally only one thing did:
The realization that if an academy award winning filmmaker (who has directed many actresses to awards and nominations, who has made tons of classics and worked with the best of the best) can be treated like shit after all these years and tossed out into the cold without a shred of evidence, then why of course would I not be fighting this bullshit as well.
My friend James said I would persevere through it. That also helped. I have no choice but to work and let my work be the weapon.


MAY 26, 2019


Last night I asked the audience not just to tell us we did a “great job” on Silver Slipper but to share something specific. It worked and I may make this a practice.
Meek’s Cutoff is an interesting western. I don’t know if it’s ambiguity works for me but I admire what Kelly did with the film regardless.
I need to make time to watch more Westerns, more movies in general. It’s like I’m running but not eating, not nourishing my body.


MAY 27, 2019


I had coffee with Nick today. Told him the “bad news” but it didn’t seem to phase him. That was encouraging. He’s steady. I shared some of the changes about Heart with him and he seemed to like that direction. We talked about the look. I asked if he’d help me buy the right pair of boots.


MAY 28, 2019


John called me and we’re meeting tomorrow. Damn, it’s been too long since we have seen each other. He sounded excited about the Westerns and filming on his ranch, even mentioned helping with funding and that he’s writing one. I am excited for our reunion.
An actor turned down a part in Texas Red because he is worried about saying the n word. I understand but I feel we must include it in this film, it’s a harsh story about harsh times.
The story of Pearl Hart is getting me excited again as I get back to research. I really wonder if KK could play her.


MAY 29, 2019



That last idea from yesterday doesn’t look like it will pan out. For now at least, the passion for acting is gone or dormant but perhaps things will change. It’s a shame.
I watched the first part of How the West Was Won and wow… the visuals are just beyond comparison. I wish I had time to finish it but all the time is squeezed out of this week. Perhaps I can get it from the library when I return next Monday.
Every second away from working on the Westerns feels like cheating.
-Travis Mills