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.




My brain crapped out ten minutes before my live session today. Just because mush. But according to my friend, I did a decent job of winging my way through it. 


I spoke with one of the actresses I’m considering for the lead in Heart of the Gun. She read the script and I wanted to see, if she comes on board, how willing she’d be to help me raise funds. She says she would be. This might be how I need to proceed, finding the cast and team that will help me raise funds since my own network is a little stretched. 


Teaser poster for Heart of the Gun





My computer froze more than ten times this morning, setting my work back at least a couple hours. Nevertheless it’s near the end of the day and I’ve gotten a fair share done. It’s never enough though. It will never be enough. 


A friend and ex-lover stopped by for a quick chat and asked me if I was “ready” for all 12 Westerns. I told her that was a stupid question. She then asked if I was excited. I told her that was too. It’s funny how you can be close to someone and they really don’t know a damn thing about you. 




I didn’t write today. Got sucked into too many other things. I must tomorrow. 


But Mario and I had a good conversation, moving forward with offers to our gaffer and camera operator for Deputy’s Wife


I made a horse list for BASTARD’S today and holy shit, it’s a little intimating. What once looked like a simple movie really isn’t. 




My head runs wild today with thoughts from five or six projects. As I do props list for one, I email about camera and lighting for another, funding for another, casting for another. I am not a filmmaker. I’m a professional juggler. 




The Georgia deal is officially dead. So any funding for the Westerns I’ll have to scrounge up myself or with the help of my connections. This is good for only one reason: complete creative control of the 12 Westerns. 


I came home mid afternoon today exhausted, both because of some tense interactions and hearing the kind of nonchalant racist talk that is common in these parts. I was on edge and tried to sleep it off. I couldn’t sleep, watched ten minutes of The Kentuckian, and then went back to work. 




Yesterday closed with another tense altercation. I informed someone I’m working with that they either needed to commit more time and energy to this specific western or I would have to remove them from this paid position until they could. I thought it was a fair approach; I’d been honest up front that being paid on one of these films means doing a hell of a lot more than volunteer work requires. But I must have pushed some buttons and the person got mad. I insisted we discuss on the phone in a calm manner and a half hour later we did. It was uncomfortable but better. I’m not sure if we truly ended the conversation with understanding. I explained that I have to make constant progress on these films and if someone is too busy to help me, that’s fine, but I must forge ahead regardless. It is interesting how connections and relationships dry up. Sometimes there’s a pattern to it. This specific one is from a certain region in Mississippi and all my connections in that area, including someone who promised me a good deal of investment seems to have dried up. Can a mood sweep over humans geographically? It seems so. But perhaps it is just a phase and this will return. It reminds me of here in Brookhaven where I was once cheered on and now taken for granted or ignored. Yes, there are supporters here and good ones, but it’s fascinating to see the fall off when you become old news. 


A photo from the Bastard’s Crossing set construction process that would happen later in September.


I can’t imagine not doing my own props list. I can’t see going back to having someone else to do it, not just because they’d probably do it wrong but because the process of going through these details raises so many questions and ideas for the film. It seems essential for the director to do this. 




I’ve recruited Amelia to help with finding sponsorships and product placement. It’s a nut we have to crack for this to succeed. 




I called the Texas Red actor’s manager today ready to deliver the ultimatum that I need to have a signed contract by the end of September. He said we actually should be able to finalize this week. Of course I’ve heard that before but this time we went over the contract in detail together. I’m hoping I can get this off my plate. The project is so stalled without knowing if he is playing the lead or not. 


Cedric Burnside, who would eventually be confirmed at the lead actor in Texas Red.


MPB called today interested in doing an interview on one of their shows about the 12 Westerns. That was a nice little kick in the ass. 


SEPTEMBER 10, 2019


I got up this morning feeling more rested than I have in weeks and humorously gave credit to the raw steak I ate last night! 


I plunged into breakdowns for the Guide to Gunfighters, raising more questions than finding answers. 


SEPTEMBER 11, 2019


Completed the first round of SAG paperwork for Bastard’s Crossing today. It’s amazing how many forms they ask the exact same information for. Over and over. 


This is an example of a SAG day out of days form, one of the many that need to be filled out.


I had a meeting scheduled this afternoon in Jackson but some sneaking suspicion told me to call ahead and make sure it was still on. Turns out the person I was going to meet isn’t even there today because it’s his birthday! His daughter who set up the meeting acted nonchalant about the fact that she’d scheduled me to come today, seemingly unconscious that I would have showed up for no reason… I asked her to please make 100 percent sure that our rescheduled meeting next week was in their calendar and confirmed. She said yes but as the conversation ended, I was positive she had not written anything down. Is that the kind of world we live in where you have to double check every confirmation you get? I don’t want to live in it if that’s the case. 


SEPTEMBER 12, 2019


I want so worn out of people. 


This morning I was attacked by one of the cast of the Deadbeats on Facebook, messaging me angrily with lunatic threats that came out of nowhere and contradicted the contract he signed… I eventually had to block him. 


Right now I’m waiting for another person that’s supposed to help me set up for this final showing of Porches and he is going on more than an hour late, nowhere in sight. 


It’s a piss poor culture we’re living in. Somehow I have to find people who won’t do this. Howard Hawks professionals… where are they? Do they even exist? 


SEPTEMBER 13, 2019


It felt good to get back in the saddle today. I love that Beau challenged me to ride his most difficult horse. I want to get better and better. 


I am learning to ride from Beau Hale, getting better a little bit at a time.


Our meeting also went well. Every interaction I have brings up more things that need to be figured out but hey, at least these things are being brought up now and not weeks before production. 


SEPTEMBER 14, 2019


Another two and a half our phone conversation with Jared tonight about Bastard’s Crossing. He’ll be here in a little over a week. 


I feel our friendship and working relationship changing but I can’t quite tell how yet. 


SEPTEMBER 15, 2019


I had a major breakthrough with wagons today. Finally met with Randy in Wesson and it looks like we may get at least two wagons for Bastard’s out of the connection. He’s a good guy, I can tell. 

My Wagon contact Randy shows me one of two wagons that will be included in Bastard’s Crossing.


I started call sheets too. Absurdly early but that word doesn’t really factor into this project. 


SEPTEMBER 16, 2019


Yet another day goes by in my attempt so secure the lead for Texas Red. Perhaps an inch closer to the goal. It might be another inch within reach or it might be a mile. 


SEPTEMBER 18, 2019


I have been working on a deal to confirm the Texas Red lead role since June. I just looked at it was June 21 when I first texted the talent’s agent. Last night I received a signed deal memo. It took almost four months, the longest time it has ever taken for me to secure an actor. I’m happy that this process ended with confirmation and not denial. 


SEPTEMBER 20, 2019


Much has happened and i just haven’t had time to write about it, driving to and from Jackson two days in a row and today to Vicksburg with the festival starting. 


I’m trying to balance the things I need to do in my mind throughout all these activities. The game is so much in your head, not being scattered. Those around me shoot questions and ideas like they’re throwing all their darts at the same time. I like it one at a time. 

A moment on stage with our special guest, acting legend Mitchell Ryan.


SEPTEMBER 22, 2019


I am finally home from the film festival and ready to fall in bed. In some ways, this was a vacation from work and in other ways it was three solid days of work. I feel that it is a success. The greatest highlight is that the 12 Westerns fans made up the majority of the audience, most traveling from hours away and putting themselves up in hotels to attend. This touched me deeply. I almost cried at one point talking about it but kept it together and I don’t think anyone noticed. I love this sign of dedication, passion, and interest in the projects. 


Also I feel Mitch was appreciated. That’s what I wanted. I hope he leaves with a good feeling. 


SEPTEMBER 24, 2019


I made a decision about casting Mabel. After the internal tug of war, conversations I had this weekend solidified my feelings on who should play her. Perhaps the other woman and I will find a different project to work on. 

Megan Therese Rippey, who I have since announced as our lead actress in She was the Deputy’s Wife.


SEPTEMBER 25, 2019


Today could not be a worse day for allergies to hit me hard. I’m at the end of my work on the Deadbeats, finishing has consumed all my Westerns time other than my thought process and some of that too. 


In a little while I’m going to pick up Jared in New Orleans. He’s flying in for the BASTARD’S set prep. I admit to not being as ready as I’d like for this because of many factors, the number one being humans and totally out of my control. However I hope we can make great use of these next three days. 


SEPTEMBER 26, 2019


I am astounded that people continue to drive hours to help with these movies while most of the people who could drive ten minutes don’t care. Isn’t that the irony of life? But I am grateful for these film warriors who spend their time and energy to help me make the movies.


SEPTEMBER 29, 2019


I have been too worn out to write. The three days of set construction and design were more exhausting that most days of film production. It was fun, frustrating, and physically taxing. Beyond productive, it was a study in personalities and ego. Some people can’t stay focused. Some people work so fast that they don’t get the job done well, leaving more jobs to be done in the end. There were long and short arguments, conflicting perspectives, but in the end, I suppose we were victorious in overcoming these personal conflicts to make it happen. Still, it gives me pause. It makes me ponder on how to better work with some personalities and to avoid working with others. 

A picture of the main team that worked on the Bastard’s Crossing set construction for three days.


-Travis Mills