We’re almost halfway done with our 52 films in 52 weeks! Last week, Running Wild Films finished short 22 out of 52, Two Gallants by James Joyce (adapted by Travis Mills). Mills acted alongside Michael Coleman on Mill Ave in Tempe. I decided to interview Mills to give us an inside look into Two Gallants.
Why did you cast yourself in this role?
Mills: I thought it would be interesting playing a role against my type. Leonard is definitely not me and I knew it would be a challenge.
Did you write it with yourself in mind?
Mills: There are several projects I’ve written with the pairing of Michael Coleman and myself in mind. It did occur to me that this might be a good chance to appear on screen together.
Since you’ve worked with Coleman on a few other projects, what is your chemistry on set like?
Mills: We’ve worked on quite a few films and we’re friends. We can be honest with each other about weaknesses and strengths. We can also push each other to get the right thing. Unfortunately, when I’m acting and directing, it’s hard to concentrate on his performance (from a director’s perspective) without losing sight of my own (as an actor).
Mills: I hope these answers aren’t boring…
Me: Haha not at all!
I imagine it’s difficult acting in and directing a film all at once. Can you describe it?
Mills: Well, your attention is split between the two. You know what you want but doing that on screen is a different matter. You can’t waste a bunch of time reviewing takes. Besides, like I said about Coleman, it’s hard to pay close attention to the other actor’s performances. For some reason when I took the lead in Detective’s Lover (our second feature) it wasn’t as difficult. But I feel that perhaps I am putting more pressure on myself now as a director and actor so balancing both of those tasks at once is harder.
Many of your adaptations don’t stick to the story line of the original short stories, but Two Gallants does, for the most part. Why did you add the scene with the girl and Leonard?
Mills: The fantasy scene?
Mills: I’ll tell you the truth. I wrote 52 scripts in almost 52 days. I don’t remember why I added that scene. I followed my instinct with the adaptations. But I do feel that it breaks the beginning and end of the story up nicely and really shows Leonard’s true self. On set we actually removed all the dialogue for that “fantasy” scene so it is even more abstract and I feel a good visual break from the rest of the movie’s chatter.
Me: After reading the original, I can see why you added it. It gave Leonard’s character more depth than the short story.
The story Corey tells Leonard in the opening scene seems like it’s true. Is that a story of yours or a friend…?
Mills: It’s a true story of mine. That (or something close to that) happened to me at the wrap party for our first feature, The Big Something.
I guess you’ll have to wait and hear the story when the short is released…