Short number 20 is adapted from Frank Norris’ Two Hearts that Beat as One. The original short story is about two men who fall in love with a woman, fight each other for her affections, and she turns out to be a man in disguise.

Travis Mills’s adaptation is quite different. Three friends are having a beer together and end up talking about a girl they’d like to marry. For Ted and Kirk, it happens to be the same girl they knew in high school. The two end up brawling behind the bar while Mike watches in dismay.


Mills decided to really focus on the fight scene in this short film. Out of the many works he has done and out of the 52 films in 52 weeks, Two Hearts is the biggest fight scene to date. “It’s just not my style to focus on the action,” says Mills.

Fight scenes on film can be challenging work. “It was a slow process. We’d do a couple of takes of a series of exchanges/punches then one of us would go get more makeup. Repeat as needed,” says Michael Hanelin, who played Kirk in Two Hearts. “The fighting itself is technical; you’re trying to look like you’re hitting someone without really hitting them.”

“A fight scene requires a certain degree of pretending,” says Kyle Gerkin (Ted). “When Michael punched me, even though his knuckles landed a couple inches shy of my face, I still had to act as if he made contact. So that felt odd at times, but that’s where things like camera angles and sound effects step in.”

As Hanelin previously mentioned, the makeup was a large portion of the filming process. Dania Blanco did the fight makeup for Two Hearts. “The makeup was strikingly realistic and that helped me with the scene,” says Eric Almassy (Mike in Two Hearts).


“She did an amazing job,” says Gerkin. “We’d shoot a bit of the fight and then head to the makeup chair where Dania would apply the effects of the most recent round of action. Then we’d shoot a bit more and head to the chair again. It turns out, 80% of manly movie fighting is just makeup.”

Filming started at sunset behind a local bar in Tempe called Time Out Lounge. Shooting the fight scene lasted about three and a half hours during the second day of filming.

Almassy and Gerkin had to face additional challenges on set. They had one day to prepare their characters due to outside conflicts with one of the other actors. Gerkin had originally been cast as Mike (instead of Ted) so he didn’t know until the day of the shoot that he’d be fighting and smoking cigarettes.


“Ted smokes onscreen through much of the film. I, on the other hand, had never smoked in my life. I didn’t want Ted to look like someone smoking his first cigarette so I called up one of my smoker friends and asked him to give me a crash course…Anyway I don’t know how convincing I’ll end up looking as a smoker. At one point it took me like five minutes to light my cigarette, which was embarrassing, but that was the best I could do on short notice.”

Almassy had no complaints about the lack of prep time. “Sometimes it’s easier when you don’t have much time. This was one of those cases.”

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