I was inspired by a recent article, The Lost and Unmade Projects of Steven Spielberg, which details the films that slipped through the cracks in that famous director’s body of work. And then I realized that in the last six years, we have already accumulated our own array of “lost and unmade” projects. So for those of you interested, here are the details about several films that never came to be (but might still someday).



Burial Grounds

One of our early short film projects was this drama starring an all child cast. We had a shoot date, a cast and locations. So what happened? Well, it was a victim of the “scheduling conflicts”: the lead child actor couldn’t shoot at the last minute and the entire project fell apart.

It’s hard to explain but sometimes when a project comes so close to being and then falls part, the energy surrounding it just deflates. This was the case with Burial Grounds so unless another director comes along to resurrect it, this one will probably stay buried.




Untitled Christmas Mystery Feature Film (a.k.a. “The Big Christmas”) 

After our feature film, The Big Something, we jumped almost immediately into work on our second feature, film noir The Detective’s Loverhowever during a very brief time I was developing another project that would have been our second feature. The plot involved a Christmas party with an uninvited guest: a private detective. Over the course of a night, secrets were revealed and alliances changed. Our team at the time joked with me that the film should be called “The Big Christmas”. Unfortunately, the script never quite came together into something I was happy with and then Detective’s Lover became our focus.


Voyagers on a Distant Planet

This is a weird one but one day I hope we still make it. The film is possibly our only science-fiction writing to date. It takes place in a dystopian future and follows a woman who reconnects with her natural (and sexual) impulses. Yes, the sexual element is one of the reasons we never made this short film. We could not find a woman willing to play the lead, a character who in the final scene showers with an insect crawling up her naked body: an image which is intended to evoke just how starved she is for touch. If the right lady comes around, we will make this film.

P.S. the project was inspired by this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mxbpc54MXdU



Brave Midnight

A short film we have been trying to produce for years… and it is definitely one of our most emotional stories. Brave Midnight is about a soldier on leave who asks his friend to take care of his wife when he is gone, already knowing his fate in battle. There have been many incarnations: one was cast by myself and nearing production until one of the actors flaked and it fell apart, another was supposed to be directed by one of our regular actors Michael Hanelin. Some things just fall through the cracks but this is one that’s definitely worth digging back up.


The Western (Feature Film)

Before we started to develop the 12 Westerns in 12 Months project, we were planning another film Western titled… you guessed it, “The Western”. However, this film wasn’t a traditional take on the genre; the story actually revolved around the cast and crew from a Western film who spend the night after they wrap production in a bar together. It was my attempt to explore something like a Robert Altman project with close to twenty characters, many subplots and basically a lot going on. And this film almost happened. We had a location: Palo Verde bar in Tempe. We had a cast that included many regulars of Running Wild. However, as I continued to develop the project I felt we weren’t ready for it. Why? Well, I really wanted to explore improvisation with dialog instead of writing it and good improvisation isn’t easy to get out of actors. The concept is still in evolution somewhere at the back of this Running Wild brain…



Pastime (Feature Film)

For a long time, I wanted to make a baseball movie. That ended up being our fifth feature Duel at the Mound (and of course, three baseball shorts in the 52) but before that there was another concept at work… This was more Field of Dreams than what eventually came to be: the story of a mystic figure who gathers together a group of misfits for a baseball game against a Cricket team. It was quirky, offbeat and frankly just never came together quite right as an idea. It was mostly about losing because the first game of baseball was supposedly lost against a cricket team. The idea is one I haven’t lost fondness for.


Game Time

A couple years ago we entered one of the IFP Filmmaker challenges. Kyle had an idea for a script and so did I. We wrote both and ended up liking both! We asked the IFP organizers if we could make two films for the competition. The answer was unfortunately no for these over-achievers. So… we made the other one: Belly of the Whale. Game Time was another sports project but this time basketball. We wanted to produce the film after the IFP competition was over but one of our biggest hurdles was finding a basketball gym and locker room location. Perhaps it’s still in the cards for this film to see the light of day.

Hard Fighter

My favorite of all our unmade projects is like a unicorn I’ve been chasing for years. Written years ago, this is the story of a boxer who meets a transsexual prostitute on the streets after he has lost a fight. It’s about how two very different people can find respect for each other. Guess what the problem has been making it? Casting of course. For a while, I tried to find an actor to dress as a woman for it. Then we tried to find a woman who’d play a man dressing as a woman (not a good idea). Then I tried finding a non-actor transsexual person. I even looked on craigslist and Backpage’s sexual sections. No luck. After that, I got a crazy idea and decided to play the role myself. I shaved every hair on my body, bought stockings, an outfit, a wig and worked on my “female voice” for a few weeks. The day of shooting I was nervous as hell but ready. The actor playing the boxer had to go to the hospital for a medical condition. The shoot was canceled. Yet again, plans foiled and after a month of preparation, it just wasn’t in me to get ready again. However, if I could only make one more short film the rest of my career, this would be it…

-Travis Mills