“I don’t want to go to L.A.; I want L.A. to come to us,” said Travis Mills, one of the co-founders of Running Wild Films, a local film company in Phoenix. Mills has made it his mission to make Arizona the go-to place for all film making. He and his partner Gus Edwards, one of the main writers for the company, started Running Wild Films in 2010. Mills believes that Arizona has just as much to offer as Hollywood and that it shouldn’t be overlooked.
Mills spent most of his childhood living Comoros Islands, off the coast of Africa. He was able to immerse himself in the films that his parents had recorded in America and brought with them as they traveled abroad.
“I’ve been making movies since I was 11. There was no ‘plan B’ for me. I didn’t care if I made money or if I was a bum on the street; I knew I wanted to direct,” he said.
Mills is also one of the many directors for the film company but alone he has directed 61 titles including short films, full-length films, a documentary, a music video for local artist Treasure MammaL and a television series. He has produced 63 films and has written 59 of the titles he has produced and directed. All of these films can be downloaded, purchased or rented on the Running Wild Films’ website.
In 2013, Mills decided to make 52 short films in 52 weeks. These films were adaptations of classic short stories from authors like Edgar Allen Poe and Mark Twain. It was a successful project that premiered in February in Phoenix. A few of the films from the 52/52 project were shown around Arizona as well as in Mississippi and Florida film festivals.
“I’m always looking for a challenge; I’m always trying to push the limits,” he said.
To keep raising the bar, his next project is to make 12 western full-length films in 12 months, which he claims is even crazier than the 52/52 project he did last year.
Mills quickly creates low budget, high quality films that highlight everything Phoenix has to offer. He often participates in timed film making competitions. Running Wild Films and Mills have won many awards including, Best Director for IFP “Beat the Clock” Film Challenge in 2012 and First Place 2013 IFP “Beat the Clock” Challenge. These two awards are among many that the film company has won within the four years that is has been functioning.
To help the Phoenix film industry thrive, Mills uses only local actors, crew members and sets. Running Wild Films has screenings all over Arizona that are all open to the public. In addition to indie-friendly cinemas in Arizona, some of Running Wild’s films have been shown at restaurants in Phoenix, including Mariscos Vuelve a la Vida, which is where the 52/52 project first premiered.