There is no need to rush out to the movie theater or your nearest Redbox if you want to see local filmmaker Travis Mills’ “The Big Something.” The first feature film from his production company, Running Wild Films, is available to watch on your computer at any price you wish to pay.
“A lot of people complain about how much it costs to see a movie in the theater or how much it costs to rent or buy a film, so we decided, ‘Well, let’s just let them decide for themselves,’” Mills said. “The idea is that they pay for what they think it’s worth to watch the film. It’s there for their entertainment.”
The model that Mills and his Running Wild partner, Gus Edwards, adopted is similar to what musicians such as Radiohead have done in the past with their music. Viewers can pay anywhere from a penny to $20, Mills said, and can download or stream the movie.
The concept is right in line with Mills’ outlook on film distribution. He doesn’t make movies with Hollywood ambitions, and prefers to explore the vibrant film scene of the greater Phoenix area, he said.
Born in Ecuador and raised in Africa, Mills came to Arizona and studied film at Arizona State University. He soon teamed up with Edwards, a retired ASU professor, and the two began Running Wild Films in June 2010. Mills began making a short film nearly every month, but was inspired to make “The Big Something” after years of working at countless record stores in the area.
“The Big Something” is a comedic murder-mystery that takes place at the Tracks in Wax record store in Phoenix along with various locations throughout the Valley, such as the Q & Brew pool hall and Gold Bar Espresso in Tempe.
The $2,000 film was shot in 14 days and was based on an array of interesting coworkers and customers that Mills encountered while working in record stores.
“It has sort of an old slapstick vibe to it with lots of eccentric characters,” Mills said. “It’s a little bit of a throwback to the screwball comedies of the ’30s and ’40s, and at the same time it has a modern, hipster vibe.”
Mystery continues to be a common theme within his films, Mills said. He plans to release his next movie, “The Detective’s Lover,” this year, and hopes that his fellow filmmakers will continue to be innovative in a constantly evolving industry.
“I think it’s important that they embrace new technology and new directions because that’s the way that things are going,” Mills said. “The movie business is changing, especially for independent filmmakers, and I think they need to pioneer new ways of working. If we don’t do it, then who else will? At least some of us need to take those chances and figure out what’s going to work.”
To learn more about “The Big Something” and Running Wild Films, visit www.runningwildfilms.com.
• Patrick Ryan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.