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Ambitious year long project celebrates completion

(left to right) James Alire, Boban Gligoric, Parco Richardson, and Travis Mills
(left to right) James Alire, Boban Gligoric, Parco Richardson, and Travis Mills
photo courtesy of Running Wild Films

What does a group of indie filmmakers do when they’re finished filming their biggest project to date? First, they sleep. Then they celebrate with a film festival showcasing their work. Running Wild Films along with 5J Media filmed one short film per week during 2013. The culmination of their hard work is a three day festival February 7-9.

The 52 Films 52 Weeks project is one of the most ambitious projects in Arizona independent film making, based on the massive dedication of resources, as well as the subject matter. Each film is an adaptation of a classic work, such as Edgar Allen Poe's Berenice and Dostoevsky's A Little Hero. The stories are worked into the format of a modern day short film. At its core, each film honors the spirit of the original work while translating its story for today's film-goer.

Director Travis Mills has made it his priority to create a sustainable independent film movement in Arizona sourcing only local talent and crew. He specializes in making films on a shoestring budget, leveraging creativity and resolve instead of dollars. Mills set out to make the 52 Films to show that with the means at hand - talented actors, affordable equipment, and creativity - great quality films can be made anywhere.

To accomplish its goals, Running Wild Films went to the local film community. Their Kickstarter campaign reached the $12,000 mark, giving them about $200 per film to use for equipment, food and props. The majority of cast and crew volunteered their time. What they lacked in funds, they made up for in determination.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this project is that many film making careers were born in its course. Under Mills’ supervision, student filmmakers as well as seasoned experts have expanded their abilities and learned different roles, with the project serving as an intensive filmmaker training. Several of the crew are seasoned, and the rookies were able to learn from them – and from their mistakes. Near the conclusion of filming, Mills admitted that even he learned more than expected.

The 52 Films 52 Weeks project would not have happened without the involvement of well-known local talent like Michael Hanelin, James Alire/5J Media, Michael Coleman, and Amber Michelle Davis.

Mills hopes to put Arizona on the film making map with this project. He reflects that “There have been some really difficult productions to get through, but I believe this kind of project is possible for anyone to take on, whether they’re in Atlanta or India.” Maybe it could be done anywhere, but this time it was done in our home state, showcasing our own talent. The 52 Films / 52 Weeks Festival is a celebration of ambition in the independent film community. It is open to the public, with ticket sales and more information found here.

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