Current Issue / DU Alumni / People

Alums’ feature film documents life on the ‘loneliest road in America’

As a DU student, Mardana Mayginnes traveled the so-called “loneliest road in America” — the Nevada stretch of U.S. 50 between California and Utah — several times each year as he drove back and forth between campus and his home in northern California.

After graduation, when Mayginnes (BA English ’06) and his college buddy Colin Michael Day (BA theater ’06) moved to Hollywood and decided to make their own feature film, Mayginnes already had their location in mind.

“I used to drive this [road] to school every year, and I would always encounter random things that just blew my mind,” he says. “One of the towns has 1,000 people in it, but 20 years ago it had 15,000 to 20,000 people because there was an active mine. When that shut down all the people had to move, so it’s like a modern-day ghost town. It used to be bustling with activity, and now it’s a bunch of broken-down buildings that no one will fix because there’s no one to inhabit them.”

Inspired by Michael Moore’s documentary The Big One, which chronicles U.S. corporations moving their operations out of the country, Mayginnes penned a script about two young men road-tripping from Denver to Los Angeles along U.S. 50. Day plays the lead role of Jamie, a recent college grad whose treatment of women — from his girlfriend to a former classmate he reconnects with on his journey — echoes the way the mining companies treated the small towns along the Nevada highway.

“Capitalism is moving on from town to town, reaping the resources and moving on,” Day says. “Jamie doesn’t necessarily like that that’s happening to these people, but he kind of becomes that with women. He cheats on his girlfriend with the girl from the road trip, then ends up leaving her at the end of the movie.”

Mayginnes and Day moved to Hollywood in 2006 to begin their careers in show business. Mayginnes got a job at a commercial production house, where he met a host of people who had come to Hollywood to make their own films but had gotten sidetracked by the daily grind.

“In L.A. everyone wants to make a movie, but they don’t,” Mayginnes says. “They go and do all this other stuff that does not equal a movie. It’s kind of mind-boggling that they’re all just focused on so many other things.”

The pair decided to try to beat the odds and make their own independent feature. With the help of friend and fellow DU alum Randal Kirk (BA ’06), who provided a state-of-the art digital video camera, and Tony McGrath, a renowned director of TV commercials and music videos, Day and Mayginnes set out to make The Loneliest Road in America, shooting on location in Colorado, Nevada and California. The movie took a month to shoot and four months to edit, at a total cost of around $100,000.

The film started making the festival rounds in March 2010, taking a bronze medal at the Park City Film & Music Festival and nabbing screenings at L.A.’s Method Fest, Florida’s Delray Beach Film Festival and the Reno Film Festival, among others.

“It’s done everything for me,” Mayginnes says of the film. “I get lots of jobs in the commercial world because of it, and once my next feature is ready to go I’ll be able to get funding, no doubt about it. And I’ll get actors as well. They’ll be down because they know I can do it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *