Jim Cummings on Thunder Road (2018)

Don’t mind me, this is just me journaling advice from a live Thunder Road Q&A with Jim Cummings… 

  • “The only value that I had was just gathering some people together and actually doing the thing instead of just talking about doing the thing. And so we made this for kind of nothing and I became a better candidate to select for these executives to make the next film. So like you really do have to be making stuff on your own; you have to prove that you can do it on your own because then that becomes a viable threat to executives and their egos where like if you say ‘oh I want to make this movie, and they say ‘no’, you walk out and still make the movie, and they look like an idiot. So yeah, as much as you can prove to the executives that they can be idiots then please do that.”
  • “All of that risk and fear that I had of not doing something was really preventing me from doing anything; it hamstrung me for six years; I should’ve started earlier.”
  • “Y’all laughed and cried at the right times. When I say ‘anywho’ in the funeral, everybody laughs because they understand that’s Jim and the filmmakers putting in a joke in this like skit; you’re almost a part of the writer’s room. This audience is so media-literate that you can afford to put in these jokes.”
  • “Two things: I would say, post it to Reddit once it’s available. The r/filmmakers subreddit is incredible and it’s a great community where you can just say ‘hey I made this thing if y’all like it help me out and share it.’ And then, you can submit to short of the week and Vimeo staff pick through Film Freeway; those are two other incredible things that like really put us and our shorts on the maps. And then, honestly, f**king sound design. Do as much as you can to make the movie perfect before it goes out the door because you’re not going to be able to touch it again and like putting in sound design and slight VFX to clean up, stabilization, things like that will get people who are programmers to pay more attention to it.”
  • “I’d written The Wolf of Snow Hollow and I had a bunch of people in Hollywood turn it down; they were like ‘yeah you don’t know what you’re doing.’ And then we won South by Southwest, and I got responses the next day that were just responses to that same email chain being like ‘hey what’s going on with this movie’, and like the previous email on google mail is like ‘yeah we thought that the characters were weak, we didn’t think you know just like’; it had nothing to do with the quality of the script, it was that I was a better candidate so that if they gave me some money to make a movie they wouldn’t get fired; it wouldn’t seem like it was too big of a risk because I won South by.”
  • “The more that you do it out loud… for all of our films we’ll do a podcast or record it at Zach’s place; it’s like I’ll just have the script and I’ll act out every character, so I played Crystal, the nine-year-old girl in this one, it’s humiliating to listen to, but you get the point. I grew up listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks and Jim Dale plays Hagrid and Hermione in the same scene and the brain fills in the blanks; it’s like ‘oh no, this is just them talking’ and you kind of see it. And so I was like, instead of relying on someone, the written word which I’m not good at, and someone to get the idea of what the meal is going to taste like from a recipe, it’s like, no, I’ll just give them a little taste by recording it and then I get to put in the music and the sound design; it’s pretty janky but it’s like a good way to get an idea of how long the movie is going to be and where they’re going to be on the roller coaster and you can kind of feel it when somethings… when it should be funnier, where you can fit in a joke, where it should be sad, or where you can really nosedive the emotions in the scene.”
  • “If you look up ‘case study Thunder Road Sundance’, it’s available online for anybody that wants to distribute their movie on their own; it’s completely free and it’s a PDF you can download; it’s actually pretty cool. I’ve heard of people walking into a bank and getting a loan of thirty-three-thousand dollars by showing our case study which is the best feeling as an independent filmmaker.”

“Thunder Road” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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