THUNDER ROAD behind the scenes

I wrote this film by speaking it out loud in my car a hundred thousand times on my drives to work. I was able to get through three full rehearsals in each direction. I practiced it for a month. I actually started driving safer because I was so worried that I would die before I could film it. I was thinking a lot about life and love and legacy and the police and The United States and Bruce Springsteen and what it meant to be good and loving person. It's all I could think about for a long time and that turned into this film.

I was a film producer for years, but I had wanted to make something like the movies that I loved that made me laugh and cry at the same time, like Summer Heights High and INSIDE OUT. I hadn't made something of my own in 5 years, and I was generally disappointed by the quality of the films and online videos that were getting shared and that eventually became ambition. I thought I was a decent actor, and I honestly just wanted to show off, so I put my money where my mouth was. I had gone through a divorce a year and a half prior so I sold my wedding rings to fund Thunder Road, and it was the second best decision that I ever made.

Me in 2015

I had always wanted to work with Drew Daniels, this Director of Photography that shot one of the best films of the year, KRISHA, and we were both in LA and I asked him if he'd be interested in working on this short about a funeral. I sent him a rehearsal tape of me doing an early version of the monologue and he said yes and I thought, oh God, now it's actually happening.

We spent 3 weeks prepping for it. My producers Mark Vashro, Jennifer Fink, Benjamin Wiessner, and JP Castel were awesome and they allowed me to focus solely on the performance and the pacing of the comedy and drama of the film. We shot it in 6 hours in Altadena on the 10th of October, 2015. We shot 6 full takes of it, 2 we had to cut short because we all started laughing. The deadline for Sundance was very near. I submitted a rough cut, it was a single take so I just submitted the take that I preferred. A month later, I got a phone call from the Sundance and almost fainted. Sundance had always been this unachievable castle in the clouds and they were telling me that something that I had written on my commutes to a full-time job had been accepted. I never dreamed it would happen. Then my writing partner, Dustin Hahn, suggested that we write and produce a web-series about me having a mental breakdown while we were at the festival and make people think it was real.

PJ, Me, and Dustin at Sundance

We roped our actor friend PJ McCabe into the project and drove to Park City, and here's what that craziness turned into:

Since the festival, Dustin and I wrote and directed a six-episode series for Fullscreen of single-takes that follow 6 more characters in the 10-20 most important minutes of their lives (which will be on Fullscreen later this year). We also just wrapped production on a short film called Us Funny that was written by Julia Bales that we kickstarted, and now we're trying our damnedest to make a TV show about astronauts.

-Jim Cummings / @jimmycthatsme

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