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In Jim Cummings’ breakout one-take short film, Thunder Road, a heroically unselfconscious police officer (played by Cummings) takes the stage at his mother’s funeral to sing a cringeworthy, albeit gut-punchingly heartfelt, rendition of Springsteen’s classic tune. The film — which would go on to win the Sundance Short Film Grand Jury Prize — not only paved the way for Jim’s career, but it’s something of a metaphor for what Jim’s career is all about: sincerity, vulnerability, and a whole lot of putting yourself out there. “Everybody’s so terrified to do anything,” Jim told us. “So was I. But it takes doing something to do something. Being persistent is what makes you a director.”

There’s maybe no one more qualified to be leading the charge for independent filmmakers these days than Jim Cummings. Since we talked to him a year ago, he’s gone on to make his first feature, Thunder Road, and win the Grand Jury Prize at South By Southwest. The film is currently sitting at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s already generated $500,000 in ticket sales in France alone. Maybe most notably, though, he and his crew made it on their own — no major studio, no executives, no distributors. It’s an independent film in the truest sense of the word. Let’s just say, he’s fired up about that: