• Film director Jim Cummings to put his ‘Thunder Road’ script up for auction as NFT

  • Filmmaker Jim Cummings is a multi-faceted filmmaker who wrote, directed, edited and starred in his first film, Thunder Road. Now, he adds “NFT Creator” to that list.

    He is auctioning off a personal copy of his Thunder Road script on OpenSea as an Unforgivable Token (NFT) with stains, coffee stains and scribbled notes.

    “I just thought, I haven’t seen anyone really do this within the feature film realm,” he told Decrypt. “I had a thing sitting in my apartment that was incredible; flipped it open and it had all these handwritten notes of, like, half of my stupid ideas that ended up in the movie. I was like, ‘Oh, this could be a cool thing. I see stuff like that at Sotheby’s all the time. Why don’t I try to share it at an auction and then have it help fund some of our films, or some of my friends’ films?”

    He also took a page from Damien Hirst’s book; NFT purchasers will have the option to destroy the physical script if they choose to do so. “I was like, ‘Well, if someone really insists on having exclusive access to the original copy, I’m happy to rip it up or burn it,'” he says, likening the process to Banksy’s self-destructive artwork.

    “I think that’s the way it should be, that we should look at these things as not necessarily permanent, but exclusive.”

    Funding films with cryptocurrency

    As someone who is well-versed in film financing, and someone who has been investing in cryptocurrencies “for the last year and a half,” Cummings is curious about the possibilities that cryptocurrencies present for film financing.

    Thunder Road was partially funded on Kickstarter, and his latest film, Beta, was partially funded through a crowdfunding campaign – similar to crowdfunding, except that contributors received a portion of the profits instead of a DVD and a T-shirt.

    Cryptocurrency, he suggests, could help streamline the process.” With that kind of success, I can only imagine greenlighting a film, or getting a pool of investors from cryptocurrency or blockchain into a film and then producing it immediately. That kind of investment is so effortless and so much easier than the tedious process of spending three years trying to get financing in a more classic, traditional way.”

    He added that filmmakers are already experimenting with cryptocurrency financing.” I know people who are doing this; for example, I know that Macon Blair’s new movie is a film that was financed through Bitcoin. He went out of his way to make sure that’s how it was financed.”

    The Swiss film that used blockchain to turn fans into investors

    However, Cummings is somewhat skeptical about using blockchain and NFTs for film distribution. While he’s excited about the possibility of selling automatic residuals from NFTs, ultimately he believes that “blockchain rights” for films “are just a different licensing aspect – blockchain is its own form, just as theaters are the same as streaming.”

    He added that he’s “convinced that the powers that be will try to screw over independent filmmakers and independent creators and, you know, incorporate it into boilerplate contracts, so they own everything.”

    DAO Film Studios

    More intriguing is the idea of creating a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) to produce the film, which Cummings describes as “clearly the future.”

    DAOs have been used to create everything from fashion brands to perfume companies; so why not use a DAO to make a decentralized film studio?” It’s basically a hedge fund you can run and then have it be a faculty for group decision making. I don’t think there’s anything weird about that; it’s basically what a studio already does.”

    Plus, he adds, the structure of DAO is similar to the collaborative process filmmakers have become accustomed to.” When we make a film, we send it to the hive mind of the talented filmmakers in our circle and say, ‘Am I crazy? You know, David Gordon Green or Trey Shults would be like, ‘Who can I send this to? Who can actually review this thing and say, this part sucks, make it better? I think really, it’s a pretty normal progression of doing anything these days.”

    In the short term, Cummings has a whole collection of material from his past films that could symbolically serve as NFTs for a new generation of digital film memorabilia collectors.

    “We have holes, we have things that I would never release to the public, and I’m terrified of having things from all of our films, like scenes that we didn’t put in. I think it’s like having a clean future working with those film collectors, or working with people who can benefit from it.” He hopes to find collectors who are “interested in preserving this stuff, but who can also benefit from it – learn from what it can tell them.”

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