I think it’s a fitting end to my week-long series on the New, New Hollywood filmmaker by talking about Edward Burns. You may recall that Burns hit it big and had the ultimate filmmaker’s dream come true when his indie film “The Brothers McMullen” became a critical, festival, and box office hit back in 1995. Since then Burns has made and/or starred in over a dozen films, including a pretty nice role in Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.” But, despite his Hollywood fame and cred, it’s still hard for him to make films in the old-fashioned “Hollywood” way. Hard to raise money; hard to get studio backing; a pain dealing with studio marketing execs; etc. So Ed has taken advantage of the democratization of the filmmaking process in a huge way.
Since “Brothers,” Ed has directed nine other feature length films. However, in 2007 he did something that made everyone in the biz scratch their heads. He released his 2007 film “Purple Violets” as the first feature length film released exclusively on iTunes. At the time people in the biz thought he was crazy. “What! No one wants to watch a movie on their computer. Or on their iPhone?”
I think it’s safe to say Mr. Burns proved them wrong. As he shares in his Tribeca Film Festival “Meet the Filmmaker” interview, the move was a very successful one financially. He went on to do the same with his 2009 film “Nice Guy Johnny” and his latest release “Newlyweds.” Why go through the pain trying to raise millions of dollars to shoot a traditional “studio” film, when he can spend $25,000 (before post production) and make low to mid-six figures selling direct on iTunes. And with the advent of Netflix and Hulu, additional revenue streams will open up as well.
From RED to the 5D
Ed shot Nice Guy Johnny on the RED. For his latest film Newlyweds he “discovered” the 5D Mark II and is raving about it. He shot it primarily hand held, with available light and a small crew. It’s exciting for us DSLR filmmakers to hear about someone at Ed Burns’ level in the business adopting these cameras. No more excuses people.
Filmmaking Twitter Style
The other interesting thing about Ed’s making of Newlyweds is that he used Twitter to come up with the title and other marketing aspects. He just tweeted for suggested names and input. He has truly embraced the social media world and is using it to his advantage.
Based on that interview, Ed says that this will be his preferred method for filmmaking. Sure, you don’t necessarily get the exposure a theatrical release gets you, but who cares. Doing it this way, he makes the kind of films HE wants to make, he titles them and markets them the way HE wants to, and he makes a huge profit. In my book, that ain’t bad. In fact, that’s pretty freaking awesome.