Ed Burns makes “Newlyweds” for $9,000 with a Canon 5D

Published On January 1, 2012 | By Mike Carroll | DSLR, Fellow Naked Filmmakers, Filmmakers, Movies

Independent writer-director Ed Burns in a scene from his DSLR feature “Newlyweds”

[Author’s Note: The quotes on this page are copied from two other articles on two different websites, both of with are accredited and the full articles can be read by clicking on the places marked.]

How long have I been saying to aspiring & first-time independent filmmakers that theatrical distribution is not only dead, it is nonexistent?

Filmmaker Ed Burns became one of the Sundance stars and indie filmmaker poster childred with his $20,000 16mm feature The Brothers McMullena great film with some of the best performances I’ve scene in films. The DVD has one of the best audio commentary tracks with advice for filmmakers embarking on making a film with virtually no money.

The Brothers McMullen was picked up for distribution and went on to earn $10 million, inspiring aspiring filmmakers — or aspiring millionaires — to grab cameras and start making their own low-budget indies. And none of the others made it.

Burns also went on to a career in acting, Saving Private Ryan among his filmography.

A few years back he became the first filmmaker to release a film directly to iTunes with Purple Violets.

He now has a new film called Newlyweds that is not going out to theaters, except for a few select film festivals like Tribeca. His film is being released directly to you in your homes via Video-On-Demand (VOD) and iTunes. He understands the cost of going to the theater as well as the cost of trying to get into a theater and how much money gets chopped up before any of it — if there is anything — every coming back to the filmmakers in the way of pennies.

Ed Burns writes:
“With a simple click of the remote or mouse, movie fans could watch the film anywhere they wanted. I was able to make the film on a small budget all while having complete creative control. Of equal importance, I wasn’t giving a chunk of my profits away to a studio; my team and I were the ones to reap the financial rewards.

“As all indie film distribution companies will attest, the economics of a theatrical release for smaller budgeted films just don’t really make sense. And many of these companies have gone out of business clinging to this old model. The few specialty distribution companies that are left are exploring different models, with a greater emphasis on VOD and shorter windows between theatrical release and digital release. These companies even regard the theatrical release as a loss leader, a way to market the film for its more significant ancillary revenue to follow.”
— For the rest of Ed Burns’ article in The Daily Beast please click here.

“This film was made for $9,000 dollars… No seriously, he made the film for $9,000; $5,000 for the actors, $2,000 for the insurance, and $2,000 for the catering. What Ed Burns forgets to tell excited young filmmakers who think they can follow in his shoes, is that he also owns the cameras and the editing software, lights, c-stands, and the rest of the equipment you need to make a films. Still, $9,000 is $9,000. In today’s world of film, that’s unheard of. Bravo, Ed Burns.”
— Alex Tucker. For the full article and scenes from the movie please go to Around The Networks with Alex Tucker

For more information about Newlyweds and Ed Burns’ other films, and to purchase a DVD of Newlyweds, click here.

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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

2 Responses to Ed Burns makes “Newlyweds” for $9,000 with a Canon 5D

  1. Pingback: Ed Burns Guests On New Sundance Channel Series | Naked Filmmaking

  2. Never mind comparing Edward Burns to Woody Allen, Edward Burns is the new John Cassavetes. Like Burns, Cassavetes would have taken full advantage of the actor friendly and DSLR filmmaking. I admire Burns for charting a different path in his career where he could have easily rested on his laurels of celebritydom and continue to make millions in thankless, unexciting movie roles. Conversely, though Allen’s films are lower budgeted Hollywood films, they are still millions more than what the average indie filmmaker like me has.

    Though I could be wrong, I just don’t see Allen ever shooting DSLR 10 thousand dollar budgeted films and releasing directly to iTunes. Also, like Cassavetes, Burns’ access to Hollywood allows him to summon favors from A list friend for a less than a shoe string budget film. So it’s such a great inspiration, to see an established filmmaker embrace DSLR filmmaking, the “digital wave” movement and return to his roots of independent cinema, like Burn has. Similarly, kudos to George Lucas for endorsing the possibilities of DSLR technology in Red Tails, ditto for Darren Aronofsky for shooting parts of Black Swan on the Canon 7D and TV shows like House M.D. and Mad Men for shooting on the 5D and many others.

    It makes me giddy at the thought that anyone can make a film with technology that’s almost on par with what Hollywood has and how it must send a chill through their collective spine. DSLRs, along with the internet, have leveled the field. Yes YOU can compete with Hollywood studios. A filmmaker today has more creative control than at any time ever. Not to mention control over how your film gets distributed. What once was considered ancillary markets, like VOD, cable, Netflix and online streaming are soon becoming primary outlets for film and TV distribution. A well told story made independently can be as good or better than what crap the status quo is churning out week in and out. You don’t need theatrical distribution!

    Filmmaking is no longer reserved to the few with the financial means nor those with the inside connections. You have a story, you shoot it and you distribute it. That simple!

    “When I talk to student filmmakers, I tell them ‘Read as much as possible. Write as much as possible. Go read (director) Robert Rodriguez’s book Rebel Without a Crew. Get the mistakes out. Write bad. Direct bad. Learn how to tell stories as you do. Find that short film that says exactly who you are and the stories you want to tell. Make it and submit it to the festival process and realize that you may be great, you may be terrible. You won’t find out until you try to get other people to judge your work.”

    Jason Reitman
    Orlando Sentinel
    December 2009

    I’ve read somewhere that with more access to improved, inexpensive equipment and post production software will translate to an increase influx of bad films being made. Because the assumption is that everyone and their mothers are going to think themselves a filmmaker. I say SO WHAT! It can only get better. Moreover it’s that greedy elitist thinking that would like you think so, to not even attempt it. But Hollywood’s got that market cornered already. It’s got a strangle hold on today’s mediocre cinema. They’re afraid the ‘lunatics are taking over the asylum’ again, but this time they’re burning it to the ground.

    Thank you Ed Burns and any game changers out there for continuing to listen to their independent soul in you, inspiring and providing a blue print for the independent filmmaker today and tomorrow.

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