With his swift navigation of the low budget indie-film waters, Edward Burns has become a great inspiration for DIY filmmakers. Now in the age of Instant Netflix, Burns is taking his control over his films even further: he is going to start distributing his low budget films himself, and without an eye on a theatrical release. His new film, Nice Guy Johnny, which is budgeted around $25,000, will be released to iTunes, Netflix, Playstation 3, etc. starting October 26th. The appearance of the film at this year's Chicago International Film Festival would mark one of the only times the movie would play in an actual theater.
When I talked to Burns on the Red Carpet at the Chicago premiere of his new film, Nice Guy Johnny, we discussed his tactics towards making the movies he wanted, and what he would do if I personally wrote him a big check.
Has making low budget movies now become more of a preference? Or if I wrote a fifty-million check would you be interested?
If you wrote a fifty-million check, yes. But five million, no. If it was five million with no strings attached, that'd be a different deal.
If you could make the movie you wanted.
There is no such thing as five million dollars with no strings attached. So the preference absolutely is to make these films the way I made this film. We made this film with $25,000 as well. I still finance that, which gives me complete creative control. I do like to collaborate, but I like to collaborate with people of my choosing. My director of photography, my producer, my cast. So you're a financeer who I have to listen to, given that they wrote the check. I'm not gonna say I'm never gonna go back and do that, but I have the next three films that I want to do budgeted under $100,000. That'll get me through the next three years. I'll take a look at the indie-film landscape then, and see where we are.
Are you going to distribute them like Nice Guy Johnny, by using Netflix, iTunes, Playstation 3, etc?
I really think theatrical is dead for me. If we're gonna do theatrical, I have to sell the film. And when I sell the film I am no longer in control of the marketing. I lose control of the film. The only thing is that in success, you don't get to participate. They do. The guy that bought the film. So now we get to have a different level of control. The creative side, and then also a different level of control when we sell it. And we're gonna make a nice small chunk of change which will enable me to hopefully be back here next year with a new film.