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Ed Burns on The Brothers McMullen, finding your voice, and the meat grinder of independent filmmaking

by Andy Meek.


The ad that ran in Backstage magazine back in the 90s gave no indication of the long film career about to get under way for a young production assistant at Entertainment Tonight.

Indeed, the language was unassuming: low-budget, non-Screen Actors Guild movie seeks Irish-American actors.

“No pay. Will provide lunch.”

Ed Burns — the son of a New York City cop, a devotee of Woody Allen, and a cinephile who dreamed about committing stories of his own to celluloid — needed actors, because he’d started work on The Brothers McMullen in his off hours. That’s the debut flick he put together on a shoestring budget of $25,000 that went on to score the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance exactly 20 years ago.

Like that magazine ad suggests, the film’s genesis was unpretentious, but even today, his first attempt behind the camera still represents something of a template that Burns, now 47 as well as a husband and father, has returned to throughout his career. It’s about purity of vision, of doing things his own way, whether Burns is turning heads at Sundance, bringing his many later passion projects to fruition, or having one of his films, Purple Violets, be the first feature film to debut on the iTunes store back in 2007.

Read the rest of this article from The Week.

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