I’m not typically a rah-rah, go-team type of guy. I’ve never really been one to read something about or by someone and get the sudden gust of energy needed to tackle the day. Maybe I’m just a self-motivated fella or simply an incredible cynic.
All of this is preface to the fact that I’ve recently finished reading Edward Burns’ Independent Ed and can’t stop thinking about how inspired it has made me.
Before we go any further, I’ll confess: I’m biased. Without embarrassment, I can admit that I’ve seen just about everything he’s done (aside from a sci-fi movie that I’d imagine I’m not alone in saying I missed) and—again, without embarrassment—can say, at the least, I’ve enjoyed it all.
If you’re unfamiliar with Burns (first of all, shame on you), here’s the brief background… He rocketed to stardom when his first independent film, The Brothers McMullen, won at the Sundance Film Festival 20 years ago. Since that point, he’s written, directed and acted in eleven of his own feature films, not to mention a whole host of acting jobs on other projects (from the big time, like working with Robert DeNiro and Steven Spielberg, to the this movie came out? like a number of the things he did released from 2005 to 2009 can attest to).
After what seemed like a can’t-miss way to start a film career, Burns found himself in “director’s jail”. Not that he was what you’d ever call a bankable superstar, but he found his ability to get money from studios and distribution companies alike begin to dry up.
Ultimately, Burns returned to his independent roots and began making micro-budget films once again (trust me, micro-budget may even be kind). A string of successful movies in this vein—Nice Guy Johnny, Newlyweds, and The Fitzgerald Family Christmas—has reignited his career.
This book is about that entire journey, which perhaps not-so-ironically, starts and begins in the same place for Burns.
Now, whether or not you knew any of this already is probably irrelevant. In fact, I could argue that not knowing much about him might make his story all the more intriguing.
Of course, for real fans there’s a ton of interesting behind-the-scenes looks at the movies he did make and, perhaps even more telling, the ones he didn’t. But, what’s at the heart of Burns’ tale is the burning desire to chase his passion: specifically, writing and filmmaking, but more obliquely, storytelling.
This is not just a book for those who aspire to write and direct (though, if you fit into either of those categories, stop reading this and go get the damn thing already)—it’s a guide for anyone looking for a little creative push.