THROWBACK FRIDAY: Ed Burns – How to Make a $9000 Feature Film (The Brothers McMullen)


Please note: Throwback Fridays are archival episodes from the Indie Film Hustle Podcast. After many requests from the IFH Tribe to bring back some of the show’s best episodes, I decided to create Throwback Fridays. These episodes will not be posted every week but at least twice a month…if not more. There are so much amazing info and knowledge bombs in many of these past episodes and I don’t want them to be lost in the sea of IFH Content so I’ll be putting a spotlight on them in Throwback Fridays. Enjoy!

How to Make a $9000 Feature Film with Ed Burns

Many of you might have heard of the Sundance Film Festival winning film called The Brothers McMullen written and directed by Edward Burns. Burns went off to star in huge films like Saving Private Ryan and direct studio films like She’s the One but what you might not know is he has been quietly making completely independent films on really low budgets. How low, how about $9000. 

As with any smart filmmaker, Ed Burns has continued to not only produce films but to consider new methods of getting his projects to the world. In 2007, he teamed up with Apple iTunes to release an exclusive film “Purple Violets”. It was a sign of the times that the director was branching out to new methods of release for his projects. In addition, he also continued to release works with his signature tried-and-true method of filmmaking. Using a very small $25,000 budget and a lot of resourcefulness, Burns created “Nice Guy Johnny” in 2010. Again- he was the writer and director. This is a formula that may intimidate a lesser performer, but he has proven that it works perfectly for his abilities.

The film “Nice Guy Johnny” was released at the Tribeca Film Festival. While he was releasing that film, Burns wrote “Newlyweds”, another film he directed and starred in. He filmed this on a small Canon 5D camera in only 12 days and on a budget of only $9,000.

In his book Independent Ed (which I recommend ALL filmmakers read), Ed Burns mentions some rules he dubbed “McMullen 2.0” which were basically a set of rules for independent filmmakers to shoot by.

  • Actors would have to work for virtually nothing.
  • The film should take no longer than 12 days to film
  • Don’t shoot with any more than a three-man crew
  • Actor’s use their own clothes
  • Actors do their own hair and make-up
  • Ask and beg for any locations
  • Use the resources you have at your disposal

I used similar rules when I shot my feature films This is Meg, which I shot that in 8 days and On the Corner of Ego and Desire which I shot in 4 days. Take a listen to this episode and prepare to get inspired. After you listen take a read of the making of The Brothers McMullen and read Independent Ed. You won’t regret it.

Also, Ed Burns’ DVD director’s commentaries are indie filmmaking gold. He really shares his methods and all of his secret sauce. The DVD are direct cheap and well work getting. I’ll put a list of them below. You won’t regret it.

Right-click here to download the MP3
Download on iTunes Direct
Watch on IFH YouTube Channel


LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

SPONSORS

  1. BlackBox – Make Passive Income From Your Footage
  2. $1 Close Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)
  3. Indie Film Hustle TV  (Netflix for Filmmakers and Screenwriters)
  4. David Lynch Filmmaking Masterclass
  5. Martin Scorsese Film Directing Masterclass
  6. Ron Howard Film Directing Masterclass
  7. Spike Lee Film Directing Masterclass
  8. Werner Herzog Filmmaking MasterClass
  9. Aaron Sorkin Screenwriting MasterClass
  10. Mira Nair Independent Filmmaking Masterclass
  11. David Mamet Dramatic Writing MasterClass
  12. Shonda Rhimes Masterclass: Learn Television Writing from the Creator of Scandal
  13. Steve Martin Teaches Comedy Writing & Acting MasterClass
  14. Annie Leibovitz Masterclass: Learn Photography from the Legend
  15. Jimmy Chin Masterclass: Learn Adventure Photography
  16. Judd Apatow Comedy Writing/Directing Masterclass

KILLER RESOURCES!!!

  1. Six Secrets to getting into Film Festivals for FREE!
  2. FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)

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If you liked How to Make a $9000 Feature Film w/ Ed Burns (The Brothers McMullen), then you’ll love:

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