We Got This Covered: Was there anything different about playing this particular cop in this movie from others you’ve played in the past?
Ed Burns: The thing that was different in this film which got me excited about doing it is the fact that I’m trying to create this history between these two guys who were childhood best friends. I don’t know if I had seen that in a film before where two detectives who are partners had been friends for that long
We Got This Covered: It’s interesting to see you and Tyler Perry working together because you’ve both have been making your own movies and writing, producing and directing them. Did you two ever talk about your secrets in making independent movies?
Ed Burns: Yeah we talked a lot about that. We talked a lot about the nuts and bolts of production, our budgets, our writing process and working with the same groups of actors which both of us do and the benefits of that. So we spent a lot of time talking about our respective journey and process.
We Got This Covered: You spend a lot of time between doing studio films and independent films, and I see that you’ve embraced a lot of new technologies that other filmmakers have not. I understand that one of your movies debuted on iTunes, do you feel that iTunes has helped independent movies, along with things like Video on Demand?
Ed Burns: Big time. iTunes and VOD have helped keep independent films alive and the reason is that most independent films get released in a platform release in New York and Los Angeles to start and then they slowly build out to a handful of other markets, and if you’re lucky you’ll go to twenty markets.
So that means everyone else in this country, or anyone that lives in the suburbs or a small town, will never ever get to see your indie film in the theater. But even more importantly than that, they won’t get to see the film in the moment when people are talking about it. So for us on the filmmaking side, what sucks about that is, I’m talking to you and your article is going to come out and that’s the moment when we’re doing publicity because we want to raise awareness for the film. But for that kid who lives in let’s say Cincinnati, that film isn’t going to play there. He’s going to read this article and by the time it comes out on DVD nine months later he’s gonna forget about it. But if he knows he can go right there on his phone and rent the movie or watch it on VOD, that’s a game changer for us.
For me, I’m finally making money making independent films for the first time since Brothers McMullen. So it’s been a real good thing for us, and I think it’s gonna get more interesting as it moves forward
We Got This Covered: Going back to Alex Cross, Rachel Nichols (who plays Detective Monica Ashe) is terrific in the movie and you come out of it remembering her in a really strong way. One of your first scenes with her has the two of you getting intimate as much as you can in a PG-13 movie. If I can ask you, how do you approach a scene like that?
Ed Burns: You know, it’s funny because she made the joke (at the press conference) that she hasn’t done a sex scene in ten years. I’ve done two in my career and every ten years they ask me to get in bed. You kind of have to goof on it before you have to get into bed and do it. You’re like “alright this is ridiculous, how are we gonna approach this?”
Especially because it was PG-13 we had to talk about where to put my hands. So I’m talking with Rob (Cohen) about “alright you need to cover her breasts with this arm…” So it’s much more a choreographed, technical thing and then when they say “action” you have to kind of pretend to be in the throes in that moment. If anything, it’s more uncomfortable than it is fun and sexy.
We Got This Covered: I understand that you were offered a lot of studio scripts before you decided to stick with the independent film route on Nice Guy Johnny. Do studios still send you scripts they want you to do, and what would it take for you to do a studio movie?
Ed Burns: They don’t and that’s probably because they know I really wouldn’t be interested (in doing them). I have too many of my own screenplays that I want to get made, and you just can’t make three films a year. If I could I would love to. And the good thing now is that I can make these films on micro budgets, and I make a very nice living now for the first time doing it. But there’s no reason for me to do those studio films. There’s enough people making big movies and there aren’t enough of us making smaller movies, so I’ll stick with the smaller ones.
We Got This Covered: According to your page on IMDB the budgets on your indie movies are very, very tiny. What would you say is the average budget on your movies?
Ed Burns: I say on the last couple of films I made on this micro budget price I’ve been doing, the average budget has probably been about $125,000. So imagine how quickly you can turn a profit on that. It’s a very good business model.
We Got This Covered: What’s up next for you?
Ed Burns: My next film comes out in November, it’s called The Fitzgerald’s Family Christmas which will be out on iTunes and VOD November 21st and theatrical December 7th. In January I’m gonna start a series of 12 short films that we’re gonna shoot over the course of 12 months. It takes a look at a middle-aged man and woman dealing with suddenly finding themselves single and trying to figure out how to make that work.
We Got This Covered: Anything you can tell us about The Fitzgerald’s Family Christmas?
Ed Burns: It brings back Connie Britton and Mike McGlone from Brothers McMullen. It’s a look at seven adult siblings who have to deal with the fact that their father who walked out on the family 20 years ago wants to come home and spend Christmas with the family. Half of the kids think that’s a great idea and the other half thinks that’s the worst idea they’ve ever heard of, and the mother is kind of stuck in the middle. It’s a drama with some comedic elements as they try and deal with what are we gonna do about that.
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Ed very much for talking with us. Be sure to check out Alex Cross, in theatres this weekend.Previous