“Look, you’ve been married for 18 years…if it ended today you could probably call it a success, right?”
Newlyweds (written by Edward Burns)
“I need to know two people can stay together forever.”
Juno (written by Diablo Cody)
Both Burns and Cody are screenwriters of character driven stories full of witty dialogue, and they mix the sacred with the profane in a way that is unique to Catholic raised writers.
Last night I downloaded and watched Newlyweds (written and directed by Burns) via iTunes and then I turned around and watched it again this morning while I worked out. (Both times watching on my iPhone for those tracking trends.) I don’t know what the film will look like in theaters in its limited theatrical run next month but on my iPhone my first thought was “this film looks great.” My second thought was this is no $9,000. film.
So let’s deconstruct that for a second. An old marketing thought is you want to make the most expensive movie ever made or the cheapest film ever made because that gets extra press. On the high end it didn’t hurt Avatar, and while not the cheapest feature ever made Newlyweds has gotten a lot of press for being shot for $9,000. The key word there is “shot.” This is what Burns wrote via his Twitter feed:
“5K for actors, 2k insurance, 2k food and drink. 9K in the can.”
From there the $9,000. took a life of its own. So after seeing the film I did a little checking and here are the numbers a little more fleshed out:And to help Newlyweds be profitable Burns set the tone early by using his Twitter base to keep in contact with his followers: “When I sat down to flesh out my next script idea (which eventually became my movie, “Newlyweds”), I immediately put it out on Twitter, to gauge the interest of my followers. Given the positive response, I then asked them a number of questions during the writing process. I asked for suggestions of character’s names, and funny or interesting scenarios that happened in the first couple of months of marriage. We asked them to write one of the last lines of dialogue in the film. While I didn’t end up using any specific line, their ideas shaped the final scene.” Edward Burns IndieWire (Twitter followers even get a shout out on the credits.) Newlyweds is not rated but there is no question it would be R-rated. It’s not a film everyone will enjoy, but those that know and like Burns’ work won’t be disappointed. Lastly, from a production stand point be inspired that Newlyweds was shot with a three person crew using a HDSLR, with cinematographer William Rexer using mostly available lights and a handheld style, and that the actors did their own makeup and wardrobe—but never lose sight that Burns has been on a long journey to get to this point in his career. His did the work getting his pages written before he had any success. The following quote is about his time before he won that Sundance prize back in 1995 for The Brother’s McMullen. “I knew I wanted to make films. I had written about seven screenplays, sending them out. Getting rejection letter after rejection letter….Does it hurt to be rejected? Hell yeah, it stings. I actually have all of my rejection letters –”
Edward Burns One of the ways that filmamkers like John Ford got so skilled at making films is they cranked out so many an era where films where routinely shot in three weeks because the demand was so great. (Ford directed over 140 movies.) In the heyday of Roger Corman a whole new breed of filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola were given an opportunity to hone their craft cranking out exploitation films. And today in this digital production and distribution era there is a whole new wave of filmmakers coming up making films. Most of these ultra-low budget productions won’t be as good as Newlywed’s, but what a great proving ground to learn. Scott W. Smith