On Demand Weekly’s VOD Spotlight highlights stories in the On Demand industry. Adam Schartoff interviews writer-actor-director Edward Burns about his new film (“Nice Guy Johnny”), his ground-breaking digital distribution path and his recent promotional film tour across America. “Nice Guy Johnny” is available On Demand.
On Demand Weekly: “Nice Guy Johnny” debuted On Demand on October 26. Countless indie fans are going to be see your film on the smaller screen. Do you think movies benefit from theatrical screenings over the television screen in any way?
Ed Burns: I’m a realist when it comes to what has happened to the indie film business. A couple of thoughts about saying goodbye to the theatrical release: first off, when I was a kid in college and I first fall in love with movies, more specifically Woody Allen and Truffaut and Scorsese, all of those I watched, those films that made me want to do this for a living I saw off ratty video tapes on a 12” color TV in my dorm.
To this day I’ve never seen “Annie Hall” projected. I’ve never seen “The Godfather” projected. I’ve never seen “400 Blows” projected. I’ve only seen all these great films on a television. And that’s how I fell in love with these films. So, do I wish that there were still an audience out there that could still support these films theatrically? Yeah, that would be great. But I want to reach as wide an audience as possible. For two reasons: for one, you have a story to tell and you want people to see it. And also, the red carpet has become so cumbersome that you can’t make any money with theatrical.
So by going out with the VOD platform now, we’re going to be able to make real money. As long as we’re able to make real money we can get the next film made. That’s the name of the game.
One thing we’re doing with “Nice Guy Johnny” that I hope we can continue to do in the future is we’re doing a really aggressive film festival/film society screening tour. I’ve already been to Boston. I’m going to Austin and San Francisco. I’m going to Chicago tomorrow. We were in Woodstock and Tribeca. I sit in a much nicer theater than most of the art houses around the country, certainly than the New York City art houses.
ODW: You mean the ones over the subway stations?
EB: [Laughs] Exactly. So I still get my theatrical. I get the thrill of seeing my movie on the massive screen with an audience. You hear the collective laughter. So, I’m completely cool with it. And, something else, when you look at the traditional specialized platform release, my films –and most films now—you start in New York and L.A. and then you platform out. Most of them don’t get past the second or third platform. So if you don’t live anywhere near those eight cities, the eight major markets? Nobody who lives near those theaters saw any of our films in theaters anyhow. Even fifteen years ago. As you can tell, I’m more than over theatrical. Continue reading →