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FILM: Edward Burns' Newlyweds & The New Social Cinema

Much has been written lately about actor/writer/director Edward Burns’ latest film, Newlyweds. The buzz has largely centered around its unconventional approach to production and distribution, which makes a strong case for a new model of indie filmmaking. Burns shot the film over 12 days on a $9000 budget with a Canon 5D Mark II (a high-quality, but essentially consumer-grade DSLR). As he outlined on YouTubeTwitter, and an interview with Mashable, $5K of the budget went to the cast—who wore their own clothes, did their own hair and make-up, and shot around other commitments—and the remaining $4k was split between insurance and food.

That in itself is remarkable, but the film is also notable for its unprecedented use of social media crowdsourcing and digital distribution. Burns involved his Twitter followers in every step of the process, including seeking advice on music and returning the favor with his own advice to aspiring filmmakers. Newlyweds was only released in a limited number of theatres in major cities for a short run, with the bulk of its distribution focusing online through iTunes, Vudu, and Amazon.

All of the above is remarkable and surely has Hollywood studios a bit nervous.

But it would all be for naught if the film itself didn’t also happen to be among Burns’ best work. Newlyweds tells a sweet, funny, and immensely relatable story about relationships between husbands and wives (and ex-husbands and wives), brothers and sisters, and friends. It’s an honest take on the mistrust and miscommunication that can creep into even the most grounded relationships when outside forces—however well intended they may be—get involved.

Definitely worth checking out, both as a celebration of the indie spirit, and simply for the intimate, character-driven story it tells.

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