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Tell us a little about the story of Nice Guy Johnny. How did it come about?
Edward Burns: I've always been intrigued by the stories of people who pursue their dreams and what it costs them. Nice Guy Johnny is about a young sports radio talk show host who has a problem; he's nice to a fault. Therefore, he's allowed his fiancée and his parents to convince him to give up his dream of becoming a sports broadcaster. After he arrives in New York City for his corporate job interview, he's quickly persuaded by his uncle to spend a weekend partying in the Hamptons. Over the course of that weekend, Johnny meets Brooke, the woman who convinces him not to give up his dream, even if it will cost him his fiancée.
What makes Nice Guy Johnny a Tribeca must-see?
Edward Burns: This is a movie about the cost of being asked to give up your dream. Two years ago, I walked out of a meeting with my agents who strongly encouraged me to put myself up as a director for hire. While there's nothing wrong with that, I didn't spend my entire adult life fighting to become a filmmaker with a personal voice to abandon that for what might be higher paying but less rewarding work. I walked out of the meeting and thought, "I need to write a script about how tough it is to make that choice." When, if ever, should you abandon your dreams? Nice Guy Johnny is a look at that struggle.
The city is always such a character in your films. What's your favorite thing about filming on the streets of New York?
New York City is the greatest co-star an actor could ever have. Depending on your story and what you're looking for, New York has it. In addition to great locations and a pool of great actors, they also have the best crews a filmmaker could ask for.
What's the craziest thing that happened while making the film?
This was one of those cases where the movie gods were on our side. We were scheduled to shoot for a week in the Hamptons and the forecast called for rain every day. As fate would have it, we got nothing but sunshine. As soon as we wrapped, thunderclouds would roll in but by the start of the next shooting day, it was nothing but blue skies.
Do you prefer acting or directing?
Directing, by far. I lay in bed at night not thinking about the roles I'd like to play, but instead the stories I want to tell.
If you could have dinner with any filmmaker (alive or dead), who would you want it to be?
What piece of art (film/book/music/what-have-you) do you recommend to your friends?
I've turned many people on to Pat Conroy's My Losing Season.
What would your biopic be called?
You are a Tribeca veteran, and we are delighted you are kicking off the inaugural Tribeca Film Festival Virtual. Any shout-outs for first-time TFF-goers joining us from across the country?
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
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