Actor and director Edward Burns has over 25 films under his belt and credits with superstars like Jennifer Aniston and Tom Hanks, but, like many other success stories, he started out at the bottom of the Hollywood food chain.
It was an early job as a production assistant at Entertainment Tonight and a chance encounter with Sundance Film Festival chairman Robert Redford, however, that set the young director on the road to Sundance and future success.
"Redford was doing the junket for Quiz Show," Burns told ET. "I, of course, was PAing that junket. I had my VHS copy of Brothers McMullen, a rough cut of the movie and you know I had a 30 second schpeel prepared. So the minute the interview ended, he would go to the elevator with his publicist and I was gonna cut him off and hand him my tape... Fortunately for me, Redford looked at it and you know, we got the call that we were in."
Burns' debut, The Brothers McMullen won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1995, and the movie’s success helped launch his career as actor and director.
"It was that moment," Burns reflected. "My life would never be the same after getting that award."
Burns admitted to ET that "it’s a lot more fun on this side than hauling lights for you guys," and offered his advice to any aspiring stars.
"Be passionate about it and be tenacious because that's what is required," the director advised. "If this is what you want to do you’re going to figure out a way to do it."
Burns is currently writing, directing, executive producing, and starring in cop drama Public Morals for TNT. His new book on the film industry, Independent Ed, is in stores now.
The Sundance Film Festival has been a touchstone of the film industry since its inception in 1978. See why the stars love the Utah festival so much in the video below.