- Category : Writers-Playwright-script
- Type : MEG
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (11)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX The Alpha 1
American filmmaker of historical documentaries on such diverse subjects as the American Civil War, baseball and jazz.
The son of a professor, the family moved often when Burns was young. His mother died of cancer when he was 11. To escape the pain of her long illness and death, Burns turned toward baseball and his other passion, photography, two interests shared with his father. Fascinated with historical subjects, he read non-fiction as a child. When he was in high school, his father bought him a camera and Burns made his first documentary.
He attended Hampshire College where he dreamt of becoming a Hollywood director but met and worked with still photographer Jerome Liebling. There he also met his future wife, Amy Stechler. Just after his graduation in 1975, he founded Florentine Films and moved to New York, where free-lanced. In 1977, while recovering from a bout with pneumonia, he received a copy of "The Great Bridge," and he approached the author, David McCullough, about producing a film based on the book about the Brooklyn Bridge.
In 1978, he and Stechler moved to Walpole, New Hampshire and continued to collaborate on "The Brooklyn Bridge," finally released in 1981, broadcast on Public Broadcasting System. The film garnered an Academy Award nomination. He went on to produce and direct "The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God," aired in 1985, "The Civil War, broadcast in 1990, "Baseball" aired in 1994, Jazz, in 2001, and many others in the interim and afterwards. In 1991, he received his first of many Emmy awards for outstanding informational series and outstanding individual achievement for his writing; he has received over 20 other awards for his work.
Burns and Stechler married in 1982 and have two daughters.
In January 2007, Burns signed a lifetime contract with the Public Broadcasting Service, essentially committing that he will work exclusively with PBS for the remainder of his career. His upcoming documentary is about WWII, scheduled for release in September 2007.