Catch Craig “Burnie” Burns on the #PirateBroadcast - russjohns

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Introduction 0:04
Welcome to the pirate broadcast, where we interview interesting people doing interesting things where you can expand your connections, your community. #Kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. And let's get this party started.

Russ Johns 0:22
We have another amazing event here at the pirate broadcast. And I just want to thank everyone for being here. Thank you everyone that joins us today. We link we, we go live five days a week and we just want to make sure that you have an opportunity to meet #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. And today we have Craig "Burnie" Burns in the house as a pirate. Thank you for being here.

Burnie Burns 0:51
Thank you so much Russ. I really, really appreciate you having me on and you woke me up. Got me in the shower early and a cup of coffee, so I love it. Thank you so much.

Russ Johns 1:05
Well, what a great day, what a great way to start the day because, you know, I enjoy the fact that we can actually get together, have a conversation and maybe inspire some people to do something more because I know you've been in the business a long time and and I want to talk a little bit about your business because you're in a business that is not only changing as an industry. And it's also been impacted by the pandemic that we're going through right now. And a lot of things are changing. So I know you're hustling, I know you're doing everything you can and I know you're the kind of guy that's gonna #makeitmatter and make it happen out there. So what are some things that you're doing that have changed since? Let's say January 1 of 2020?

Burnie Burns 1:55
Oh, boy, I mean, we all have, you know, the whole world has been impacted, you know, and individually, we've all been majorly impacted. I do not know a single person out there at all. And I don't think there is that their life, their business, their reality has not changed in a very major way. You know, I mean, this isn't just casual change. This is something like, Oh, I don't do business like that anymore. Change immediately. And it is certainly certainly that way in the media industry. And let me just, if I could, most people only intersect what I do through entertainment, you know, yeah, that that always turns out to be the lexicon that everybody refers to. And it's such a shame Because the industry is so much more enormous than that, almost to a point of incomprehension, it's bigger than that. Just and I'll give you a very old statistic, you know, 450 hours of uploads to YouTube, every minute of media content, you know, you start extra. And it's more than that. Now, this was that was from a few years ago. Yeah.

Russ Johns 3:39
it's exhilarating to

Burnie Burns 3:42
at a rate that it's once again, almost incomprehensible. And even more, you think about the amount of zoom calls that went up in march from the beginning of March to the end of March. That alone would be how many how many? Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of hours. You know, all of this is to say that media is for most people they think of it in terms of in terms of entertainment. But you have to open your mind so much huger than that to really start comprehending what is going on. Let me just give you that. Let me answer your question. This is my usual thing. Of course I diatribe on

Russ Johns 4:33
absolutely continue though. I love it's a fabulous story. And I want to know more.

Burnie Burns 4:38
Yeah, you know, what I do is lighting. So I got into lighting and I did that that's that is an art more than a science. Obviously, you're working into new environments all the time. You have different messaging that you're trying to get across all of the time. I'm a very firm believer in that you are not trying to illuminate Uh, the the subject, you are trying to create an emotional backdrop for the story to be told, you know, and that that is true or whether you're doing a photo or anything, you know that that is my job. That's how I've always looked at my job. You know, I was a guy who was so lucky I got into the business I was 40 year old 40 years old became a $50 a day PA. I was in the automobile business up in the northwest in Tacoma, where I know you're from the Seattle area as well. And so I was up there, they bought a company in Los Angeles, transferred me down here for two years. And then we're going to send me to Lafayette, Indiana added a Izuzu plant they had there. And you know, I had been in the big city, I'd been in LA for two years. You know, you can't send the boy back to the farm after that, you know, so I said, Well, you know, maybe I'm not gonna go there and I just literally did not know what I was gonna do. But I figured, hey, if I can't make a living in LA I don't know where the hell I'm gonna make a living you know, right. And so I got on friend of mine just graduated from EFI. I got on as a $50 a day PA, and went into a I came from a world of Vin numbers and automobile parts and people and clients and customers, to this ethereal world of people. Like I couldn't even figure out the decision making process that fascinated me. So I just dove right into it. got picked up long story short, became the big in about 2006 became the biggest grip and lighting provider south of Los Angeles, you know, and so I owned Orange County, San Diego. I mean, when I say I own it, I was the biggest person. Many other providers of course, you know, went into that, and really started studying the industry. You know, it was just like, a guy who is fascinated by something and then you layer on another layer, you're always wanting to learn. I know, you got to be the same way, Russ? So, you know, and so you're layering all of that on top of each other, and became more and more fascinated with the industry and the people's stories in the industry. Therefore, about four years ago, I started something called Burnie's Apple box. And I would just interview basically all my acquaintances and friends and VP's and makeup artists and I talk to them about their story. And through that, you know, you then you gain some notoriety like, I know you've seen off this show, and you become, you know, people think, oh, they know you, you know, so when I'm in Orange County, which is about 40 miles away from Hollywood.

Russ Johns 7:59

Burnie Burns 8:00
That that 40 miles from Hollywood could just as easily be 4000 miles from Hollywood, because unless you're in that bubble, you're not in and I got the greatest compliment. About six months ago, actually, I just had the first of this year I, I met somebody who I knew who he was, you know what I mean? And he came up to me and he goes, Burnie, you're the most famous guy in Hollywood nobody's ever met. So

Russ Johns 8:32
yeah, that is fantastic. And for a lot of people that haven't had exposure, I've done a couple of films. I did audio work and a couple of indie films. Okay. And once you're behind the scenes, and once you see, you know, kind of how the sausage is made, it really changes your perspective on the process, and you're absolutely correct. It's, it's like, it's a process. It's like, this isn't not like nuts and bolts. This is a much different process that we go through, and assembling it and watching it, watching it evolve as it's being there. And your job, when done really well is pretty much invisible to the, to the end result. You know, it's so that's what's fascinating me as all these moving parts come together to just create this emotional scene that just flows and nobody notices anything that's going on. And it can be in the back of it can be in a back alley somewhere. Sounds set, you know, they put up in a couple of days.

Burnie Burns 9:37
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Russ Johns 9:40
So, now that you're a pirate, and and thank you for telling that story. Because I think it's really fascinating for people to understand that. You know, you're you're doing an industry, a completely unrelated industry, dropped into a city that you really weren't familiar with. And all of a sudden, you're you're set I got to figure something out here. You know, the same thing right now we're now we're, we're, you know, 40 years later, we're trying to figure something out here. And so some of the things we're doing just like live streaming now, it's going back to the, to the idea that we can still connect in a different unique way. And the doors have opened up to where it's not just interviewing people in LA in the industry. It's, you can interview anyone in the industry now around the world.

Burnie Burns 10:31
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Russ Johns 10:34
Yeah. So how is that changed your business and how you're looking at at your business going forward? At this point in time?

Burnie Burns 10:41
Well, let me just cover a couple points. No one that I have ever brought on set. When I asked him that question, was this like you thought it was? They all say No, it's nothing like I thought it was when you're making a movie. You know what I mean? Or any project I use movie interchangeable, you know, I mean, usually I say show, but no, it's not. Also I think the other thing, let me just say before I address that, that is that most of Hollywood what people don't understand is mom and pop. You see those studios and you think they make the movie they don't they hire subcontractors and independent people to make those movies and that's their skill, you know, so that just to put that in perspective, but how things have changed and come first of all, let me just tell you this that I adopted Facebook in 2008. And I was somebody who was lucky enough, I took pictures because I was fascinated by the industry, took pictures of all my shoots for the 10 years prior. I had, I was so inept. I didn't even want to create my own Facebook page. I had my editor do that for me, and I had him digitize all of these pictures, you know, of sets and stuff and I'll just post these every day that people say you can market with it, you know, market with Facebook, I'll see if that's the two. And so I just posted, and things are not going anywhere, you know what I mean? And I went to the society, Society of camera operators Facebook page, and I thought these people would like my pictures. So I started just asking for friend requests from there. I went from 125 to 1250 in two weeks, you know, and all the appropriate Facebook timeouts and all that you know what I mean? And then got all these these guys, well, that went nuts. Probably two years after that I was earning $100,000 a year just off of Facebook.

Russ Johns 12:51

Burnie Burns 12:52
Not Not my other business just off of Facebook. That really turned me on to the power of social media and i will say this if you want a strategy for success from here on out, I will say it in three words. Adapt, adapt, adapt.

Russ Johns 13:16

Burnie Burns 13:16
I don't care what it is adapt to it. Yeah, whatever is out there, whatever is in front of you. Usually the barometer is whatever makes you most uncomfortable, adapt to that.

Russ Johns 13:29
outside your comfort zone.

Burnie Burns 13:31
If you're outside your comfort zone, you're in the best place you can be.

Russ Johns 13:34
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. You know, I have to believe that. You know, you're a lot like I am, you can kind of see you got enough life experience that you're, you could see how people are reacting and responding and you can kind of Zig when they're zagging and move around obstacles and a lot of ways because you can actually say, okay, Been there, done that bought shirt. You know? Had a cup of coffee there?

Burnie Burns 14:01
Yeah, been there again, I got it. Something else, instead of there done that. Yeah.

Russ Johns 14:08
Yeah. So, you know, a lot of the movie industry now, you know, the theaters are closed, a lot of people are streaming movies. And like you said a lot of mom and pops a lot of indie indie filmmakers are creating a lot of content that they're searching for places for it to live. And I have to believe that there's, you know, a lot of people that need assistance, need lighting need, you know, sound, you know, all of these ancillary businesses that help them produce this content, whether it's, you know, Hulu or Netflix or, you know, a small series or whatever it happens to be and then all of a sudden blow it up. And so how do you, how do you make those connections now and is that changed or evolving or what's the big sticking points that you're you're working through now?

Burnie Burns 14:59
You know, mostly it's just lack of people getting funding to do anything at this very immediate COVID point, you know what I mean? So that, probably the biggest, the biggest thing. Actually, there's there's no shortage of work in this industry once you're established. And once you've proven what you can do people get pigeonholed in this industry. And I think that's up to the individual not to let that happen unless they want to, you know, there's people that only want to do what they want to do. You know, I'll tell you though, the fact is that, here's what I'm operating under Russ. And this is I think, you know, you will understand this when I'm thinking I am actively trying to unlearn everything I know. That's really the thing that I am looking at right now and thinking that's the poison that's keeping me from behind. It's not the base knowledge Don't get me wrong. It's not this type of light where I put it to get the best look nothing like that. But what was my business process before? And how do I adapt it to what's going on? I'll tell you I just posted in Facebook this morning, I'd encourage "CraigBurnieBurns". It's my personal site. On Facebook. I also have "onsetlighting", which is my sales site. I have "Burnie'sgripandlighting", which is my rental site, all that good stuff, but "CraigBurnieBurns" on my Facebook, and I posted six articles. Okay, I put one up at the top and put the rest in the comment on A.I. the current state of A.I. moviemaking? I think we are going off the farm. I think in a very short order that you're not even going to need an actor. If you're creative enough, you can create that if you can create the dialogue. You can essentially do an entire movie with A.I.. It's close now, but it's not completed yet. Obviously, you know, like anything in the startup period, it's not completed yet, you know? Yeah. So on the horizon, oh, it's on the horizon and this is going to go meteoricly, I really think you know, I'm working now, in a five year window. I think we're far out five year obsolescence window, that business models need to change every five years. If you're doing something to start it, you make it, you hit the middle point, that's the time you should start be looking at a new model. And that, you know, what you have to get down is to the base of what you actually do, and transform that base with new materials, new technology, new ways of communicating, you know, we're in it. We're in a time that, you know, we always take old guys like us, we always think are the young people they know how to do that. I'm finding that's not true. I'm finding that's not true. Yeah, yeah. It's a personality.

Russ Johns 18:12
It's the curious ones that understand the technology.

Burnie Burns 18:16
Absolutely. Absolutely. And we'll fight through it. You know, me, me. I'm an old guy. I lived with the phone. You know why everybody was getting on computers and doing that in the office. I was on set login sandbags. So, you know, this, I had to interact in a way that was very foreign to me. In fact, to this day, I use this my phone is my primary communication source. And I only broke out my laptop here, literally, in March. Really, once the COVID hit. I broke it out as a five year old laptop. I'd had it for five years but never used it.

Russ Johns 18:53
Well, I have to believe and that brings up a great point. And I think that we can both talk about it because We both invested a lot of energy in this is the relationships that we have with the people that are doing the work. You know, the people that are that need help are gonna they got Burnie on speed dial, right? It's like, hey, I need some things. I need an overhead I need, you know, equipment here. I got some things didn't show up. Can you help me out? Bernie? Yeah, speed dial in there. And that's the relationship that you built over long term. And I don't think that I don't think that is going to change. I think

Burnie Burns 19:33
I know that that's even going to be more golden. Yes. Even more golden, you know that.

Russ Johns 19:38
Who can I call that can actually contribute to this outcome.

Burnie Burns 19:45

Russ Johns 19:46
To the technology.

Burnie Burns 19:47
You're dead on. It's the personal relationship that will have the value that has the value, you know, and here I operate under this. I always thought I could do everything I realized now I can do one, maybe two things. Well, everything else I suck at, you know, I just, I've got to go get the actual person's eggs. You think, you know what, as a man to this is another thing you know, as a guy you think, Oh, I know that, oh, I can figure that out, oh, I can do that no, you can't quit wasting your time get over there and hire it out, you know, get the knowledge right find the knowledge. Yeah quit guessing, you know,

Russ Johns 20:26
you know, that brings up a point that I wanted, I think it'd be important for us to discuss is the idea that, you know, as AI comes on board and you're thinking, you know, five years potentially your industry could completely evolve into, you know, a cursor on a computer screen, you know, think about that

Burnie Burns 20:48
That may be that may be a little bit stimulated a timeline but yeah, but yes. Think about this, just think about this alone editing. And boy, I'll tell you what, you know, people do not like to hear this message in my industry. I mean, I'm not like they're not welcoming. Oh, that's great news, Burnie. Yeah, perfect. Think about editing, what is editing? If you have digitized media now it's not on film. It's not on tape. It's nothing is digitized, right? You put that into an A.I. machine. It knows the words it knows the pictures, it knows the kittens, it knows who's talking. It knows what they're saying. Why can't the AI go in there, get get back up, be roll, cutaways, pictures, whatever that are appropriate for the edit and edit the whole damn thing. And people all the editors you know, they go well, you need the personnel you need you need that, that touch that emotional touch and they're right there are completely right. But you know what, how many people in media where you're from and where I what I produce well gladly settle for 90% at about 10,000 bucks less, right? You know, a whole lot, a whole lot, and those people, that's what's going to kill it. So I look at right now what we're going to in media and it doesn't matter which area of media you are or even advertising the market, it's only going to be the top 5% of the current participants that are going to survive in through the new year into the new world. And that's because if they are talented, they have the top talent they know, you know, the difference between the rest of the team and Michael Jordan may only be like, like 3% those are the three percenters they can put that next level on it that makes it a winner, you know, that's who's gonna survive.

Russ Johns 22:59
Yeah. Yeah. And I think also to that point is that ultimately, it's great stories that survive the process. Oh, absolutely. That you know, the human story you can do a film with your camera, your phone even nowadays. I mean, you're shooting 4k with the phone.

Burnie Burns 23:24
And there are movies made with the phone now. Yeah, there are movies. Yeah.

Russ Johns 23:31
And the reality is, and Bernie, you've seen this happen in your industry. It's like, great stories survive, you know,

Burnie Burns 23:40
Great stories survive, and they're all about overcoming. They're all about overcoming yourself, if you will, you know what I mean, and all that and that's what people want. Look, we're a human, you know? Well, let me let me tell you a moniker that everybody in my world You're hearing me say on television, and you put that in essence movies, social media, but television is the best emotion manufacturing machine ever devised by man. Hero. Wow. Okay. And it is you think about it think about why does advertising work because they hit you in your heart every time or they try to, you know, they don't let if they don't let the messaging get away. But the best things are the ones that that maybe even say nothing. There's no words. There's just a feeling and that's it. So that there is nothing without emotion. People keep thinking it's the technology, it's the measure the information. It is not the information. It's not the technology. It's the human contact. It's the emotion. And I will say this, I'll even extrapolate this. We are a highly over emotionalized Society, certainly in the United States right now, I think we're all seeing that. A lot of that comes from a whole generation of people that are my and your age, being raised strictly by emotional responses. You know, and of course, we're ad guys, we're marketing guys. I mean, we're making the propaganda, you know, we're part of the machine. We're part of. Everybody's part of the machine. Yeah. In our country. And and yeah, I'll jump off my soapbox in a second here. In our country, the education system only produces employees and consumers. There are a few chickens that get out from underneath the fence, but, and nobody flies over it. It's underneath. But But I'll tell you what, that is our job and that's what they want the farther away from you get from being an employee or just an abject consumer, okay, and buying into things and buying things that you don't really need but you think you want. That is freedom.

Russ Johns 26:10
That is freedom. That is freedom. And, I love the freedom of what? It's almost a paradox, Burnie because it's part of the machine. But the freedom I feel by creating things like the pirate broadcast that I can just yeah, you are the media. You are the media. Exactly working with listening and everybody is paying attention is that you have a story to tell. And it's typically a story that is about overcoming a challenge getting past and through and around and whatever means hook and crook. You can, you know, get under the fence just like the chickens that you're talking about.

Burnie Burns 26:55

Russ Johns 26:56
Sometimes you get out and sometimes you get moving in that's the story that brings that emotional touch to the audience that allows us to, you know, imagine a different outcome. It's like, Hey, I think I could do that.

Burnie Burns 27:11
Yeah, yeah.

Russ Johns 27:13
There's possibility there's hope in that story.

Burnie Burns 27:16
Oh, totally. And you know what that is? That is really the crux, I always like to say, everybody that's got it. Everybody that got into the movie business, did it in a dark theater. Because there was something happened to them emotionally. It wasn't a logical thing. They sat there and they felt something and they said, I want to inspire like that. I want to be like that. Now. You know, maybe they ended up on Madison Avenue. Maybe they ended up in, you know, cable TV, I don't know. But everybody that wants to be a communicator fell in love with it in that dark theater. And, what I would challenge people to do because if you think about this now, you know, we're a couple of guys in the marketing industry Don't you know, I mean, I'm talking to you as a marketer now. Yeah, we watch millions and millions of hours of content in our lifetimes. You know, it's almost constant in my house. And it has been since I was born in 1951. You know what I mean? We always had a TV. People never question why they're being showing what they're showing. They never actually question it. They hear it. They look at it, they assess it, but they never stop and say, why is somebody giving me that message? Why is someone talking to me in this way, even the format, you know, what, what questions am I not hearing they always hear the questions that are being asked but they never asked themselves, what questions Am I not hearing? You know, that is something that we all have to be challenging our own self responsibility with and, and what we're seeing out there you know,

Russ Johns 29:07
that is behind the question the question behind the question

Burnie Burns 29:11
As marketers we do that all the time. I mean, I am going over there in lighting that morning kitchen scene to really bring you into it you know to make you feel like not that it's your home, but that's the home you want. that's what I'm doing.

Russ Johns 29:32
Burnie likes the desire.

Burnie Burns 29:35
Whoo, I like that. I like that. There's boy Yeah, your your copy guy I can tell right now. Good. I like that. Burnie likes that.

Russ Johns 29:51
Yeah, so nuggets of knowledge, Burnie. This is an insight, a small slice of the pie into the industry that's changing and evolving. I appreciate the fact that you're you're you're making a difference you're making it matter you know you're out on social media when a lot of people in our vintage are hair on fire, I'm not going to touch it, so I appaud you for your efforts. I really respect what you're doing. And I would love the opportunity to have you back on the pirate broadcast to talk about this in the future episode. And I know. I know that there's, we could talk for quite a while and I'm actually I'm involved in a couple of projects with movie right now. You know, "My Golden Blood" is a project that I got going on with Wendy Weiner Runge. There's some other people involved and it's exciting to see the transition and what we can just create out of nothing. Tonight, you know, it's pulls out from the ether and comes down and you have an idea and all of a sudden you're putting things together and you're, and you have to create something, to make it move forward to bring it forward and get other people involved. And there's a lot of moving parts, a lot of moving things. So it's exciting and challenging at the same time, especially in these these times that we're going through.

Burnie Burns 31:18
Yeah, yeah, the golden age of opportunity. I'm calling this because every time I turn around, something's hitting me with another opportunity. And I think if people open up their minds, they can see that and look at it in that way and know this is a great time to be alive. I like to say to and I know we got to go but I always like to say I finally live long enough to see the future.

Russ Johns 31:41
That's awesome. I love that. Well, Burnie, this has been fantastic. I love that we're connected and you're a pirate. I look forward to our future conversations and enjoy the opportunity to share a few things with the Pirate community. If you're not connected to Burnie, get connected. He's on LinkedIn It looks like we had some challenges with LinkedIn this morning. So I'll have to figure that out. LinkedIn is not always like we need, I'm not a hater. I'm not a hater. I'm challenged. And that's all we can do. So, actually, we're here. And as you know, Burnie, #kindnessiscool, #smilesarefree, and you #enjoytheday. Take care. Bye, brother

Burnie Burns 32:28
All right, bye bye.

Exit 32:30
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