The movie “BURN,” which chronicles Detroit’s Engine Company 50, will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray, and digitally, on Tuesday, June 18.
The making of the documentary movie began three years ago as project of California film producers/directors Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez.
The idea was to tell the story of Detroit firefighters on the frontline of trying to save the city by squelching the all-consuming fires destroying Motor City block by block.
It was quickly obvious the film had far more significance than just Detroit and the directors decided to use the city’s firefighters as the storytellers of a much larger, national issue – firefighters give of themselves tirelessly while facing budget cuts, layoffs and daily danger.
As the self-funded project gained traction and notoriety, Denis Leary, an actor from “Rescue Me” and founder of the Leary Firefighter Foundation, became the executive producer of “Burn.”
In a 2010 interview with Firehouse, Sanchez said; “For me, as a Detroiter and an American, I see Detroit at a crossroads. It’s an iconic city. People know it as Motown. They know about Kid Rock. They know about Eminem. Everybody has an idea of what Detroit is … we need to focus on what it can be.”
Because Detroit is an iconic city and is emblematic of what the country used to be and what it can be in the future, Sanchez said it has a story to tell.
And Sanchez and Putnam let Detroit firefighters tell it.
The filming was wrapped up and edited in time for the 2012 festival circuit and it won the Audience Award at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.
It was then released theatrically to over 170 theaters in the following months becoming one of the most successful self-financed films of the year.
And, on Tuesday, those who didn’t see it in a theater will be able to view it digitally virtually anywhere.
What started as a 10-minute trailer filmed in the summer of 2009 is now a critically acclaimed full-length movie.
Those who made the film say it is fueled by seemingly limitless adrenalin and tireless resolve of the heroic Detroit firefighters who serve in one of the nation’s busiest firehouses.
The filmmakers employed groundbreaking technology to take viewers closer than they have ever been — into the fires and into the lives of the men who fight them, exploring human struggles, hope and personal courage in the face of overwhelming odds.
Visually stunning and passionately told, “BURN” takes audiences to the front lines of Detroit, a city where some residents seem to think of arson as a sport.
Detroit has more fires than any city in the United States: A population drop from 1.85 million in 1950 to near 700,000 today has left 80,000 abandoned structures as kindling.
The result is a city with 30,000 fire calls a year — the highest fire-load in America. On average, Detroit sees 30 structure fires daily (firefighters estimate that more than 90 percent are set intentionally), while Los Angeles, with a population of four million, has only 11 structure fires per day.
Filmmakers Putnam and Sanchez were given unprecedented access, and their documentary closely tracks the lives of the firefighters over the course of a full year.
The film was culled from 1,000 hours of interviews and additional footage, much of it shot during actual fires inside blazing, smoke-filled buildings.
The Hollywood Reporter raved “Although [“BURN” features] plenty of harrowing sequences of actual firefighting that register with a visceral impact, the film’s chief emotional power stems from its portraits of several individuals….Despite the sobering situations the film deals with, it nonetheless manages to deliver a hopeful message, thanks to the indomitable spirit and good humor exhibited by its brave subjects.”
New York Magazine said that “BURN” is “full of some of the most haunting fire footage around… introducing us to some of the toughest guys in the world.”