Allison Burnett brings stories to the big screen (Exclusive Interview)

Allison Burnett brings stories to the big screen
Interview by Michael Aaron Gallagher

Allison Burnett
Allison Burnett
When the theater lights dim and the movie begins, it’s easy to be swept away by the fictional world that unfolds on the screen.

But every movie begins with a story – a vision that evolves from an idea to a screenplay, shaped and re-shaped along the way, until it reaches its final form and is eventually brought to life on the big screen.

That’s where writer Allison Burnett comes in. Burnett, who has written for numerous Hollywood movies, has just released a new book called “Death By Sunshine.”

As a New York City resident, Burnett wrote novels and plays throughout his 20s. But it wasn’t until he met a former bank robber who wanted to adapt his story into a movie screenplay that Burnett’s journey led him on the path to becoming a successful Hollywood screenwriter.

“Hollywood is built for people who go out and DO,” Burnett said. “If you sit around and wait for someone to give you permission to do something or the money to do something, years can go by. You have to be really agressive.”

With movie credits that include “Autumn in New York,” starring Richard Gere, “Untraceable,” starring Diane Lane and the recent releases “Underworld Awakening,” starring Kate Beckinsale and “Gone,” starring Amanda Seyfried, Burnett has built a strong resume of feature films in Hollywood.

In addition to his high-profile work, Burnett has also helped mentor up-and-coming filmmakers as they try to break into the industry by providing them with support and guidance. He recently lent one of his plays to director Max Gold and producer Ben Kuller to be adapted into a short film called “Step One” (starring John Fantasia and Ben Palacios), which was filmed in November.

“I really like to help younger writers and young people to break in,” Burnett said.

But since writing for movies was not his only passion, he returned to writing novels because he wanted to share his stories with audiences as they were originally written. Unlike movies, which can end up telling a very different story than the one in the initial screenplay, novels give him a chance to connect with readers and maintain the authenticity of his characters, he said. Still, he admits it is thrilling to see a scene come to life on screen when it is brilliantly acted and well-directed.

“There is something about sitting in the dark and seeing a scene that you wrote in your lonely room put onto this huge screen, which by its very nature is kind of mind-blowing,” Burnett said.

For more information about Burnett’s newest novel “Death By Sunshine” visit

Allison Burnett brings stories to the big screen
Copyright 2011 by Michael Aaron Gallagher

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