Anthony Scott Burns used online buzz to get Hollywoods attention and it paid off

Ever since Anthony Scott Burns was a toddler on the Vancouver set of First Blood, where his dad served as.


Ever since Anthony Scott Burns was a toddler on the Vancouver set of First Blood, where his dad served as a military adviser, he seemed headed for Hollywood.

Now the writer/director is almost there.

The 40-year-old recently wrapped production on the horror film Our House, starring Thomas Mann hes attached to direct the sci-fi flick Alpha for Lionsgate and Brad Pitts Plan B company and hes prepping to shoot the indie horror/sci-fi Come True which he wrote, Electric Youth is scoring and Cube helmer Vincenzo Natali is exec-producing in Edmonton, where he grew up, this August.

Edmonton is kind of like a David Lynch movie you would find an ear by the side of the road, he tells NOW at a coffee shop on Spadina. It has beautiful light in the summer. You get what feels like five hours of magic hour.

But long-time NOW readers might know Burns under a different guise.

Eight years ago, the 40-year-old was a rising star in Torontos electronic music scene, with an affinity for classic sci-fi, horror and suspense synth scores.

Under the name Pilotpriest, he played a Future Sound Of Toronto, a NOW-curated event at now-defunct megaclub Circa, opened for Kid Cudi and Crystal Castles and gained viral notoriety when Kanye West mistook his song Body Double for Daft Punks Tron Legacy soundtrack and blogged it.

The only hitch: he had no desire to be a full-time musician.

I never liked playing live. I get super-stressed, he says. Im a guy who has Aspergers, barely socializes outside my tiny social group, yet the world found me.

Burns credits his growing career successes to a mix of luck, hard work and social media savvy. The latter has been especially necessary given his antisocial tendencies.

After Kanye raised his profile in the music world, he continued riding the Tron wave to catch the U.S. film industrys eye.

He produced a Tron-inspired sci-fi short with no money and did all the music and VFX himself. He uploaded it online with no titles, and sure enough, it spread. When he revealed himself as the creator, producers came calling, wanting to know how much it cost and if he could do something similar for them.

It was a calculated way to get Hollywoods attention. That set the ball rolling, he says.

The short eventually helped him land directing duties on Our House, a remake of the 2010 film Ghost From The Machine. Nathan Parker (Moon) wrote the screenplay for Our House, which Burns describes as Party Of Five with ghosts.

Its about a group of siblings who lose their parents and band together to survive a haunting.

The story reverberated with his own. His mother passed away when he was eight, and his teenage years were spent fighting and getting expelled from four schools.

It was very easy for me to imagine the realism of that scenario, he says.

Movies became his teenage escape. At home, he made stop-motion models while listening to vintage film soundtracks from his dads record collection. Hence his love of 70s and 80s electronic-driven scores, now back in vogue thanks to the Netflix series Stranger Things and 80s-referencing films like Adam Wingards The Guest.

Though the retro-synth style is trendy now, Burns has been making NeverEnding Storyesque Italo music for years as Pilotpriest. Pressure to conform to saleable dance music tempos and styles turned him off releasing music professionally, but he is once again working with a label.

Waxwork Records (which has put out vinyl editions of soundtracks for Taxi Driver, The Thing and Black Christmas) reissued his cult-cinema-inspired album, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, on vinyl in April and will re-release his Trans album.

My attitude is, people like what they like, and if you just keep making what you like, maybe youll meet enough people who like that stuff, he says. Thats been the trajectory of all the things Ive made.

kevinr@nowtoronto.com | @KevinRitchie

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