For the record, Burns said "bigger plot points" aren't pulled from real life — "I would like to have a much better Christmas experience than the Fitzgeralds had to suffer through" — although he draws from environment and family conversations. He even filmed in the neighborhood where he grew up.
The movie's distribution represents another reversal for Burns, who's taken to putting his work online instead of in theaters, a welcome option for independent films lacking an expensive marketing push.
It was a holiday movie void that led Burns to couple the on-demand and iTunes availability of "Fitzgerald" with a big-screen release, starting in cities including New York and Boston.
"If we blow them away, we hit the 'burbs. If not, we'll play in a handful of markets," Burns said, philosophically. (The film is rated R for a handful of expletives.)
Keeping one foot in the past, he just started writing a sequel to "The Brothers McMullen" and hopes to begin production on it in 2014. But next up is something entirely new, a dozen short online films that ultimately will be woven into a single one.
"When all 12 chapters are done, we'll pull them from the Web, recut and play with them and maybe even play with the ending," Burns said. The project, titled "Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall," follows the relationship of a middle-aged couple.
Although Burns has been distributing his work online since he released "Purple Violets" on iTunes in 2007, it's Louis C.K.'s successful online sale of his 2011 comedy special, "Live at the Beacon Theater," that is behind the especially bold approach.
"If it's inspired by anything, it's inspired by Louis C.K.," Burns said.