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Burnie Burns

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Burnie Burns
Burnie Burns' 2014 VidCon Keynote - cropped.jpg
Burns speaking at VidCon 2014.
Born Michael Justin Burns
(1973-01-18) January 18, 1973 (age 42)
Rochester, New York, United States
Occupation Actor, writer, film producer, film director
Years active 2003–present
Employer Rooster Teeth
Spouse(s) Jordan Burns (m. 2000; div. 2011)
Children 2

Michael Justin "Burnie" Burns (born January 18, 1973) is an American writer, actor, director and producer living in Austin, Texas. He is a co-founder, former chief executive officer, and current creative director of Rooster Teeth. He is noted for his contributions in machinima, a form of film-making that uses video game technology in its production,[1] and also works with animation and live action.[2] Burns is also known for his work in the hosting and podcasting field.

In April 2003, Burns, along with several friends and co-workers, created the Internet Machinima series Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles. Filmed using the video game Halo, Red vs. Blue was acclaimed for its humor and originality, making Burns an Internet celebrity.[3] His success allowed him to co-found the production company Rooster Teeth.[4] After the immediate popularity of Red vs. Blue, Burns attracted the attention of video game company Electronic Arts, who asked him to create a promotional series using their upcoming game, The Sims 2. The result was The Strangerhood. Burns also premiered P.A.N.I.C.S., a mini-series that utilizes the F.E.A.R. game engine. In 2015, Burns will star in the science fiction comedy film Lazer Team, which he co-wrote.

As one of the innovators in the field of machinima, he has made guest appearances at the Penny Arcade Expo, San Diego Comic-Con International, Sundance and The Sydney Film Festival.[3][5][6] For his work on Immersion (2010), a live action series that tests video game tropes in the real world, he has been nominated for an IAWTV award in the "Best Hosted Taped Web Series" category.[7] He was named one of the "Top 25 Digital Stars" by The Hollywood Reporter in 2015.[8]


Burns was born in the Rochester, New York area and grew up in Houston, Texas.[9] His father was a Physics professor who worked on the Desertron Super Collider. He is one quarter French-Canadian.[10] The nickname "Burnie" was given to him by an Alief Elsik High School senior to separate him from the many Michaels in his class. Burns' determination to pursue a medical career led him to become a member of HOSA. Half of his senior year consisted of clinical rotations at Southwest Memorial Hospital.[10]

After high school, he attended The University of Texas at Austin,[4] where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science.[11] While there, Burns got his start in video production by volunteering at K29HW-D, Texas Student Television. During his time with TSTV, he founded Sneak Peek, the longest-running student television program in the world,[12] in which he reviewed films and conducted interviews with guests such as Adam Sandler.[13]

Burns went on to become the president of the tech support company teleNetwork Partners,[14] and eventually broke out to form his independent company Rooster Teeth. He was married to Jordan Burns in August 2000 and divorced in December 2011. He currently resides in Austin, Texas and is an award-winning member of the International Academy of Web Television.[15]


Main article: Rooster Teeth

In his final year of university, Burns was intent on making a movie. Joel Heyman and Matt Hullum, who were roommates at the time, agreed to help, with the former agreeing to star and the latter helping write, produce and direct. They shot The Schedule (1997) over a three-month period on 16mm film for $9,000.[16] Burns became frustrated with the difficult distribution process and the film only screened in a few festivals. Soon after, the trio split ways. Heyman and Hullum went to Los Angeles, while Burns accepted a position at a local tech support company.

There, he met his co-workers and future Red vs. Blue collaborators Geoff Ramsey and Gus Sorola. In June 2002, Burns teamed up with his colleagues to create their first viral video, a Mac Gamer Switch parody.[17]

"That moment is probably the single most important moment in the history of this company. Even more so than when we put the first video of Red vs. Blue online. That's when we developed a lot of the early strategies... that's why to this day we still have a website, we still have our own presence on there, which we think is an important part of what we do."[18]

Burns attributes "two vectors that came together, the movie guys and the tech guys," as being a catalyst for their success. Their next project would be Red vs. Blue, which debuted April 1, 2003. After the first season of Red vs. Blue, Burns, voicing the character of Church, became a celebrity in the machinima community. As the director, writer, and lead actor of the series, he is the driving force behind the series. His series earned three awards at the 2003 Machinima Film Festival – Best Picture, Best Writing, and Best Independent Machinima Film – and was nominated for three others.[19]

The series completed its original five season 100-episode run on June 28, 2007, collectively known as the Blood Gulch Chronicles. Subsequent seasons were retooled with The Recollection Trilogy for seasons 6-8 (Reconstruction, Recreation, and Revelation), and The Freelancer Saga for seasons 9 and 10. Since season eleven, which premiered on June 14, 2013, Burns handed directorial and head writing duties to Miles Luna.

Burns regularly attends conventions featuring Red vs. Blue and has made several appearances on G4techTV. Some of the appearances he has made include: Comic Con San Diego, Armageddon, New York Comic Con, SXSW and his own convention, RTX, which he co-founded in 2011. He also appeared on the Discovery Channel mini-series "Rise of the Video Game" along with Sorola. He also makes frequent appearances on the The Rooster Teeth Podcast along with Ramsey (formerly) and Sorola.

In popular culture[edit]

Burns is the owner of and was approached by the city of Burnie, Tasmania to relinquish access to it. The incident was recounted first on The Rooster Teeth Podcast and later popularized in a Rooster Teeth Animated Adventure.[20]

Burns has made an appearance in the webcomic by Penny Arcade.[21]


Year Title Credits
Actor Director Writer Producer Other
1995 Porked Yes No No No No
1997 The Schedule No Yes Yes Yes No
1999 The Great Man from the South No No Yes No No
2003–present Red vs. Blue Church, Lopez, Tex, O'Malley, Red Zealot (voices) Yes Yes Yes Also functioned as creator cinematographer, editor, sound designer, visual effects
2004–06 The Strangerhood Griggs, Tovar (voices) Yes Yes Yes Also functioned as creator
2005 PANICS Bravo 1, Alpha Team commander (voices) No No Yes No
2007 Code Monkeys Blue Leader No No No No
2007 Halo 3 UNSC Marine (voice) No No No No
2008 Supreme Surrender No No Yes Yes No
2009 Captain Dynamic No No Yes Yes Also functioned as creator
2009–present Rooster Teeth Shorts Himself No Yes Yes Also functioned as creator
2010–2014 Immersion No No No Yes Himself (host)
2011 O Brave New World Himself No No No No
2011–present Rooster Teeth Animated Adventures No No No No Himself (voice)
2012 Halo 4 Church, Vic (voices) No No No No
2012 Minecraft: The Story of Mojang No No No Executive producer No
2012–2013 The Gauntlet No No No No Himself (host)
2013 Video Game High School Board member No No No No
2013–present RWBY Detective #1 No No Executive producer No
2014 YouTubers React No No No No Himself
2014 @midnight No No No No Himself
2014–present Ten Little Roosters Himself No No Executive producer No
2014–present X-Ray and Vav No No No Executive producer No
2015 Million Dollars, But... Himself No Yes No Himself
2015 Hit Officer Harris No No No No
2015 Slash Mr. Snow No No No No
2015 Lazer Team Hagan No Yes Executive producer No


  1. ^ "Theater: Red Vs. Blue". Wall Street Journal. April 9, 2004. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Teeth Introduces Captain Dynamic To City of Heroes". 
  3. ^ a b "ONA Austin: Producing Great Video for the Web". Online News Association. April 23, 2012. Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Weldon, McKenzie. "Burnie Burns Kicks Off Mass Comm Week". The University Star. Retrieved May 6, 2012. [dead link]
  5. ^ Cowell, Jesse (March 31, 2010). "Jeskid TV Episode 61". Retrieved May 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Rooster Teeth's Burnie Burns Talks Machinima at Sydney Film Festival". May 20, 2008. Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  7. ^ "International Academy of Web Television Announces Nominees for the Inaugural IAWTV Awards". IAWTV. December 14, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2012. [dead link]
  8. ^ "THR's Top 25 Digital Stars". The Hollywood Reporter. July 10, 2015. Retrieved July 17, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Rooster Teeth Podcast No. 82". Rooster Teeth Productions. October 6, 2010. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "Rooster Teeth Podcast No. 167". Rooster Teeth Productions. May 23, 2012. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Rooster Teeth Podcast No. 145". Rooster Teeth Productions. December 12, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  12. ^ Edson, Miranda (December 21, 2011). "TSTV February Newsletter 2012". TSTV. Retrieved February 21, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Burnie Burns Interviews Adam Sandler for Happy Gilmore". TSTV. February 20, 2012. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Burnie Burns Official LinkedIn Page". Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  15. ^ Rhodes, Paula (January 28, 2012). "2012 IAWTV Awards Winner Interview for Best Animated Series: Red vs. Blue". IAWTV. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Rooster Teeth Podcast No. 107". Rooster Teeth Productions. March 30, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Mac Gamer Switch Parody". Rooster Teeth Productions. December 3, 2004. Retrieved May 20, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Rooster Teeth Podcast No. 107". Rooster Teeth Productions. March 30, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Machinima Awards 2003 Results". Machinima, Inc. October 26, 2003. Retrieved April 15, 2006. [dead link]
  20. ^ "Rooster Teeth Animated Adventures – Statue". Rooster Teeth Productions. September 11, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Red Vs Blue Vs Decorum". Penny Arcade. August 31, 2005. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 

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