Ric Burns

Director, Producer

Ric Burns is an internationally recognized documentary filmmaker and writer, best known for his eight-part, seventeen and a half hour series, New York: A Documentary Film, which premiered nationally on PBS to wide public and critical acclaim when broadcast in November 1999, September 2001, and September 2003.

Burns has been writing, directing and producing historical documentaries for over 25 years, since his collaboration on the PBS series The Civil War, (1990), which he produced with his brother Ken and co-wrote with Geoffrey C. Ward.  Since founding Steeplechase Films in 1989, he has directed some of the most distinguished programs for PBS including Coney Island (1991), The Donner Party (1992), The Way West (1995), Ansel Adams (2002), Eugene O’NeillAndy Warhol (2006), We Shall Remain: Tecumseh’s Vision (2009), Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World (2010), and Death and the Civil War (2012), a film based on the best-selling book This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by historian and Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust.

His work has won numerous film and television awards including six Emmy Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards,  two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards,  three Writer’s Guild of America Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Writing;  the Eric Barnouw Award of the Organization of American Historians, and the D.W. Griffith Award of the National Board of Review.

2015 saw the release of three more films by Burns.  American Ballet Theatre: a history, which aired on PBS as a part of the American Masters series, celebrates the rich history and legacy of America’s national ballet company. Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History, a moving tribute to the history of disabled veterans, aired nationally on PBS in November in honor of Veteran’s Day.  And The Pilgrims broadcast as part of the acclaimed American Experience series, also in November of 2015.  The film brings to life the story of the men and women of the Mayflower: both the ardently evangelical English Protestants who led the mission, as well as the less fervently evangelical “Strangers” who went with them.

Burns was educated at Columbia University and Cambridge University. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.


Steeplechase Films

Since its founding in 1989 by Ric Burns, Steeplechase Films has produced over 30 hours of award-winning humanities programming for prime-time national broadcast on public television, including Coney Island, The Donner Party, The Way West, New York: a documentary film, Ansel Adams, Eugene O’Neill, Andy Warhol, We Shall Remain: Tecumseh’s Vision, Into the Deep: America, Whaling and the World, Death and the Civil War, Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History, and The Pilgrims. For these projects Steeplechase Films has garnered thirteen national Emmy nominations, five Emmy awards, three Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Journalism awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, and the Erick Barnouw prize from the Organization of American Historians.