Five Sisters and “First Turn”
Gabrielle, Jennifer, Maria, Charity, and Ursula Burton are not only blood relatives; the five sisters work together running a film production company called Five Sisters Productions. Producing together calls on the five siblings family dynamics of inner democracy, where everyone in their sisterhood has an equal vote, and then speak as one voice. It worked as children, and it works for them as artists. Many people have asked about this, so here’s the scoop:
Growing up with a household of seven (Mom and Dad included) presented their parents with a challenge of monitoring sibling arguments, and, later, having both satisfying jobs and family life. This led to the issue of how to divvy up household tasks and responsibility. So, Dad and Mom created a solution.
Together, they set-up a system called First Turn. The sisters parents, Gabrielle B., and Roger, assigned each daughter a day of the week (Maria was Monday; Charity, Friday, etc.), and whomever’s day it was, got the First Turn for whatever special thing happened that day.
What began as a way to decide who would get to drink out of a particularly coveted color magarine cup, the Burton First Turn System developed into each person’s also having chores on her day (to cook dinner, take care of the dog, etc.). This allowed their parents some time for their own work and taught the kids responsibility. The system also gave Maria, Jennifer, Ursula, Gabrielle, and Charity a sense of interdependence and of working together as a unit. They understood how a household works, and to appreciate each other’s efforts.
It was smart on their parents’ parts too, as First Turn avoided a lot of fights over trivial things like who got to sit in the front seat of the family station wagon. In the long-term, it also meant that the sisters saw each other, perhaps, more equally — more as partners. Now all the Burton seven, including Mom and Dad, are partners and co-filmmakers in Five Sisters Productions, and the respect and understanding that the First Turn system created has led to a positive strong creative and business environment. (By the way, the Burton siblings still use First Turn all the time.)
MANNA FROM HEAVEN was released nationally and by MGM. For more information on the feel-good American independent with a spectacular cast, see the MANNA film page.
For other information on how the sisters work together, see the FAQ page.