Harvey Weinstein (yes, that scumbag), Bob Weinstein and Corky Burger had been working as rock concert producers in the 1970s and were keen to break into the movie industry.
Harvey brought the idea of basing a movie on a well known urban legend to producer Michael Cohl and wrote a short treatment called ‘The Cropsy Maniac’. Bob Weinstein and Peter Lawrence ended up writing the screenplay once the name change was put into place.
Soon enough, British director Tony Maylam was hired to helm the picture due to his association with Weinstein and Burger from his time directing rock documentaries.
Maylam and Harvey Weinstein then flew to Pittsburgh to secure the services of special FX artist, Tom Savini. Savini liked the script and was impressed with their desire to acquire his talents. The parents of the Weinstein’s, Miriam and Max, helped fund the picture and a merge of their names formed the now (in)famous production company, Miramax.
The budget was believed to have been around $1.5 million – a big overspend for the newbies, who planned on a much tighter outlay – and the film started shooting in late 1980 around Buffalo and North Tonawanda, New York.
Test screenings for The Burning were very positive and the film was picked up for distribution by Filmways Pictures in February 1981.