This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 403 – Being A Content Creator on Youtube .
Ashley: Welcome to Episode #403 of the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I am interviewing writer, Logan Burdick, who just did a coming-of-age film called It Takes Three. Logan has written and directed and produced a number of interesting projects. So we talk about some of those as well as how this new film came together for him. So stay tuned for that interview. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving me a comment on YouTube or re-tweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking or sharing it on Facebook.
These social media shares really do help spread word about the podcast. So they are very much appreciated. Any websites or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast and then just look for Episode Number #403. If you want my free guide- How To Sell A Screenplay In Five Weeks, you can pick that up by going to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you just put in your email address and I’ll send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks, along with a bunch of bonus lessons.
I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. I’ll teach you how to write a professional logline and query letter and how to find agents, managers, and producers who are looking for material. Really its everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. Just a quick shout out to screenwriter, Corey H. who just sold a short horror script through one of the leads that we published to SYS Select members. The producer optioned the script, bought it, and then ultimately produced it within a relatively short period of time. I think it was just a couple of weeks. So again, a big congratulations to Corey.
It’s great to get a first credit. Congratulations on that and thank you Corey, for sharing your success with me. I always love getting these success stories and hearing about them, sharing them with all of you. I added a little blurb about this SYS success on the SYS success page. If you wanna learn more about it, you just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. So quick few words about what I’m working on. As mentioned last week, we signed with Indie Rights for The Rideshare Killer, and now we’re just getting the deliverables together. I’d say the biggest thing we have to create is the poster. Everyone keeps telling us this, and this is not news to us. I mean, for a low budget film like this, the poster is really probably the single biggest thing you can do to help sell your film.
So we’re going slowly and really trying to figure out the most economical way to get a professional looking poster created. If you’ve ever seen these low budget films pop up on your Amazon as you’re scrolling through, the cheap posers really do cheapen the product and they just, they sort of stand out. So, we really do wanna get this right and give our film the best chance of working on all of these various VOD platforms. Anyways, we’re exploring our various options there, but it’s gonna take a couple of weeks to get all of that together, but hopefully I’ll have a nice poster to show here in a few weeks. I’m also reading a lot of scripts right now, as we wind down the SYS Six-Figure screenplay contest, we will be making announcement on that very shortly.
This year, for whatever reason, the scripts that seem to float to the top were a lot of dramas, and now that I’m starting to go through and really read them, there’s a lot of really well-written scripts here, but it’s very difficult to get a lot of interest in these types of projects. One of the scripts that is highly rated by the first round reader, my first round readers read it, really liked it, all three of the first round readers liked it. I’ve sent it to a bunch of industry judges and they kind of like it too, but no one really is biting on it. And it’s a drama. It really is just a straightforward kind of a family drama. Again, it’s really well-written, but really keep this in mind.
I do think that there’s a little bit of an imbalance here where there’s a lot more dramas than there is a market. I mean, I do firmly believe that you have to be passionate about the screenplay you’re writing. I mean, that passion is part of what we’re doing here. Bringing that passion to a project is a big part of what makes a script successful. But if you can find a premise that you’re passionate about and it’s sort of in that low budget action, low budget thriller, low budget horror genre, I would say definitely lean into those over writing another drama, because again, those dramas are just gonna be very, very difficult to get set up somewhere. There’s just too much of an imbalance.
There’s too many writers writing drama for the number of slots where these films actually get made. I was talking with a friend of mine who is not in the entertainment business at all. She’s just a consumer of entertainment like most people. And when I was telling her about this, she was surprised in the sense that she was like, “Oh, I love dramas. I watch dramas all the time.” I asked her, I said, “Well, what’s the last time you watched a drama?” And the only thing she could come up with was Knives Out, which certainly is not a drama in the context we’re talking about here. It’s sort of crime, there’s definitely sort of a tongue-in-cheek aspect to it, a little bit of action.
So sort of a hybrid, but I would say it’s definitely not a drama. But this really to me illustrates a point is that where do you go? Like when is the last time any of us…? I couldn’t think of any dramas that I’ve really even watched over the last couple of years. Certainly when the Oscar films come out you start to start to see that… I got young kids, so frankly I’ve been watching more Disney and that sort of stuff over the last five years than I have these sort of Academy Award dramas. But again, that’s kind of the market for these dramas, is these sort of really elevated dramas and yeah, they can work, but there’s a lot of those scripts floating around and those scripts, I mean, they got to be just absolutely awesome to attract Meryl Streep to your project.
So again, there’s like, there’s not a lot of slots for those scripts to get made every year, but it seems like there’s a lot of writers writing them. Also I’m not sure I mentioned this on the podcast. I just thought this would be a helpful little tip and it’s something that I ran into. So I thought I would just share it with anybody who’s listening to this podcast. I’m a really slow reader. So if you’re a slow reader too, I think this might actually be able to help you. Mostly, I’m a slow reader just because I lose focus on what I’m reading. I have to reread things a few times to really comprehend them. I’ll just kind of get distracted or whatever my mind will wander. But this year I discovered that you can have Microsoft Edge, which is just Microsoft’s free web browser read a PDF to you.
It’s not perfect. Like, it’ll do, it’ll say literally INT instead of interior, because it just sees a INT period. But you kind of get used to that. Sometimes it does some weird things with the names, it sees them all capital. So it’ll actually say the letters J-O-E for Joe or something, but for the most part, it’s pretty good. You can change the speed to go slow or fast, you can change whether you want a male voice or female voice. It highlights the word as it reads it aloud so you can follow along visually as well. You’re not only hearing it, but you’re also seeing it. This really helps me stay focused since I can really follow along, as I said, both hearing it and seeing it, I can just really grind through scripts.
My ability to read scripts and actually understand what I’m reading is just exponentially higher using this method. Again, Microsoft Edge is a free browser. It’s installed, I think nowadays, if you buy a new computer it’s installed by default on all Windows computers. I’m not sure, I’m not an Apple guy, so I’m not sure if you can get it on Apple, but I’m sure Apple has something equivalent where they can read PDFs. All you have to do is just open the PDF in Microsoft Edge. I think you can just drag and drop it and it’ll just pop up. I think that’s what I actually did with my scripts. I just drag and drop the, in there. Or maybe I take the actual path. So in my case, I’m taking the Windows path that my document/script/the name of the script.pdf, I’ll just copy that actual link and drop it in the URL window of Microsoft Edge.
It’s a local, it’s not an internet link. It’s an actual local link and it’ll find that, it’ll open it. Then what will happen is at the top of the page, it’ll see it’s a PDF and there’ll be a little button that says “read aloud”. You literally just press that read-aloud out button and it’ll start reading it, and then you have, as I said, a couple of options to kind of change things, which is really just changing the voice and changing the speed of it. I can actually crank up the speed to two times. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I always was crank up the speed. I don’t know if you guys do that too. That’s another tip. I always would’ve listened to my… I never found two, two times always felt a little bit too fast with podcasts.
So I would generally listen to podcasts at 1.5x, but again, then you can listen to a podcast in one, three quarters of the time or whatever that is, two thirds of the time. So you can grind through things quicker. And on this, this Microsoft Edge read aloud feature, I’ve cranked it up to the max, which is 2x. You read it two times. And it’s moving. It keeps you moving. But again, the fact that I can see the word be highlighted, I really just don’t seem to have near the problem following along with it. So it’s really, really been a boon for me to really grind through and get a lot of these scripts. So again, if you’re a slow reader and struggle with just getting through scripts, I would say definitely check this out. It’s free and it’s super easy.
Anyways, that’s the main things I’ve been working on this week. Let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m interviewing writer Logan Burdick. Here’s the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Logan to the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Logan: Thanks, Ashley. It’s great to be here. Thank you for having me.
Ashley: Thank you. So to start out, maybe you could tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Logan: I grew up in many places. Unfortunately, I kind of moved around a lot as a kid. I associate most of my upbringing with either Northwestern, Montana or Santa Cruz, California. I originally was from LA when I was a small child, but we moved around a lot. In terms of getting interested in entertainment in general, originally when I was a very small child, I wanted to be an author. Originally, originally. Then there was some, as normally with everyone, there were some transformative like films that I saw in my youth and I was like, “Oh, this is interesting because it gives you as the author a little bit more sort of control of the holistic experience.” And that to me was very interesting.
I feel like people who write novels, they’re leaving a lot of it up to the imagination of the individuals reading the work. I liked a little bit more of the idea of getting able to orchestrate everything that you sort of like see and experience. Then I went to, I applied and I went to USC for film production, and then I began my professional career.
Ashley: Got you. I’m curious if you’ve ever wondered, why did being an author appeal to you at a young age? Why did being in control of this sort of story that you’re telling? Why do you think that was important to you? And ultimately it ended up really transforming your life and heading you in a direction. Have you thought about that a little bit? Like why was this something that you were into, why didn’t, why doesn’t everybody go to USC and try and get into the entertainment business? What was it that really appealed to you about it?
Logan: I think that probably a lot of it was, I read sort of voraciously as a child and I was definitely encouraged to do that by my parents. I think on top of just loving to read, both my parents originally, they didn’t end up doing it professionally, but they were both very artistic people. My father wanted to be a songwriter, like a singer-songwriter originally in the ‘70s, and he actually got fairly far in that before he ended up giving it up. My mother was more of a traditional artist. She ended up being a, she went to school for art history and she was an art teacher in public school for many years. So I think that it was probably kind of unavoidable for me just based on my upbringing.
Being creative has always been something that has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember.
Ashley: Got you. Okay. So you’re now out of college and starting to pursue this as a career. Let’s talk about that. What were some of your first steps to actually turning this into a career?
Logan: So originally I wanted to go in through the front door, right? Like I wanted to be a writer-director. I did a thesis film that I tried really hard to get some traction and unfortunately it didn’t really go anywhere. It was not avant-garde, but it was a little too weird, I feel like, for people to know what to do with it. I also had a little bit of the expectation that you’re doing, that you’re approaching it as a, like, as a sort of scouting sort of thing, like as a portfolio piece. I feel like a lot of it is a little bit more like, is there a way to tangibly turn this into money? I think that there are certain individuals in certain situations in which they are showcasing a portfolio piece and people are taking a chance with them based on that.
But I feel more often it’s, can this be immediately turned into something that can make somebody else money? And I didn’t have anything like that. And going in through the front door seemed sort of very daunting. I didn’t have the relationships necessary, I didn’t have a way to make those relationships. So I sort of started a very sort of long and circuitous journey into doing digital projects on YouTube and that sort of thing.
Ashley: So let’s talk about that. Let me go back on USC before we dig into that, because I think that will be an interesting conversation too. You mentioned that at USC, you were at the producer, in the producers program, but yet you wanted to be a writer-director. Don’t they have a writing program or a directing program? So why did you go into the producing program?
Logan: Well, it was a, sorry. It was the production. Production encompassing anything like any of the like technical skill sets was all under one school.
Ashley: Okay. Now the big thing that, again, I didn’t go to film school. So I’m sort of one of these people that just hears about film school, but the big thing about USC is always that yes, it’s expensive, but it’s the premier film school. So you build some of those relationships. That’s a good piece of what they’re providing at USC. Then you’re coming here saying, well, you didn’t have a lot of those relationships. Do you feel there was some of those relationship building opportunities, maybe your movie just didn’t quite connect in the right way to take advantage of those things, but maybe you can speak to that a little bit. Really what I’m getting at is I get a lot of emails from people, “Is film school worth it?”
Obviously USC is the best film school, maybe one of the most expensive film schools. What’s your thoughts just on that in general? But then specifically with USC, how did you find that getting out of there and being accepted in the film community and finding some of those relationships?
Logan: I think that there’s two, when we talk about relationships, especially in these sort of like in the university sense, I think that there’s two sort of categories. And one would be the category of, are the relationships to professionals in the industry that will do things to help you from a career perspective? Then I think that the other sort of bucket is, the relationships you make with the other individuals while you’re at school. I do think that at least for me personally, there wasn’t a lot of, it didn’t lead to for what I wanted to do specifically, which is if you want to be a writer-director, there’s not a lot that can be done to sort of set you up for that outside of you just going out and doing it on your own, right?
I do feel that from the building relationships with other individuals at USC and specifically the film program, that, besides just the sort of like lifelong friendships, that has led to lifelong business relationships as well. I was lucky that again, that as the sort of premier pool of people, there’s a lot of people who are very talented and very hardworking and they go on to have exceptional careers. It’s just that when you’re all like 20, 21, that’s not true yet. So there’s not a lot that you can do for each other in terms of paying the bills or leading to some sort of huge success at that point. But I do think that in the end, especially now with my sort of age now, a lot of those relationships have become more of business relationships as time has gone on.
Ashley: Got you. So let’s talk, let’s dig into some of these short films that you did. It sounds like you did a lot of them and posted them on YouTube. Maybe you can just start out at the beginning on those. How did you fund these? How did you get these off the ground, and what were your expectations? How did you promote them and ultimately, how did they further your career?
Logan: So doing shorts again, and this is the thing that is like constantly evolving, right? Because when I graduated school, it was this very sort of weird time in which this sort of advice was definitely like, “Make a short, produce it yourself, self-fund,” that sort of thing. Because it was kind of at the very beginning of all the digital ecosystem and the digital economy and all of that, but not yet at the right moment to fully take advantage of what things would become. I think that that’s a very sort of interesting thing to me now. I wouldn’t even know exactly what to tell people who want to get started about like what’s the best path forward, because it is constantly evolving at such a fast rate that I feel like it just is always different.
And I think that sometimes things happen where you’re able to ride a wave that is occurring and that wave can take you to success. But if you miss that wave by six months, a year, it might not be viable anymore. So that’s a sort of difficulty I see as the sole whole sort of industry is in flux.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. So, but okay. So how did you put these together? These were all self-funded? And then ultimately, how did these help you advance your career?
Logan: So basically I did, right when I graduated, again, I did a thesis film. It was called It’s A Wonderful Death. Its claim to fame at this point is that Beck Bennett from SNL was one of the like main guys on it. I went to school with Beck. He’s an extremely tremendously talented individual and there’s no, there was never any doubt in my mind that he would go on to do all the things that he has done. That one I did, like it was basically like calling up everyone I knew asking for whatever I could get in terms of either financial contributions or literally just favors, basically bootstrapping it to the best of one’s ability. What I did think that was very interesting to me was after that short did not get me where I would like to have gone, the reason, one of the things that I did and why I went into digital, was I started teaching myself how to do everything myself because I no longer had any favors to call upon.
I couldn’t ask anyone for more money, I couldn’t ask anyone for more favors. So I was like, oh, but if I teach myself to edit and I teach myself to DP and I teach myself visual effects, I can keep having new projects to keep showing people. And that ultimately, because I was doing that and I was kind of like one man banding, or again with the help of some close friends, much more intimate, smaller projects, I was able to then pitch some of those to, originally there was a giant MCN multi-channel network called Maker Studios, which Disney ended up buying for like $500 million. But that was one of the giant, first YouTube companies. And I had a short and, or a pilot for a digital series that got picked up by them, and then they brought me in-house to make content for them.
Ashley: Got you. Got you. So let’s go and dig into your latest film, It Takes Three. Maybe to start out, you can just give us a quick pitch or a logline. What is this film all about?
Logan: So It Takes Three is, it’s a retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, the classic French play, set that again, it’s like a Roxanne with Steve Martin is this play, The Truth About Cats & Dogs, again, an older film is this play. I set it in high school and had it focused exclusively on social media. When I originally wrote it on spec, I was like, “This is the most… this is so original. This is like, we’re ahead of the curve.” By the time it has come out now, literally I think Netflix has three different versions of this story. So now it is not as sort of trendsetting as it was when I did write it. It was, to me, it’s one of those things where I’m like, “I didn’t see it and then write it. It was I wrote it, but these things take a while to come to fruition.” Yeah. So that’s basically the concept.
Ashley: Let’s talk about your writing process. How do you do this? It sounds like you had some original material. So how did you work with that material, converting it into a screenplay? Maybe you can talk about some of those challenges.
Logan: I have a sort of strong, like my… I actually don’t have a problem with reimaginings and adaptations and anything that sort of falls into that category. I think that honestly, sometimes stories that have a little bit sort of further reach because they’ve been done before and people know it, even those previous examples might not be the actual best version of that story. I like to point out that Cyrano originally, it takes a lot of suspension of disbelief to believe that anyone bought this, especially in Roxanne, the Steve Martin version, there’s a scene where the guy, I forget his name, who plays the Chris character, is giving us soliloquy, which I believe is Daryl Hannah, and then mid he can’t do it.
So Steve Martin shoves him out of the way and Steve Martin just starts talking and I go, how does Daryl Hannah not know that these two guys are different guys? Of course like, so there’s a lot of suspension of disbelief and maybe these stories while having a sort of core emotionality or this sort of core thesis to them that has made them so ubiquitous throughout the years and constantly revisited, maybe until social media, the story wasn’t actually the best version of itself that it could be. Maybe it’s more prescient now than it was when originally, it was originally conceived. That to me… So all think… I try to find stories that I believe have that sort of universal quality that are worth sort of re-imagining, but they really do have something to say about life currently that is meaningful.
I don’t love the sort of adaptation or the re-imagining just as like a cash-grab idea, but I do think that some stories they really couldn’t be, they could be more meaningful and they could be sort of delved in deeper currently than originally conceived.
Ashley: Yeah. And that’s a fascinating point and I think absolutely that’s the first thing people really should be looking at is this, is this re-imagining actually a better version of itself? I wonder, you give that great example there where, okay, maybe this is a better version than the original, at least in theory anyways. But were there some stories or some story ideas that you came up with and you said, “No, these are not gonna be better than the original, or this is not the right time. I’m kind of just trying to, what you just said, I’m just trying to attack it from the other angle. Were there some stories along the way, as you go through your process of deciding which project you’re gonna write next, have there been some that have come up where no, you look at it and say, “While this might be a good story, the original was actually better. It actually made more sense in these original times?”
Logan: I’d have to think. I don’t have a good answer about something specifically, but I do agree a hundred percent. Sometimes there are stories that I feel like there’s nothing I could add to them. That I do think that when they were done, they were done in, and again going back, I love Roxanne. Like with Steve Martin, he’s amazing. They’re all amazing. To me it’s not about necessarily how good it is in terms of an overall project. It’s more about like, does it still speak to people in the same way or a different way? I think that there are certain projects where even if you were to revisit it, there’s nothing more to add. It’s, there’s no interesting new sort of spin that seems relevant today.
In general, I would say that probably those projects should be left alone, but though that’s not, it’s not up to me to decide.
Ashley: Got you. So let’s talk about your actual writing process. You had a co-writer Blair Mastbaum on this. Maybe you can talk about that relationship a little bit. How do you guys write together? Did you guys outline in the same room and then you break off and do scenes, do you write scenes in the same room? How does your relationship work?
Logan: Well, so in this particular circumstance, that is a… So I wrote the spec that was then purchased by the various entities that led to Gunpowder & Sky producing it. They produced it. During production there was a lot of changes that were made that Blair was responsible for. So I have met Blair before. He’s a great guy. That was just not, we did not work together. It’s more of one of those, I did my passes, he did his.
Ashley: Got you. Got you. So let’s talk about your writing process a little bit. Where do you typically write and when do you typically write? Do you write at a home office? Do you need ambient noise at Starbucks? Do you write in the morning, do you write late at night? What does your writing schedule look like?
Logan: I was gonna say, I was hoping you would ask that as you do on occasion. Because I think mine’s super weird, but I hope I’m not the only one. I write almost exclusively while walking. I basically will just, I will walk for hours and I will just take notes originally on pen and paper and I’ll like on my iPhone, and I will do as much of the work there as I can. Then ultimately once I feel like that’s it like 80 percent, then I will actually start sitting down and taking all those ideas and putting them actually on to whatever, outlining it or final draft or whatever. But to me, so much of it is conceptualizing it before sitting down and writing it. I cannot, I can’t look at a blank page, I’d have no idea what to do.
Ashley: So once you have all this conceptualization done and you’ve got a whole bunch of notes on your iPhone, how long does it take you once you open final draft to start cranking out script pages?
Logan: So then what I normally do is, I will outline as comprehensively as I can. Once I’ve got that done, then I’ll just start writing scene by scene. The other thing that I do that I think is interesting that again, other people probably do is, for a first draft, I will literally set a timer for how long I can spend on each scene. Basically it’s something like a 10 minutes and I have to have a page done and then I move on. Then I do another scene and it’s 10 minutes and I have to have a page done and I move on through, I don’t know how many like hours until it’s like, “Okay, this is 60 pages.” Then I go back and start filling in more. That really for me helps keep it moving because I, again, maybe a lot of this is first drafts are just very difficult for me to get through which I believe they are for a lot of people.
But I feel that the more sort of hard parameters I put around myself to just keep moving and keep ideating, really is super helpful to actually get to a place to like, okay, I can start filling this out and really start putting on a layer of specificity onto these generalizations now.
Ashley: And it’s fascinating. I’ll talk about my process a little bit, because you mentioned yours. You say this walking, I’ve been doing a ton of walking. I always have, but I do a ton of walking too. I don’t find I can actually write anything down on my iPad or iPhone or whatever. So I go home and then do it, but I’ve been actually doing a lot of walking. The one thing that I run into, and I’d be curious to get your thoughts on this, is that, sometimes you’re walking and your mind goes in other directions that have nothing to do with your screenplay. Sometimes I get done with my walk and I was supposed to be thinking about the screenplay and I didn’t think about it at all. How do you fight that?
And one of the problems I run into is I constantly feel a little bit guilty if I go on my 30-minute walk and come back with essentially, maybe even if I worked on my screenplay, I come back with no ideas worth having. So I always feel like maybe it’s a little bit of waste of time or whatever. How do you get through some of that stuff? Do you have some way of rigidly kind of forcing yourself to stay focused on the project? Because I’ve done similar things, what you’re describing with the game is like I try and just keep, every time my mind wanders, I’ll try and get back onto the script project. But I find that is a constant battle. How do you deal with that?
Logan: I’ve done… I’m not like the, I am a proponent of meditation. I don’t do it as often as I should. But one thing that I learned from doing that, is this sort of concept which I believe really also applies here, is that the sort of idea of a wandering mind, like you can’t beat yourself up about it, because it is going to happen. It’s only through practice of kind of not getting stuck on it wandering. I believe a sort of thing they’ll say is like, as you’re having thoughts, if thoughts pop up in your head, just acknowledge them and then let them go. I think that the mind has, it’s both good and bad. It has, especially, probably writer’s minds or other creative people, it has an ability to sort of fixate. Right?
And I think that when that’s working well, when you’re ruminating right on whatever creative ideas you wanna be ideating on, that’s great. You’re right. It’s negative if you start ruminating and you get stuck on something that is completely irrelevant. So then it just is kind of how do you train yourself to go, “Oh, what I’m ruminating on right now is not what I’m supposed to be thinking about.” Like just kind of trying to let it go. I also find that literally the longer that you’re doing that process, at least for me personally, literally in terms of duration of a walk or something, I kind of forgive myself in the first 30 minutes, I can’t focus because by like 45 minutes in, I’ll get there.
It’s just sort of trusting yourself, at least again, in my case, trusting yourself that you will eventually get there, whatever else you’re working out will start getting pushed into the background. Again, to your other sort of point, I think it’s just also not being hard on yourself. It just requires a degree of flexibility of going like, “Oh, this time I didn’t get a lot done, but I’m not gonna beat myself up about it. That just happens sometimes.”
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. For sure it does. Okay. So once you get going on your script, how long do you typically take to just crank it out? You’ve got all your notes and stuff. You open up final draft. Can you whip off a script pretty quickly since you’ve done all this ruminating and now you’ve also done an outline?
Logan: Yes, for me personally, yes. I will try to get through a first draft as fast as possible. I don’t know, a couple of weeks. And to me also, it really did help, again, this is my specific sort of path through the jungle. But to me working in digital and YouTube and getting into this sort of pace where nothing is precious, and they’re just ideas and maybe this one’s the best one, or maybe it’s not. And if it’s not, you’ll go back and you’ll fix it later. I feel anything that gets you sort of in that practice of just churning out pages, I think that’s why like TV writers, which I am not one, I think that allows you to be sort of prolific because you just kind of get into this flow of like, we’ll just things have to exist.
I know their timelines and their deadlines are like super intense. So to me it’s like, if it’s something like a spec feature, that’s not the case. There’s no showrunner saying that there’s a due date, but so what can I sort of like force upon myself to keep things moving so that they don’t just sort of go off into no man’s land and you don’t recover.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. Good advice. So let’s talk about your development process a little bit. Once you have a draft that you like, what does your development process looks, look like? Do you have some trusted writer friends, agents, managers, other producers, what do you send it out? How do you get notes and how do you just develop a project, especially something like this that’s a spec where you’re not trying to hit a deadline or get specific notes from a producer that’s paying you?
Logan: I think that, I think notes from other people can be extremely helpful. Obviously like I do, I have a manager, he reads things. I have friends who are other professionals, they read things. I have friends who are not professionals and I have them read things. I think my sort of advice about that is what are you expecting from any individual, like in terms of knowing what individual you reached out to. If you’re looking for feedback, what type of feedback? I think feedback is helpful and I think that feedback keeps you honest, but I think that you do want to be specific about, oh, I’m sending it to this person because I do a lot of things that are either comedy or comedy adjacent. This person’s really funny. They’ll be really great at telling me is this humorous enough? Does it need more jokes? Are these things working?
Oh, my manager is a good person to tell me notes about the marketplace and what makes something more sellable or are there aspects of this that probably could be adjusted or changed to make it more viable, ultimately like as a project. So that’s what I would say, is that really like feedback, advice, great. But know what you’re looking for from any one specific individual. Because otherwise it’s just opinions and everyone has opinions.
Ashley: How did you approach screenplay structure and even like genre requirements? Obviously you said this is based on other material, you mentioned Roxanne, some other movies that are based on it. But this is also a teen sort of a coming-of-age, teen drama romance. How do you play into some of those tropes, circumventing some of them and maybe even leaning into some other tropes?
Logan: Basically, if I, I do… It’s a hard line to walk. I do try to watch a lot of other things that I do love in a genre to sort of inform holistically what it feels like. Like before I wrote It Takes Three, I watched a bunch of both ‘80s, like John Hughes movies that I loved growing up and also a bunch of ‘90s, like the sort of, I don’t know what you would call that sort of that heyday, but where it’s like, She’s All That and 10 Things I Hate About You. I watched a lot of those too. And then to me it is like, okay, once you get a sort of general feel for what this is, the conventions are like, then it does become like, well, how do I now play with them? Right?
Because there are certain expectations that people have from a genre perspective. And I feel like sometimes the best movies and the best part about movies sometimes is when people know what the convention is and then they find ways to subvert it. So you’re both addressing what the expectation is and you’re kind of like taking it somewhere different. I think that that, it’s a… I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day about this idea of like, where does the idea of movies is magic come from? Part of our discussion was originally, I forget who it was, who did a journey to the moon of who was actually literally a magician and he was making movies.
I feel like special effects is like that, but writing can also be like that. Where it’s like, sort of misdirection, and it’s saying like, “Look over here because you’re expecting this, but now I can now twist that on its head because you had that expectation.” I think in that way, being a writer can be kind of like a magician, I guess.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. So once you had a draft of your script that you were happy with, what were those next steps? You mentioned you had a manager, did you send it to him and he got it out to producers? Did you send it to some producers? How did you ultimately take this script and get it into production?
Logan: So the one thing that I will say holistically is specs are very, very hard, right? Everybody, again, anybody I feel like who is following you knows this. That that’s a hard thing to actually make happen. From my perspective, if you’re going to do a spec, it’s like, how much work can you do ahead of time to get a clear of ideas possible that this is viable for the marketplace? So to me, it was a lot of like with my manager at the time, having conversations about, does this set, do these different movies sound, like these different concepts or loglines, do they sound like you could find them a home? If no, then I’m moving on because I don’t know what to do with it.
Same sort of thing like, I had a bunch of meetings with different producers where they were talking to me about other projects that had a similar flavor, or they were looking for teen romcoms with a social media bend. So I started feeling like there was enough people to take this out to, that it had a much higher probability of something happening. Still, probably like honestly a low probability, right? Like it’s still very, very hard, but at least from my perspective, if I know there’s 4, 5, 6 people who are looking for something like this, well, then I have six people who there’s a much higher probability that one of them will bite. That’s kind of what happened. Like, so with It Takes Three, that’s why I wrote it.
I felt like it was a smart decision to make and based on discussions with my manager and about the marketplace and people I knew. So then he was able to basically take it out and a bunch of other steps happened in between, but it ultimately got packaged and made. Long story short.
Ashley: Yeah. And I’m curious, and I’ve asked this of other screenwriters they’ve come on. It sounds like you were coming up with basically ideas, loglines and pitching them to your manager and your manager was saying yes, on this one, no, on this one, no, on this one. Do you, just to get a sense of the scope, how many ideas did you pitch him before he said, “Oh yeah, It Takes Three does sound like something that could sell?”
Logan: The one thing I would say about that is that it’s just a constant process, right? Like I don’t think I’ll go a week without pitching a handful of new things. And then it just is sometimes a lot of those other log lines or one sheets or whatever will drop off, but one will keep getting more traction for whatever reason. But even when that one is getting traction, I’m still like always pitching new ones because honestly, like in that case It Takes Three happens, right? But I’ve never been one to go, “Oh, because this is happening or this feels more likely to happen, I’m just going to sit and wait and see what happens.” It’s basically like, “That’s awesome.
That’s great that there’s now like a 70 percent chance that that one goes through, but that’s still 30 percent chance that nothing happens.” So I still, every week, new ideas, new ideas, new ideas. So it’s a running sort of cycle to me.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. Very, very sound advice. So what is next for you? I just kind of like to wrap up the interviews, getting a feel for what the guest is gonna be doing next. What are you working on now ad what can we expect to see from you in the future?
Logan: I have one movie that is actually, I probably can’t say anything about, so I won’t say anything about that. The thing that I did that I am proud of, that will hopefully be distributed soon is, during COVID, I got together with a bunch of friends of mine in the anime voiceover community, and we wrote an original narrative anime podcast. You might not know it’s, again, it’s a niche community, but it’s Ray Chase, SungWon Cho, Matt Mercer, Robbie Daymond, these are like, and Erica Lindbeck, like lots of actually really talented and successful people in this space. And because we wanted to all produce something, but nobody could do anything we thought, “Oh, well, what if we actually wrote a podcast?”
So it’s being shopped around right now. It will, it is currently called Sky Brother Forest. I imagine it’ll still be called that when it comes out. But it’s a 10-episode, five-hour long narrative podcast with an anime bent.
Ashley: Perfect. That sounds fascinating. Yeah. You’ll have to keep us in the loop on that. How can people see It Takes Three, what’s the release schedule gonna be like on that?
Logan: It comes out Friday, basically anywhere you can download movies, iTunes, Amazon. I’m sure if anyone is listening, I know it will be in theaters in the UK. So if you have any UK listeners, you can actually, if you want to brave going back to theaters, which I hope people do because theaters are awesome. You can see it in theaters there.
Ashley: Okay. Perfect. What’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing? Twitter, Facebook, a blog, anything you’re comfortable sharing, I will round up for the show notes.
Logan: Twitter, just my full name, @Logan_Burdick.
Ashley: Perfect. Well, Logan, I will grab that. I’ll put it in the show notes. People can check that out. I really appreciate you coming on and talking with me today. Congratulations getting this film done and I look forward to hearing about your future projects as well.
Logan: Thank you, Ashley. I really appreciate it.
Ashley: It. Thank you. We’ll talk to you later. Bye.
SYS’s From Concept to Completion Screenwriting Course is now available. Just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/screenwritingcourse. It will take you through every part of writing a screenplay, coming up with a concept, outlining, writing the opening pages, the first act, second act, third act, and then rewriting. And then there’s even a module at the end on marketing your screenplay once it’s polished and ready to be sent out. We’re offering this course in two different versions. The first version you get the course, plus you get three analyses from an SYS reader. You’ll get one analysis on your outline and then you’ll get two analyses on your first draft of your screenplay. This is just our introductory price.
You’re getting three full analyses, which is actually the same price as our three-pack analysis bundle. So you’re essentially getting the course for free when you buy the three analyses that come with it. And to be clear, you’re getting our full analysis with this package. The other version doesn’t have the analysis. So you’ll have to find some friends or colleagues who will do the feedback portion of the course with you. I’m letting SYS Select members do this version of the course for free. So if you’re a member of SYS Select, you already have access to it. You also might consider that as an option. If you join SYS Select, you will get the course as part of that membership too. A big piece of this course is accountability. Once you start the course, you’ll get an email every Sunday with that week’s assignment.
And if you don’t complete it, we’ll follow up with another reminder the next week. It’s easy to pause the course if you need to take some time off, but as long as you’re enrolled, you’ll continue to get reminders for each section until it’s completed. The objective of the course is to get you through it in six months, so that you have a completed polished screenplay ready be sent out. So if you have an idea for a screenplay and you’re having a hard time getting it done, this course might be exactly what you need. If this sounds like something you’d like to learn more about, just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/screenwritingcourse. It’s all one word, all lower case.
I will, of course link to the course in the show notes, and I will put a link to the course on the homepage up in the right hand side bar. On the next episode of the podcast, I’m gonna be interviewing director Matt Patterson, who just did a really cool low budget, psychological thriller called Apartment 413. We dig into this project, how he was able to get it all together. So keep an eye out for that episode next week. That’s our show. Thank you for listening.