Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Amazon Studios

Olivia Hetreed, Chair of the Writers' Guild's Film Committee, responds to the launch of Amazon Studios.

This seems tempting - free entry with the potential to have your script seen by many and maybe picked up by Warner Bros; the harnessing of a wide open talent pool of perhaps previously unheard voices - but the terms and conditions are not good.

The Guild does not approve of free options and 18 months exclusive while anyone can read, rewrite, rip off and variously mess about with your script in any way is particularly unattractive.

The idea that the collective creativity of the web will come up with a good screenplay looks both a) completely untenable and b) frankly insulting to professional screenwriters. Monkeys and typewriters comes to mind.

If a) then the whole project will wither and die under the weight of appalling writing and outraged squawking. If a good script does make it through this process and get made (or a bad script, which is just as likely) then the insult b) will become more serious.

A judgement process based on internet 'popularity' without any filtering seems both open to abuse and most unlikely to produce good or interesting results.

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  1. Anonymous4:00 pm

    I am actually a produced writer who had a moderately successful writing career before I returned to my first career, advertising.

    Whilst I concur with the above - I've been tempted by the crap shoot of the prize money on the table. I've taken a script I love but was realistically doing nothing with -- and submitted it.

    Based on that logic - I think the Amazon Studios idea is not without merit.

    I also think the whole test movie idea is interesting as 100,000 dollars prize money per month is not nothing. I think what may happen is that when the wider community sees a couple of stinking test movies win such money in Jan and Feb -- more talented film makers may be tempted to sup with the devil.

    We shall see!

  2. Anonymous6:56 pm

    This Q and A has info about how the judging works (it is filtered): http://www.armchaircommentary.com/2010/12/amazon-studios-a-bonus-script-contest-plus-a-q-and-a-with-the-studio-chief.html

    "Amazon Studios contest winners are decided by a panel of industry experts and Amazon Studios representatives. Site popularity, reviews and feedback can help bring attention to a great script, and can help writers improve their work; however, the public does not directly determine winners."

  3. Anonymous1:40 am

    Another BIG PROBLEM @ Amazon Studios --> Their popularity ranking system is totally bogus. Anyone can learn how to game the system and create a top rated script. Scripts like Villain, Electric Sunset, Eyes of Darkness and Undesirables are perfect examples of poorly written screenplays that appear to have been gamed using the Amazon Studios ranking system. This is a poorly flawed system for representing the top ten scripts.

    Amazon Studios has been very aware of their troubled ranking system but choose to ignore it. As customers complained, Amazon Studios sent email replies basically encouraging participants to game the system.

    Fair-minded armature screenwriters are pissed! Because of public outcry, it appears Amazon Studios has their ranking system on lock-down as they scurry to fix it. (Jan - 2011)


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