I have to admit, I’m a sucker for animals. I’ve been looking forward to Animal Practice since I first heard it was coming. I didn’t need to know much: it’s set in a veterinary office, and one of the main characters is a monkey. As far as I was concerned, you could put a big “SOLD” sign on it before I even watched it.
Well, I suppose I could have been jealous. This is an idea that I should have come up with and written. Why didn’t I? I really don’t know. In retrospect, the idea of a show set in a vet’s office is so obvious. A vet could easily house a comedy, or a serious medical drama, or even a dramedy. Maybe that’s why I’m not jealous. I may not have thought of it first, but there are at least a hundred different possible spins to the setting, so I can do my own another day.read article
Amazon Studios offers television writers a different approach to selling their original series ideas. In parts 1 and 2, I looked at what Amazon Studios is. Here in part 3, I am looking at the practical aspects of working with Amazon Studios: namely, how to submit and what they pay.
Amazon Studios wants what any other studio would want: a pilot script and a concise description of the show. For the pilot script, they ask for standard television script format, just the same as you would prepare for any other purpose. For the description of the show, they essentially want a short document that they call a mini-bible, which is nearly identical to the document we in Tvwriterland call the leavebehind. They want a concise description of the premise and characters, a logline, and a list of possible episodes, just like a leavebehind. In effect, submitting to Amazon Studios is a lot like submitting to the People’s Pilot contest.
Of course, there’s the question of money. How much does Amazon Studios pay? We all want to know whether we’ll get a good deal or be screwed if they accept our work! So, here’s the deal: If Amazon Studios likes your series, the first step is promoting it to the Development Slate. That means they have decided to actively pursue your series as a possibility, and their story department gets involved. (This is where you’ll get story notes and the like from the people at the top.) You get $10,000 when they promote you to the Development Slate. Once the story department has done its thing and Amazon Studios has definitely decided to shoot your pilot, you get $55,000 for the series idea and the pilot script. This is in addition to your earlier payment, so your running total is now $65,000.read article
In part 1, I talked about the concept behind Amazon Studios and what I liked about the new approach. Here’s what I don’t like.
Of course, Amazon Studios has taken the new “crowd power” mentality all the way home, as well. Originally, when a writer posted a project on Amazon Studios, that writer automatically agreed to allow anyone at all to revise the script and upload a new version of it. Of course, that revision did not replace the original; both versions would sit on Amazon Studios to collect comments, and people could read them both and decide which one they liked better. Now, the revised Amazon Studios TOS says that writers may opt either to allow anyone to create revisions or to “control” who can make revisions by making the upload of that project’s revisions an invite-only process.
Frankly, I hate this. Comments and critique are one thing, but letting some random stranger take my stuff and rework it pushes every control-issue button I have. Sure, as anyone savvy in the television industry will point out, once a sale is made, there’s always a chance – no, make that a likelihood – that somebody will make changes to my work that I cannot control or stop. The difference there is that this happens AFTER the sale has been made. I have given up my rights to creative control when I signed it over.read article
Have you heard about Amazon Studios yet? They’re the newest thing in television production. Yes, you heard me: television production. Sure, they started as a movie studio, but now they’re doing television, too. So far, they’re only interested in half-hour sitcoms and children’s programming, but don’t be surprised if they keep growing and start asking for a wider variety of formats. After all, they’re Amazon, and they want their fingers in everything.
What is this monster television studio that Amazon is creating? It certainly isn’t your traditional production studio. It only takes a quick glance to figure out that they’re doing just about everything differently from the traditional old-school (American) studios. But what exactly are they doing? And, more importantly, is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Or, to phrase the question as you’re probably really thinking it: Should I jump in or run away screaming?read article