As busy as I am, I occasionally trip over stuff in my internet surfing (yes, I’m dating myself with that phrase). But this was something really neat: Amazon Studios (AS). Some of you know I’m bound and determined to get one of my books to the silver screen. And this is another outlet to do it. The cool part is it’s totally FREE!
So what is it about AS that makes it attractive? Well, it links to your Amazon account, so setting up a “studio” is pretty simple. Just go here and log in: http://studios.amazon.com/
Once there, click on the “Get Started” tab and read everything they got. There’s even a nifty and amusing little video to watch as well. AS is partnered with Warner Bros. and if they like your script, book trailer, or short movie, they can exercise an 18 month option on your work. They have 45 days from the day you upload to decide, so you aren’t stuck in Hollywood limbo forever. If they option you, don’t worry, they won’t leave you out in the cold; they’ll give you a nice blanket of $10,000 to keep you toasty. Even better, if they sell your work, they’ll pay you $200,000. Is your mind blown yet? It gets even better (although I don’t see this happening right away) if your movie grosses over $60M, they will pay you an additional $400,000! All this for no cash out of your pocket.
Now that you’ve educated yourself, are you ready to start? You will have to fill out a few things in “Your Account” before moving on. Then you can go to your “Studio.” This is where you can upload a photo and edit all the information using the little blue edit buttons. It will look something like this:
Second page is a continuation of this one.
Here is where you will begin uploading your projects. They even have competitions (I believe as long as you tag your work “public” you are entered in these). There’s “Premise War” where your logline competes against others and folks can go in and vote. There are book trailer competitions, and ones for short films. Uploading is pretty easy—almost easier than KDP. The one thing to note: you MUST upload your book trailer in one of their prescribed formats—WMVs don’t work. Lesson learned.
After you’ve uploaded, you can go to your project page, which looks something like this:
If you have a script and a corresponding book trailer, they will be linked together. These links are shareable with other Amazon friends (See email, FB, and Twitter icons) and they can log in, view, and rate them. Note: for book trailers, I learned that they don’t want to hear what a great book it is, they are looking for feedback on the technical and visual appeal of the trailer. Otherwise, feedback and comments are deleted off the site. Another lesson learned.
Once you’ve uploaded your work, the AS folks will begin reviewing it. There is a 5 stage process for each project loaded. You can see where your project is by looking at the little blue circle in the right corner of your project box—mine says “4 Deciding” which means they’ve looked at my book trailer and now are deciding if they wish to option my material. Once done, I’ll receive an email with a “yay” or “nay” response. If I receive a “nay,” I can go back, tinker with the project, and upload a new version. And the whole 45 day process starts again.
Another nifty service AS offers is storyboarding. To do this, you must have your script in an RTF format (Word will let you save a document as an RTF quite easily). I haven’t played around with this feature, but it looks like you have the ability to choose characters out of a stock library along with settings and such. Here’s the page with what some of them look like—they are all black and white unless you’re a techno and can figure out how to add color.
On the sidebar, you can sort by genre or status. Each storyboard can have between 10 and 100+ frames to view. Not sure how much work it is, but they are impressive. There’s also a page by page rating system on this feature so folks can tell you want they think of each stage of your board.
And lastly, what happens if your project gets optioned? You go to the “Development Slate.” This is where AS showcases the projects they THINK will tickle the fancy of the Warner Bros. executives. You can poke around and see what they considered the cream of the crop. I found it handy to do research on what they think will sell. Some were very good; others, well, uh, I’m not commenting.
There’s another tab for “Notable Projects” kind of a runner-up page for scripts that were good, but didn’t make the final cut. These folks I’m sure were urged to go back and re-work their projects and resubmit, hoping they will make it to the Development Slate the next time around.
So far, my experience with Amazon Studios has been good. After a few initial hiccups and learning exactly how to upload my videos, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get that “yay” email. If you have a book trailer, and aspire to have your book made into a film, then AS is a good place to start.
21 thoughts on “Amazon Studios: Are you ready to make a movie?”
Wow, Kathy — I had no idea this existed. Very cool! Good luck with your project!
Thanks! And if you have book trailers- get them up there! Who knows, you may get an option out of it.
What if an author preferred to choose to have a proportion of the profits of a movie rather than just one set and unchanging sum at the start. Would they have the flexibility to accommodate that? The author would be taking the risk of getting nothing, but in return if the movie does really well, they get far more than the original lump of money.
I’m quite curious about this because my agent told me recently that there is a small kiwi animated film maker who is looking at my story and quite excited about it. I’ve never heard any more than that, so it will all most likely come to nothing but meanwhile I’m trying to gather information about that world in case I do get some kind of offer.
If they have not optioned your work, I’d say get it out there in as many places as you can. Yes, it’s a shotgun approach, but just like with our books, the more places on the internet you can be found, the better your chances of being noticed. And hey, I’m all about free!
From what I read, everything is set in stone for the purchase (or option) of your work. I look at it as a “get foot in door” kind of service. Many websites will charge you to put up your scripts so Hollywood can see them. AS is at least free, and with Amazon behind it, there’s a solid business model.
Fascinating – but still beyond my capabilities I fear.
If you have book trailers, it’s really simple to post them up there. If they like the trailer, they can make an option on the book.
Looks like fun, but not sure I’m up to the challenge…yet.
Always keep yourself open, it really wasn’t that difficult.
So, do you have to convert your book into a screenplay for them to accept it at the Amazon Studio?
It’s certainly an intriguing option. Thanks for sharing.
Yes and no. I have adapted 2 of my novels to scripts, but if you have a compelling book trailer, by all means, post it. I think it said somewhere that if they option the book, AS can (at their discretion) hire writers to adapt the novel. For me, that would be a kick in the teeth, but for those who don’t have the time or software, it could be a good option.
I had no idea this existed. I’m not sure I would be up to the challenge either, but I will be having a look. I did write a screen play for one of my books a couple of years ago, just for the exercise (to see how different it would be from the novel), and I decided at the time that it wasn’t, personally, as enjoyable as writing the novel. I would ask the same question as RG, above, but I guess I’ll find out if I delve into it.
Excellent article, Kathy.
Thanks, TD. See my response to RJ above. Yeah, writing scripts is not fun- especially when adapting from a novel. And not every novel can be successfully adapted to the screen. I’ve had to make changes in order to bring out more “visual” elements that were only narrative in the book- which did change the story somewhat. Yup, far more fun to write an 80K novel than a 115 page screenplay!
Interesting. Who knew?
It sounds like fun, however who gets the balance of the 60 million should things go well? That is a lot of moo la. If a real estate agent sells a 20 million dollar home in LA, their commission is $500,000. There would be residual income from a movie, merchandising etc. I think this is a golden carrot swinging in front of the donkey, but if you can get better exposure it could be attractive.
Pretty sure the production company will get the fat share of the 60M, but you get $400K for your troubles. And in a way, it’s a golden carrot, but the exposure and potential for more writing gigs (or sales of your books) makes it worthwhile. I like it because it’s free, and gets my script out there for folks to see.
I think Aronjoice has a good point to tell the truth.
I couldn’t resist a look. Here is a snippet that is cause for concern….
because Amazon Studios is a community development platform, we cannot guarantee that elements of your project will not have been incorporated into other projects on Amazon Studios that remain on the site after yours is removed. (In another FAQ, we describe what you can do if you believe that your work has been copied). Also, after you remove your project, Amazon Studios may still make and distribute video clips of your project up to 10 minutes in length. We expect that Amazon Studios will help your project grow and improve, and we want to be able to show other visitors what Amazon Studios has helped you accomplish.
On this statement alone I would tread lightly.
Wow, Amazon really are everywhere. I had no idea. Thanks for the info, Kathy.
This is so interesting! Thank you for sharing!
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