Amazon Studios gives screenwriters and indie film and video artists the chance to get noticed. While this is very exciting news, there are some good points and bad points to this. </strong>
First the good:
- You might get industry exposure – There are often guest judges and there is a chance your screenplay, table read, or sample movie could be seen by the right people at the right time.
- You can get feedback on your script – People have the option of voting for (or against) your script. But a lot of times they have valuable insight as to what you could do to make it stronger. Most of the comments I’ve seen so far have been great.
- It’s a new venture – New contests mean fewer entrants. If you’re good, this could really give you a chance to stand out in the crowd!
- You can win money! – Yup! In 2011 Amazon is giving away $1.1 million dollars, with about $150k up for grabs each month.
- Your screenplay could be optioned – That’s right – Amazon may pay you up to $200,000 to option your screenplay during the first 18 months since you upload your script. And they might actually make it into a movie (they’re partnered with Warner Bros. – the biggest Hollywood studio). Pretty wow!
And here’s the bad news:
- Your screenplay could be optioned – That’s right – this positive is also a downer. By uploading your work, you give Amazon Studios the *exclusive* right to option your screenplay for the next 18 months. This means if someone else decides they want to make your movie – regardless of how much they want to pay you, you can’t sell it until the exclusive rights you grant Amazon Studios expire.
- They can extend your option another 18 months – Sure, they’ll pay you another $10k, but your script could be tied up for a total of 36 months. That’s three years, or 21 in Hollywood years. So if you have a hot or timely topic, you might just kiss your chances goodbye…
- People can make test movies of your script – This could be as simple as a table read, which could actually give you a great sense of how the dialogue is or is not working and how other people are interpreting the lines. Unfortunately, a crappy test movie might deter people from reading your script.</ol>
Check out the Amazon Studios FAQs.
My recommendation? If you’re positive your screenplay is polished enough, enter it into a couple of great contests and see how you fare there. Your best bet would be to place in the semi-finals or finals and use those as selling points to land an agent. And if you don’t get any biters, I would try Amazon Studios after that.
But this is a decision you need to make for yourself. Hopefully this brief overview will help you do just that.