Source: Genre Hacks & @RoyPrice
#screenwriting #film #contest
“Last year I interviewed Amazon Studios Director, Roy Price, about Amazon’s commitment to “develop movies in a new way” (see: Amazon Studios: An Interview with Roy Price.) At that time there was still a lot of skepticism among screenwriters about Amazon’s option policy, their relationship with the WGA, and the exposure of scripts (and ideas) to the public after uploading.
Never the less, the experience of writers and filmmakers who won prizes and entered the Amazon development and test-film process was mostly positive (see: An Amazon Studios Screenwriter.) What I found interesting about Amazon was that they were willing to adjust their policies and the process based on feedback from the writers and filmmakers themselves, which struck me as unique in the closed world of Hollywood studios and production companies.
A week ago, Amazon announced additional changes to address writers’ concerns, and as a result, “Amazon Studios 2.0” (as one blogger put it) has been met with cautious enthusiasm by several of its most prominent critics (Read the reaction of The Bitter Script Reader, and listen to John August's Podcast.)
So once again, I spoke with Amazon Studios head Roy Price to gain a little insight on the studio’s intentions…
SH: Last Friday, April 6, Amazon Studios announced a major revision in the deal it is offering to screenwriters and filmmakers. Does this indicate a major shift in Amazon’s core philosophy and goals?
RP: Our core philosophy and goals have stayed the same—we still believe that an open door and a large scale feedback driven development process will help us make great movies that audiences will love. We received a lot of great feedback from writers last year, and we listened. The changes we have made were all done to present a more desirable offer to screenwriters and filmmakers.
SH: One of the major stumbling blocks for screenwriters had been the “18 month option” that scribes had to agree to just to upload their scripts. How has that option agreement changed, and why do you think it’s a better deal?
RP: Now, when you upload your script we automatically have a 45 day exclusive option and evaluation period, instead of the 18 months. After 45 days we will either pay you $10,000, or you can take your script back. You can also stay to get feedback from the community and exchange ideas with other writers on the site, but you can take your project down at any time. You’re not tied to us. I think people will prefer that.
SH: Previously, writers belonging to the Writers’ Guild of America could not submit scripts, because Amazon Studios was not signatory. This caused a lot of criticism from writers worried about residuals, screen credit, and other rights protected by the union. Now Amazon has signed with the WGA, and members can submit. What prompted this change?
RP: At Amazon Studios we have an open door for all writers and we want to make sure that any writer can share their story with us. Making our production affiliate (People’s Production Company) a signatory to the WGA allows us to hear ideas from more writers. We’re about being open to everyone.
SH: Amazon will be no longer holding screenplay contests and giving away prize money. What is the reasoning behind this shift? Was Amazon Studios being confused with traditional “screenplay contests?”
RP: We found some great projects last year through the screenplay contests and met some great people; 14 of the scripts on our development slate were award winners. We realized that we could just have an open door and option things like a normal production company. It doesn’t have to be a contest……….”