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Topic: Amazon Studios

Author: Frederick Mensch Posted: 11/16/10 11:57 PM

Amazon has started a new film/screenplay competition offering a combined $2.7 million in prizes, but if I'm reading the rules correctly all participants (not just winners) are granting Amazon a free 18-month option on their material. Yikes. What do you guys think of that?

Author: Phil Hwang Posted: 11/17/10 10:22 AM

18 months goes by in the blink of an eye so that doesn't bother me.

I guess I'm more concerned that the best projects won't be picked but the person with the most friends will be chosen.

Author: Marjory Kaptanoglu Posted: 11/17/10 12:55 PM

OMG, that contest has a lot of rules! Frederick, I'm with you. It's one thing to option your script if it's a monthly winner. If I understand correctly after skimming the mountain of rules, you're guaranteed at least 10k if you are the original writer of the winning project. That would certainly be worth an 18 month option and the possibility that your film might actually get made (by Warner Brothers!). But what if your script turns out not to be a winner, and in fact a much bigger loser than you thought in your first rush of excitement when you uploaded it to the Amazon site? Or if it's a project that's not popular with the Amazon crowd but that an indie filmmaker might've liked? Then your project idea is tied up for 18 months with no money for you and no chance of going anywhere until the 18 months have expired.

Look, I love the idea that Amazon is offering heaps of money to filmmakers and screenwriters, but I'm not sure I'd want to try this myself unless I had exhausted all other means of getting my script made.

What do other folks think?

Author: Julia Kubik Posted: 11/17/10 01:49 PM

If I'm reading it right, other people can make changes, possibly get paid a portion of the money that would have gone to you and not only do you grant Amazon an 18 month option, but they can extend the option for another 18 months.

Author: Andrea Holden Posted: 11/17/10 03:01 PM

I don't get a good feeling from this... 18 months is a long time and too many people are involved. So many loopholes as well. Wish the directions and rules were more clear cut.

Author: Julia Kubik Posted: 11/17/10 05:25 PM

Okay, I see now that people other than the owner of the original property, who submit revisions, do not have any rights, so I guess they don't get a cut.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/17/10 08:55 PM

I entered! Please download the script. Thanks!

http://studios.amazon.com/projects/193

Author: Robert Ward Posted: 11/17/10 10:50 PM

I'm in too. Feel free to download my script.

WARNING: IT'S A DARK, DEPRESSING STORY.

http://studios.amazon.com/scripts/328

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/17/10 11:35 PM

Robert,

Took me a couple hours to go through it but unfortunately going form Final Draft to RTF isn't enough.

You have to go back through and check the CAPS on all characters and all scene headings/transitions. MaNY timES it does oDD thinGS. Which is distracting.

Took me a couple hours to clean it up.

Also, I downloaded yours. Not sure if that counts as "activity" -- believe it takes a review. We can swap if you'd like.

Author: Robert Ward Posted: 11/18/10 01:15 AM

Thanks Stephen!

Yikes. Just got back from rtf hell. Thanks for the heads-up on the WeiRd StUfF. My eyes are torched but I got the revised script on there.

Author: Marjory Kaptanoglu Posted: 11/18/10 09:41 AM

Good luck to both of you! I'll download your scripts, though I'm not sure how soon I'll get to read them.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/18/10 09:54 AM

Read them? You don't actually have to do that much work.

Already been told by five people "It's a scam." Still giving it a shot.

Author: Robert Ward Posted: 11/18/10 01:27 PM

Will be interesting to see how the Amazon thing works out. Yes, a couple red flags have popped up. Plus, as Stephen has mentioned, the RTF Samurai slices up your beautiful Final Draft doc. And because I was lazy and didn't proof the RTF version that I sent to Amazon, I'm branded with having a revision of my script posted on the same day that I signed up.

Yeah! Makes me look so professional. (Actually, it makes me look like someone who doesn't proof what he submits.)

If you decide to try the Amazon thing, be sure you proof your script to perfection -- because once it's sent, it's going to sit on that site like an anchor in the sea. For 18 months!

I'm with Stephen. I'm going to ride it out and see what happens.

Author: Robert Ward Posted: 11/18/10 01:29 PM

And, by the way, here's the non-slaughtered, fixed-in-the-middle-of-the-night version of "Flat Pennies."

http://studios.amazon.com/scripts/567

Author: Donald Driscoll Posted: 11/18/10 05:59 PM

It's not just the 18 month option that I'm concerned about. It's all those rights that they claim they have forever, even if they don't exercise their option. Plus, once you submit to the "studio," you can never delete your script, even after 18 months. It's Amazon's to advertize and make available for download (or almost anything they want) forever as they please. That could spell trouble if after 18 months, the script finds life elsewhere.

I don't know. Seems a little fishy. I'm one of those that will wait to submit until after I've exhausted all other options.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/19/10 10:22 AM

Being bashed on the John August blog boards.

Still, seems like an opportunity for small fish like me:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/risky-business/amazoncom-brings-moviemaking-masses-amazon-45925

Author: Robert Ward Posted: 11/19/10 10:48 AM

The Amazon thing is definitely creating some buzz in the industry for its novel approach. And it does have its detractors. I've heard everything from friends from, "WTF are you doing?!" to "Didn't you read Frederick's post?"

I figure, why not? My "Flat Pennies" isn't exactly burning up the industry.

Just a thought... If I'm on Amazon for the mandatory 18 months as per the "contractual option agreement", doesn't that make me technically an optioned writer.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/19/10 11:26 AM

Ha! Good point. Congrats!

Also note an option agreement prohibits you from entering the script in most (all I know of) other contests.

The pros bash it. But they bash everything that brings new blood into the business.

I don't see the rewriting thing being a downside. Who is going to take the time and effort to do that? Nobody unless it's a friend of the writer. Plus, the original is still in play.

I've granted one year and then six more month options to a producer that didn't get a project off the ground. Don't see that as much of a negative.

Basically, a great deal all around IMHO. But I've got 20 scripts to shop!

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/22/10 01:18 AM

Update on my entry:

http://studios.amazon.com/scripts/206

Appreciate a download -- even if you don't have time to read it. More activity keeps me on the front page of the listings!

Got some helpful notes at first and then... some competitors showed up and bashed me a bit. Ah well. All part of 'peer review' sites and with the contest $ on the line... was to be expected.

I'm working on a new draft of the script and will be uploading it in a week or two. Still 10 weeks to go.

Amazon is going to hire judges from other screenwriting contests (we know that drill) to judge this one.

John August, Craig Mazin, etc. etc. -- all of the pros are bashing the contest and Amazon. But, hey, they are backing up a truck of 2.1 million in cash and handing it to newbies. That's bound to attract some negativity from established writers.

Thanks again for the support!

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 11/22/10 01:22 AM

Downloaded it.

Author: Debra Karr Posted: 11/23/10 09:02 AM

I put two of my small ones there, but you had better read the fine print. There is no delete button. People can pick at your material but you don't have to accept it. I figured these two don't have much of a chance so it doesn't hurt those two. And you only get a flat rate check if sold - about .5%..not much money for your work. Put it this way - these two of mine are already books so all their doing is free advertising for me plus exposing my money maker star script to Warner Brothers.......where there is a way there is a devious mind.......

Author: Robert Ward Posted: 11/23/10 10:21 AM

So true, Debra, about the "no delete button" dilemma.

I strongly recommend to anyone thinking of placing a script on Amazon to keep in mind my tale of woe.

Amazon only allows RTF files, not Final Draft or PDF. And in doing so, transferring your script from Final Draft to RTF completely mangles your script. Amazon mentions somewhere to make sure you check your RTF file for exactly that reason. I did not heed the advice. In fact, I didn't even look at the RTF version and went ahead and submitted it to Amazon.

I soon found out the RTF had messed up my four-year-old project and there was no way to fix the problem... other than downloading another version that has been corrected. Then you end up with two scripts on there, submitted within hours of each other -- the sign of somebody who didn't listen, someone not very thorough and maybe with a sloppy work ethic, a writer who simply rushed to get something on Amazon. Worst part is, some people have downloaded that original script. Oh that must look impressive in their eyes: "Wow, this guy doesn't know how to format a screenplay."

So that's my advice... proof that RTF with everything you got. Like Debra mentioned, there is no delete button on Amazon.

Author: Ron Brassfield Posted: 11/23/10 01:37 PM

EIGHTEEN month option? Long options don't work in the writer's favor. And, what kind of "option" involves no payment to the writer? What writer allows random others to take over their scripts under such exploitative circumstances? And, don't you realize you're sticking a dagger in the heart of the WGA when you encourage these union-busting scum from Amazon to just outright rip you off? Do you feel you're "doing an end-run around the system" when the net results are that you're giving away your work, and chipping away at all entertainment writers' negotiating base in the process?

NO WAY. I may never have any success myself, but, nevertheless, on ethical grounds alone, I will never regret taking this vow.

Amazon is the Wal-Mart of the internet. Over time, it has become clear Amazon is seeking the status of a monopolistic, retail-killing giant in every area of commerce. With this venture, they are really showing their arrogance. But, hey, arrogance has paid off time and again for other "giants" in the con artist field, hasn't it?

Practically a thousand have taken them up on the offer to give their work away, already? Shit. Run for the cliff, lemmings.

Read these blogs and get hip to what's wrong with this picture.

Craig Mazin

http://artfulwriter.com/?p=1103

Liz Shannon Miller

http://gigaom.com/video/amazon-studios-contract/

John August

http://johnaugust.com/

Jesse Harris

http://nffty.org/explore/your-say/amazon-the-movie-studio-yeah-right

Hal Croasmun of ScreenwritingU respectfully suggests to Amazon how they could fix this proposal so it wouldn't suck so badly.

http://www.screenwritingu.com/blog/2010/selling-your-screenplay/an-open-letter-to-amazon-studios

Author: Debra Karr Posted: 11/23/10 03:56 PM

I had the same problem when saving off my script from my script software to RTF - blew it out. But I found a template in Word for RTF to work off of. But it is cumbersome - ugh - unfortunately, there is no editing on this site and you must upload a new draft but I just included the note that this is a reformat and cut from the original.

If somebody needs a Word template for RTF - download at: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/screenplay-TC001018636.aspx?AxInstalled=1&c=0

Open and goto styles - open apply styles - to display the styles. Then it is a basic template in Word. Save as RTF. Big pain but it works. If it is to make money, then the big pain is worth the effort.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/23/10 06:48 PM

Well, I think all those pros are missing the boat. They want Amazon to write checks to... people already in the boat. Not newbies from Oklahoma who are great writers but can't move to L.A. and be flunkies for ten years.

2.7 MILLION DOLLAR$$$$$$$$ in a super crapy economy will be going out to new writers.

And yet... those very same writers complain and gripe the contest isn't perfect.

Are independent producers putting together films on a shoestring (the likely people you'd be working with if you're lucky enough to catch a break) paying $200,000 to NEW writers?

Nope.

I'm glad though the sheep have been scared away. Those of us with balls enough to take the shot will enjoy cashing in.

Have a nice 18 months not selling your script.







Author: d. santiago Posted: 11/23/10 07:01 PM

Personally, I'm waiting for the next or the following one. There's just too much hype and too many questions. I'm almost 100% positive Amazon will revise this after this first one.

Don

Author: Nancy Smith Posted: 11/23/10 07:36 PM

Moviebytes Member Ron Brassfield has it right. I suggest anyone interested in entering the Amazon Contest read the discussions in Script Magazine (www.scriptmag.com) by Michael Ferris and by screenwriter John August (www.johnaugust.com) to make an informed decision.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/23/10 08:41 PM

Well, we know 100% for sure the 12 BILLION DOLLAR Amazon will make good on its promise to give new writers and filmmakers $2,700,000.

What have all these bloggers and bashers ever done for you? Discouraged you from entering the best contest EVER?

Let's see. Nicholl. $40,000 paid over the course of a year with a dozen films over 20 years (many years it was the only contest).

Amazon.

$20,000 up front.

An additional $200,000 if they make your film with $400,000 more if it's a moderate hit.

Do the math.

Read the bashers. Ask yourself, "Do you have a script that's gathered dust for 18 months?"

Hey, I don't need the competition! But I hate to see people led astray by nay sayers who are protecting the status quo.

The internet = media revolution. Amazon did it to publishing. Now... movies? And you can be there on the ground floor.

Or not...

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/23/10 08:41 PM

Well, we know 100% for sure the 12 BILLION DOLLAR Amazon will make good on its promise to give new writers and filmmakers $2,700,000.

What have all these bloggers and bashers ever done for you? Discouraged you from entering the best contest EVER?

Let's see. Nicholl. $40,000 paid over the course of a year with a dozen films over 20 years (many years it was the only contest).

Amazon.

$20,000 up front.

An additional $200,000 if they make your film with $400,000 more if it's a moderate hit.

Do the math.

Read the bashers. Ask yourself, "Do you have a script that's gathered dust for 18 months?"

Hey, I don't need the competition! But I hate to see people led astray by nay sayers who are protecting the status quo.

The internet = media revolution. Amazon did it to publishing. Now... movies? And you can be there on the ground floor.

Or not...

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/23/10 10:13 PM

Amazon posted this response today:

http://studios.amazon.com/discussions/Tx1QN4TT103DR26/?ref=studio_tw_fineprint

Author: Walter Winton Posted: 11/24/10 02:43 AM

The funny thing is that all this debate and controversy is only raising the profile of this contest. You better believe that out of curiosity, writers, producers, CEs, and DEs will be skimming through the high-placing scripts, just to see if the system works. And, because of the herd mentality of Hollywood, if a script gets several good reviews, the power players will be predisposed to like it (the writers of the world, meanwhile, are predisposed to DESPISE it).

The rub is that even if the sharks end up liking the smell, the meal has already climbed out of the water for 18-36 months. Although it does leave open the possibility of a "what else yah got?" email.

My advice is that if you have ANY momentum on your writing career, don't enter this contest. The script you enter, unless it wins, is effectively dead to the industry. It's off the table. You'll be playing poker with only 4 cards in your hand. Nobody wants to touch a project that's tied up in Amazon legalese.

However, if your career is a little bogged down - you've exhausted your contacts; your main hope is shot-in-the-dark queries and competitions - I don't see anything wrong with giving it a try. You know the risks, you know the rewards. It "could" be a jump-start. And if not? Well, most careers take longer than 18 months to get off the ground anyway.

Just know what you're stepping into. YOUR SCRIPT IS UNDER OPTION FOR 18-36 MONTHS. If that doesn't seem like a problem, and for many young writers it probably isn't, then whatever.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/24/10 03:47 AM

Agree with your analysis.

I've got nearly 20 completed feature screenplays. Putting one (possibly two) into play because of the crazy prize money.

I'm also counting on the sheeple advanced wannabes to avoid the contest due to the option, etc. and that'll thin the competition out.

There'll still be 5,000 entrants though by the end of January! Too much money in this economy.

Amazon just eclipsed Nicholl as the most important screenwriting contest. $2,700,000 and screenplays that'll actually be made into films (only 10 or so from Nicholl have been made in 25 years or so of that contest).

It's a game changer. I'm there. Adapt to change fast or get left in the dust!



Author: Marjory Kaptanoglu Posted: 11/24/10 10:15 AM

Ron, I agree with you (and John and Craig and others). After much deliberation, I feel that entering the Amazon contest would only encourage them (and others) to continue to take advantage of writers. I don't want to be a part of saying that it's all right to option my script for 18 months with no compensation, or that it's all right for any random person off the street to modify my story. I don't want to be a part of a contest that, so far, has nothing to do with the quality of writing, and everything to do with the popularity of the author. How many ratings do you think are the result of a serious read of the scripts, a comparison with other submitted scripts, and a desire to rate the works honestly? And how many do you think are given as a favor to a friend, or conversely, to purposely lower someone else's standing in order to raise one's own?

I'm all for progress that helps writers. This does not.

Author: Walter Winton Posted: 11/24/10 11:40 AM

I can't disagree with any of your concerns, Marjory. The fact that scripts can be rewritten by others is the most ridiculous twist I've ever seen in any competition. It's straight up weird.

Overall, though, I don't feel this is a "writer's rights" issue or a "protect WGA" issue. It's a competition designed by a corporation that's inanely trying to merge user-generated media with movie-making. Its rules are stupid; most likely we'll see most of them changed by next year.

I also agree that the reviewer system is more about popularity than writing. I skimmed 5-10 pages of some of the leading scripts... meh. The 5-star reviews were predictably atrocious, written by people for whom this is a friend's/coworker's script, and the first one they've ever read.

End of the day?

.2% of entrants will have a career starting experience.

5% of entrants will have a "Grrrrr! I just screwed myself!" experience.

94.8% of entrants will have a zero sum experience.

I really don't think it's a big deal if people decide to enter or not.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/24/10 03:10 PM

Some guy just posted this on Craig Mazin's blog:

Bob The Lowly Club Employee

Dear Craig Mazin,

Why are you so offended/pissed off by this Amazon deal? It's not like it's directed at you or guys like youi.e., people already successful in the Hollywood establishment (''The Club''). It's for the benefit of Joe Schmoes in Idaho (''Schmidaho''), who, no matter how good they are, will never get their material looked at by the people who run The Club unless they happen to be related to/married to/best buddies with/sleeping with someone who runs The Club or knows someone who runs it (I'm a lowly employee for The Club and I've seen someone get a writing deal because he/she is buddies with a creative exec. This person brought nothing to the table: no writing sample; no idea; just the fact that he/she had a buddy who's a creative exec. And that exec also gave this person an idea to write — so he/she couldn't even come up with their own idea after they got the deal).

But let's say Schmidaho does somehow miraculously get someone who runs The Club to look at their material; Schmidaho is still going to have to sign a ''Standard Industry Release Form'' or else not have his/her material looked at. Which basically means Schmidaho is signing his/her material over to The Club. After which The Club can pass on said material but still have it ''on file'' which means they've obtained it FOR FREE (an aspect of the Amazon deal that seems to piss you off in particular) and use it at any time in the future without giving compensation/credit or any of the other good stuff members of The Club get from WGA etc. (another aspect of the Amazon deal that seems to piss you off in particular).

I don't know Craig, you look like a really nice guy in your IMDB photos so maybe I'm doing you an injustice here (and I apologize in advance if I am), but maybe you're pissed off by the Amazon deal because it's aimed at Schmidaho who cannot get into The Club and you don't like the idea that Schmidaho might get a job you could've had. I mean, as you say, Amazon does have a boatload of dough (paraphrasing) but instead of pouring it into The Club, whose controllers will then just hire a guy like you and pay you the next step up from whatever your current quote is (you're no John August so I doubt it's 1.5 mil but you're probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 300k to 500k for a First Draft, what with Hangover II now in your repertoire), Amazon is throwing this ''crazy get-a-free-option'' deal at Schmidaho.

And I ask you, at this stage of his/her career (which is basically writing for nobody and nothing in their little room on their little farm in the middle of a wheat field), do you really think Schmidaho gives a crap about all those awesome WGA etc. benefits? Of course not! All Schmidaho wants at this stage is to have his/her material seen/heard/acknowledged; and while I agree that the Amazon deal is no guarantee of any of those things, from my own experiences as a struggling writer slaving away as a lowly employee of The Club, it's more than The Club is offering or will ever offer.

The Club is not interested in helping Schmidaho push his wagon out of the mud, only jumping on that wagon once Schmidaho has got it rolling. Only after Schmidaho proves himself and does something that grabs the world's/The Club's attention (unless he's the ''person'' with the best buddy creative exec., in which case he need bring nothing to the table to get a deal) will the vultures who run The Club come circling — and not because they now want to help Schmidaho, but because they smell money and want to get their hands on it.

So yeah, the Amazon deal sucks, but it's the only deal Schmidaho has a shot at.

Author: Irin Evers Posted: 11/24/10 03:24 PM

I saw that over on Artful Writer. When you sign a submission release form, it's just so you can't turn around and sue who you're submitting to. They're not optioning the script, nor do they have rights to the script in any way, and you can send it anywhere else you want to. If they want to option or buy it, then a contract has to be drawn up,

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/24/10 06:04 PM

But you signed away right to get in the door. I've done no dollar options for a year. Producer couldn't raise the money.

Who here has a script that's essentially gone nowhere in the last year, two, three...?

That's what i posted on the site. Rewriting it this weekend. The winners will also be contacted by agents and producers, "what else ya got??". All the other scripts then come into play.









Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/24/10 06:07 PM

Distribution of content was a huge barrier. Amazon can sell, say .99 downloads of a film or "tv" or buy it for 1.99. They want content to do that.

Look at the people that started with Roger Corman. Catch that first break somehow. And Amazon ... Warner Brothers... Worth a try IMHO.

Author: Walter Winton Posted: 11/24/10 08:25 PM

Irin's absolutely right. A standard industry release is NOTHING like a free option. And even the standard free option is NOTHING like the Amazon option.

With a normal free option, you're signing with a producer who is excited about your script and will work to get it made (or so they tell you). With the Amazon option, they own the rights without necessarily having any personal excitement toward the script. That's what has people, rightfully, so wary of this contest. If, say, the prize was "you win $10,000 and Amazon gets an 18 month exclusive period to shop it" there wouldn't be an uproar. But as it's written, a script could be out of the running in the contest in a few months and still be tied up for over a year after that. That's why this is a bad deal.

But, as I've said before, every writer should weigh the risks and rewards.

Author: Robert Prosser Posted: 11/26/10 07:01 AM

These people have studied this and written about it in detail.

Definitely worth a look.

http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/motion-captured/posts/the-morning-read-why-amazon-studios-is-a-very-bad-idea-for-writers

http://johnaugust.com/archives/2010/on-the-amazon-film-thing

Author: Timothy Jay Smith Posted: 11/27/10 09:55 PM

If anyone is interested in reviewing/ranking my screenplay, COOPR'S PROMISE, I just listed it. Amazon Studios is a new paradigm in a changing marketplace. It's worth the shot. Please read and review Cooper's Promise. It's the story of a deserter from the war in Iraq who must redeem himself for a broken promise to his sister before he can go home.

Author: Poetist Soul Posted: 11/28/10 05:57 AM

Okay, I was in a quandry, so I went straight to YouTube to makes some sense of all of this.

Here is what Amazon says:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncqRi8hqyr0&NR=1

Here is the rebuttal:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5jDGvNiQR4&feature=player_embedded



Here it is the dummy's version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U23fqi1uJ3k&feature=related



Since I know nothing of RTF, other than it sounds like a pain, I will skip this contest.

Well, that's what I think at this very moment.

Author: Robert Ward Posted: 11/28/10 01:52 PM

Hi Poetist.

I can feel your concern. Don't know if you read my RTF-related post above, but hopefully it didn't add to the cautionary cauldron. Changing your screenplay from Final Draft to RTF is actually an extremely easy process. It's just that I was lazy and didn't proof my RTF version before I posted it on Amazon (which they warn you to do). After Stephen Hoover pointed it out to me, I went back into it and corrected everything. The RTF is really simple. Exactly what RTF is supposed to accomplish -- make it easy for anyone with any computer and any software out there to open the file.

Here's what the RTF version looks like when you download the screenplay...

http://studios.amazon.com/scripts/567

And as far as the "Amazon Adventure" is going, I'm having a blast on the trip. I'm pretty sure Stephen Hoover is having a good time too, especially with all the exposure his script has been getting.

If you're like me, and you aren't getting the access for your script you're looking for (I personally have been pounding the Hollywood Wall, which is as high as it is thick, with Roman siege catapults for four years to no avail), then give the Amazon method a go if you'd like. Thanks!

Author: Joseph Kenny Posted: 11/28/10 09:05 PM

More discussion and information here:

That Amazon Studios Screenplay Contest: Heavenly Or Hellish? Scribes Weigh In...

http://www.deadline.com/2010/11/that-amazon-studios-screenplay-contest-heavenly-or-hellish-scribes-weigh-in/

Author: Michael Raymond Posted: 11/28/10 09:28 PM

There's just something about this that doesn't "feel" right. Dumb, I know. Still pondering and sitting on the fence.

As for the whole "activity" element helping the script (downloads, comments, etc.), it almost seems like the person with the most Facebook friends and bigger network gets a leg up. It'd just be nice to think that everything is ultimately judged on merit, which I certainly hope/presume it is.

Author: Poetist Soul Posted: 11/29/10 02:45 AM

I think I'll put my second-rate script out there to see how it does.

I do not have too much confidence to put my best work out there.

Author: Poetist Soul Posted: 11/29/10 02:47 AM

Oh, what is RTF and how do I turn my FD into it.

Author: Philip Sedgwick Posted: 11/29/10 11:05 AM

Great article on Pitchfest.com in their November newsletter by Entertainment Attorney, Gano Lemoine. A must read for those still on the fence.

Author: Julia Kubik Posted: 11/29/10 02:13 PM

Poetist, do you really want to put a second rate script out there as an example of your work?

Author: Walter Winton Posted: 11/29/10 03:17 PM

Don't put scripts from your personal slush pile out there!

Unlike other contests that just tuck away the bad scripts, at Amazon, your script is on the internet... for as long as they wish. Not only that, but the bad reviews are there as well. Any potential rep who googles you will come across a page of ready-made coverage; if your script is second-rate, the coverage will show it.

This is a contest for a GOOD/GREAT script that for whatever reason, just can't gain traction through the traditional query process (maybe it's just not a loglineable script).

This is a PUBLIC contest. Only put out work that you want the public to see.

Author: Robert Ward Posted: 11/29/10 04:52 PM

Hi Poetist:

Wow, with all the negativity surrounding the Amazon Experience I feel like a dirty old man in a trench coat trying to lure you away with candy, but here goes...

Making a RTF copy of your script is easy.

Do a "Save As"

Pick a title. Pick a location. And scroll through the "Format:" selections. You'll see "Rich Text Format"

Choose that and your done.

Sort of... The RTF copy will have a bunch of things to fix, primarily sOMe WoRDs tHaT look like ThIS.

Takes a bit of proofreading (maybe an hour) and be sure you are thorough and satisfied with the copy. Then you can go to Amazon and they'll instruct you through the fairly easy process.

And BTW, Walter Winton was spot on with "This is a contest for a GOOD/GREAT script that for whatever reason, just can't gain traction through the traditional query process."

That's precisely why I put my script on Amazon. My story is dark and depressing. And even though I believe there's an audience for that type of film (think about depressing and yet popular "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"), I need all the access help I can get.

I'm ready to try anything at this point. Even candy from a guy in a trench coat.

Author: Michael Scott Posted: 11/29/10 06:09 PM

Now I'm really confused. Are you actually saying that I need to buy a trench coat to enter? Aren't my ice cream truck and white paneled van creepy enough? I hate these stupid rules. If you need me, I'll be in the back yard burning my clown costume. So, so depressing!

Author: Poetist Soul Posted: 11/30/10 02:44 AM

I was thinking of putting out a B-level script, because I did not want to chance holding up a superior script.

I'm afraid of the unknown and the truly weird.

Am I to believe others can take credit for something I slave over for well over a year?

Plus, if I put a B-level script out there, that needs some fixing, I would not mind giving someone credit, but a superior script that is pretty much ready to go?

To me, a B-level I can fix with suggestions from the readers, but I still do not know how all that works.

Do I have to take their suggestions or can I ignore them?

Anyway, if one or two of them come up with a solution to my script that works, I would not mind giving them a slice of the pie.

I can be happy with that.

Author: Poetist Soul Posted: 11/30/10 02:47 AM

Oh, thanks, Robert for the RTF tutorial.

I knew that, but I suffer from CRS . . .

Can't remember shite.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/30/10 06:16 AM

Nobody is rewriting anything on the site, nor are they likely to do so.

Rewriting is a ton of work. It may take days or weeks to rewrite a screenplay. Then, there's nothing you can do with the rewrite but post it on Amazon. You don't own the copyright or characters.

The 'crowd sourcing' thing isn't going to happen as far as active rewriting. People are absorbed in their own scripts and are working on those.

That was an unjustified concern people had about entering.

Author: Robert Ward Posted: 11/30/10 01:03 PM

Amazon Studios is a RIP OFF!!! Warning: Do Not Approach Amazon Studios!

We're being conned. The option agreement comes from the devil's lair. Hoover is an android with caustic intent. Hacks will completely rewrite your gem and steal your ideas. And as stated in at least one blog, writers who use Amazon Studios are union-busting misanthropes tantamount to scabs.

Fine with me. I'll man the megaphone myself. The more frightened everyone is and the fewer writers I have to compete with the better.

Last I checked, there were only 398 projects in the Drama genre, with a vast amount of movies, not even scripts. That means that numerically, I'm sitting pretty for the truckloads of exposure and cash Amazon is throwing at its contests.

Color me many things, but color me green.

Author: Nick Stoli Posted: 11/30/10 04:57 PM

Don't get the logic of, "everyone I've shown this script to thinks it's a B-level script (at best), so let me upload it at Amazon Studios!"

Why? So if someone actually reads it there, they can unload on you in their review?

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/30/10 05:04 PM

I uploaded two scripts.

1. A western that's won a couple of contests. But... westerns are a tough sell. No real high concept to mine it's more of a throwback/traditional-style western. But solid. Good writing sample and has a shot in a contest.

2. An early (pretty rough/needs work) draft of a comedy. I'm doing a total rewrite of it. Premise is strong but execution is ... Well, was where I was craft-wise a couple of years ago.

Why did I enter it? Was gathering dust on my hard drive. Still a solid premise. I needed to rewrite it. $20,000 would pay a stack of bills on my desk.

A few people have 'unloaded' on it but I'm rewriting it. Think vastly improving a script shows judges that a writer is capable of doing rewrites.

So we'll see. It's just one of 100 approaches I'm taking to catch a break and get produced film credits.

Fortunately, I've got 20 screenplays to shop.

It's the ability to write that's key. Material. I can write screenplays. Not worried about hanging on to one precious project. I'll go write 100 more in my career.

Author: Dana Garrity Posted: 11/30/10 05:30 PM

Bottom Line: Shady

Anybody can download your script, revise it, re-enter it by marking it a "revision." That can be done repeatedly. Literally dozens of people can add to your work and claim part ownership of it.

In the end Amazon decides who gets the writing credit.

Here's a nice kicker. Someone can download your script, revise it, then sell it away from Amazon. If that happens, by agreeing to the terms, you waive your rights to sue that person(s).

Think I stay away from this one.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/30/10 07:41 PM

I copyright all my work. Good luck to anyone that tries to steal it as I will sue. Entering a script in a contest doesn't trump federal copyright law. That's silly.

But that's just my personal opinion and you should consult an entertainment attorney before deciding on a course of action.

Who is rewriting scripts? Rewrites take days/weeks/months. People are working on their own scripts.

But ... I'm in the contest so... you're right! Don't enter. Avoid it!

Already 1250 entrants. Certainly don't need more competition.

Author: Dana Garrity Posted: 11/30/10 08:22 PM

Stephen, did you really read the agreement. All the stuff I mentioned is one there. And a lot more.

You waive your right to sue Amazon or anyone who downloads it and changes it. Read the agreement.

Author: Dana Garrity Posted: 11/30/10 08:42 PM

And someone can rewrite a SCENE and still get a writing credit if anything ever happens.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 11/30/10 10:33 PM

Federal copyright law. Look into it. Why I copyright everything I write. Agreements modifying copyright rights have certain legal requirements for them to be valid.

If your copyright is violated, you are entitled to statutory damages of $30,000 up to $150,000 per act of violation plus attorney fees.

Not here to debate legal issues. Consult your own attorney. Make your own decisions.

BTW, if you ever posted a script on TriggerStreet their user agreement claims options rights and rights in perpetuity. These have never been enforced as they know they'd lose.

Author: Janet Hogate Posted: 12/03/10 05:06 PM

I don't know. This sounds pretty risky to me. I mean I know we're suppose to get our scripts out there and I do have mine several places. And.... Ive had it copywritten 3 times.

But Im more concerned about people taking bits and pieces of my script and its really hard to ever know or proove that they did. I mean Ive already seen things in and about my script in already produced material but it could just be coincidental. So Ill pass. I think Im already taking too many chances.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 12/04/10 12:28 AM

Do you...

1. Not have representation at a major agency or manager?

2. Have no produced credits?

3. Not live in Los Angeles where you are constantly networking?

4. Have a screenplay that you've not sold or optioned in the last 18 months?

5. Won or done well in contests before?

6. Realized your odds of breaking into this business are extremely shitty?

7. Have a large number of scripts?

8. Have the ability and time to write more scripts?

9. Have a marketable concept?

10. Have a desire to be a professional writer?

11. Have a need for $20,000?

Well, that's me. So I'm in!

Author: Michael Raymond Posted: 12/04/10 02:31 PM

No need to be so heavy-handed . . . or at least that's the way you continue to come across. It's probably just the challenge of communicating online vs. face-to-face.

We respect the fact that you find this contest a no-brainer in terms of entering. So please just respect the fact that someone can answer "yes" to your laundry list of questions and still have legitimate concerns or reservations.

It doesn't make them any less dedicated to their craft or their career.

Author: Michael Hemmingson Posted: 12/04/10 02:54 PM

This is, like many, a contest designed to suck money out of losers. Remember what PT Barnum once said.

Try this, like others have -- move to LA or at least southern california, get a crappy industry job, go to bars and parties, network, get a rep, network, enter legit contests...

Author: Dan Cortes Posted: 12/05/10 02:01 PM

1. 18 months plus in perpetuum on all derivative materials based on your original screenplay (test movies, etc.). Which means Warner Brothers could go on to make a film almost exactly like yours and pay you NOTHING so it seems. 2. The contest feeds WB. so be mindful of the types of scripts they develop. You cannot mention or even display your script during that 18 months FREE option to Amazon. 3. You are meat for the grinder. Basically content for Amazon for marketing publicity and potential material for WB. There's A LOT of competition. But the allurement is the thought of EASY money MONTHLY! Aint gonna happen for 99.999% of the fodder on there. Even potentially great scripts can get lost in the misinterpretation of material in derivative content and crappy test videos. There's one guy on there who is an "all-time-hit" and his trailer/execution sucks. 4. If your material wins you may be splitting 50/50 with other creators who helped you win. Not so bad though. But in the end when WB picks it up (even if they decide to) they will bring on a REAL writer (with credits) to re-write you. Then fire that writer and hire another writer (with credits) to re-write that guy so they have some level of confidence they they had their hand in the pot and it's worthy to dump $80M into. Only after 10 other people re-wrote you on Amazon in the first place. If your script even gets on the big screen be assured it will look nothing like the original version you submitted. 5. But you could throw it up there. Loose it for 18 months which is probably as long as it's been sitting on your computer's hard drive. Get some nominal exposure and make some new writing friends? How precious is your material? Be prepared to lose it. That's how it works. At least a panel of industry experts will be making the final decisions NOT the audience. That's just for fun and marketing flair.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 12/05/10 03:39 PM

How "precious" is your material? With 50,000 screenplays registered every year ... 17% of repped writers with agents/managers high enough the food chain to make the Scroggins Report... Producers having no interest in working with a new writer... More peole in film school than law school...

You tell me. For 99.999% of people that take up screenwriting it'll be a very expensce and time-consuming hobby.

Amazon is handing out 2,740,000 + to rookies.

People complain?

We don't live in a perfect world; we live in this world. Catch your breaks where you can and get in the game.

But good luck to you, sir.















Author: Janet Hogate Posted: 12/06/10 07:28 PM

I suppose that if my scripts were any other kind of genre than what they are, musicals, I would think this is a good deal. Its just that my scripts have several songs I wrote and several dances with detailed choreography in them which I really don't want someone to take and rearrange. That's what I meant by bits and pieces. I suppose I could leave out the details but then I don't know how good the "musical part"' would be.

Author: Pam Burkley Posted: 12/08/10 07:46 PM

The "crowd sourcing" option that allows virtually anyone to rewrite any of the scripts that get entered...... I don't like this. I think you give up too much.

It's one of those 'walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it's a duck' kinda things. Just my opinion.

Author: Devin La Rosa Posted: 12/08/10 08:35 PM

One wonders why someone would be so adamant about defending a corporate-sponsored contest (while also arguing that "don't enter it's getter for me!"), and becoming belligerent about it.

Having dealt with Amazon as a consumer and merchant, I smell a death by a thousand fees. It's their business model.

Amazon's "internet publishing revolution" is one step closer to making writers into uncompensated "content providers". What do you think this will do with the film industry?

There's no guarantee they ever actually produce anything. Why would industry power brokers care anymore about this contest than the million others out there? They'll still have their eye firmly on the main chance, and that's ALWAYS the tried and true, no matter how hackneyed it may be.

$60 million in box office gross? That's a Megamillions-style come-on.

Gano Lemoine's analysis of the Amazon agreements would definitely keep me from signing on. But I guess I'm just a sheeple wannabe without real balls, unlike some ITGs.

Author: NAOMI E. BIGELOW Posted: 12/08/10 09:01 PM

After posting one message about Amazon Studios, realized that it was on the wrong thread. I did carefully review the rules, discussed it with our attorney, and decided there was no way it was to my advantage to enter their contest. Even if one of my screenplays were to win a prize, including the Grand Prize, what I would give up is more than I care to. I want control of my work and won't abdicate that control on the ones my business partner and I have developed. Not that I would never write for someone else to produce, but of the material we're working on now is anything I'm willing to throw to the whole world to mess with. Essentially, entering the Amazon Studios contest means you've kissed your work good-bye and if you happen to win, you've still lost control of it. That's a gamble I don't care to take. The one contest that I have entered was a disaster and I learned a lot; the screenplay was so bad it should have been burned. This is my own opinion based on reviewing it after writing five later screenplays and adapting another author's novel. The story was great as a novella but when looked at it later, that script was so awful I get so embarrassed that I want to write under a different name. Yeah, I could rewrite it and one day may do that, but for now, I will leave it as is and at least feel good about how different my others are now!

Author: Timothy Jay Smith Posted: 12/08/10 09:16 PM

You sign an option or sell your screenplay, you've basically signed it away. That's how the business works. I think it's worth a shot. Schmidaho.

Author: Kristen Payne Posted: 12/08/10 09:40 PM

Eh, I entered one of mine just for the fun of it.

http://studios.amazon.com/projects/2204

I'll be curious to see if anyone even downloads it without some sort of massive campaigning on my part. I think one month I'll do nothing and one month I'll campaign like crazy to see which one does better.

Author: Janet Hogate Posted: 12/09/10 06:19 AM

So, when they talk about your script being out of circalation for 18 month, does that mean the contest circut too? All of you will be out of the other competitions for a while ? Sweet. Just kidding.

Author: Michael Scott Posted: 12/09/10 05:35 PM

I'm still amazed the Oliver Stone hasen't chimed in yet, we seem to have quite a conspiracy on our hands. Personally, I'm blaming it all on the one armed man who lives on the grassy knoll.

Author: Patrick Daly Posted: 12/27/10 07:08 PM

I've been a big-time lurker on this board for quite some time because I simply haven't had anything to say. I've crawled out of the woodwork to do some shameless self-promotion. After following this entire thread, Mr. Hoover convinced me to go into my archives and put a screenplay up on Amazon Studios. So, here it is: http://studios.amazon.com/users/13621

Author: Patrick Daly Posted: 01/13/11 09:38 AM

Congratulations to Stephen Hoover for having TWO scripts make the semi-finals in Amazon's Demcember contest!

Author: Irin Evers Posted: 01/13/11 10:54 AM

Congrats Stephen!

Author: Janet Hogate Posted: 01/13/11 10:56 AM

Congrats. Stephen Hoover. Nice to see you back Patrick.

Author: Patrick Daly Posted: 01/13/11 12:43 PM

Thanks!

Author: terry coffey Posted: 01/13/11 02:48 PM

Congrats Stephen...and I mean that twice!

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 01/13/11 03:02 PM

Yay!!! Stephen!!!!!

Author: d. santiago Posted: 01/13/11 05:38 PM

Congrats Stephen!

You've been an ardent supporter of this and so I hope it works out for you.

Don

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 01/13/11 07:32 PM

Thanks x 2!

I think this contest is one of the best opportunities I've ever come across. Glad to be a part of it.

Author: Irin Evers Posted: 01/14/11 12:41 PM

I sense a big "I told you so" coming from Mr. Hoover in the near future! (Fingers crossed for that).

Author: Robert Watson Posted: 01/14/11 01:04 PM

Congrats, Stephen. Good luck!

Author: Susan St. Peters Posted: 01/14/11 01:18 PM

Congratulations, Stephen! I haven't been on the boards here in awhile, and I'm delighted to learn of this good news.

Author: Patrick Daly Posted: 01/17/11 05:58 PM

From the completely uncalled for files:

http://theauditorz.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/amazon-studios-top-shitty-50-reviewed/

Author: xander davis Posted: 01/18/11 10:39 AM

As I see it, from a brief skim of the legalities, the contest is a way for Amazon Studios to get not only ideas, but a partial conception of how those ideas might develop in a plot, all for free.

Sure, they compensate the top scripts but only because 5 digit pay-outs are laughable to them.

In the odd chance a "great script" is missed the first time around, they have it sitting in their archive to use at their leisure without any consideration to the writer.

??? Do they credit the original writer if the work is produced? ??? (I am wondering, I didn't see anything about it.)

If they do paste your name on some part of the credits then perhaps, in some small way it is worth it.

Until then, of the many scripts I will birth, I will only give to Amazon the most deformed and ugliest of my creative property.

As should any [good] writer.

Author: Irin Evers Posted: 01/18/11 11:20 AM

But I don't understand that either - why post your worst work online for all to see? I want to bury mine! I want people to see (what I think is) my strongest work, not my worst.

Author: Marjory Kaptanoglu Posted: 01/18/11 11:42 AM

And why would you expect that your "most deformed and ugliest" creative property might win the contest? Because it might be less ugly and deformed than the scripts other writers are pulling out of drawers? But then, would you really expect Warner Brothers to want to produce such a script? So, is it worth 20k to have one of the worst examples of your work posted for all to see for 18 months?

Moreover, you'll be killing that script for 18 months in the most likely case that it doesn't win. I have to agree with "the auditorz" that there is little likelihood Amazon will read new versions of a script they passed over one month, to consider it for winning the next month. It seems to me all those passed-over scripts on Amazon are now dead to the world.

Author: Stephen Hoover Posted: 01/18/11 02:31 PM

Amazon will read the improved drafts. You rewrite the script after receiving notes from fellow writers. I've already gotten some great feedback.

I have some of my best work on the site. Looks like a great opportunity to me.

Not everyone is right for every contests. Some may say a fellowship where the sponsor has first right of refusal to ALL of your scripts is exploitative.

Even in the film world, no dollar options, $10,000 script sales (or less -- the dreaded "points on the back end" -- aptly described). Are all those horrible things that happen every day for writers trying to create that first break?

Does $20,000 plus $200,000 plus $400,000 sound all that bad? Not to me.

But there are already 2,400 competitors! Don't need any more.

Have a great 2011 everyone!

Author: MIKE DONALD Posted: 01/19/11 05:26 PM

Well done...who said it was all about perseverance, and something to do with rewriting, good on ya, as the Brits would say if they'd been scripted by Dick Van Dyke :)

Go boy go!