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Geoff Alexander
11-17-2010, 10:49 AM
This deserves to be in the business section. Why would anyone would enter a contest that triggers an automatic 18 month option on their material and only pays out 100k for best script of the year and 200k if the movie gets made AND RELEASED THEATRICALLY?!

A garbage deal.

Juno Styles
11-17-2010, 11:40 AM
What are the details? I only found this http://m.gizmodo.com/5692348/amazon-gets-into-the-movie-producing-business-with-amazon-studios

lobster
11-17-2010, 12:05 PM
You can find all the details here: http://studios.amazon.com/

I agree that the main problem with this is the 18-month option. If you were a monthly winner (guaranteed a min of $10k), it would be quite okay to grant the option. But Amazon is requiring every original project that is uploaded to agree to the option. So even if your project turns out not to be a winner and just languishes on the site, you cannot go elsewhere with it for 18 months.

Regarding the 100k payout if they make your film, hey, that's better than the WGA minimum for a feature. I have no problem with that part. I would seriously consider entering if it wasn't for the 18 month option.

MJ Scribe
11-17-2010, 12:25 PM
WOW.

Good news- it's free to enter contest
Bad news- they own it for at least 18 mos.

From their FAQ page:.

"So for 18 months after you create a project at Amazon Studios, you cannot display, sell or license your script or test movie elsewhere, or withdraw it for any reason. However, when the option term ends, if we haven't exercised our option and purchased your work, you will get back non-exclusive rights to your original material."

BETTER YET:

"If you revise your own script or movie with original material, the rights to your original revisions are considered part of your original script or movie and the rights in the original revisions go with the rights in the original script or movie."

And, NOT TO BE OUTDONE:

for the low, low option price of $10,000...

Is there a way for me to prevent an extension of the initial option on my original script or test movie?

No. If you created a project with an original script or test movie, you not only granted Amazon Studios the exclusive option to your script or movie for 18 months, but also the right to extend that option another 18 months by paying you $10,000. You cannot decline this extension, even by refusing payment.
</SPAN>


Thanks for the heads up SBScript.

So even if you're script is horrible and you're making it better, you still can't sell it for at least 18mos? That'll catch alot of folks flat-footed, methinks.

Rantanplan
11-17-2010, 12:26 PM
Here are the details. The bold = if you write a script that is bought, produced, successful and sequeled, you would win a total of 700 K.

You get


A chance to win money. Your script, along with scripts and movies based on it, will be considered for Amazon Studios contest awards for which it is eligible.
A chance to get paid for your script. We’re looking for projects that can be produced as full-budget movies. If we exercise an option you give us to acquire all rights in your script, you will get $200,000. And if a film we theatrically release based on your script makes more than $60 million in U.S. box office receipts in its initial release, you will get another $400,000.
A chance to get paid even more down the road. You’ll also get $100,000 if we theatrically release a sequel, prequel or spin-off movie, and $5,000 per episode if we make it into a TV series.
Exposure for your work. You’ll have a chance to get feedback from the international community of screenwriters and filmmakers at Amazon Studios. You give


An exclusive option to buy your script (and its associated rights) during an 18 month option period, for $200,000, plus other possible bonuses. We can extend the option another 18 months by paying you $10,000.(Does this mean free option at first?)

The exclusive right to develop your script during the option period (for instance by putting it up at Amazon Studios and allowing people to review it, to make movies based on it and to revise it).
The right to show or distribute your script (and scripts and movies based on it that are made during the option period), which is a right that goes on forever, except that we do not have the right to show or distribute it or scripts or movies based on it in theaters, on DVD or Blu-ray or via linear broadcast or cable TV or a la carte sales or rentals online. We also have the right to use clips from movies based on your script it in all media.

So for 18 months after you create a project at Amazon Studios by contributing an original script, you cannot display, sell or license your script elsewhere, or withdraw it for any reason. However, when the option period ends, if we haven’t exercised our option and purchased all rights in your script, you get back rights to your script (but we still have the right to distribute your original script and scripts and movies based on it as described above). Rights in scripts and movies based on your script stay with us.
-----


I actually think this might not be a bad deal for those who have scripts that might be a good fit for Amazon's budget / sensibilities. After all, 18 months go by fast, many writers here submit the same script year after year to contests, or query on the same script for 1-2 years, so why not do something different with it?

scripto80
11-17-2010, 01:40 PM
Also, once produced, Amazon owns it and can distribute it freely. i.e. they can stream it for free on their site all day, every day. And not pay you a single cent.

It's a great deal for the kind of people who just want to make a quick buck and have their 15 minutes of fame, but for a real writer it's a slap in the face. Some might say "It could be a stepping stone, to help you get discovered!" ok great but nothing changes the fact that you'd be getting a crappy deal. $200k for a small indie or mid level studio flick even would be great, but they're not looking for that. They're looking for movies that will MAKE MONEY, and they said it themselves. They want to make a lot of money and pay you next to nothing comparatively and that's absurd.

Also, what's up with the revision bit? Go take a look at that part. It seems like they're saying basically that once you put it up, anyone can come along and revise it. And if they're revision is the one selected to be made, then they get half the sale. And you can't prevent someone from revising your script. So....I could just go, find a script with potential, revise it, reupload it, and then if that version is chosen I get half? Yikes. If you care about your writing, your reputation, and having a career....I'd avoid this "contest".

sc111
11-17-2010, 01:59 PM
I'm too lazy to read the entire link.

Who judges the scripts & picks a winner? A "peer" community or industry people?

NikeeGoddess
11-17-2010, 02:20 PM
i'm too lazy as well but honestly, i don't care about the details.
i'm thinking they're really only interested in the youtube and online/alternative media type of moviemakers... maybe desperate wannabees.
how can they expect serious screenwriters to jump on this?

they should just have an amazon marketing video contest or something more up their alley.

Rantanplan
11-17-2010, 02:30 PM
i'm too lazy as well but honestly, i don't care about the details.
i'm thinking they're really only interested in the youtube and online/alternative media type of moviemakers... maybe desperate wannabees.
how can they expect serious screenwriters to jump on this?

they should just have an amazon marketing video contest or something more up their alley.

This is a multi-billion dollar company. I don't think they're looking to make youtube videos :)

sc111
11-17-2010, 02:33 PM
Yeah -- the more I read in the other thread, the more I suspect you're right, Nikee.

It's a You-tube/Project Greenlight/Zoetrope mish-mash. But even Zoetrope doesn't let you rewrite others' scripts.

The amazing part, though, is the first-look deal with WB. Why would they bother?

But I bet their message boards will be a riot.

NikeeGoddess
11-17-2010, 02:44 PM
WB is so huge but they're probably open to new niche markets. maybe they just hired some pimply-faced "social network" kid and he sold them on the idea. lol!
it's not really that much money by their standards.

RichMike
11-17-2010, 03:00 PM
http://studios.amazon.com/help/development-agreement

I want to make sure I understand the "revisions" part of this.

I can log in. Rewrite someone's script (for free). If that revised script wins the contest, then I *could* get money.

But, no rights to that script. No part of the sale.

Otherwise, it's a free rewrite. But Amazon has no other ties to me or my other scripts as the "re-writer." Correct?




This deserves to be in the business section. Why would anyone would enter a contest that triggers an automatic 18 month option on their material and only pays out 100k for best script of the year and 200k if the movie gets made AND RELEASED THEATRICALLY?!

A garbage deal.

roscoegino
11-17-2010, 03:51 PM
When Amazon went Hollywood they went Hollywood.

An 18 month option (ball and chain clause) even if you don't win? AND any schmo can rewrite your material?

You can't get more Hollywood than that.

Kudos, Amazon. They've learned you well.

Rantanplan
11-17-2010, 04:31 PM
Actually it doesn't look like the people who rewrite get any money:

Revisions
If you revise someone else's script or movie, or create a new test movie based on an Amazon Studios project you didn't initiate, you could be eligible for contest awards (and you may have helped get a movie made), but you assign all rights to the script or test movie to us forever. You won't be entitled to option payments or other fees. The reason for the difference between the rights for original scripts and movies and the rights for revisions is that there is only one original script or movie for each project at Amazon Studios, but there's no limit to the number of revisions for each Project. It would just be too complicated to make films from projects if rights were divided up between contributors of revisions.
We have prepared a synopsis showing what you give and what you get depending on what you upload, which you can see on the Development Agreement (http://studios.amazon.com/help/development-agreement) page.




----



Basically they're calling it an open development forum. Kind of like when writers post logs or pages here, anybody can add their two cents. Some is good advice, some not.

I don't buy from or hang around on Amazon much, but it's very much based on customer reviews. When I do research on an author or book, I often read reviews, it's fun and in some cases very useful.

Anyway, I still on some level it's an interesting concept. I can see why people are quick to condemn it, but let's face it, writers slave away for years and most will never come close to making a sale, writers spends hundreds of dollars a year on contests that have very little to offer, writers sign with reps and still don't sell, etc etc etc. This is just one more way to try to get noticed, the difference being there's actual money involved for the lucky winner.

Amazon ran a fiction contest, where the winner got published by Penguin. That's a dream for most novelists. Having a film produced by Warner Bros would be sort of nice as well :)

If you have a script that you still believe in but that never got any traction, that your rep (if you have rep) isn't interested in, and that's just collecting dust at home, is this really such a terrible approach? Maybe a few yahoos will post some suggestions, your script will actually be the better for it, and then it ends up a serious contestant. Worse things could happen in life...

roscoegino
11-17-2010, 04:39 PM
Seriously though. Anyone know for certain as to the whether this whole thing is a very early April Fool's joke?

lobster
11-17-2010, 04:49 PM
Amazon ran a fiction contest, where the winner got published by Penguin. That's a dream for most novelists. Having a film produced by Warner Bros would be sort of nice as well :)

Two differences:
- No one was allowed to rewrite the novels.
- By entering a novel, you didn't give up your right to sell it somewhere else for 18 months, whether it placed in the contest or not.

And yes, we probably all have scripts sitting around in drawers that have not generated interest in years, and sure, why not submit one of those? Maybe an extremely talented writer who's willing to settle for a max of $10k and no rights to the property will rewrite your tired old work and make it brilliant. But if you have a sparkling new high concept script of the sort they really are looking for, wouldn't it make much more sense to shop it around to producers for a while first?

Rantanplan
11-17-2010, 05:11 PM
. But if you have a sparkling new high concept script of the sort they really are looking for, wouldn't it make much more sense to shop it around to producers for a while first?

Well that's what every writer does day and night anyway :)

And re. the novel, I'm not sure but if it wasn't tied it up during the contest process, probably. Either way, a novel is different, it doesn't go through the same kind of development process, it IS the end product, whereas the journey from script to film is long and arduous.

Anyway, I'm not saying I myself will enter, I'm saying that if you really stop to think and consider it, it could be a major opportunity for the winning writer. If your script makes it to the top with the help of someone else's suggestions, you pocket 10K and you have the chance to get it made, in which case you would still keep all the money. The only thing you would split with the writer or writers that revised your work is the money for Best Script.

For genres like comedy and horror that are easier to sell and don't require a previous life as a novel, TV, comic book or video game, it might not make much sense, but for genres that almost impossible for new writers to break in with, maybe this kind of deal would make the scripts more viable. Because if Amazon approaches Warner with an otherwise hard to sell script (period drama, 200 M tentpole, whatever), and say, we like it, we want to develop it with you, and here's 100 M to get the ball rolling, well maybe WB would pay attention :)

I'm assuming Amazon would be involved in co-financing the movie, and be eligible to collect part of the profits. I mean, they do say they want to make money.

nuvuefilms
11-17-2010, 09:47 PM
Yeah -- the more I read in the other thread, the more I suspect you're right, Nikee.

It's a You-tube/Project Greenlight/Zoetrope mish-mash. But even Zoetrope doesn't let you rewrite others' scripts.

The amazing part, though, is the first-look deal with WB. Why would they bother?

But I bet their message boards will be a riot.


It's a no-brainer for WB.
They make Amazon happy.
Amazon slaps their logo everywhere as the "best" studio
Free marketing for WB.
WB sets up future leverage with Amazon.
WB has no obligation to do anything and can pass on everything.
By the time the novelty wears off, WB just got the free ink.

Knaight
11-17-2010, 09:51 PM
It's a no-brainer for WB.
They make Amazon happy.
Amazon slaps their logo everywhere as the "best" studio
Free marketing for WB.
WB sets up future leverage with Amazon.
WB has no obligation to do anything and can pass on everything.
By the time the novelty wears off, WB just got the free ink.

The business, in a nutshell.

Ulysses
11-17-2010, 09:58 PM
This deserves to be in the business section. Why would anyone would enter a contest that triggers an automatic 18 month option on their material and only pays out 100k for best script of the year and 200k if the movie gets made AND RELEASED THEATRICALLY?!

A garbage deal.

Seasoned writers may upload scripts from their personal sludge pile, and then there will be beginners.

If a seasoned writer gets $ 10 000 for a script nobody wanted, that's not such a bad deal, and for a beginner, who has very little chance to get a script produced, it's not that bad a deal, either.

With their rules they turn away the better writers and those who think they are better writers.

Knaight
11-17-2010, 10:02 PM
Seasoned writers may upload scripts from their personal sludge pile, and then there will be beginners.

If a seasoned writer gets $ 10 000 for a script nobody wanted, that's not such a bad deal, and for a beginner, who has very little chance to get a script produced, it's not that bad a deal, either.

With their rules they turn away the better writers and those who think they are better writers.

I feel like this deal has potential to keep a seasoned writer out of the WGA for 18 - 36 months. Not all that appealing.

Juno Styles
11-17-2010, 11:23 PM
you never really actually hear or ever know the people winning all this pot of gold money in contests like this.

which studio was it at the start of this year that had the whole microbudget-indie thing where you submit your screenplays or short film and if its good enough they will produce it and release it if its under a certain low budget or something? that just seemed to disapear and we never heard anything else about it?

MJ Scribe
11-18-2010, 06:59 AM
I'm still stuck on the whole waiting for 18 months before you can sell/ship your screenplay anywhere, and then only to find out that your screenplay isn't working. Hmmm.

but on the other hand, if I win... if I win... nah.

Condog
11-18-2010, 01:33 PM
While it's not ever going to be like the money paid to "Snow White and the Huntsman," they are paying out some real cash. The $10,000 for best screenplay happens each MONTH. They're paying $100,000 for the best "test movie" each month. At first, some lucky people with finished-but-unsold features will be winning $100,000 for best "test movie" but I bet by the end of the year, someone will earn one MILLION dollars for making a 80 min animatic.

My problem is, I'm just really unclear on who will be paid that money. As a film maker, if I create a test movie for someone else's script, who gets the money? If I make a test movie for my own script, and someone else changes a bunch of stuff, do they take part of it? Worse yet, what if the other changes suck? Who gets to say "no"? I read somewhere the writer can't "veto" changes. Who does?

I've got lots of ideas I'd have no trouble parting with for 18 months, I just don't have a lot of time to waste.

Has anyone been able to decipher the test movie portion? Who gets what?

Why One
11-18-2010, 04:16 PM
John August's two cents:

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

:)

C.C.Baxter
11-18-2010, 04:59 PM
John August's two cents:

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

:)

The original draft is still in the contest. Someone can make revisions but that script is a separate entry.

Rewriting is hard work. Not clear to me how the rewrite is paid unless the film gets made -- they don't share in the prize money. So not sure a lot of "crowdsourcing" will actually take place.

It's just another contest and you object to the 18-month option and don't play or you give it a shot and do.

I've got a comedy suitable for a modest budget film and have enough scripts I'm willing to toss one out. The $10,000 prize money is nice with hopes of more. Very legit judges and super legit companies involved.

If I win anything I'll start a thread here to update people on my progress.

Why One
11-18-2010, 06:02 PM
I've got a comedy suitable for a modest budget film and have enough scripts I'm willing to toss one out. The $10,000 prize money is nice with hopes of more. Very legit judges and super legit companies involved.

If I win anything I'll start a thread here to update people on my progress.

Awesome! Best of luck CC! :)

I'm a little divided about this contest. It feels a little Triggerstreet'ish but with payouts -- especially with people attaching posters to their screenplays. It is experimental and I am intrigued to see how it pans out. I feel like I should take advantage of the debut year 'cause if it's a big hit, subsequent years will be tougher to crack.

I think I might create an account. Check out CC's entry. Maybe throw in some revisions -- hehe. :)

roscoegino
11-18-2010, 06:34 PM
John's thoughts echo those here and on other screenwriting boards. And, because he's a successful pro, smart people are going to pay more attention to his words than to those of Amazon, who up til now, has dealt mainly in selling used paperbacks via the internet. :rolleyes:

As someone posted on twoadverbs, it seems to suit those wishing on a star and not anyone serious about a long term career.

Either way, it seems like a total bastardization of the screenwriting process.

:shifty:

C.C.Baxter
11-18-2010, 06:35 PM
Awesome! Best of luck CC! :)

I'm a little divided about this contest. It feels a little Triggerstreet'ish but with payouts -- especially with people attaching posters to their screenplays. It is experimental and I am intrigued to see how it pans out. I feel like I should take advantage of the debut year 'cause if it's a big hit, subsequent years will be tougher to crack.

I think I might create an account. Check out CC's entry. Maybe throw in some revisions -- hehe. :)


Go for it. My original is still in play. If someone improves it, ups my chances.

Be nice if a pro stepped in and gave it a draft. As I understand it, rewriters are in for a piece of the bigger money down the line.

LIMAMA
11-18-2010, 07:49 PM
This is the cowrite contest on a bigger scale with the added bonus that your work may be rewritten by faceless nobodies with access to a computer. I can't imagine any pro or serious screenwriter scrolling all these scripts to rewrite them. Why on earth would they?

C.C.Baxter
11-18-2010, 07:56 PM
This is the cowrite contest on a bigger scale with the added bonus that your work may be rewritten by faceless nobodies with access to a computer. I can't imagine any pro or serious screenwriter scrolling all these scripts to rewrite them. Why on earth would they?

They'd get a piece of the $100,000-400,000 money.

And never underestimate the desire of writers to procrastinate.

JeffLowell
11-18-2010, 11:07 PM
I can't imagine any pro or serious screenwriter scrolling all these scripts to rewrite them. Why on earth would they?

They'd get a piece of the $100,000-400,000 money.

If you revise someone else's script or movie, or create a new test movie based on an Amazon Studios project you didn't initiate, you could be eligible for contest awards (and you may have helped get a movie made), but you assign all rights to the script or test movie to us forever. You won't be entitled to option payments or other fees.

And never underestimate the desire of writers to procrastinate.

I've never heard of a screenwriter procrastinating by screenwriting. ;)

This thing is a cluster****. An 18 month free option for submitting? And if they think they might still be interested, they get another 18 months for 10k. So 3 years for 10k?

But let's say they give it back... Oh, no. Wait. They never fully do. When the option expires, Amazon keeps:

The right to show and distribute it (and scripts and movies based on it) forever.

That's right...

when the option term ends, if we haven't exercised our option and purchased your work, you will get back non-exclusive rights to your original material.

And it's not like WB makes the winner - they'll look at it.

This is truly the most onerous contract I've ever seen. Satan doesn't have the balls to offer this.

Juno Styles
11-18-2010, 11:22 PM
the scary part is, a lot of people will be blinded by the potential of winning some money and not read any of that sh*t....then at some point, do a rewrite after 18 months is up - not realizing they've signed their name in blood with Amazon - possibly sell it to some producer/studio/whatever and set them up for a major lawsuit.

LIMAMA
11-18-2010, 11:29 PM
I've never heard of a screenwriter procrastinating by screenwriting. ;)

This thing is a cluster****. An 18 month free option for submitting? And if they think they might still be interested, they get another 18 months for 10k. So 3 years for 10k?

But let's say they give it back... Oh, no. Wait. They never fully do. When the option expires, Amazon keeps:



That's right...



And it's not like WB makes the winner - they'll look at it.

This is truly the most onerous contract I've ever seen. Satan doesn't have the balls to offer this.

Jeff, we're on the same page. The more I think about it, the more insulted I get. Yes, insulted.

emily blake
11-18-2010, 11:41 PM
This is designed to feed the desires of the desperate, and it will work.

It makes me sad.

Hamboogul
11-18-2010, 11:54 PM
the irony is that the winning script will star Jessica Alba who won't use the script anyway.

CthulhuRises
11-19-2010, 12:28 AM
the irony is that the winning script will star Jessica Alba who won't use the script anyway.

Maybe they can also cast Casey Affleck to beat the **** out of her while she improvises.

12916studios
11-19-2010, 02:56 AM
the irony is that the winning script will star Jessica Alba who won't use the script anyway.

You win.

C.C.Baxter
11-19-2010, 09:03 AM
the irony is that the winning script will star Jessica Alba who won't use the script anyway.

I'm counting on it.

In fact, I may start adding this to my scripts....

FRAN NEEDLEMYER (this part will be played by Jessica Alba).

FRAN
(Ad libs something clever).


Re contest: I edit friend's scripts to procrastinate. Much easier than working on my own.

I doubt a lot of rewriting will take place on the site. Too much effort required. Sure 99% of entries won't have a single revision posted unless it's by the original author.

sc111
11-19-2010, 09:28 AM
The have all sorts of statements tucked into their rules which could give them loopholes galore and lead to them never paying anyone for their material, even if it's produced. Things like ....


This means for example, that if you submitted the best movie in a Best Movie contest you may receive only a portion of the total award money provided in the contest or, if we determine appropriate, no money award money at all.

So there you have it -- you have just agreed to not being paid even if you win!

SuperScribe
11-19-2010, 10:11 AM
I've never heard of a screenwriter procrastinating by screenwriting. ;)

I do it all the time. Instead of working on the script I SHOULD be working on, I start tinkering with another script -- usually an older one. After a while, that tinkering turns into some pretty serious writing, at which point I make all sorts of plans to continue working on the distraction script to the exclusion of all others. These plans often include a schedule, pages and pages of notes, and a list of scripts to (re)read and movies to (re)watch that are similar in tone to the distraction script.

So I hit the sack that night, feeling incredibly juiced up and optimistic about this other script, and then wake up the next morning... only to find ways to avoid working on it. Since I know I should be writing, I eventually buckle down and, you guessed it, start working on the original script again.

Why One
11-19-2010, 11:08 AM
I think the 18 month (to forever) option is putting a lot of good entrants off -- coupled with the mentality that many aren't entering their best script. It's working against Amazon's objectives to get the best script out there, in my opinion.

Unless there are those that take advantage of the lesser quality entries being uploaded by firing in their bestest. Still don't get how the judging works -- especially on revised drafts.

Personally, I don't think I'll enter a script: I don't have one to sacrifice. I might revise someone else's -- take a stab at some prize money. I might also take a crack at making a test movie of one of the scripts. $100K monthly prize money, guys. :eek:

Thing is, although the test movie can be a mere storyboard, there will be filmmakers out there who will be uploading full movies they've already made along with the original script. However, I'm of the mindset that if the movie was any good in the first place, it would've already found a distributor. :o

C.C.Baxter
11-19-2010, 12:03 PM
I doubt many will go to the work of a rewrite. If they do, the original work is still in play. If the new drafts is actually better, helps my odds of winning.

Head of USC film department. Billion dollar Amazon. Warner Brothers. Worse things can happen than to fall in with this crowd.

Most writers will never make a nickel from their work. 24 checks flying out next year. Sign me up!

Arroway
11-19-2010, 08:27 PM
They want to make a lot of money and pay you next to nothing comparatively...

This.

Rantanplan
11-20-2010, 12:19 AM
However, I'm of the mindset that if the movie was any good in the first place, it would've already found a distributor. :o

A lot of good films don't find distribution, just like a lot of good scripts never get produced, because there are only so many slots available and so much money to go around. I'm sure we've all been to festivals and seen indie films we really liked, and yet they never got distribution. I mean hell, if a wonderful film starring Ed Norton and Richard Dreyfuss and Susan Sarandon goes straight to video, well imagine how tough it is for the really small guys to get any kind of meaningful traction.

Amazon is trying something completely new in a system that hasn't changed much for over a century, so it will be interesting to see where it goes. As far as "respect" for writers, well writers get screwed going the "legit" way as well...working for free, having their scripts butchered, getting treated like low level employees by their reps, etc. We've all seen release forms that send shivers up our spines, but hey, we sign them anyway because it's the only way to get read.

If when all is said and done, one writer actually does get a script made into a film by Warner Bros, gets paid 200K for it and then 400K more if the film does well, who could possibly argue that that would be a bad thing for the writer?

The good thing is that because this whole experiment takes place on a monthly basis before the big annual prize, it will be a lot easier to observe, evaluate and decide whether or not it's a good gamble.

nuvuefilms
11-20-2010, 03:03 AM
A lot of good films don't find distribution, just like a lot of good scripts never get produced, because there are only so many slots available and so much money to go around. I'm sure we've all been to festivals and seen indie films we really liked, and yet they never got distribution. I mean hell, if a wonderful film starring Ed Norton and Richard Dreyfuss and Susan Sarandon goes straight to video, well imagine how tough it is for the really small guys to get any kind of meaningful traction.

Amazon is trying something completely new in a system that hasn't changed much for over a century, so it will be interesting to see where it goes. As far as "respect" for writers, well writers get screwed going the "legit" way as well...working for free, having their scripts butchered, getting treated like low level employees by their reps, etc. We've all seen release forms that send shivers up our spines, but hey, we sign them anyway because it's the only way to get read.

If when all is said and done, one writer actually does get a script made into a film by Warner Bros, gets paid 200K for it and then 400K more if the film does well, who could possibly argue that that would be a bad thing for the writer?

The good thing is that because this whole experiment takes place on a monthly basis before the big annual prize, it will be a lot easier to observe, evaluate and decide whether or not it's a good gamble.

Are you purporting that since the industry is shady (name an industry that isn't), that Amazon should initiate new shady behavior?

As far as your last point: Does the means justify the end? Does handing out one prize but screwing over the masses in the process sound like a viable model to you?

Why do you think this industry hasn't changed much in a century? it's changed more in the past five years than probably ever (major agency merges, studios going under, union strikes, emergence of digital content, 3D, new distribution platforms, collapse of DVD market, etc.) and there's not a company still in business that hasn't adapted. Remember Miramax? Paramount Vantage? MGM? New Line? WMA? How's Dreamworks doing? Overture?

On the flip side, Summit wasn't even a studio five years ago, now RED, TWILIGHT, HURT LOCKER.

How about Relativity? It seems they are figuring out a way to make profitable movies without Amazon? I guess Amazon needs good product if they want to move it off their virtual shelves.

So, things are changing, people are scrambling, and Amazon is doing stunt casting for writers. Goldman's "nobody knows anything" never goes out of style.

Why One
11-20-2010, 04:02 AM
A lot of good films don't find distribution, just like a lot of good scripts never get produced, because there are only so many slots available and so much money to go around. I'm sure we've all been to festivals and seen indie films we really liked, and yet they never got distribution.

Personally, not from my experience -- albeit being very limited. :o Rather the opposite: I have seen lots of amateur looking films ending up on sale on DVD shelfs -- maybe not distributed by a biggies like WB, but they get there. I'm a bit of an avid follower of the indie film market, being an aspiring filmmaker myself, so I would be interested to check out some cool undiscovered indies out there -- if anyone can point me to some. :)

Fortean
11-20-2010, 04:19 AM
From what I've read, (above, and at Amazon), I see this as a contest which offers a ridiculously low option agreement, an entry in their contest in exchange for an eighteen-month option to purchase ALL RIGHTS for $200,000, (with a further eighteen-month extension of this option for $10,000). If another film is produced, based upon the original screenplay, a bonus $100,000 is paid; or, if a television series is produced, a bonus $5,000 per episode is paid.

During the eighteen-month option period, Amazon is given a free license to do with your screenplay, (or film), whatever it wants to do, without offering any compensation. You may enter the screenplay, (or film), in other contests and film festivals, (but cannot show the film anywhere other than the Amazon website).

The contest prize money can be divided up between the person who submitted the original property with others who have offered rewrites of the original property.

Would you sell ALL RIGHTS to your screenplay for $200,000? Would you offer a no-cost eighteen-month option to your screenplay along with a license to exploit your screenplay, (or film)?

Could someone who is a member of the WGA submit their spec screenplay under these terms and conditions? I doubt it, but I wouldn't be certain.

The contest prizes can be divided between the person submitting the original screenplay, (or film); thus, the $1,000,000 contest prize for the best movie may not offer more than $600,000 to the person submitting the original material, and only $50,000 may be going to the person who wrote the original screenplay for the best "script" award in 2011.

I worry that this contest could quickly deteriorate into another TriggerStreet. I've posted some of my concerns at their forums.


Mr. X says:

Most of the more than seven hundred "projects" are not test movies, most projects are "scripts"; and, many of the "test movies" are actually too short to be eligible for that category.

How might one browse "test movies" that actually qualify as "test movies"?

Also, popularity appears to be determined by the number of downloads. Does Amazon Studios have any way to prevent someone from boosting the "popularity" of their own "test movie" by repeatedly downloading it? Perhaps, a simple "pass" or "fail" vote could indicate if the film was favorably received, (with a restriction of "one vote" per "test movie" by each "account").

When it is next to impossible to find a real "test movie" among hundreds of projects, I do not see how my submitted work will reach its audience; thus, there's no real advantage to a contest entry at Amazon Studios, (where the "option" prevents its being made available elsewhere), that renders it unfindable for the next eighteen months.

Rantanplan
11-20-2010, 10:38 AM
@ Nuvue. Well, what has changed for the writer? The way in is pretty much the same:

-write an average of 9 scripts, often times many more before breaking in
-for each script send out 200, 300, hell, 1000 queries to agents and managers who will in most cases delete without reading
-enter contests
-network, marry an agent, anything
-finally, land a rep, yea!
-wait two years for anything to even begin to happen
-change reps a few times over the next 3-5 years before finding the right fit
-don't sell any original material, but compete hard to be given the chance to rewrite someone else's work, adapt an IP or write a producer's or manager's idea for free
-etc, etc, etc.

Am I wrong or is that pretty much the way it goes? As for HW itself, studios may rise and fall, but ultimately, it's still a pretty old fashioned machine, making films the old fashioned way, even if the distribution channels keep changing. The digital revolution has allowed for a handful of runaway hits for very cheaply made films, but most of the digital stuff is used to make big expensive films that come even less from original material than they did before, making it even harder for new writers to break in. Sure filmmaking is now more accessible to everyone, which is wonderful because talented filmmakers don't have to spend as much money as before to make a Sundance worthy film -- but it also means that every yahoo out there can buy a camcorder at Best Buy and load backyard films up on YouTube :) And indie films certainly are not the rage these days the way they were a decade ago, and the ones that do make it to the big screen are rarely given the chance to develop an audience.

Anyway, I'm not defending Amazon, I think there are a lot of problems with their approach, namely the rewrites (I sent a comment to them to that effect), but I do find the experiment interesting.

I guess what puzzles me the most is that writers all over the internet, most of whom will never in their life sign a 6 figure deal with freaking *Warner Bros*, even after dozens of scripts and years and years of attempts, are saying that 600 K is a joke and three years is an insult. Hell, Done Deal has been around for TEN YEARS, time flies my friends, and as for 600 K, for a lot of people that's like TWELVE YEARS of salary, I for one would not turn my nose up at it :)

I would probably give it a shot if I had a script that I thought was the right fit for the contest, but at the moment I don't, unfortunately.

sarajb
11-20-2010, 11:40 AM
"Hey, you should be grateful if someone offered you $10 for the **** you write." Really? I don't think it's fair to tell those of us who may not have the talent to be considered for any kind of deal that we're in no position to recognize a system that depreciates screenwriters as a whole.

nuvuefilms
11-20-2010, 02:06 PM
@Rant -- I hear you, but I just don't think writers capitulating is the answer...

-----------------------------

I was just made aware that Amazon makes you sign a CONTRACT to enter! Are you kidding me? Are all the people who submitted scripts aware that you are now in a contract with Amazon, and unless you're the one guy/gal, you're gonna be all the other guys/gals with no more script.

I normally stay quiet, pick and choose my battles, but this Amazon Studio is such a mockery of our industry, that I'm standing up on my chair and crying FOUL as loud as I can.

http://michellelipton.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/amazon-studios/

asjah8
11-20-2010, 02:12 PM
The contest prize money can be divided up between the person who submitted the original property with others who have offered rewrites of the original property.


this got me, besides the renewable option at their discretion, and the couched wording about the terms of the wga not being applicable to their agreement as they're not a signatory.

regarding the rewrite thing... how many others are considered in rewrite... the discussion is that it may only be 1 other person; but, upwards of 25 people or more on the internet could feasibly add an "accepted as improved" to the thing. are they considered as part and parcel of "rewrite" or did i read that wrong...?

i don't pretend to be at all familiar with the business side of hw, so may be talking out of turn, but i'm also thinking that red flags are... bright red.

SuperScribe
11-20-2010, 02:28 PM
So, if I'm reading all of this correctly, a line like "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" could be changed to "ur a bich. kill urself now u gay lesbo" without your consent. And if enough internet chuckleheads dig the new version better, that version will advance.

Hm.

asjah8
11-20-2010, 02:30 PM
yeah, that's how i read it too (without the swedish subtitles). i just went over to a project page and two on the front have already been revised after one day. not sure how that works or what that means but interesting to look closer.

Rantanplan
11-20-2010, 03:07 PM
So, if I'm reading all of this correctly, a line like "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" could be changed to "ur a bich. kill urself now u gay lesbo" without your consent. And if enough internet chuckleheads dig the new version better, that version will advance.

Hm.

Well hopefully the chuckleheads would still recognize the brilliance of the first line :) But as someone else said above, I agree that the judging aspect is very unclear. Yesterday they were already up to 700+ submissions. At this rate, they may outnumber the Nicholl! Who in the world is going to evaluate thousands and thousands of scripts AND their rewrites in just a few weeks? That is a LOT of work. And are most general public reviewers even reading the entire scripts? The selection process is problematic. I can see a writer giving up one script to this experiment in the hopes of a deal with WB and / or some pretty decent prize money, but it's very hard to understand how exactly the winners will in fact be selected. Is it mostly the public, mostly the Amazon team (and if so, who are they?), or mostly the "professional" judges?

asjah8
11-20-2010, 03:26 PM
Well hopefully the chuckleheads would still recognize the brilliance of the first line :)

lol... i wouldn't bet a paycheck on some chuckleheads knowing the difference between "gone with the wind" dialogue and text messaging unless they own a reader purchased through amazon. 700 submissions so fast? strange all this. when i first saw the thread about amazon's contest deal, i immediately thought: amazon isn't going after hollywood, it's going after ytube. weird.

NYNEX
11-20-2010, 05:08 PM
Its not so strange at all. There are a lot of scripts out there, and Amazon's a huge name. Not telling anyone to submit or not to submit, but anything with a Fortune 500 company's name on it will attract people.

PoMoTy
11-20-2010, 06:32 PM
Did somebody say "New Hollywood"?

***

I finally got my script optioned! I'm like a professional screenwriter!

All I had to do was upload onto the website!

***

I'm joking. BTW

I would never accept such a contract. But I think it's funny how people in this thread are so surprised by it being offered.

If you are Amazon, it cost you virtually nothing. You do no work, and just *like that* you have a vast library of material at your disposal. All of it in contract, for up to three years. AND chances are people -- from anywhere in the world, likely not LA -- will rewrite it or make suggestions on it that could be helpful. So then Amazon -- or a studio they team up with -- can make (web) content based on the script without paying the writer a cent.

It's genius, in many ways. Evil genius, but that's show biz!

Fast forward five years when Amazon has millions of scripts (no doubt the contract terms have changed to be more beneficial to Amazon) and is making them into content which it shows/sells on it's site.

Looks like someone just got into show biz in a big way!

I could even see them teaming up with major Hollywood studios to make films that they have locked in, acting as a sort of Agent/Manager of scripts/projects... It's very interesting, and how it will all unfold remains to be seen.

I see the potential for a Facebook, to this Myspace.

But these sort of "they're just using us!" deals are commonplace throughout all of show biz, so why people are so shocked is strange to me.

For instance, if you go onto a reality TV show, they pay you ONCE -- or for many they don't even pay you EVER -- and they have the right to air it as much as they want, re-edit and air it elsewhere, throughout all media, in perpetuity without paying you another cent. Don't like it?

Bye then! NEXT!

Look at the MTV 'Real World' cast members. MTV has made billions from reruns and reedits of those shows and they don't to pay any of the 'actors/people' another cent. It's simple supply and demand. Huge supply of people -- WRITERS -- with very low demands.

I don't have all facts, but I do know that many actors never specifically negotiated residuals from old shows like 'The Brady Bunch' and so they get nothing (or next to it) while the studios rake in money from these old shows still to this day. Same goes for the writers I am sure.

The point is, the Amazon Studio is just a new model based on an old system.

It's actually quite brilliant in it's Devilish sort of way.

On the flip side it could very well help people, like YouTube, it could launch people into the big time, at which point they could make sweet deals for themselves moving forward...

I do feel, however, the savvy writer should just avoid the Amazon model as well. If you are skilled writer with real talent (and especially if you can get yourself to LA) you can use the web to "crowd source" your work and refine it to perfection, while still holding onto all the rights. It's just a matter of tapping and find the right "crowd" of people.

Maybe you give up a few plot secrets in the process (never all if you are smart), but at least you retain power and control. And in the "New Hollywood" it's all about power and control.

Once you have something truly great, it's just a matter of getting it into the right hands.

That's my thoughts any who.

Postmodernism?

asjah8
11-20-2010, 07:40 PM
Postmodernism?

i'm thinking neo-modernism and "open source films"...

sarajb
11-20-2010, 07:43 PM
Julian, or PoMoTy, I'm just a caveman. I fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me!

umo
11-20-2010, 10:36 PM
Overall, I'd agree the deal is bad for the writer, but then again, it's no worse than most of the dollar option deals we see out there from broke, wannabe producers (not all, of course).

The interesting angle here is that if the work is copyrighted, how binding is the agreement in the first place? I assume it's not signed and witnessed. It's assumed the clauses won't be reviewed by the writer's attorney, and the only acknowledgement of the terms is a checkmark on a screen.

Amazon & Co. have deep pockets and it would behoove them to settle in the case of a dispute from a writer for PR purposes.

And what about the case of a WGA writer submitting? If Amazon studios is partnered with WB then how can the union agreement be bypassed? Is it a partnership strategically designed to bypass the union? If so, the DOL might investigate a claim by a union member.

So testing the validity of the agreement could consist of a WGA writer submitting material and/or a non-WGA writer testing the legality of the option agreement by contesting it through the courts.

Should be interesting. :D

Juno Styles
11-21-2010, 12:45 AM
interesting question....if your work is copyrighted, by acknowledging to their terms by clicking the check box or whatever on their site, i wonder will you waive your copyrights in doing so?

LauriD
11-21-2010, 01:38 AM
And what about the case of a WGA writer submitting? If Amazon studios is partnered with WB then how can the union agreement be bypassed? Is it a partnership strategically designed to bypass the union? If so, the DOL might investigate a claim by a union member.



Yes, I was wondering about that myself. Amazon may not be a WGA signatory, but Warner certainly is. So if the script/film gets to the point that Warner was involved....

Any WGA members here who know what the union's position on this is going to be?

mlongton
11-21-2010, 02:20 AM
I don't think it's inherently "unfair" but it is offensive - rather like offering somebody a bunch of money to play Russian Roulette. In order to enter, you have to believe that your chances of winning this monthly lottery are actually better than your chances of getting the script out into the marketplace anytime in the next 18 months! If you have a script that's been on the shelf for awhile and is probably going to stay there, this may be the very thing, but I certainly wouldn't enter anything I believed in.

Anyway, why would they want to hang onto the rights to scripts that didn't come out on top in the monthly contest? Why didn't they put in a clause voiding the option immediately if your script doesn't win? Does anyone understand this?

:confused:

LateNightWriter
11-21-2010, 06:01 PM
Yes, I was wondering about that myself. Amazon may not be a WGA signatory, but Warner certainly is. So if the script/film gets to the point that Warner was involved....

Any WGA members here who know what the union's position on this is going to be?


Hi LauriD--

I'm in the WGA and I can tell you what their position will be without even having to check with them. First off, you are not entering into an agreement with Warner Bros. You are entering into an agreement with Amazon, which is not a signatory to the WGA's MBA. Therefore, under WGA Rule #8 -- which the WGA interprets strictly -- a WGA member would not be permitted to enter into a contractual agreement with Amazon to option a screenplay.

If and when Warner Bros miraculously picks up the option and a sale happens, at that time the WGA will contact you immediately with an offer to join. However, that will not change the terms of the contract you signed with Amazon when you were NOT a member. It will only affect your work going forward, on other deals.

At least that's my understanding of Rule #8. Other WGA members, feel free to chime in.

In any case, even if I were not a WGA member, I would not enter this sh*t-bag contest -- for all the reasons others have already listed.

Late Night Writer

umo
11-21-2010, 10:14 PM
Hi LauriD--

I'm in the WGA and I can tell you what their position will be without even having to check with them. First off, you are not entering into an agreement with Warner Bros. You are entering into an agreement with Amazon, which is not a signatory to the WGA's MBA. Therefore, under WGA Rule #8 -- which the WGA interprets strictly -- a WGA member would not be permitted to enter into a contractual agreement with Amazon to option a screenplay.



I'm guessing WB is partnered with Amazon under some sort of loose arrangement for this venture (it should be easy to verify either way) but the intent is clear...WB will benefit, as part of this joint venture, from the work of writers and directors.

How will this arrangement be interpreted in the original collective bargaining agreement with the WGA? Is WB purposely bypassing their obligations by setting up this joint venture with Amazon?

If an employer sets up another company, joint venture, etc., in the same line of business as currently set up under an existing collective bargaining agreement, how can the union be bypassed?

Imagine ABC Shipping Company employs Teamsters. ABC Trucking Company then enters into a joint venture with Amazon to create another shipping company--exact same business--but Amazon employs the workforce outside of the ABC union agreement.

If it were that easy to bypass union obligations, unions would have disappeared before dinosaurs.

The big BUT...the compensation offer from the Amazon & WB joint venture exceeds WGA minimum (or so it seems?); therefore, this could be a provision to offset the obvious snub at the union. The figure might also include the value of pro-rated benefits as a WGA member. In other words, a cash offer to a writer in lieu of union minimums.

If so, it's a clever ploy. Unless the winning writer is a WGA member. Then chances are it's a mess for the writer and WB.

Regardless, it will be interesting. :D

Rantanplan
11-21-2010, 11:37 PM
Regardless, it will be interesting. :D

Absolutely. I certainly agree that anyone submitting should look carefully at the language and decide what they can / cannot live with. The part that I thought was so ridiculous was that in spite of the abysmal odds of making it in this business, writers who have yet to make a dime from their writing after years of effort have been ridiculing a 6 figure deal with Warner Bros as a prize.

This whole thing may very well end up being a big joke and nothing more than a stunt by Amazon to increase web traffic and accumulate dubious by-products of intellectual property for who knows what reason, but if in the end a writer does sign a deal with WB and gets a feature made, I for one will not be feeling sorry for him/her.

Anyway, it will definitely be interesting to see how this whole thing evolves.

NYNEX
11-22-2010, 12:19 AM
Amazon, the biggest retailer, doesn't need to do this to increase website traffic. Companies do move into new markets. Apple Computer, once just a maker of laptops and desktops, decided to move into consumer electronics with the ipod. They decided to offer digital downloads of music and film/tv, which they've done very well with. And they decided to enter the cellphone manufacturing market, with the Iphone, and they've done well with that.

Amazon is dead serious, and through imdb, plus the fact they sell digital downloads and dvds, they are already a major end distributor of film/tv. This is just them getting involved in the production.

SuperScribe
11-22-2010, 09:13 AM
I hate to say it, but I kinda disagree with the notion that this will be interesting. The only thing interesting about it now is all the debate it's causing. I have a feeling that once the discussion fizzles the whole thing won't occupy more than about .00000000000001% of our thoughts on any given day.

At least, I hope not. ;)

Hamboogul
11-22-2010, 10:20 AM
A lot of people are saying "Well, I just will enter a script that's not that good."

Now imagine if a future Damon Lindelof decided to enter this contest.

And he becomes famous later. His supremely bad script that he entered on Amazon will forever be available for others to see. And rather being judged by LOST or various studio pics he wrote, he'll be judged by this.

Or Robert Towne. His first gig was some horrible Corman flick. Would he want to be judged on that instead of Chinatown?

I'd written many bad scripts. I consider them a learning process in getting better. I'd hate to impose these mediocre scripts on others, even anonymous trolls on DD or Amazon. Or even worse, later be judged by them. Even if your scripts don't become movies, your scripts are your WRITING SAMPLES in perpetuity. And Amazon having access to your bad writing in perpetuity is, um, like showing Leonardo's awful finger paintings and anime porn when we want to judge his genius by MONA LISA and THE LAST SUPPER.

LauriD
11-22-2010, 10:24 AM
A lot of people are saying "Well, I just will enter a script that's not that good."

Now imagine if a future Damon Lindelof decided to enter this contest.

And he becomes famous later. His supremely bad script that he entered on Amazon will forever be available for others to see. And rather being judged by LOST or various studio pics he wrote, he'll be judged by this.

Or Robert Towne. His first gig was some horrible Corman flick. Would he want to be judged on that instead of Chinatown?

I'd written many bad scripts. I consider them a learning process in getting better. I'd hate to impose these mediocre scripts on others, even anonymous trolls on DD or Amazon. Or even worse, later be judged by them. Even if your scripts don't become movies, your scripts are your WRITING SAMPLES in perpetuity. And Amazon having access to your bad writing in perpetuity is, um, like showing Leonardo's awful finger paintings and anime porn when we want to judge his genius by MONA LISA and THE LAST SUPPER.

Many pros have survived the public availability of early (and recent) bad scripts, many of which have been made into bad movies.

When I have a reputation to worry about, I'll worry about it. :)

Rantanplan
11-22-2010, 10:36 AM
A lot of people are saying "Well, I just will enter a script that's not that good."

Now imagine if a future Damon Lindelof decided to enter this contest.

And he becomes famous later. His supremely bad script that he entered on Amazon will forever be available for others to see. And rather being judged by LOST or various studio pics he wrote, he'll be judged by this.

Or Robert Towne. His first gig was some horrible Corman flick. Would he want to be judged on that instead of Chinatown?

I'd written many bad scripts. I consider them a learning process in getting better. I'd hate to impose these mediocre scripts on others, even anonymous trolls on DD or Amazon. Or even worse, later be judged by them. Even if your scripts don't become movies, your scripts are your WRITING SAMPLES in perpetuity. And Amazon having access to your bad writing in perpetuity is, um, like showing Leonardo's awful finger paintings and anime porn when we want to judge his genius by MONA LISA and THE LAST SUPPER.

Actors have the playboy spread or the Clearasil commercial of their youth to worry about when they hit stardom, writers might have... a bad script on Amazon, oh my gosh, the horror! Quick, call TMZ!

:)

Condog
11-22-2010, 11:56 AM
Looking over the projects submitted so far... Never have I felt so much sympathy for the "gate keepers." Is this what script readers have to put up with?

I've also never felt less fear of the statistics. 50,000 scripts a year are registered at WGA (or something like that) but that number doesn't scare me anymore. I think I've only seen a couple of competent LOG LINES in the contest so far.

Boy, some of the others...

I'm afraid they've got their work cut out for them, fishing out the good ones.

SCanfield
11-22-2010, 12:05 PM
Looking over the projects submitted so far... Never have I felt so much sympathy for the "gate keepers." Is this what script readers have to put up with?

I've also never felt less fear of the statistics. 50,000 scripts a year are registered at WGA (or something like that) but that number doesn't scare me anymore. I think I've only seen a couple of competent LOG LINES in the contest so far.

Boy, some of the others...

I'm afraid they've got their work cut out for them, fishing out the good ones.

That's honestly what makes writing so hard to get into. The publishers/producers/industry at large have to put these giant gates up to keep out the unwashed masses. And then we go "Are they really that bad?" because we've been protected from their insolence.

Honestly, I have a script that would make people here just cry laughing, but I'm afraid the guy that wrote it is lurking and would see it. This is a 26 year old adult man that graduated from film school with a BA in Cinema. A sample (I screwed the formatting, it was actually formatted correctly, thank you Final Draft):

Adam picks up a picture frame that shows JACK and Rachel
together.

ADAM (CONT’D)
I see that Jack’s your new lover,
huh?
(pause)
Tell me...what makes this guy so
special to you?

RACHEL
Because unlike you, he’s not a
jealous raging psychopath!

Adam chuckles as he shatters the glass from the picture
frame, startling Rachel.

ADAM
(calmly)
Don’t worry. I’m not going hurt you
for breaking my heart.

RACHEL
You’re not?

ADAM
No...I’m going to kill you for
breaking my heart.

Adam pulls out a gun.


And I know this guy is writing like crazy, submitting to companies everywhere.

Tochirta
11-22-2010, 01:25 PM
Looking over the projects submitted so far... Never have I felt so much sympathy for the "gate keepers." Is this what script readers have to put up with?

I've also never felt less fear of the statistics. 50,000 scripts a year are registered at WGA (or something like that) but that number doesn't scare me anymore. I think I've only seen a couple of competent LOG LINES in the contest so far.

Boy, some of the others...

I'm afraid they've got their work cut out for them, fishing out the good ones.

true indeed. I started feeling bad for the Hollywood readers out there. lol

vstm10
11-22-2010, 01:41 PM
A sample (I screwed the formatting, it was actually formatted correctly, thank you Final Draft):

Adam picks up a picture frame that shows JACK and Rachel
together.

ADAM (CONT’D)
I see that Jack’s your new lover,
huh?
(pause)
Tell me...what makes this guy so
special to you?

RACHEL
Because unlike you, he’s not a
jealous raging psychopath!

Adam chuckles as he shatters the glass from the picture
frame, startling Rachel.

ADAM
(calmly)
Don’t worry. I’m not going hurt you
for breaking my heart.

RACHEL
You’re not?

ADAM
No...I’m going to kill you for
breaking my heart.

Adam pulls out a gun.




i don't understand... is this an except from the script that would make me cry laughing?

NYNEX
11-22-2010, 04:02 PM
Once that fizzles, I have a feeling the whole thing won't occupy more than about .00000000000001% of our thoughts on any given day.

At least, I hope not. ;)

This is true even if Amazon Studios is a major success. It will be there, so it won't take up much of our thoughts because it would have been around for awhile.

SuperScribe
11-22-2010, 06:06 PM
I have no idea what your psyche comprises, but studios, production companies, the company where my rep works, etc. occupy a pretty substantial percentage of my thoughts on a day-to-day basis.

I guess mileage varies. ;)

hscope
11-22-2010, 06:07 PM
The more I read about this, the more it looks like a very bad deal for writers.

And yet, a little voice keeps whispering in my ear, telling me to submit that script in your bottom drawer, you know, the one you thought was terrific, but nobody would buy because they were too short sighted to see it's potential; you know, the one that if someone produced, would have a $100M opening and have agents hammering on your door and production companies queuing up with writing assignments. Yes, that one. Why don't you flick if off to Amazon? You've got nothing to lose, right? You had no plans to pull it out of the drawer, so what's 18 months? 36 months? It's not the money or the option or giving away all the rights forever. It's the exposure. This could be the one...

Alyssa Runswithwolves
11-22-2010, 09:45 PM
http://www.screenwritingu.com/blog/2010/selling-your-screenplay/an-open-letter-to-amazon-studios

Just read this.

polfilmblog
11-22-2010, 09:57 PM
Well I guess some of you are like Chevy Chase in Caddyshack, apartments strewn with uncashed $20,000 checks.

I do think the idea that Amazon/Warner would try to produce one of these scripts and NOT pay the writers at all is absurd. They'd be sued up the wazoo. Not to mention the Interwebular publicity shitstorm.

Some material lends itself to this experiment, some not. If you don't want to play, no one's twisting your nards.

cshel
11-22-2010, 10:08 PM
Gauchita -

Thanks for that link. It's great he's doing something. You should post it on the other Amazon thread, too.

WE SHOULD STOP POSTING ON THIS THREAD, and just start posting on the other, larger Amazon thread that is the exact same topic. :confused:

Rantanplan
11-22-2010, 11:46 PM
Isn't this whole discussion getting a little bit tired? I mean seriously, so there's the fine print, there's the guild thing, there's blah blah blah. Bottom line, do you actually believe you're on the brink of making a seven figure deal with a studio (I say seven, because apparently, six is not enough)? If so, forget about it, if not, decide whether or not it's a good gamble for you. For whatever reasons. For me, it's not, but it sure as hell doesn't have anything to do with a 6 figure deal with WB or even a 3 year option.

There's really no need to analyze it much beyond that.

LauriD
11-23-2010, 12:53 AM
http://www.screenwritingu.com/blog/2010/selling-your-screenplay/an-open-letter-to-amazon-studios

Just read this.

That's what people SHOULD be doing: making polite, well-informed suggestions about how Amazon should be running this contest. This could be a great opportunity, it could be better than it is, but nothing's going to change if people just kvetch on the boards and opt out. We need to get out there and advocate for ourselves.

WriteByNight
11-23-2010, 01:41 AM
Isn't this whole discussion getting a little bit tired? I mean seriously, so there's the fine print, there's the guild thing, there's blah blah blah. Bottom line, do you actually believe you're on the brink of making a seven figure deal with a studio (I say seven, because apparently, six is not enough)? If so, forget about it, if not, decide whether or not it's a good gamble for you. For whatever reasons. For me, it's not, but it sure as hell doesn't have anything to do with a 6 figure deal with WB or even a 3 year option.

There's really no need to analyze it much beyond that.

I think what keeps the discussion from being tired is that the contest does have a unique, alluring component -- five figures given monthly and a legit shot at recognition. The clash between those elements and the 18 mth option (and the wiki thing) is pushing weary writers into an interesting conundrum (myself included).

LauriD
11-23-2010, 01:46 AM
I think what keeps the discussion from being tired is that the contest does have a unique, alluring component -- five figures given monthly and a legit shot at recognition. The clash between those elements and the 18 mth option (and the wiki thing) is pushing weary writers into an interesting conundrum (myself included).

Yes, I think the Russian Roulette analogy made earlier is apt.

You could end up winning some serious money -- or you could "shoot yourself in the head" by killing a good script's chances to sell anywhere else.

And since it's early days and no one has yet done either, we really don't know....

nuvuefilms
11-23-2010, 02:44 AM
I find the Project Greenlight analogy apt, except their writers were allowed to keep their scripts. And they also financed a million dollars to make the winning script. And secured a deal with HBO to broadcast the production. And a domestic distribution deal. Whereas here, Amazon is acquiring thousands of free options, risking NOTHING and guaranteeing NOTHING. Oh, that's right, WB gets to take a first look at it. Wow. :rolleyes: But it's easy to offset that bad publicity, award JUST enough money to make it worth the chase, not a penny more.

Here we have a too-big-to-fail-size balance sheet company having their lawyers draft complicated and unprecedented terms? Sounds pro-writer to me.

one seven spectrum
11-23-2010, 07:01 AM
So by the last count I saw on here, Amazon have over 1000 scripts already submitted?

Sweet! That means I've got 18 months to query my projects without worrying about 1000 other scripts competing with mine for a read.

Boom

LauriD
11-23-2010, 09:39 AM
So by the last count I saw on here, Amazon have over 1000 scripts already submitted?

Sweet! That means I've got 18 months to query my projects without worrying about 1000 other scripts competing with mine for a read.

Boom

Interesting point....

Let's say that the universe of amateur scripts circulating is roughly the number entered in the Nicholl every year -- about 6000.

Also assume that few pros will enter the Amazon due to WGA concerns, but that there may be some exceptions.

So that suggests that about 1/6 of the amateur scripts formerly in circulation are now out of circulation....

Except that many of these may be "bottom drawer" scripts that either never circulated or made the rounds and drew no interest. And also may never have been entered in the Nicholl, so there goes your universe....

So hard to say if this will actually make any difference in the market....

Be interesting to hear from the pro readers in a few months re whether they see a drop.

LIMAMA
11-23-2010, 10:33 AM
This is like a bad acid Trigger Street trip.

NikeeGoddess
11-23-2010, 11:02 AM
http://www.screenwritingu.com/blog/2010/selling-your-screenplay/an-open-letter-to-amazon-studios

Just read this.keep track of this guy and post if he gets a response. i'm doubtful that he will but it would definitely be interesting.

PoMoTy
11-23-2010, 12:32 PM
I think the best comparison to this deal is actually YouTube.

If you put something up, don't do it for the money, the odds are electron-microscope small. You should only be looking for recognition; and even those odds are micro. That said, some people have gotten six or seven figure deals from YouTube... Hence the allure.

However, what you post, will no doubt be rehashed and used by thousands of other people -- much like YouTube -- and your "credit" will be lost in that mix, and your chances for money are almost non-existent.

In my mind what Amazon Studios will become (or wants to become) is a searchable library of scripts, that writers -- maybe teams of writers hired by, or in cahoots with Amazon Studios -- use to find templates of script to rewrite. Or maybe even a diamond in the rough, with the right polish could be sellable.

Because the whole thing cost Amazon nothing, and they only (imagine to / might) pay out money when the real prospect of money is in sight -- i.e. when a studio or other party has actual interest in a project -- so the real coup for them is the library of material they will accumulate, and the traffic to the site / publicity. In essence, they have already won.

I can totally see Amazon hiring a writer, or rather a group of writers, to rewrite the best of the scripts on the site, also for pennies, and thus they have totally reduced to cost of getting a (strong?) piece of material for their studio at rock bottom cost. They are even looking to foster mass comment/contribution by the masses via a thread like this, giving notes/ideas for free, and who would thus likely go see the film even though they will get no credit or money...

-- See how this is all working? --

If they can get one feature film off the ground to make at least $50 million. It will be a massive profit for them, where as for a normal studio, it likely would not be.

"New Hollywood"

roscoegino
11-23-2010, 12:44 PM
My prediction is that Amazon will eventually change the rules. It will be counterproductive for them to tie up each and every lousy script that comes their way, no?

Rantanplan
11-23-2010, 12:51 PM
@ POMO
Except that they can't keep paying thousands of writers 10 K just to keep rights to their work! Amazon retains some licensing rights, but once the option runs out, the writers are the ones with the right to shop the work around to producers, not Amazon. So if you say they want to amass a giant searchable database of scripts for producing partners / clients, what good would that be if they don't own the theatrical rights, DVD rights, etc., which they clearly say they do NOT own after the option period expires and the rights revert back to the writer or filmmaker.

PoMoTy
11-23-2010, 01:14 PM
They have the library of scripts

They don't need the rights, because they can rewrite them! Amazon owns the script you see, so they are within their rights to make changes to it -- just enough -- to create the theatrical rights for themselves.

They have already stated they guarantee no credit for rewrites

POW!

The scripts are theirs for the taking.

ALSO

In 5 to 10 years, theatrical rights will be a much smaller percentage of the total money a movie makes, and for many films an impractical step. The bulk will come from digital distribution -- via conduits like them -- and Amazon has secured these rights from all of the uploaded scripts.

Much like if you upload a video clip to a show like Tosh.0 or something. They now can use it (in all media, in perpetuity) without owning it. But what's the difference if they never have to pay you a cent?

Amazon now has the digital distribution rights, or rather use of the scripts, to produce content from.

You see?

JeffLowell
11-23-2010, 01:41 PM
Amazon owns the script you see

No, they don't. I can't believe I'm defending Amazon, but just because they option it doesn't mean they own it. It means they have the right to buy it, for 200k.

Rantanplan
11-23-2010, 01:41 PM
I'm not so sure. Once the option expires and the rights revert back to the writer, Amazon has no right to develop that project anymore. Maybe the few projects that went through a lot of changes during the option period will be able to legally be claimed by Amazon, but thousands and thousands of scripts are not going to be developed / changed / rewritten! Who has that kind of time? The vast majority of the scripts will just sit in their system and not be of any use to anyone. --mediocre scripts that were once part of a contest, big deal. The ones that make it to the top might have a shot at being produced, whether in their original form or through extensive development. Amazon is doing some blanket option agreement that applies to all contestants because clearly they can't negotiate every case individually, but for 95% of the writers the second option won't be an issue because their work won't be deemed worthy of a 10K extension and the development process.

I think what people are forgetting is that there is not a huge fortune to be made by accumulating thousands of scripts by non professional writers, or even professional writers, or even the best scripts for the best movies ever made. Nobody gives a sh!t about reading scripts. Amazon may have a collection of 1 million scripts in a couple of years, do you really think there's going to be a team devoted to developing 1 million scripts into video footage they can legally play on their website or rewrite until it is worthy of a studio's attention and cannot be claimed by the original writer anymore?

WriteHandMan
11-23-2010, 02:20 PM
But then why choke up any old script for 18 months? Shoudn't the script that wins the $10k be subjected to the year and a half option?

PoMoTy
11-23-2010, 02:24 PM
No, they don't. I can't believe I'm defending Amazon, but just because they option it doesn't mean they own it. It means they have the right to buy it, for 200k.

You are right, technically, they don't own it. But as I said, much like video you upload to a TV show, or website, they have the right to use and disseminate it --- this case the actual SCRIPT itself -- as much as they want.

This means that they can have people change it, make it into something new, that they, then, would hold ALL rights to. Does that make sense?

Amazon does not own the rights to make a script you upload into a feature film to be theatrically released, just by you uploading the script.

HOWEVER...

They do have the right to use any script uploaded onto their site, to make content FOR THEIR SITE via (non-WGA) "AMAZON STUDIOS" and the content created from the scripts IS ALL THEIRS.

Because...

Technically they don't have to give you any credit, or follow the UNION rules that govern the current Studio Motion picture model.

They are creating a whole NEW MODEL, and they are making all the rules and have all the rights within the model.

So...

If you upload a script, it is effectively theirs.

PoMoTy
11-23-2010, 02:41 PM
I'm not so sure. Once the option expires and the rights revert back to the writer, Amazon has no right to develop that project anymore.

Again, this only applies to "theatrical distribution" NOT digital distribution that they will no doubt (already have? are?) set up.

Maybe the few projects that went through a lot of changes during the option period will be able to legally be claimed by Amazon, but thousands and thousands of scripts are not going to be developed / changed / rewritten!

First, the changed script, if done on their site, or uploaded to it, would legally be claimed and owned by Amazon. No question.

Who has that kind of time?

Lots of people. Have you seen the amazing stuff people put on YouTube. They aren't getting paid for it.

The vast majority of the scripts will just sit in their system and not be of any use to anyone.

Like all those YouTube movies?

Amazon is doing some blanket option agreement that applies to all contestants because clearly they can't negotiate every case individually, but for 95% of the writers the second option won't be an issue because their work won't be deemed worthy of a 10K extension and the development process.

They are doing a 'blanket option agreement' because they can; it cost them nothing.

They will not put out a cent until and unless a script secures talent and financing ability.

I think what people are forgetting is that there is not a huge fortune to be made by accumulating thousands of scripts by non professional writers, or even professional writers, or even the best scripts for the best movies ever made.

That is a lack of foresight if you ask me.

You sound the person that said "what is the use of a site where people just upload stupid videos of themselves that no one will want to watch?"

It's called YouTube, it's market value is well over a billion and it is one of the most viewed and profitable sites on the internet.

Nobody gives a sh!t about reading scripts.

Hollywood is full of people who give a lot of sh*t about reading scripts. There is money to be made in it FOR SURE.

Amazon may have a collection of 1 million scripts in a couple of years, do you really think there's going to be a team devoted to developing 1 million scripts into video footage they can legally play on their website or rewrite until it is worthy of a studio's attention and cannot be claimed by the original writer anymore?

I believe just that.

Maybe they will even have their own "channel" on YouTube...

"Amazon Studios Channel"

Who will make all these 1 million scripts you ask?

The same people making all those YouTube videos.

All done for free. Amazon won't have to pay them.

Amazon will just watch the money roll in.

"New Hollywood"

nuvuefilms
11-23-2010, 02:42 PM
So...
If you upload a script, it is effectively theirs.

Exactly. Let's say you enter a script. Then a producer comes along and wants to make your script, so you want out of the Amazon contest. Let's say the Amazon process to find scripts is flawed and you want your movie back. Is it now DEAD? Can you get your script back and just walk away... ? Or has Amazon created UNPRECEDENTED terms to tie the script up?

JeffLowell
11-23-2010, 03:31 PM
This means that they can have people change it, make it into something new, that they, then, would hold ALL rights to. Does that make sense?

No. They don't own ALL the rights, because they don't own the rights to the underlying material.

An example: years ago, Fox optioned the rights to a British television series that they wanted to make into a movie. I was hired to write the script. It got close, but never got made. The option lapsed.

What you're saying is that Fox could now go ahead and make the movie without buying the underlying rights because they hired me to create a new work based on that material.

It just doesn't work that way.

wcmartell
11-23-2010, 04:08 PM
To me, this is the question: Do you think your script has a better chance with a company that has never made a movie and has this wacky idea of having "test films" made from your screenplay for free... or with all of those existing companies that regularly buy scripts and make movies?

Though Amazon Studios may be the wave of the future, it's a wave with an automatic 18 month free option (is that even legal?) and all sorts of other issues.

I think this plays into the idea that many folks have that there are massive walls surrounding Hollywood designed to keep people out. That they have a *genius* screenplay, but they just can't get anyone to look at it. Sure, there are good scripts that don't get through, but most of the scripts out there are crap - and many of the rest are "just okay". The good (or probably great) ones tend to get through. How many people *from here* have we seen get through?

So those walls don't really exist... or maybe they are *hurdles* instead of walls, and you have to be able to jump over them.

Why jump over a hurdle for nothing for 18 months with a company that has never made a movie when you can jump over the same hurdle with a company that buys scripts and makes movies on a regular basis?

- Bill

PS: Hey, what does the WGA say about this? They going to organize Amazon Studios? Or just pretend it doesn't exist?

JeffLowell
11-23-2010, 04:15 PM
PS: Hey, what does the WGA say about this? They going to organize Amazon Studios? Or just pretend it doesn't exist?

I've heard that the WGA is talking to Amazon & WB.

But Amazon Studios isn't a studio, despite the name. They aren't producing anything. They're just optioning scripts and eventually maybe buying one or more, probably from a non-WGA member.

Rantanplan
11-23-2010, 05:36 PM
Looks like they decided to explain a little better following all the concerns about rights:

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

Amazon Studios is serious about making movies. To do that, we need to have a contract with you, and that contract has to give us the option to buy the rights to make a movie. An option is the right to buy a script or movie. It is what producers typically offer writers whose scripts they want to produce. (If you have a long career as a screenwriter, you will become quite familiar with options.)

By uploading your original script or movie, you give Amazon Studios an exclusive option to buy it for $200,000. This lasts for 18 months (or 36 if we pay you $10,000 to extend it). During the option period, you keep your copyrights to your original script or movie. It is true that by giving us an exclusive option you cannot sell it to another producer in that 18 (or 36) months. However, if we don’t buy it in that period, then we lose our right to buy it from you and you can shop it around to other producers.

If we do buy your original script or movie, that money is on top of any awards that you may win for Amazon Studios contests (http://studios.amazon.com/contests). That award money is completely separate from rights payments.

*** We don’t own your original scripts or movies unless we buy them from you.***

If we release your original script or movie as a full budget theatrical film, you (and your writing partner, if any) will get the $200,000 option payment. As mentioned above, this is totally separate from any contest award money you may have received. If we pay you the $200,000 option payment, then we have purchased your original script or movie from you. If a movie based on your original script or movie earns $60 million at the US box office in its initial release, you get a further bonus of $400,000. The normal approach in option agreements is to give the writer a small “net profit” participation in the movie, which guarantees nothing. The bonus in our agreement is large and clear. If you pick up Variety one day and it says that the movie we released based on your original script or movie made $60 million at the US box office, then you will get $400,000.

*** There is no scenario where someone can claim any of your rights money by revising your original script or movie.***

If someone creates a revised version of an original script or movie, they may be eligible for up to 50% of any contest winnings. But rights payments are not shared. If a theatrical movie is released from an original script or movie on Amazon Studios, the creator of the original script or movie gets 100% of the rights payments. People who are revising material or making test movies are going for award money (which can be substantial) and are helping someone else get their movie made. But they are not sharing in the rights money. There’s a lot of award money for people who revise scripts or make test movies.

We’ve had some questions about the length of the option and whether it could be less than 18 months. The bottom line is that Amazon Studios is a process and it can take time. Getting feedback, having test movies made, seeing how the story plays on video, maybe revising if appropriate, will probably need more than a few months to play out. If you have someone who wants to produce your script as it is right now, and you think the script is ready for that, then you should probably see how that pans out before uploading to Amazon Studios.

This post is intended to be a helpful summary of some major points in the Development Agreement (http://studios.amazon.com/help/development-agreement) and Contest Rules (http://studios.amazon.com/help/contest-terms-and-procedures) but is not intended to replace reading them and is not a part of them. Please read them before submitting your scripts or movies

Richmond Weems
11-23-2010, 06:50 PM
Sounds like they're trying to address some wrongs, and it sounds pretty good...til you get to this from the Development Agreement:

"So for 18 months after you create a project at Amazon Studios by contributing an original script, you cannot display, sell or license your script elsewhere, or withdraw it for any reason. However, when the option period ends, if we haven’t exercised our option and purchased all rights in your script, you get back rights to your script (but we still have the right to distribute your original script and scripts and movies based on it as described above). Rights in scripts and movies based on your script stay with us."

(bold is mine)

So, sure, you can shop it around to other producers if you want, but I don't know that any producer would want to make a movie on that script that, for all intents and purposes, could still be used by Amazon.

Hypothetical: You DON'T win anything, and you get your script back after 18 months. However, some hotshot Grazer-type producer thinks it's the best thing since Birth of a Nation, and wants to make a movie out of it with Fox and...Amazon gets wind of it (or WB), and tries to cash in on the hype by posting the script again, maybe make some online movies...and Fox cans the deal 'cause of Amazon's (and WB's) involvement.

Is that hypothetical valid? If it is, sounds like the deal still sucks.

HH

Rantanplan
11-23-2010, 07:13 PM
but we still have the right to distribute your original script and scripts and movies based on it as described above). Rights in scripts and movies based on your script stay with us."

HH

Well, that's where there are two schools of thought:

-people who think that clause concerns mostly licensing (and is not unlike language found, say, in Mason Novicks' controversial release form), posting the scripts on line (scripts are already available on line everywhere), etc.

-and those who think Amazon will keep all these mediocre scripts that didn't advance and make highly profitable content with them that they can stream on their website and that this is all some evil plan that never aimed to reward hard working writers financiallly or produce theatrical releases.

I guess we'll find out eventuallly.

hscope
11-23-2010, 07:25 PM
Well, that's where there are two schools of thought:

-people who think that clause concerns mostly licensing (and is not unlike language found, say, in Mason Novicks' controversial release form), posting the scripts on line (scripts are already available on line everywhere), etc.

-and those who think Amazon will keep all these mediocre scripts that didn't advance and make highly profitable content with them that they can stream on their website and that this is all some evil plan that never aimed to reward hard working writers financiallly or produce theatrical releases.

I guess we'll find out eventuallly.

That clause is the main sticking point for me. Amazon may have no interest in your script, but like Harold notes, if someone else becomes interested, perhaps years down the line, Amazon will be there with their hand out.

You can bet that if this clause is not revoked, every agent, manager and producer interested in a query will ask, has this been submitted to Amazon?

I don't know the legality of this, but IMO it's both unreasonable and immoral not to return full rights to the writer after an option expires.

Rantanplan
11-23-2010, 07:34 PM
That clause is the main sticking point for me. Amazon may have no interest in your script, but like Harold notes, if someone else becomes interested, perhaps years down the line, Amazon will be there with their hand out.

You can bet that if this clause is not revoked, every agent, manager and producer interested in a query will ask, has this been submitted to Amazon?

I don't know the legality of this, but IMO it's both unreasonable and immoral not to return full rights to the writer after an option expires.

I agree, this should be made crystal clear. Too many people are worried about it and there are a lot of assumptions being made. Clearly Amazon can't go and make a film from your script and release it theatrically, on DVD, Blue Ray, pay per view, etc., without buying those rights for 200 K. That's obvious. The question is, what can they do? If it's just that they can use your script for promotional purposes ("look, here's the excerpt of a great script by Joe Schmoe, a contestant last year who won of the 20K monthly awards) and such, that's no big deal. People retain those kinds of rights all the time, like a clip from a film they were involved with, the photo of a writer or filmmaker, etc.

Definitely they need to spell this out.

Richmond Weems
11-23-2010, 09:16 PM
Definitely they need to spell this out.

They did spell it out in their agreements. They obviously seem to feel the need to address some of the controversy (as evidenced by your earlier post), but they haven't changed anything in the actual agreement. Just made some feel good statements.

By the way, I don't think Amazon is "evil"; they're just doing what big businesses do: make money the cheapest way possible. They don't know what kind of impact (meaning $) online content will have so they worded the agreement the way they did. I don't think they give a sh$t about DVDs and theater showings with this contest (as evidenced by their agreement), but they definitely want to tie up online content.

HH

TheKeenGuy
11-23-2010, 10:53 PM
The troubling thing about the "About the Amazon Studios 'Fine Print'" post is that they are now making misleading statements about the purpose of an option.

I posted this response in that thread...

"Amazon Studios is serious about making movies. To do that, we need to have a contract with you, and that contract has to give us the option to buy the rights to make a movie. An option is the right to buy a script or movie. It is what producers typically offer writers whose scripts they want to produce. (If you have a long career as a screenwriter, you will become quite familiar with options.)"

The is not correct, regarding the legal definition of an option.

An option is not "the right to buy a script or movie" and you do not "need to have a contract with [the writer], and that contract has to give us the option to buy the rights to make a movie" in order to make movies.

Anyone can buy a script or movie. The true purpose of an option is merely so that "you cannot sell it to another producer in that 18 (or 36) months," as you put it the very next paragraph.

To say "If you have a long career as a screenwriter, you will become quite familiar with options" immediately after incorrectly defining the purpose of an option is oddly condescending, and only furthers the notion that you are purposely misleading those who don't know how an option works.

It is definitively false that an option is required in order to purchase a script. I would recommend that Amazon not post misleading statements like these, because it only increases the chances that this Amazon Studios contract will result in lawsuits.

asjah8
11-23-2010, 11:46 PM
truthfully, a battalion of gatekeepers and several reams of paper at office depot for query letters is looking pretty darned good right now. i sincerely wish great things for any dd'ers who enter, and i'll be among the ones cheering for the very best.

Rantanplan
11-24-2010, 09:27 AM
They did spell it out in their agreements.

HH

What I mean is that it's hard to understand what exactly will be the fate of thousands and thousands of scripts whose main rights have reverted back to their authors. Maybe Amazon doesn't even know that yet. I just can't imagine all these scripts being made into little movies for their website, and it's not even clear if they keep the right to make a whole new product from those scripts that no longer belong to them fully. It seems to me that would be a much more alarming possibility for filmmakers, who have already made a feature and signed certain rights away to Amazon for all of eternity.

Time will tell...

PoMoTy
11-30-2010, 10:48 AM
I had a chance to read the whole Amazon Studios "Development Agreement" over my break, with my Lawyer hat on.

I was dead on, with my interpretation of the terms:

In this Agreement, you grant us extensive rights to use, modify and distribute Content on and off of Amazon Studios in exchange for possible exposure on Amazon Studios.

So just by uploading onto 'Amazon Studios' you have given them extensive rights to use, distribute and create content from your script. Forever.

Your payment is: "exposure"

Like I said, much like Reality TV.

Now for the meat / fine print...

6.1.2. Right to Use Original Properties and Derivative Works During and After the License Period. You grant us a worldwide, royalty-free (except as specifically provided in Sections 6.4 and 9 below), non-terminable, sub-licensable, transferable right, during and after the License Period (without exercising the Option), to (a) copy, transfer, stream, sell, rent, make available for download and otherwise exploit and distribute any Original Property you contribute to Amazon Studios and all Derivative Works created during the License Period in any and all media, formats and modes now known or later invented, including, without limitation, via all online and digital formats, and to condense, reformat, edit, translate, add subtitles, audio and credits to and make other distribution-related modifications to the Original Property and the Derivative Works as we desire to facilitate such exploitation and distribution, such rights to specifically exclude, however, release as a book or "novelization" , use in an advertisement that is not related to a distribution permitted in this Section 6.1.2, release in DVD or Blu-ray format or as an "a la carte" sale or rental though an online service that charges a distinct, one-time sale or rental fee for access to the Original Property or Derivative Works, release in cinemas as a theatrical feature film and airing on a linear broadcast or cable television channel; and (b) in addition, to make clips from the Original Property and the Derivative Works of up to 10 minutes in length and distribute the clips in all other media and formats, now known or later invented, including but not limited to broadcast and cable television and theatrical films (these rights, collectively, our "Content Distribution Rights"). The rights you grant in this Section 6.1.2 to make distribution-related modifications to your Original Property and Derivative Works to facilitate distribution and exploitation, which are perpetual, are distinct from the rights you grant us in Section 6.1.1 to create Derivative Works during the License Period. Subject to Section 10 (which describes your right to submit an Original Property to a movie festival or contest), our Content Distribution Rights are exclusive during the License Period and you will not grant similar rights in your Original Property to anyone else during the License Period. After the License Period, if we don ' t exercise the Option, our Content Distribution Rights in Derivative Works created during the License Period remain exclusive, but our Content Distribution Rights in your Original Property become non-exclusive, and you and we are both entitled to use and distribute your Original Property (with our rights subject to the limitations of this Section 6.1.2)


So basically they can do anything with your script, without paying you, forever, EXCEPT make it into a book, a DVD or Theatrical movie. Is that how you read this?

But keep in mind, if "they" (crowd source) change it AT ALL, EVEN JUST A LITTLE. It becomes Amazon Studios, and those rights to theatrical distribution change, and Amazon gains rights.

6.4. Consideration; Rental and Lending Rights . You agree that the consideration provided for in this Agreement is full and adequate compensation for any right to which you may be or become entitled to with respect to your Content (including any rental or lending rights to your Content and other products derived from your Content). In addition, if you are submitting your Content for review in any contest offered by us, you acknowledge that you are not in any way relying on the contest as consideration for your submission of Content. If any specific compensation is legally required with respect to rental, lending or other rights, you agree that your grant of rights in this Agreement is nevertheless fully effective and we will pay you the minimum compensation legally required, or, at our request, you will negotiate in good faith with us to determine the compensation legally required. We will credit any amounts we pay you against any specific payments legally required to the extent permitted.

In essence, your payment is "exposure" and if it is determined you are legally entitled to more/actual compensation you will negotiate with a team of Amazon Studios lawyers to get it.

Good luck with that.

That said, exposure can be good, if you live in a cave.

9. Compensation. Except as specifically provided in Section 6.4 above, you will have no right to compensation in connection with the exploitation of rights you grant under this Agreement unless your Content is an Original Property and we exercise the Option, in which case you will be entitled to the payments set forth in the Option Agreement.

So, if Amazon Studios never "options" your original (untouched, not one word changed) property/script, you have no legal right to ANY compensation whatsoever, EVER.

It better be a PERFECT draft, for this to be worth it.

And if it is "perfect" why go to Amazon Studios in the first place?

***

I don't think Amazon is out to screw people. I think people will be helped (they are giving out money), and people could potentially be launched into screenwriter stardom, and see their projects made. However, just know what you are giving up, in return for this.

You have to think about it, and then make your choice.

I'm not saying don't consider it. I'm saying consider all the facts first.

JT

Paul Striver
11-30-2010, 11:50 AM
@PoMoTy

Your interpretation is absurd.

You failed to note the difference between Content Distribution Rights and New Content Creation Rights.

All 6.1.2 is talking about is Content Distribution Rights. Those have nothing to do with turning a submitted script into a movie. They only apply to Amazon distributing your script, i.e., making it available online, along with derivative works such as revisions and test movies (and you're only granting Amazon the right to distribute those, not to create a feature film based on them (that would fall under Content Creation Rights).

There's additional language in there about 10-minute excerpts, etc., because it applies to submitted feature-length films as well as scripts -- in the case of films, you're granting Amazon the perpetual right to continue hosting your film, to distribute clips (e.g., trailers/promos), etc.

The language about revisions is meant to make it clear (although it obviously fails in that regard) that if you revise someone else's script, you don't thereby gain any share of the $10,000, $200,000, $600,000, etc. payments (the only monetary benefit to revising someone else's script is a possible share in the contest prize money). The agreement stipulates that if you make a revision to your own script, that does not even count as a revision. All your crap about oh, no, if you change a single word you lose all rights forever and Amazon can do whatever they want with your script and never pay you a penny -- that's just pure bullshit.

I'm not planning to submit anything to Amazon, because it's a pretty lousy deal overall, but your interpretations of the agreement are loony. It's not that bad.

-

PoMoTy
11-30-2010, 12:06 PM
Is there a Lawyer in the house?

Right to Use Original Properties and Derivative Works During and After the License Period. You grant us a worldwide, royalty-free (except as specifically provided in Sections 6.4 >>> You agree that the consideration provided for in this Agreement is full and adequate compensation for any right to which you may be or become entitled to with respect to your Content<<< and 9 below), non-terminable, sub-licensable, transferable right, during and after the License Period (without exercising the Option), to (a) copy, transfer, stream, sell, rent, make available for download and otherwise exploit and distribute any Original Property you contribute to Amazon Studios and all Derivative Works created during the License Period in any and all media, formats and modes now known or later invented


In the United States, the Copyright Act defines "derivative work" in 17 U.S.C. § 101:
A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more pre-existing works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.

If anyone other than you changes one word of your script, it becomes a "Revision" and no longer an "Original Property".

Revision:

6.2. Assignment of Rights for Revisions and Other Content . You irrevocably assign to us all right, title, and interest in and to your Revision worldwide for the term of copyright protection in your Revision. You acknowledge that your assignment gives us the exclusive right to use your Revision in any manner we choose, worldwide, during the entire term of copyright protection accorded to your Revision, in all formats and all media now known or later invented and to permit third parties to make any use of your Revision we deem appropriate, on and off of Amazon Studios, and leaves you with no right to use the Revision. If you contribute Content that does not qualify as an Original Property or as a Revision, you grant us the same exclusive rights to that Content as you would grant to us if the Content qualified as a Revision.

Anyone else read this differently?

Paul Striver
11-30-2010, 01:02 PM
From Amazon:
If you revise your own script or movie with original material, the rights to your original revisions are considered part of your original script or movie and the rights in the original revisions go with the rights in the original script or movie.
Revisions
If you revise someone else's script or movie, or create a new test movie based on an Amazon Studios project you didn't initiate, you could be eligible for contest awards (and you may have helped get a movie made), but you assign all rights to the script or test movie to us forever. You won't be entitled to option payments or other fees. The reason for the difference between the rights for original scripts and movies and the rights for revisions is that there is only one original script or movie for each project at Amazon Studios, but there's no limit to the number of revisions for each Project.


There is only one original property. Amazon has rights to all revisions, but that does not give them any rights to the underlying original property that they didn't already have. It's just a way of telling a person who submits a revision that he will have no rights whatsoever to his revision or to the original property. It's not a way for Amazon to sneakily lay claim to the original property without honoring the terms of the development agreement.

Seriously, how crazy and immoral and self-destructive do you think Amazon is?

You're reading things into this that simply aren't there. If it sounds like it's the craziest f'ing thing you've ever heard, maybe you should stop and consider that it's probably your interpretation that's crazy, not Amazon's contract.

PoMoTy
11-30-2010, 01:26 PM
From Amazon:

There is only one original property. Amazon has rights to all revisions, but that does not give them any rights to the underlying original property that they didn't already have. It's just a way of telling a person who submits a revision that he will have no rights whatsoever to his revision or to the original property. It's not a way for Amazon to sneakily lay claim to the original property without honoring the terms of the development agreement.

Seriously, how crazy and immoral and self-destructive do you think Amazon is?

You're reading things into this that simply aren't there. If it sounds like it's the craziest f'ing thing you've ever heard, maybe you should stop and consider that it's probably your interpretation that's crazy, not Amazon's contract.

You sound awfully riled up there...

I never said Amazon or "the contract" was crazy, evil*, immoral, "self-destructive" or wrong. I actually stated originally/earlier -- if you look -- the contract is pretty standard in the media business, and that Amazon is showing "evil genius". Amazon is crowd sourcing, a free and smart way to develop material. Material that they will own, if it comes from "crowd sourcing" on their site. That is how they plan to get their money back. They are a business. They are not doing this for free.

(*Amazon is not, in itself, "evil", only that their genius was similar to, but not entirely of, "evil" in possible future use and nature.)

Amazon is shrewd to enter a new market, and to try and create a new model. All I am saying is consider the terms of the agreement carefully before you enter into such a contract. PERIOD.

You don't have to believe "my interpretation" of the contract, and I could be mistaken in parts of "my interpretation" (I'm not a lawyer).

But if I was you, I would consider that "the contract" appears to be open for interpretation, and that doesn't usually work out well for the party without a team of lawyers.

That said, I do have great interest in this new model, and am following it closely.

P.S.

Can we get a lawyer to comment? I would love to hear a lawyers input on this.

Paul Striver
11-30-2010, 01:58 PM
If the development agreement was even remotely the way you interpret it, then Amazon would indeed be crazy, immoral, and self-destructive. But it's not, and they're not.

You're completely out-to-lunch here, and you're apparently uninterested in improving your shockingly poor reading comprehension, so I have no further interest in discussing it with you. Keep making up phantasms to scare yourself silly with, and keep spreading absurd falsehoods -- I've already wasted far too much time on this.

PoMoTy
11-30-2010, 03:32 PM
I have no further interest in discussing it with you.

I am going to hold you to this.

Keep making up phantasms to scare yourself silly with, and keep spreading absurd falsehoods -- I've already wasted far too much time on this.

Your problem is you spent NO TIME on this, read nothing, and still managed to create waste.

Since you don't seem to:
a) understand legalese
b) know the meaning of "remotely"
c) be able to articulate an argument for your point of view

The point of this thread is to UNDERSTAND the contract, so it's for people who desire to do that. It's not for people to complain about the world, or call people or corporations "evil".

Now I feel like I wasted my time...

scripto80
11-30-2010, 04:43 PM
Why all the argument over something so simple? It's a crap deal for any real writer. If you don't care about your property nor getting rightful compensation and just want to make a quick buck then it's ideal for you. If you want a real career, then it's not. The end.

*shrug*

MJ Scribe
11-30-2010, 09:41 PM
*shrug*

I agree, Scripto, that's where I got off on this thread... some time ago.
But I wrote mostly to say they should have a smilie for that *shrug*

WriteByNight
11-30-2010, 10:13 PM
Why all the argument over something so simple? It's a crap deal for any real writer. If you don't care about your property nor getting rightful compensation and just want to make a quick buck then it's ideal for you. If you want a real career, then it's not. The end.

*shrug*

People aren't actually arguing. They're wrestling with indecision.
A chance at ten gees every month versus the 18 month option and wiki thing.

scripto80
11-30-2010, 11:02 PM
Well I just browsed through a bit and saw a couple snark comments here and there and figured this was another DDP group therapy session. I was ready to hand out foam bats and everything. Sheesh.

PoMoTy
12-01-2010, 10:00 AM
Why all the argument over something so simple? It's a crap deal for any real writer. If you don't care about your property nor getting rightful compensation and just want to make a quick buck then it's ideal for you. If you want a real career, then it's not. The end.

*shrug*

See I actually think it's a pretty complicated issue. It's not necessarily a crap deal for any (every) writer, seeing as some will be getting money that most likely otherwise would not have, right?

Do you give up rights to your material for the chance at money?

"Yes"

I don't think it's easy money either, or a quick buck. If you post material, you better be prepared to work on it and foster/control/steer the development and debate over it... That's a lot of work.

Also, if you are an un-established writer, with little prospects of getting to LA and getting read by anyone with clout, this could be your career starter.

So it is a give and take...

People aren't actually arguing. They're wrestling with indecision.
A chance at ten gees every month versus the 18 month option and wiki thing.

I am still wrestling with it in my head.

Obviously it is not right for every script, but maybe it is for some?

I have come to the conclusion it is designed to give Amazon all the rights and power, out of necessity, because there would need to be a deciding body to determine who gets credit for a script that has been "crowd sourced".

In my head, it's a lot like YouTube. Don't put your masterpiece up on the site, but that weird project you never did anything with? Why not. Just don't expect anything, you are not entitled to anything.

Who knows, you might just go viral; make a mark.

The real question in my mind is:

Will there be another "Amazon Studios" type player?

And will it's terms be the same?

LauriD
12-01-2010, 12:29 PM
I don't think it's easy money So it is a give and take...


The real question in my mind is:

Will there be another "Amazon Studios" type player?

And will it's terms be the same?


Good point!

The studios can't go here directly, because they're WGA signatories. But this is chump change for a Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Nintendo, etc.-- so why shouldn't they get in the act? Everybody and his idiot nephew wants to run a movie studio -- there are even simulation games! I bet there are plenty of deep pockets out there waiting to see if this produces anything worthwhile.

More competition might or might not lead to better terms, but we can hope.

LauriD
12-01-2010, 12:52 PM
Obviously it is not right for every script, but maybe it is for some?



Exactly.

Script Type A:

A script that's OK, even good, but maybe not your best work, maybe not the best genre for you, maybe a topic/genre that you know is a hard sell, and not one you want to try to build (ruin) a rep on. Especially if it's been floating around for years with no interest.

-- Why not enter? What have you got to lose?

Script Type B:

A very good script, your best work, that hasn't been around much and hasn't had a real chance in the market. You haven't even gotten a rep to read it yet.

-- There's potentially a lot to lose with Amazon. I wouldn't enter one like that.

Script Type C:

A very good script, your best work. But it's been going around the block for years. Managers have read it, agents, producers. It's gotten some interest, maybe a free option or shopping agreement. But in the end nothing happened.

-- This is a tough case, the one to anguish over. You always think that the next person is going to love it. But maybe no one will. And maybe it's just what the Amazon judges are looking for and you're passing on your last and only hope.


"Sacrificing" a Type A to get money and notice for your Type B's and C's isn't a bad strategy.

Lots of sucessful screenwriters got their starts writing grade Z schlock for nada. And they probably aren't getting any residuals. This is just a modern version of that.

NYNEX
12-01-2010, 10:34 PM
Good point!

The studios can't go here directly, because they're WGA signatories. But this is chump change for a Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Nintendo, etc.-- so why shouldn't they get in the act? Everybody and his idiot nephew wants to run a movie studio -- there are even simulation games! I bet there are plenty of deep pockets out there waiting to see if this produces anything worthwhile.

More competition might or might not lead to better terms, but we can hope.

Add Apple to that list. It, with ITunes, directly competes with Amazon's sales of digital downloads for music, tv episodes, and film.

I think you're right, these tech companies are all watching Amazon's development very closely. We'll know where this is doing in a year or two.

asjah8
12-02-2010, 01:50 AM
Add Apple to that list. It, with ITunes, directly competes with Amazon's sales of digital downloads for music, tv episodes, and film.

I think you're right, these tech companies are all watching Amazon's development very closely. We'll know where this is doing in a year or two.

it's interesting that you note this nynex. i wondered the same thing when i saw this tech article that came out last week:

http://www.siliconrepublic.com/new-media/item/19123-steve-jobs-and-rupert/