Archive for November 22nd, 2010

Amazon Studios: The Responses

22nd November 2010 by Maura McHugh

Amazon StudiosLast week a new film development process called Amazon Studios was announced.

Amazon is promoting this as the cool, modern way to make movies:

Movies have been developed pretty much the same way since talkies were considered cutting-edge. But here at Amazon Studios, we believe 21st-century technology creates opportunities to make and share movies and scripts more easily than ever. We invite you to:

  • Win money. Amazon Studios will award a combined $2.7 million in our first year’s worth of monthly and annual contests for the best scripts and movies. There is no charge to participate. Learn more.
  • Get noticed. Your work will be shared with a global community of filmmakers and fans, who can offer revisions and advice. Screenwriters can see their words come to life as full-length test movies made by directors vying for our $100,000 monthly awards.
  • Get your movie made. The goal of Amazon Studios is to work with Hollywood to turn the best projects into major feature films.

The problem is that as soon as the writer enters the contest s/he has agreed to a contract, and as UK screenwriter Michelle Lipton points out the contract is less than exemplary.

One warning sign, among many, is this clause:

14. No Guild Jurisdiction. Amazon is not a signatory to any agreement with a collective bargaining organization, including, without limitation, the Writers Guild of America Minimum Basic Agreement or the Directors Guild of America Basic Agreement, and none of the activity conducted in connection with Amazon Studios is subject to the jurisdiction of any collective bargaining organization. If you are a member of any collective bargaining organization, you are solely responsible for your participation in Amazon Studios, and for determining whether your participation complies with your obligations under those agreements.

Many established screenwriters have weighed in with their opinions on the contract. Most of them have been through the process of developing scripts for film and/or television and understand the pressures that can come upon a script from the likes of producers and directors even under the best of circumstances where there is a fair contract in effect.

Their opinions are well worth reading in regard to Amazon Studios:

Other articles on the web about this ‘deal’:

As always screenwriters should pay attention to the terms and conditions of contracts before they enter into any agreements. Remember, as soon as you enter the Amazon Studios deal you are agreeing to its conditions.