Screenwriting : Submitting to Amazon Studios by Charlie Frazier

Charlie Frazier

Submitting to Amazon Studios

I'm thinking of submitting one of my scripts to Amazon Studios. I've been sitting on it for 3 years now and polishing it for the last 3 weeks and feel that it's ready to see the light of day. Any thoughts on this? The title, "Until We Are Parted", is a dramatic feature length story of a 5th grade teacher, with a terminal illness, who must save two of her students from a dangerous environment before it's to late. https://www.facebook.com/UntilWeAreParted/

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Charlie: Amazon makes it very easy to submit your Feature or TV pilot ideas. My suggestion is to make sure you have a very marketable idea, catchy logline around 30 words long and a good, clear summary of your story. Also ensure your script is proofread and professionally formatted. Note that there has been a lot of debate here at this forum over whether Amazon will really ever do much with any scripts submitted by unproduced writers. Here is a great thread about this topic you may want to read https://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting/Amazon-Studios-11 and here is a link from a comment posted at Amazon with an interesting POV. https://studios.amazon.com/discussions/Tx1D2DMPS42GL3Z

Charlie Frazier

Thank you for taking the time to reply and the helpful advice, Phillip.

Melissa Butler

Great advice Phillip, I was thinking of submitting to them as well

Jeff Lyons

Just know that if you do you lose it for like a year and a half. I did a script a few years ago and the agreement gives them an exclusive and you can't do squat with it until the agreement runs out. That's not really worth it IMO for the total crap shoot AS turns out to be. but... ur call. (maybe it's changed in the last few years, but I doubt it)

Charlie Frazier

Thanks Jeff. Yeah, I have considered that. But that's only if you accept their offer, correct? I hope (should I get to that point) I'll have a few minutes to decide to take the offer or cut and run.

Jeff Lyons

I don't know how it works now, but when I did it you had to agree to their terms just to upload your file and make it available for others to vote on. Their selection process, back then anyway, was all based on how your project performed on their platform... again, maybe that's changed... but you sign the agreement... if you want your project made available to the community. I think you're better off building a network in the industry, submitting to real competitions, and doing it the old-fashioned way... my 2 cents.

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Gentlemen: What Amazon used to have was a 45 day "first right of refusal agreement", which allowed them to review your material either privately or allowing other members to download, read and review your script submission. They no longer have that 45 day clause and you may remove your script at anytime before or after Amazon's review. And if they do make an offer to option, which is highly unlikely (because they've optioned damn few unproduced writers thus far), you are under no obligation to take their offer. But in the snowball's chance in hell they do offer you an option agreement, I would probably take it if I were you.

Jeff Lyons

Ok I guess it's all changed. It was really bad when I did it. I had to wait a year or more to get my stuff off their bloody site. Good luck ...

David E. Gates

Remember, also, if they do option they basically "lock" your script off from anyone else for 18 months (I believe that's how long it was) but do pay you a nice sum of money - $20k I believe. If they want to extend it further, they give you another lump sum.

Charlie Frazier

Thanks for the input, David. I think that's not such a bad deal, for me, because this script has been sitting on my hard drive for 3 years and paying me nothing. If AS should option me, it lets me know that my work has potential value to someone else besides me.

Charlie Frazier

I have pretty much made up my mind to submit a PDF of my script and I think I will make it public. I believe that Amazon is looking for screenplays that the people (their customers) will want to see and what better way to test my script and their fan base than to open it up on their server for their customers to vote on. I still trust your feedback and will totally appreciate any last minute suggestions regarding my decision.

Richard Gustason

I don't see an issue submitting to Amazon. You can also submit that to Netflix and Hulu. Wish you the best my friend.

Charlie Frazier

Thanks for the input, Jim. I'm going to just throw mine out there and see what happens. It's been on my hard drive for 3 years and I've polished the crap out of it. So, who knows, someone or something good may happen to it. My screenplay isn't a big budget blockbuster.

Charlie Frazier

Thanks Richard. I chose Amazon because there's no fee to submit. Is that the same with Netflix & Hulu?

Richard Gustason

I'm not sure Charlie but just giving you other options. But if you feel comfortable choosing to submit to Amazon then by all means submit. I read this and you should too if you feel compelled: http://www.vulture.com/2014/09/how-to-sell-streaming-show.html This looks like it shows a better understanding of what Amazon and Hulu and Netflix look for. Did not see anything about fees for submission though.

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Though I currently have a pilot being reviewed by Amazon, I'd say my chances of an option are about the same as a salmon swimming up Niagara Falls. Also, if anyone knows of a pipeline to Netflix or Hulu with heavyweight representation, please feel free to share that info. Last year, my work (logline and synopsis) made it to both History Channel and A & E via an established producer. Also, one of the stories was pitched at an A & E pitch meeting by one of their staff. My understanding is even very established people are having difficulty getting meetings at Netflix. I'm not trying to be a negative Nelly. However, it's a difficult process pitching unsolicited material.

Charlie Frazier

Thanks again, Richard. What I have is a script, not a movie/video. So there's nothing (from me) for them to stream.

Regina Lee

I'd add that you should try to situate your project in a specific genre and/or for a specific audience. Here's a movie that will play to the same audience as X successful movie. Here's a movie that will appeal to the same audience as those who spent money to see X.

Charlie Frazier

Thank you Regina Lee, that's a great tip. I had not thought of that. Great advice! :)

Kym Stover

I didn't like my experience with them. Their voting procedure of pitting your project against one & having a "war" between the two was stupid imo & didn't serve any purpose except to waste my time on it.

Charlie Frazier

I'm sorry to learn this, Kym. In this voting process, was it clear to the voters that the script was yours? Did you get any exposure from it? I'm hoping that to get my name out there, especially if my project does get optioned and I lose all rights. I'd like as many people as possible to know who wrote that awesome screenplay, you know?

Dan MaxXx

i dont think that's an effective plan to being "discovered" Hustle yourself. Get your script to people who make a living working in show biz. Win Nichols, enroll in classes, pay to pitch, seek a working Mentor. Find a Champion- a person who will vouch for you and "pass your script up the ladder." Since amazon has no fees to submit, their "piles of scripts" are in the millions by now. But someone wins Powerball lottery, i guess anything is possible.

Charlie Frazier

Thanks MaxXx, I do appreciate your input. But this isn't my "only" means of getting out there, as they say, just one more attempt. You throw enough tihs against the wall and some is bound to stick. I've done all the other stuff where everyone's got their hand out looking to get paid (upfront) and have about the same chance of not getting paid. I just want to take a different route for once.

William Martell

How many scripts through their program have gone all the way to screen? Is Ted Hope using anything that comes through the program?

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

William: Earlier this year, there was an epic thread on the same topic. At the time, I was able to find 3 accounts of writers that received an option (I'm assuming for the $10,000 fee). However, I was unable to find an unproduced writer that has ever had a show or film make it to production. My first experience with Amazon was in late 2012, with a script they wanted to rework called "Leon", which was a holiday feature script. They claimed to have optioned it and ran an open competition for writers to pitch a treatment for a rewrite. They eventually picked a writer and I'm 100% certain the project never materialized. The author, Keven Scannell it was optioned by Amazon, was in development for two years and he's now rewriting it. Another of the optioned writers was Dwayne Worrell, for his script "The Wall". Now I've attached an article link about that option deal below from 2014. But I just went to Amazon Studios and they show this project as the only feature currently on their development slate. So the short answer I cannot find anything that's that gone all the way to the screen. http://deadline.com/2014/11/amazon-studios-the-wall-spec-script-dwain-wo... https://studios.amazon.com/movies?dev_stage=development&sort=site_activity

Eldar Levin Gadjibekov

I submitted two of my scripts to Amazon - nothing. But it should not discourage you. Amazon original programming is pure shit, as if they are choosing projects just to prove the point. Unlike Netflix they don't have even one good show in their sleeve...

JD Hartman

Not a screenwriter so take this for what it's worth.... Better to take a chance, submit your scripts to Amazon (or anybody), than to have Terabytes of scripts occupying your computer hard drive that will never be seen by anyone because you are endlessly polishing them.

Charlie Frazier

Thanks for the feedback, Eldar. Did you display your script for the public or private viewing?

Charlie Frazier

Thanks for the encouraging word, JD. That was exactly what I thought. What do I have to lose, right? :)

Eldar Levin Gadjibekov

Private, then switched to public (just in case,) then pulled out altogether...

Charlie Frazier

Thanks for the feedback, Eldar. By the way, when you switch to public, do you get to see what's going on, as far as comments or voting by the fan/viewers? Anything at all? I'm just wondering if our scripts get any benefits of the exposure.

Eldar Levin Gadjibekov

No, not that I know of. To me they have a bunch of highly unprofessional baboons in their movie development department. Because whatever they do sucks big time. And they don't comment on the reasons why your script was denied. Just pass, that's it. But you should send your script nevertheless, it costs nothing.

Veronica La Marque Stewart

Hi Charlie. Have you entered your screenplay into any competitions that give feedback? I get the feeling that a script has to be ready-to-go for it to get noticed on Amazon and feedback from a recommended competition will help you decide if it's ready. But like Eldar says, it's free you've got nothing to lose. Submitting anywhere is always unsettling for me. Good luck

Charlie Frazier

Hi Veronica, thanks for taking the time to give some input. No, I have not entered this particular script in any contests, but I do feel that it is ready. I want to see (for the 1st time) what the general movie-going public thinks of my work as opposed to "the readers". If by some way, Amazon picks up on that, I think my mission will be accomplished. I've seen so many good scripts become really bad movies.

Charlie Frazier

Should I not include the title page when I submit my script to Amazon Studios? I know that some/most contest ask you not to, but I've not been able to find if this is the case with A.S. What did you guys (who've submitted) do?

Kym Stover

The thing I didn't like about their process was I think that most of the people that voted in the war, were probably under 30. I'm pretty sure they're the main people that would even take the time & a lot of the things they commented on were done insensitively & even insultingly, sometimes. I just think my project wasn't given a fair shot. This was many years ago & maybe things have changed. Most people that have read my script like it a lot. It's up to you & it doesn't cost anything.

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

CJ: Agreed! Most studios, agents and producers have policies forbidding unsolicited materials. I say submit away. It's a great opportunity to hit the lottery.

Charlie Frazier

Okay, I submitted my PDF script, on Amazon Storywriter, about an hour ago and made it public in hopes of getting some exposure, if nothing else. I've done the best I could polishing & proofreading the script. So now I guess I just wait for the feedback. I'm expecting the least, so that I won't be disappointed, LOL! Thank all of you, Phillip, CJ, Kym, Veronica, Eldar, JD, Dan, Bill, Regina, Richard, Jim, Jeff, David & Melissa...(I didn't realize there are so many and hope I didn't leave anyone out).

Craig Thomas

Charlie, there is no feedback from Amazon. They just say "no". IF you want feedback, you'll have to ask on the forum, or somewhere else.

Eldar Levin Gadjibekov

Good luck, man! Keep us updated, please!

Charlie Frazier

Thanks Craig. I was under the impression that, by making my submission public, that there would be feedback and/or voting from the general public.

Charlie Frazier

To those of you who have also submitted to Amazon, how long does it usually take before they list your script on their "Projects" page?

Chris Todd

It should show up on the projects list within 24 hours. I don't remember exactly how long it took, but it's not long.

Charlie Frazier

Thanks Chris.

Laurie Ashbourne

There have been threads on this in the past. What CJ and Phillip wrote is truth. Full disclosure, I do work for Amazon, and started after their initial blunder. I can only offer this bit of advice, if you do submit, do so privately. There is no benefit in having your material debated in a forum.

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Laurie, as someone I respect here as S32, I appreciate you posting what I also agree is the best path when submitting your projects. In the ultra-competitive world of screenwriting, I have to refer to my favorite passage from Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris Gil: Would you do me the biggest favor in the world – I can’t even ask. Hemingway: What? Gil: Would you read it? Hemingway: Your novel? Gil: It’s only about four hundred pages – If you would just give me your opinion. Hemingway: My opinion is I hate it. Gil: you do? Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate because I hate bad writing and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate it all the more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer. Gil: But there’s no one I really trust to evaluate it. Hemingway: Writers are competitive. Gil: I could never compete with you. To me this passage rings with such truth.

Laurie Ashbourne

Great clip, Phillip. Thanks for posting.

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

CJ And Laurie: Thanks! You are both awesome contributors to this great online community.

Charlie Frazier

Thank you, Laurie. I'm learning about the advantages as well as the disadvantages of posting public as I write this and have decided to go private. I'm also trying to figure out how to get back into my script to revise it. Can you help me with that? (getting back in, not with the revision. LOL!) And, since you are associated with Amazon, perhaps you have an opinion about this post I read in a group: "Amazon is spending 90% of their resources on producing streaming content, so submitting a feature is a real long-shot. I would suggest you write a drama or comedy pilot next and then submit that. Just a helpful hint "

Laurie Ashbourne

Hi Charlie - I don't believe Amazon has released any actual figures of what they are producing, but their first forays into theater releases is coming this year and next, you can see their announced slate on imdb. That said, there is nothing wrong with being produced as a streamer even for a feature (hulu, netflix, amazon, youtube red and more) are really the way things are moving -- and if the content demands it, it can go day and date with a theatrical release. I worked on a documentary years back that was the first feature to premiere on a streamer (hulu), and it sold more 'tickets' than March of Penguins and Inconvenient Truth, (two very well recieved docs), combined in theaters. Granted, it's a specific 'genre' but it still points to legitimacy. Honestly, every film is a long shot, no matter the platform, no matter the studio, no matter the creator. I don't know the caliber of the group you read this opinion, but last thing I'll say about the comment is, beware of what you read in online groups. As far as changing your script online, you should be able to upload a revision and it just lives as a new version. Did you create it in their screenwriting platform? If so, I thing you just publish it as new. If it hasn't changed drastically it may not be worth it. Best of luck, keep us posted.

Charlie Frazier

Hey Laurie, I agree, the main point is and should be to get our stories told and seen by the largest audiences possible. I am very leery of what I read in these groups, after all, I'm a member, LOL! But the poster did seem quite credible, which is why I thought to share it with you. I did use Amazon Storywriter to format my script, but somehow I inadvertently uploaded an earlier draft of the script. The changes aren't that large, just a few things on the 1st & 2nd pages. Thanks again for your support.

Laurie Ashbourne

You should be able to edit directly in story writer and then post it. The interface is almost a little too simple. Best of luck

Diane Mongiardo

Hello Charlie, If you've polished it to your liking then what is holding you back from submitting it to Amazon? Like the song goes, "You're never gonna know if you never even try" One thing though, have you registered it with either the WGA (East or West) or the Library of Congress. If not, you should to protect your work.

Charlie Frazier

Thank you, Laurie, yes it was. Mission accomplished! :)

Charlie Frazier

You're absolutely right, Diane, I'll never know if I never try. Thanks for the push!

Charlie Frazier

Thanks, John. Yeah, I'm expecting a pass, since this is my 1st outing. But I'm also in the process of polishing up the next one to send them.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

@Laurie @ CJ, @Phillip, love you guys... great tips for Charlie. TIFF ends tomorrow... I'm exhausted. lol. @Charlie, have you considered getting Coverage for your script right here on S32... before you send it in? Because there will be no feedback 45 days down the road.... just a nice note to say they passed. I too would recommend 'Private'... have heard horror stories when they had 'public' readings in the past... not sure they still offer that any longer though which is a good thing.

Veronica La Marque Stewart

I am so glad I responded to your post Charlie. I have received so many great tips from everyone about Amazon and my question "public or private?" has been answered. Keep us updated and GL

Charlie Frazier

Thank you Sylvia & Veronica for your advice and support. Yes, I did learn, the hard way, that perhaps I should have NOT posted my script as public. I can appreciate even brutally honest feedback, but there are people who just don't seem to be critiquing the story I've written. And some seem more interested in convincing me that Amazon is NOT looking for new material from amateurs.

Charlie Frazier

John, your point is abundantly clear. And if we only knew exactly what that was, it would save us all a lot of time and aggravation. It's sort of like wanting to know WHY your crush dumped you, LOL!

Kym Stover

If your project is the normal stuff most people like, I guess it could work for you. If you're trying to do something other than the stuporhero generic garbage that makes $, don't waste your time. My stuff is never the usual & a lot of people just won't get it. Ultimately, I'm probably going to have to wind up dyi it all.

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