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Amazon studios (amazon.com)
314 points by garrydanger on Jan 22, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments

I'm disappointed in the shallow look people are giving this. You can't just read the marketing copy and take it at face value. Amazon Studios is actually pretty terrible for creatives, as many successful screenwriters et al. have been pointing out for over a year now:



Since those were written things have improved slightly, but anyone thinking about participating should still have serious reservations:


Mazin's argument is that if you were good enough to write a script that grosses over $60 million you could get a better deal than $600,000 for the script. But I don't know if that's true. First time spec sales over $600k are very, very rare. A number of things have to come together in a way the resembles luck more than anything else for that to happen.

For an established screenwriter, sure, they could do better. For a first timer...I'm not so sure.

First-time specs rarely sell for much higher than the low sixes. After that, a writer usually finds himself jobbing around town on low-paying rewrite and polishing gigs on existing studio projects. It could be years before a young writer, hot off the sale of a spec script, ever cracks mid-sixes on his next payday. And he may even sell multiple specs, never to see a single one made.

So I'd argue that Amazon offers a compelling deal for the young writer. If I were starting out as a screenwriter right now, I'd shop my script to agents and to Amazon. If it's good enough to land me an agent, I'd go with the agent. If I'm getting nowhere with the agency search, I'd try Amazon. Either way, it's nice to have an alternative to the traditional discovery model.

So it's not a great deal, but script writers rarely get great deals.

Typically not, unless they manage to get really lucky and find their script in a bidding war the first time out the gate. Or unless they get a script actually made into a movie (very rare, even for successfully beginning screenwriters), and the movie does well. Once you start hitting it big in screenwriting, you can make a very nice living. But most writers go through a very long dues-paying period, and that's not including the ones who never even make it to the starting gate.

Now, some people might be tempted to say "But if I can make a couple hundred thousand from a spec sale, can't I just write a ton of specs and get rich?" Probably not. The way to become known amongst studios is to take a bunch of rewriting or project-based jobs, preferably after having sold a debut spec. If you figure that the average spec could take anywhere from 6 months to a year to write, and that most specs don't sell, you're looking at a very uncertain income stream. And even if you do make a nice sale, you have to factor in everybody's cut: agency, manager (if you have one), lawyer, taxes, etc.

In general, screenwriting follows the pay function common to most of Hollywood: you spend a long time making close to nothing, but if you ever manage to make it to the higher echelons, you can make a killing. Skill plays a role in this journey, but luck is arguably even more important. Understandably, not everyone has the stomach for it. If you want to get rich, there are far easier and better paths to doing so.

Writing is really a game you have to be in because you love it so much that you can't imagine doing anything else. It can be a fun lifestyle if you manage to make ends meet, and a great lifestyle if you manage to become successful at it.

Would TV scripts be better than movies? You wouldn't need too much trust to start with (there's less production costs at stake, and you are working within an established framework), and there's opportunities on both sides if you are any good (you get to write subsequent episodes, and they get another writer).

Or would TV shows have enough writers already?

I'm not sure I understand your question. Are you asking whether the TV business is easier to disrupt (for Amazon or others)? I'd argue that yes, it is, precisely because its distribution channels and ad dollars are much more easily shifted into digital and social channels. And because production costs are much lower. The minimum viable product for a TV show is, typically at least, considerably less costly and less time consuming than the minimum viable movie. It's very hard to make a blockbuster movie whose special effects, action, and production values rival those of a Hollywood blockbuster. But it's considerably less hard to make a low-budget, independent series that's every bit as funny as a mainstream series.

Or are you asking whether it's easier to become successful as a TV writer? Again, the answer is probably yes. You stand an equally tough time breaking into the TV writing business, but if you can get staffed on a show, you can make a respectable and steady income. TV writing is much more like an office job than movie writing is. You work on a staff, you usually have an office to which you show up everyday, you make a salary, you can get promoted up the staffing ranks every few years, and so forth. Of course, there's still some uncertainty in the mix. Not every pilot goes to series, and not every series lasts very long. And "staffing season," the period of the year in which shows staff up with writers, is fiercely competitive. But there's a lot of light at the end of the tunnel, provided you can make it there. At the top of the TV writing pyramid, you have show-running executive producers and creators. If one of their shows is very successful, these folks can do extremely well for themselves.

I was asking about becoming a TV writer, though your first point is also very interesting.

TV writers do tend to make more money than movie writers. They also tend to have more creative control (in TV, directors are usually the ones who play second fiddle), but they also have to work harder. It isn't really the case anymore that the top movie writers do better than the top TV writers, either. Show runners, who are almost always also head writers, are all making "fuck you" money. I believe Matt Weiner of Mad Men is still the highest paid, at an estimated $8-10 million per year:


Weiner is king of the hill right now, but it also must be said that serious, crazy fuck-you money happens if your show gets sold into mass syndication. Larry David has made north of $800 million off of Seinfeld. David E. Kelley is worth somewhere in the range of $250 to $300 million, and Steven Bochco is close to $200 million. The late Aaron Spelling was worth about $300 million, as well.

Of course, the days of such lucrative syndication and residual deals are probably numbered. My prediction is that, as content distribution opens up, TV writers will find it easier to become a millionaire, but harder to become a quasi-billionaire. We're entering a world in which there will be fewer Larry Davids, but more Matthew Weiners. Either way, TV writing will continue to be very lucrative at the top of the field.

And the path to the top may get shorter. The days of paying dues for 10 years at the staff/producer level before having enough juice to sell an original series are relics of the network TV business as it currently exists and has existed; the democratization of distribution, and the hunger of new distributors for original content, will open up the field to younger writers. More and more young writers will get their start shooting spec pilots or series, too, and not just trying to get staffed on existing shows. It's not unheard of, this day and age, to make a name for oneself on the internet and then get drafted by Hollywood. Look at Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island cohort, for instance.

Don't forget Chuck Lorre. That guy's got to be obscenely rich by now -- a quick googling says to the tune of $600 million. Yowza. But then he also probably works about 100 hours a week between his various shows.

True. Totally forgot about him. As an added bonus, not only is he obscenely rich, but he's obscenely powerful. After all, he's the guy that was able to tell Charlie Sheen to fuck off during Sheen's antics last year. Even the network execs were scared of Charlie Sheen at the time, and didn't have the balls to fire him. Lorre was more important to the show's success than the highest-paid actor in television. That's power. (Despite Sheen's insistance that he was "winning," he sure seems to have lost that brawl).

As a movie writer, you never really rise to that level of money or power. Sure, you have folks like Steve Zaillian or Aaron Sorkin[1], who make millions and can command a lot of respect. Some even become household names, or win Oscars. But they never quite become masters of the universe the way that hit showrunners do.

[1]Sort of an anomaly/exception, in as much as he's done both.

I'm not sure how I feel about all this spec work that is appearing in writing communities. It's one thing in fields like design or development where the IP could potentially be reused. With work like this that takes months to create, you risk never being able to use this work again once you post it up.

Spec work has been part and parcel of the screenwriting world forever.

As have free options. Something everyone tells you not to do and most people end up doing anyway.

As a designer, I protest. It's always okay for other industries but when it hits home, people cry foul. Spec work is spec work.

So they'll pay you $200,000 for a theatrical release (but regardless of if your movie is chosen, you can't sell your work anywhere else for 18 months because they've got exclusive rights to buy it…all without giving you a penny), and you only get an extra $400,000 if it makes $60,000,000 at the box office?

It sounds like a cool concept, but sounds like a very lousy deal. Or am I missing something?

No, it's a pretty lousy deal. The upside is there's at least a chance your script will get picked, versus Hollywood where there is virtually no chance. So it's a "shitty deal vs no deal" situation.

It's basically a tradeoff. You have a higher chance of getting picked, but a much lousier payday if you do. Nevertheless, it might actually be a decent bet for newbies to the screenwriting trade.

As you've mentioned, and as I concur, your odds of getting discovered in Hollywood are somewhere just shy of your odds of getting beamed aboard the Enterprise. So Amazon's system represents a slightly better way to get a calling-card film made out of your script. Nevertheless, it's a much shittier deal for anyone who's had a script sold or made. So this seems like a one-and-done sort of deal. Get discovered on Amazon, then go get an agent in Hollywood, and eventually, make lots more money than through this system.

Amazon's system needs some way to scale up as the writer's career does. Or else it's always going to be stuck as a AAA farm team for Hollywood. That might not be a bad thing; at least it's a toehold in the business. But it's not going to bring down the system anytime soon.

Unless, of course, the entire cost structure of the film industry changes, and Hollywood stops being able to afford higher-end writers' paydays. Which may indeed happen, sooner or later. Hollywood has a cost-side crash on its hands eventually. It's anyone's guess as to when, but it will happen. Revenues can't keep declining, year over year, while talent costs and budgets keep climbing.

Your odds are astronomically worse with Amazon, actually, because by submitting to them you grant them an exclusive option on your work. Hollywood works in the opposite way, with studios competing (and, thus, cutting bigger checks) for good scripts. There are hundreds of ways to sell a script in Hollywood. There's only one way to sell a script on Amazon.

So, if your script's been floating around for a year or two and hasn't gotten any traction -- no agent, no options, hasn't made The Black List, hasn't placed in any notable competitions, etc. -- then sure, submit it to Amazon. But the hard truth in that case is that the script is likely just crap.

On a side note: the point of writing a spec isn't necessarily to sell it. Specs are to screenwriters as GitHub is to coders. That said, 2011 was actually a banner year for specs, with at least 109 sold.

All good points, but as you've said -- and as I agree -- it's not like you're expecting your first screenplay to get made, one way or the other. So the exclusive option being granted to Amazon, functionally speaking, would be no different than having your debut spec bought and sent into development hell with a studio. After that point, the spec becomes your calling card and resume. You might earn more money selling the spec in a Hollywood bidding war, but only a small handful of all spec sales inspire that kind of frenzy. (I do agree, however, that if you have even the slightest suspicion that you've written a killer script, you should try Hollywood agencies first).

To your other point, I do fear that Amazon has basically engineered a system whereby the good catches swim the Hollywood, and the flotsam floats into Amazon's net. Time will tell.

Re: spec as calling card.

The thing about tying your script up with Amazon is that it handicaps you social proof-wise. If your script is in development hell, that means someone actually bought it. If your script is on Amazon, that just means you have an Internet connection.

An Amazon script won't work as a calling card because nobody wants to read a script they can't buy -- unless the reason they can't buy it is that someone else already has. When submitting scripts, you want to be able to say either "This amazing script can be yours for the low low price of 1 million dollars," or "Time Warner bought this script for 1 million dollars. I'd love to work with you on my next one."

With Amazon's current terms, there's just a much higher chance that all your work will have been for naught.

Well, Hollywood also has a reputation for simply stealing a script if they like it.

Congrats to all the people who downvoted me for an apparently unpopular opinion. It's pretty bizarre to me that anyone would be surprised by this though. Look at what Hollywood does these days: remakes and sequals. Nearly ever "original" movie you think Hollywood made was actually taken from foreign films (e.g. "Shall we dance" was copied from "Shall we Dansu". Hollywood is now copying "Old Boy" and the lead actor for the original is upset about the behavior).

Anyway, for those who aren't aware of how Hollywood behaves:






It's true that this is a common belief among outsiders, but it's not true that it's actually...true.

So, let's go in order.

a. I didn't downvote you. I don't meet the karma requirement, and even if I had the karma, downvoting is for "mean and/or stupid comments." The comment I'm now replying to qualifies. Your original comment did not.

b. You were right that Hollywood has a reputation for stealing a script if they like it. What isn't true is that Hollywood actually steals scripts.

I'll give you a comparable example: Catholic priests. Catholic priests have a reputation for molesting children. But what percentage of Catholic priests actually does so? How does that percentage compare to the percentage of molesters in the rest of the population?

Follow that down the rabbit hole and you'll see the problem with your hasty generalization.

Now, to your links:

1. Sounds like a legitimate claim. The lawyer saying "screenplays are stolen all the time in Hollywood," on the other hand, does not. That's just a lawyer posturing in the interests of his client for media coverage. I've followed many similar suits. The vast majority of them are completely bogus.

2. This one is a lot of FUD. You can't get around copyright by "simply tweaking a few details." The actual standard is a "sufficient degree of similarity." That's why, if the first article is accurate (not a given) and Reed Martin isn't stretching the truth in his explanation of the similarities, he has a good case. Without hearing more about the "stolen" version of Rounders, we can't say whether Jeff Grosso isn't just paranoid. Most likely the similarities between the two boil down to "guys playing poker," give or take. Maybe he should sue the creators of 21, Shade, et al., too?

3. The Supreme Court declined to hear a case, as they do with most of the cases that come their way. There's no support for your claim here.

4. It isn't at all clear from this case that any theft took place. What is clear is that there were sufficient similarities that the studio should have paid Buchwald regardless.

5. http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/matrix.asp Nope.

If hearing all this makes you angry, I recommend going for a jog. It's better for your health than fuming at the keyboard.

>b. You were right that Hollywood has a reputation for stealing a script if they like it. What isn't true is that Hollywood actually steals scripts.

But this is what matters when it comes to the way people will try to sell their scripts. If hollywood has a rep (true or not) for stealing scripts then people will be wary.

>Follow that down the rabbit hole and you'll see the problem with your hasty generalization.

Which? I said they have a rep for stealing scripts. They clearly do. The majority of what they make these days is also sequels and remakes, which calls into question if they have any creativity and adding to the perseption that anything original they make is likely stolen.

As for the articles, I literally did a search for "hollywood steal scripts" or some such and dumped in the first five. Clearly theft is happening at least somewhat and clearly they have a rep for it (deserved or not).

Do you have a better expiation for how often multiple studio's put out near identical movies at the same time?

By near identical do you mean, say, Armageddon and Deep Impact? Because there's a world of difference between two movies having the same high concept and actually being near identical. Parallel development of premises is bound to happen, particularly with ones as obvious as catastrophic events and casual sex.

It's not even that there are ethical reasons people in Hollywood don't steal scripts. The reasons are practical: if your script is good, it's going to cost me a lot less to pay you for it than it would cost to pay some other more established writer's quote to develop a new script from the same premise.

That's a reasonable first approximation. But let's say two studio's both like the script and only one wins the bidding war. What stops the other studio from farming out the 'high concept' to someone else to write an also ran. As far as I can see nothing, so the value of a script is basically limited by what it costs someone else to create the same basic concept. Toss in the fact that scripts tend to mutate after production anyway and the 'we can always steal it' must be at the back of all negotiations.

Which is oddly similar to the buy vs. pirate internal debate I have seen several people go though on hard to find content.

EX: Underworld did not use any of white wolf's IP. There was a negotiation, but in the end the studio 'went in another direction' that just happened to look the same as if they had used their IP.

"the 'we can always steal it' must be at the back of all negotiations."

With all due respect, this is a big and mostly incorrect leap. If intellectual theft happens in Hollywood, it's typically an exception and not, as you're implying, a general rule. It certainly isn't something studio execs keep in the back of their minds as part of the development process. That's outlandish.

Most studios are extremely frightened of litigation over this very topic. So much so, that when I worked at a TV studio buying scripts, I was not even allowed to open any unsolicited material sent my way. If someone sent me a package, and I didn't recognize the return address, I sent it off to legal, to be returned unopened. About 99% of the scripts and ideas I was pitched came about in meetings with agencies and/or producers, who were also bringing the same material to all of my competitors.

The behaviors you're ascribing to studios seem to be occurring at the producer level. There's a high variance of ethical and professional conduct among production companies and producers, in as much as they're not public companies like the big studios and networks are. They don't have a set rulebook. Most of the more established producers are unlikely to steal material, because it's a terrible long-term business strategy (a producer's reputation is his meal ticket). That said, are there some shady folks on the fringes of the business? Yes. Anyone who says otherwise is being willfully naive. But the idea that people at studios actually calculate theft into their buying or development strategies is patently absurd.

"What stops the other studio from farming out the 'high concept' to someone else to write an also ran."

Three things stopped me from doing that, and stopped my peers from doing that:

1) Personal and professional integrity.

2) Relationships and reputation. (Hollywood is an extremely relationship-driven business. As a development executive, I was worth approximately nothing; what made me relevant to my employers was my network of writers, agents, and producers I could bring to bear for projects. Burning any of these people would have been career suicide).

3) Fear of litigation.

In that order.

I'm glad you brought up White Wolf v. Sony. I think Penny Arcade's response at the time summed it up pretty well:

Comic: http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2003/09/08

Post: http://penny-arcade.com/2003/09/08/

However, despite following the case closely at the time, I've never heard about any negotiations between White Wolf and Sony at any stage of the film's development. On the contrary, emails from within White Wolf indicate they were completely unaware of the film until the first trailer was released. Do you have a source for your claim that there were negotiations?

To answer your question: nothing stops a studio from piggybacking on someone else's concept, and nothing should. The Asylum's entire business model is based on it (though they also engage in the somewhat unethical practice of copying names, when they can). White Wolf has no claim to the basic ideas underpinning the World of Darkness. There's nothing unique or innovative there.

The same thing applies to The Vampire Diaries (books and TV show), Twilight (books and film), True Blood (books and TV show), and so on, of course.

Look at the Startup World. There are twelve different startups doing the more or less exact same thing. None of them "stole" the idea from anyone else.

Actually, I just realized I have no idea how much a scriptwriter makes if they sell a script.

Does anyone know the average payday for a script writer for large-scale Hollywood productions?

During the writer's strike of 2007, there were a few interesting articles about this. This NYTimes article is pretty good:


I am a little concerned that such a democratic creative process will lead to the redditification of motion picture; only kumbaya-style movies that make you warm inside, approved by the hive mind will ever be made, while controversial pieces of works that ask questions or raise issues most people are not prepared to listen to yet will never be realised. Which would be a shame because that's one of the important roles of contemporary art in our society.

How is it different than it is right now? Big budget productions are notoriously conservative in terms of script topics. The indie films which might be a million times more interesting have a fraction of those budgets, and they still get produced.

Well, I'm not a Redditor, but I've seen some of the most controversial topics make it to the top page. Heck, even the whole SOPA debate, which hardly got any traditional media coverage, was king of HN and Reddit these past few weeks. And yesterday I read a great AMA from a former prostitute. Let's see that subject get any traditional media time.

The SOPA debate was hardly a controversial topic for HN/Reddit.

Websites like Reddit definitely have great content, but as parent commenter pointed out, this content is necessarily the kind of content that appeals to the average user, and there is no room for outliers.

I suppose that's true, but they have liberated topics that would have otherwise been ignored by larger media companies.

I think the Amazon model for deciding is still a better sample of an audience than a bunch of grey-haired men sitting around a board-room table whose first question is "will this be profitable?"

Doesn't have to be.

Hint: Unsubscribe from any sub-reddit that new users default to being subscribed to...

The SOPA thing is certainly an instance of "hive mind" behavior, albeit toward a worthy end.

>I am a little concerned that such a democratic creative process will lead to the redditification of motion picture;

The conflict between art and craft is present in almost every kind of media, in my opinion: Whether it's books, music, or movies. The only difference is that some media are cheaper to produce and thus more open to art.

The higher the up-front costs for a medium, the less room for art. If it isn't resolved on the script level, it will get punished at the box office.

I assume, this is what worries Amazon, too: Writers who think of themselves as artists are probably those who are unlikely to sell their script(s); but they are also the ones desperate enough to submit it to Amazon. There might be a nice idea in some of these scripts, but they probably need some additional work.

Of course, a bunch of guys who have no clue about art or craft aren't going to produce anything worthwhile, no matter how many of them participate.

How is it different than it is right now? Big budget productions are notoroiously conservative in terms of script topics. The indie films which might be a million times more interesting have a fraction of those budgets, and they still get produced.

Crazy timing. Could be a first step towards the things mentioned in http://ycombinator.com/rfs9.html

Amazon Studios has been out for at least 4 months previous to the writing.

Thanks for the info, I hadn't heard about it. Apparently a lot of other people didn't either if it's on the front page right now.

Still, I can see them needing more time to ramp up before making any strategic changes angled at displacing the studios.

Thanks for clearing that up, just before I read your comment I was thinkg "Wow, that was fast."

It was launched in the fall of 2010.

Thanks for correcting me. Also, we have similar usernames. ;)

I haven't heard about it before either. I thought the same thing when I saw this.

There was a small mention of it by Bezos in the December Wired http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/11/ff_bezos/all/1

I stumbled on it last month and was surprised that I'd never heard of it before.

Could be, but for now their official stand is:

  The goal of Amazon Studios is to work with Hollywood
  to turn the best projects into major feature films.

But "Hollywood" is such a broad term. Perhaps their intentions are to work with the "good" or necessary parts of Hollywood like actors, directors, writers, CGI teams, camera crews, sound experts, etc. without the large media companies themselves.

It's really been Amazon's core strategy all along: the classic "cut out the middle man."

This needs more upvotes. Let's stop painting "Hollywood" with a broad brush. What we really mean, when we direct our wrath at "Hollywood," is the studio system. The conglomerates. Etc.

Caught up in that system are some truly creative, kind, brilliant, hard-working people. Take writers, for example. I've spent a good portion of my career working with writers. Screenwriters are some of the coolest, geekiest, smartest, craziest, most endearingly awkward people I've ever known. They're not unlike the engineers I've worked with in other capacities, actually. Writing code and writing fiction are obviously very different trades, but the souls of the crafts are very similar.

"Some of the best ideas may initially look like they're serving the movie and TV industries. Microsoft seemed like a technology supplier to IBM before eating their lunch, and Google did the same thing to Yahoo."

I agree, and this would be a very typical long-term move by Amazon: they systematically partner with existing incumbents, and then develop a business model that renders them redundant. Book publishing was the first example.

I agree that just because they work with the studios doesn't mean they don't fit the bill.

I think they don't fit because it's boring. It's scaling up and updating of "I'll help you sell your screenplay" newspaper ads. Open to everyone but with predatory terms.

Another middleman to the studios.

It's not innovative and it's not killing anything.

I would say also, with the YC rfs, I think any startup going down that path would be better of not being anti-hollywood as an official line.

The goal of Amazon is to work with publishers to turn the best books into bestsellers.

They got to learn the business from the inside first... ;)

I thought the same thing until I read "The goal of Amazon Studios is to work with Hollywood to turn the best projects into major feature films"

Creation (via this studios play) and distribution (via Prime) are making Amazon well positioned in the content wars.

This is an interesting experiement.

It's been a long time since I really paid close attention to the movie industry, but I remember that one way money was raised, and risks shared, was in the divvying up of distribution rights (and or options on those rights) between domestic theatrical release, DVD sales, cable TV rights, and rights for same in overseas markets.

Amazon is in an interesting position in this regard, they are positioned to make money on physical and digital distribution to consumers through both individual sales and amazon prime subscriptions. They also make money on the home theater systems people use to consume this stuff. And, of course, they are getting into the eBook publishing business. Controlling the film rights to books gives them even more leverage over holywood.

It wasn't until now that I made the connection between the squeeze Amazon is putting on book publishers, and how much leverage that gives them over Hollywood. Good for amazon, but good for Apple too.

I also note that IMDB is an Amazon property, and that IMDB is both a way for consumers to discover media, but also it has made some headway in helpingsource the skills needed to make movies.

    > What is a test movie?
    > An Amazon Studios test movie should be an inexpensive, full-length movie
    > that tells the whole story of the script in a compelling way, with very
    > good acting and sound.
Somehow, I don't think this will work. "Make a movie, to make a movie" doesn't seem like an attractive offer.

I'm not a filmmaker, but from what I understand, it is much more convenient to send out a script than it is to produce and edit a movie, and then send that out. Going by what's presented in Jordan Mechner's "The Making of Prince of Persia" [1], sending out a script sounds very easy, and very common, and it sounds like the people who receive scripts will actually read them to determine if they're good. It sounds like there is a lot of professional feedback.

I don't see how Amazon Studios is going to improve on that, or even match it. Getting feedback from professionals is very different from getting feedback from Youtube junkies.

[1] http://jordanmechner.com/category/prince-of-persia/

There is a lot of romance surrounding the movie business. That romance is a lot of the reason there are so many good looking and or talented waiters and waitresses in LA. It may be less visible, but you can be damn sure there are lots of aspiring writers and directors who are attracted by the same romantic notions.

With such a vast oversupply, I would not be surprised if there are plenty of people who are willing to make a movie for the chance to make a Hollywood movie (indeed, a lot of indie shorts and full-length flicks are already attempts at just that).

Or, just look at it through the lens of the tech startup industry. You think people aren't doing small projects on the side, for free, with friends, in the hopes of scoring something bigger?

Watch "I think my Facebook Friend Is Dead". I was skeptical about test movies too, but that one is watchable and entertaining enough that you can see how a little production values and more professional actors could make a good movie. It's all about mindset while watching.

I've always wanted to write the following exposition and climax story.

Two strangers separately receive a note in the mail detailing how the other will die. The notes details the day and date of the strangers' deaths, an approximate location and a vague notion how it will happen. The notes provides small clues of their identities and thus both set out to id each other and prevent their deaths.

Ultimately, though, their quests to save one another ends in tragedy, as they mistakenly kill each other. Sorta you can't fight "Fate," type story.

Well if that sounds like a good idea for a movie or short-film I'd love to see it made

Edit: Offering script ideas (crowd-sourcing scripts) could possibly be a good "kill Hollywood," idea. Where the most popular crowd-sourced scripts get funded thru either KickStarter or Amazon Studios.

You might be interested in this book: http://machineofdeath.net/

Amazon's product introductions are like a mixture of Apple's product videos and Sesame Street

Does anyone in the comments actually have experience in working with agencies like CAA & William Morris besides watching Entourage? It is hard to tell the full details & long term prospectives with Amazon studios but Hollywood is about 100x harder to work into compared to any online app or service. An online service you can build & market anywhere and it doesn't matter who you know. Hollywood is exact opposite, you can write it from anywhere but you need to be working in LA and be friends with plenty connected people and work with good agents, lawyers, management, etc.

Amazon has got it's fingers in so many pies ... and they all taste so good,

Amazon's monopsony in the e-book market scares me.


What? After the price fixing conspiracy from Apple and the Big Six, publishers set eBook prices (via the agency model). That is why eBooks can cost more than paper backs: http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/01/20/amended_class_...

I can't believe there hasn't been a single comment on how ridiculously horrible the introduction video is. I honest to god cannot figure out if this is some absurd conspiracy or joke, but that video looks like it was produced by a middle schooler with an istockphoto account using imovie.

Am I retarded? Is this really a joke? I don't get it...

I'm not sure if Amazon Studios represents real democratization of movie-making, or if Primer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primer_(film) does. Of course cult classics like Primer are few and far between, just like successful startups.

How was Primer democratic? It was made the same way every other great low-budget film was made: a talented, single-minded and dedicated director.

Interesting until one reads to this part:

"To that end, we have established a first-look development deal with Warner Bros., the biggest movie studio in Hollywood."

I'll pass. No one should be making any deals with Hollywood anymore.

If this was Amazon's attempt to fund movies for its own distribution, that would be awesome. But it's not.

> Get your movie made. The goal of Amazon Studios is to work with Hollywood to turn the best projects into major feature films.

"Work with".. then render unnecessary?

We don't need to kill Hollywood necessarily. But more broadly, the Hollywood model. Instead of fighting new models, Hollywood could adapt. In a way "kill" itself. We only talk about killing Hollywood because they have historically refused to change. But if they embrace change, then startups should help them change instead of killing it.

let's hope so

Hmm, concentrate power into a single company? And you thought Holywood was bad?

Sounds like its designed to feed into the existing system

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