Their ad reads “Amazon Studios is actively seeking new talented screenplay writers…”, asking them to submit feature length motion picture, live action or animated television series proposals and web based series pitches for Option consideration with the possibly of being produced and distributed by Amazon.
For the un-represented, first time writer/directer this seems like the golden opportunity of a life time considering the majority of legitimate, professional film and television studio’s, networks and production companies wont read your property or even open the letter unless it comes from an agent or entertainment lawyer.
Breaking into the business from the creative end is hard. Just like NHL Hockey players there’s only so many job’s available for a Screen Writer and the dog eat dog competition is like nothing else. Navigating threw the endless on-line advertisements guaranteeing for only three easy payments of $49.95 your screenplay, no matter how bad it is, will end up in the hands of Hollywood movers & shakers who can make it happen for you is not only disemburdening but frustrating.
Remember, when something sounds to good to be true then it usually is.
I admitting, before I was represented I too thought Amazon Studios sounded great. Great until I read the fine print in their ‘Development Agreement’ you must sign when submitting. When a studio, network or producer/production company Options your literary property , in a nut shell, they’re renting it and all its rights for a certain amount of money for a certain amount of time. All the ‘what if’s’ , like they end up buying it, are incorporated into the Option Agreement IE: how much more money you get if they buy it, when, your role if they buy it, percentage of profit share, credits, etc..It’s all above board and standard industry practice. Just Google ‘Screenplay Option Agreement’ and you’ll see for yourself.
But that’s not how it’s done over at Amazon Studios.
When you submit your original literary property to Amazon you agree to their legally binding Development Agreement which gives Amazon the sole exclusive rights to your original work for a period of 45 days. They post your film or series Bible and Script on their studio page where anyone in Internet land can read and review it. In some cases anyone can even re-write and submit their version of your original work to Amazon for Option consideration with little if any recourse. During the 45 day ‘development’ period you cannot submit your original work to any, other company for Option consideration or enter it in any competition or festival and Amazon has the right to, as stated in the Development Agreement,adapting or incorporating your original work with other original works submittedan thus creating their own original property.
If Amazon decides to Option your original work after 45 days they claim you could make $50,000.00. But after carefully reading over the Development Agreement rules it state they “reserve the right to split up this amount to multiple individuals that submitted their work” meaning if another writer has submitted a screenplay similar to yours, or if someone has provided valuable feedback on your property via their online ‘Script Feedback’ platform they have the right to divide what ever cash amount they feel is acceptable for the Option with those people. Literally you could end up getting nothing at all for handing them the next block buster feature film or television series.
Before submitting your original, creative screen play that you’ve poured your heart and sole into Amazon, or anyone else, first register it with the Writers Guild of America and the US Literary Property Copyright Office, Library of Congress.
Think twice before pressing the send button.