Thursday, November 25, 2010

The 'Zon

The Russian Solar Vengeance.
Everybody loves the new Amazon Studios. Ha! No, I'm kidding. Nobody thinks its a good idea.
And honestly, I can't figure what Amazon thinks they're gonna get out of it. I mean maybe they just have way too much money and are looking to spend it more places.
The strange thing is that it seems to be a terrible idea for everyone. Writers tend to like to think of themselves as oppressed coal miners in the year 1923. So anything which has a "cap" of $200,000 seems egregious to them.
But as a studio owner (albeit, the smallest studio there is) I have a different take. From John August (linked above):

When you submit material to Amazon–say, a script–they have an exclusive option on the script for 18 months. During that 18 months, they can do whatever they want with your script. They can change it, smash it together with other scripts… and of course, make a movie from it, or commission a book, or any other derivative work.

And that's all true. And, quite honestly, your script sucks so you dearly need someone to do some work on it (and if they don't work on it now, let me tell you, they'll do it in the editing room.)
But that's not what I'm here to talk about.
I'm here wondering why Amazon thinks this is a good idea.

Well, if you seen their introduction video you can tell they've never produced a movie in their lives. They want "stories that can become commercial that delight audiences around the world." Well that's a novel idea. Actually, the parody of the introduction video is better and, shockingly, not that different from the real intro video.

Most of the complaints on the interwebs come from writers. And yeah, sure, it's a stupid deal... for Amazon. If you have millions of dollars to make features with, you don't have to crowdsource scripts. You can hire a screenwriter. And you can hire one cheap. You invite one over to your house. There's twenty thousand dollars sitting on the table between you and the screenwriter. You say "We aren't signing a WGA contract and we need the finished script in 20 days." The writer says "But I have integrity. I can't just do whatever I'm told! And besides, I'm a member of the WGA."
But you just stare the writer down. You were going to offer him forty thousand dollars to do the whole job, including revisions and rewrites. But just as the doorbell rings (because you invited another screenwriter over at exactly the same time) the writer glances down at the pile of money.
You put your hands out and you divide the money in half. Calmly you intone "Ten thousand now, and ten thousand on delivery." The doorbell rings again. You move to get up. "I think that's one of the other 35 writers I called this morning."
The writer grabs the ten thousand dollars shouting "I'll do it! I'll do it!" Stuffing the money into his courier's bag, he runs out the door so fast he knocks over two other writers making their way up the driveway.
So really? 27,000 independent films are made every year? Bill Martell takes on the AFM this year.
I've never actually gone to the market. My producer has. There's not really that much for us to do there, as we have a sales rep who's there -- they cut the trailer and make key art -- and we would really annoy the pants off him if we were hanging around all day.


mozz said...

i have to agree with you on the amazon thing. and about writer's in general in Hollywood. Dewd, take the money and run, use it to write an even better screenplay. that's why once i hand over a screenplay i never look back i move on to the next story. cause screenwriters, they just hold on too tight, we're whores, we're creative whores, but whores none the less, and i'm in it till i get herpes. Okay, that did not go exactly where i wanted.

Andrew Bellware said...

The Pope says you can wear a condom now so don't worry about the herpes. Just keep whoring away -- every new trick and you get better at it! ;-)