Have you got an idea for a "smart, character-driven" comedy series? Or maybe an educationally themed children's show? Then Amazon Studios may be interested. We've previously discussed Amazon Studios with relation to filmmaking, as well as their evolving screenwriting terms. Now it appears they are opening a new development front on the series end. With the potential to earn $10,000 if your pitch is accepted for the Development Slate (and more if the series actually goes into production) it may be worth a look -- if you're willing to live with the Amazon Studios model and their terms. So what are they looking for? And what should you be looking for?
What types of comedy series are Amazon Studios looking for?
We are looking for 22-minute narrative live action or animated primetime series you can't find anywhere else. Generally speaking, we like character-driven ideas in well-defined worlds. We want shows that are smart, original, loud in concept and most of all, funny; think Archer or Curb Your Enthusiasm. For live-action, we prefer shows with some level of serialization. We are not looking for sketch, reality or talk shows. All scripts should be within the normal television standards for content and language.
What type of children's series is Amazon Studios looking for?
We are looking for character-driven original ideas that speak to children between the ages of 2-14. Series can be live action, animated, stop motion or mixed media. We are interested in preschool series for children ages 2-5 like Blue's Clues, Curious George and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Preschool series must have an educational theme or clear potential for one. We are also interested in ideas for children and tweens between the ages of 6-14 such as Phineas and Ferb or iCarly.
If you've got a concept along those lines you'll submit a pilot script and mini-bible (for more details on each -- length, content, etc.-- check this page out). If the pitch gets picked up for the Development Slate, you get $10,000. If the series goes into production, you get $55,000 along with 5% of net merchandising receipts "from toy and T-shirt licensing".
What do I think? My feeling is that if I had an idea that I was incredibly passionate about, and truly believed was going to be "the next big thing" in children's programming, I would find a way to make it happen independently (i.e via a webseries). Ditto for the comedy series. Granted, 100% of nothing is nothing, while 5% of something big can be substantial, and with the retail might of Amazon behind merchandise, that 5% could be pretty sizable. That is, if your idea makes it big. And here's the thing, if you have an idea that is good enough to rise through the Amazon Studios model, shouldn't it be able to rise through the traditional model? And if so, what are the benefits and cons of going one route vs. the other. I feel like the watershed moment for Amazon Studios will be when professional writers in the traditional system start opting for their terms because they are offering something writers (professional or other) can't get from the traditional model. Is it access? If you have a superb idea, that will gain you access in the traditional industry. Is it exposure? I've yet to hear about an Amazon Studios success story (maybe there are, I just haven't heard of them). At this point, I'm not sure what the Amazon Studios advantage is.
Anyhow, if you're ready to start pitching, make sure you read up on their terms and understand just what you're signing up for. For more links and details about getting started, check out their homepage for series pitches.
You think you'll be pitching? Does that payoff sound enticing? What do you think are the benefits of the Amazon Studios model vs the traditional system? What kind of creators might benefit from this system? Are there any Amazon Studio success stories I might have missed?