Check out Scriptnotes Ep. 32

John August and Craig Mazin discuss Amazon Studios, spec ideas and specifics, and the movie business

Here’s an idea of what to expect when you listen to the podcast, which you can do here. 

Spurred on by a listener question, the guys dive deep into the history of Amazon Studios.

John: So, Amazon launched this initiative called Amazon Studios which was an attempt to do an end run around the sort of classical studio development, and let anybody in America or the world submit their screenplays to the site, and other users, other readers could read the screenplays, give notes on the screenplays, could rewrite the screenplays if they chose to, and Amazon would sift through this and take the most highly rated, and reviewed, and best liked screenplays and developed them further. Give awards to those people.

Craig and John tear this idea to shreds, citing legal and financial issues. But things have changed.

Craig: And I am very excited to say, even though it is not breaking news. This was reported a few days ago, but Amazon quietly and calmly has become a WGA signatory. So, if you submit your scripts to them, first of all you now have a lovely option of saying, “Actually, I’m submitting my script to you and I don’t want anyone to be able to touch it.” In fact, you have an option that says, “I don’t even want anybody to be able to read it. I just want you to read it, Amazon.”

I think that Amazon has gone from something that I sort of viewed as this toxic repository that was abusing writers, to an excellent new option for professional screenwriters.

Craig raises questions about the future of Amazon Studios and the movie business, but John gets the award for most chilling thought.

Craig: Amazon is going to learn just the way everybody else that first starts in this business learns. There is a learning curve for them as well. And I think that they have a certain hope that there is more talent out there than has yet to be discovered by the traditional method.

Craig Again: To have another legitimate big deep-pocketed MBA signatory — we haven’t had one of those… — You have to understand. You know this. And I’m betting most of our listeners do, too. Fox, Columbia, Universal, Disney, Paramount, Warner Brothers. Those are the big ones, right? I’m not missing any?

John: You got them all.


John: Can you imagine Facebook running a studio?

Read the full transcript here.