Entering the production side of the movie industry, Amazon launched Amazon Studios, which offers writers and filmmakers a potential way to break into the industry by offering up their work to Amazon for exclusive, 18-month contracts. Once the work is the property of Amazon, it competes in contracts, is subject to rewriting and can potentially turn into a real movie one day.
A piece by Drew on HitFix cautions writers to avoid submitting to the program, arguing that it victimizes frustrated creative types by dangling a potential easy path to success while locking their work down.
Line after line of the legalese on these pages just confounds me. “You agree to be automatically entered into any future contests for which your work is eligible. The specific contest rules for future contests will be posted on this page when they are announced.” And considering one of the rules of this contest grants Amazon Studios a free 18-month option on your work the moment you upload it, the idea that they can enter you in a contest later and tell you the rules after they do so seems positively batty.
The “development agreement” is a contract you’re signing, not an entry form for a contest, and in it, you grant them a free option on your work for a year and a half, and if they do end up producing your work, there’s a set fee. Period. That’s all it is. A set rate. The same no matter what the project is, and no matter what happens with it. That is, simply put, immoral.
Even given the potential pitfalls, it seems to me that submitting a script to Amazon Studios is better than letting it sit on your hard drive forever. This is coming from a guy who has two screenplays collecting digital dust. What do you think?