10 Screenwriters to Watch 2012: Amazon Studio
This year marks the 14th edition of Variety’s annual 10 Screenwriters to Watch list. In that time, the paper has spotlighted future Oscar winners (Charlie Kaufman, Nat Faxon) and blockbuster talents in the making (Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci).But Variety isn’t the only one watching screenwriters these days. Spotting fresh voices is also a priority for Amazon Studios, the official sponsor of Variety ‘s 10 Screenwriters activities at the Whistler Film Festival. The Web retailer surprised everyone when it jumped onto the original content bandwagon, announcing it would be making movies instead of just selling them. But for Amazon Studios director Roy Price, the Web’s openness seemed like a prime opportunity to develop movies in a way that would benefit both aspiring scribes and entertainment lovers. Price says the studio finds original content both from Web submissions and agents, allowing them to “work with everyone,” whether established or just starting out in their careers. The studio then creates test movies, early versions of films that it uploads on the website, and allow users to provide feedback. Writer involvement in the filmmaking process can vary from merely providing the script to directing the film. Right now, it has 22 films in development, with genres ranging from animated musicals to big action movies. Price says the process not only helps budding writers, but also original scripts that are perceived as riskier than a sequel or a movie based on a property, as putting a test film “in front of hundreds of thousands of fans and seeing that people really like it … can effectively de-risk it.” On the TV side, the studio is focusing on developing 22-minute comedies and kids programming.