Amazon Studios is releasing 10 pilots for the Internet masses to weigh in on — including its first two dramas, from Chris Carter (“The X-Files”) and Eric Overmyer (“The Wire”) — from which the studio will select the next batch of full series for its Netflix-like subscription service.
Starting Thursday, the studio’s pilots will be free for anyone to watch — and rate — on Prime Instant Video in the U.S. and Amazon’s LoveFilm in the UK. As previously announced, the sophomore slate includes the two dramas (Chris Carter’s supernatural thriller “The After” and “Bosch,” starring Titus Welliver, pictured above); three comedies (“Mozart in the Jungle,” “Transparent” and “The Rebels”) and five kids’ shows (“Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street,” “Hardboiled Eggheads, “The Jo B. & G. Raff Show,” “Maker Shack Agency” and “Wishenpoof!”).
Amazon Studios’ first pilots premiered in April 2013 with eight comedy pilots and six kids pilots. Of those, “Alpha House” and “Betas” were greenlit into full series, which premiered last fall, along with three kidvid series — “Annesdroids,” “Creative Galaxy” and “Tumble Leaf” — which are to be available sometime this year.
Amazon Studios director Roy Price expects to make decisions on which of the 10 pilots to greenlight within 60 days, based on viewer feedback and ratings. In the first round of pilots customers submitted thousands of reviews within the first few days and more than 80% of those reviews were 4 and 5 stars. Price said the pilot-selection process worked as expected in the first go-round, he said, and he isn’t making any major changes for the second bake-off.
“The philosophy behind our TV and movie development is to keep the focus on customers, and pay attention to that customer feedback — to make that part of the ultimate decision process,” Price said.
Jill Soloway, creator of dark comedy “Transparent” about an L.A. family forced to confront their secrets, said she brought the project to Amazon because the deal combined production and distribution in one package. “Going to Amazon and recognizing that they were willing to do this quickly, and make a decision quickly, was awesome,” she said. “I know if I sold it to HBO or Showtime, there was a possibility it would not get made.” Among other credits, Soloway was showrunner for “United States of Tara” on Showtime and won the 2013 Sundance Film Festival dramatic directing award for “Afternoon Delight.”
As for Amazon’s popularity-contest format for pilots, Soloway is down with the approach. “There is a relieving feeling of, well, at least everybody gets to decide — and it’s not that the people upstairs didn’t like it,” she said.
Roman Coppola, who scribed “Mozart in the Jungle” with Jason Schwartzman and Alex Timbers, said the production with Amazon Studios had a very indie vibe. “They threw down and said, ‘Let’s make it,'” he said. “It clicked for me personally. The fact that this is a more adventurous way to create something attracted me.” The half-hour pilot shot in New York last November in about a week.
Since its launch in November 2010, Amazon Studios has received more than 20,000 movie scripts and 6,000 series projects, although obviously only a handful of those have progressed into development. Viewers can watch the pilots at Amazon.com or via the Amazon Instant Video app available on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, Kindle Fire tablets, various smart TVs and other connected devices.
Amazon has signed Geico as a sponsor for the second round of pilots, available to watch on the website here.
Cop drama based on Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series, written by Eric Overmyer and Connelly. Pilot follows title character, played by Titus Welliver (“Argo,” “The Good Wife”) as he pursues the killer of a 13-year-old boy while standing trial in federal court on accusations that he murdered a suspected serial killer in cold blood. Cast includes: Annie Wersching, Amy Price-Francis and Jamie Hector. Henrik Bastin of Fabrik Entertainment (“The Killing”) produced and Jim McKay directed the pilot.
Story follows eight strangers thrown together by mysterious forces and who must help each other survive in a violent world that defies explanation. Written and directed by Chris Carter (“The X-Files”), exec produced by Marc Rosen of Georgeville Television and produced by Gabe Rotter. Cast includes: Aldis Hodge, Andrew Howard, Arielle Kebbel, Jamie Kennedy, Sharon Lawrence, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Adrian Pasdar and Louise Monot.
“Mozart in the Jungle”
Dramedy based on the memoir “Mozart in the Jungle” by Blair Tindall about sex, drugs and classical music — showing what happens behind the curtains at the symphony. Written by Roman Coppola (“Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Darjeeling Limited”), actor-musician Jason Schwartzman (“Saving Mr. Banks,” “Moonrise Kingdom”) and writer-director Alex Timbers (Broadway’s “Peter and the Starcatcher”). Paul Weitz (“About a Boy,” “Admission”) directed the pilot and executive produced. Cast includes: Gael Garcia Bernal, Saffron Burrows, Lola Kirke, Malcom McDowell, Bernadette Peters and Peter Vack.
Dark comedy about an L.A. family with serious boundary issues. Written and directed by Jill Soloway (“Afternoon Delight,” “Six Feet Under” and “United States of Tara”). Cast includes: Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, Gaby Hoffmann, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass.
Sports comedy follows Julie Levine (Natalie Zea) after her husband dies and leaves her as the sole owner of a pro football team. Written by Jeremy Garelick and Jon Weinbach and exec produced by Matt Alvarez (“Ride Along”); creative team also includes musician-actor Ice Cube and Michael Strahan, former New York Giants player and co-host of “Live with Kelly and Michael.”
“Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street”
Live-action adventure show created by David Anaxagoras, first-time writer discovered through Amazon Studios’ open-door submission process. Coming-of-age tale centers around Gortimer, his two best friends Ranger and Mel, and their exploits on Normal Street, an ordinary suburb that has a hint of something magical just beneath the surface. Pilot directed by Luke Matheny (“God of Love,” “Maron”) and guest stars Fionnula Flanagan.
Animated action-comedy for children ages 6-11 features ultra-precocious bespectacled duo Kelvin and Miles, who may look, dress and speak like typical nerds but suit up to battle monsters born of toxic waste, martians lured to Earth and killer vegetables. Created by Duane Capizzi (“Transformers Prime,” “Jackie Chan Adventures,” “Men in Black: The Series”).
“The Jo B. & G. Raff Show”
Animated series created by multiple Emmy Award-winning writer and producer Josh Selig (“The Wonder Pets”), aimed at helping preschoolers learn about conflict resolution. Show follows two best friends, Jo B. and G. Raff, who host their own TV show. Each day, just as their show is about to start, Jo B. realizes G. Raff has gone somewhere new and exciting and needs to go find him; the friends end up reaching a compromise and singing, “If I give a little and you give a little, together we can meet in the middle!”
“Maker Shack Agency”
Live-action project about the “maker” movement, aimed at kids ages 6-11, follows exploits of Wolfie, 13-year-old inventor and his two best friends as they use all the branches of science and personal ingenuity to make a new invention every episode that makes people’s lives better. Created in conjunction with think tank Applied Minds and production company Electus, the pilot was written by Arland DiGirolamo (“Sketchy”), Geoff Barbanell (“Kickin’ It”) and directed by Alex Winter (“Ben 10,” “Downloaded”). Pilot features original music from Dr. Dog.
Animated show about girl who has ability to wish herself into magical scenarios, and uses her powers to help others solve problems. Written by Angela Santomero, creator of “Super Why!” and “Blue’s Clues,” whose preschool show “Creative Galaxy” is one of the full series slated to hit Amazon Prime Instant Video in 2014.