Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Amazon Studios making movies in Hollywood with input from customers. Script in digital comic format downloadable free, for input.

Amazon Studios has a new approach to film making, called "Crowdsourcing," per Alistair Barr's article for Reuters.

  Amazon has been developing movies and tv programming with added help in the form of data from consumer feedback and tracking as it goes.  Then they make adjustments from that, as one way to help avoid "bombs" from audience disinterest in the subject matter or approach.

  According to Barr, Amazon spends about $1 billion a year to stream programming from others over Prime Instant Video.

  I've seen bits and pieces about Amazon Studios in newspaper articles that don't get much notice, but Barr mentions that since late 2010, Amazon's film studio in Hollywood "has let aspiring screenwriters and film makers upload thousands of scripts to its website" and has an exclusive, 45-day option to buy movie scripts for $200,000 and TV series for $55,000.  It can also pay $10,000 to extend options for 18 months."

  Amazon "helps develop the scripts it options into trial videos" and posts them online to get reviews and feedback from its customers.  Writers make adjustments based on that feedback.

  I didn't know this was going on, but Barr writes:
' For instance, Amazon took its nine best test movies from 2011 and posted them on Amazon Instant Video, the company's streaming video service.
  Customers viewed the projects hundreds of thousands of times, according to the company.  It is using reviews and feedback to re-write scripts.

Amazon also collected data on how long customers watched the test videos and how many watched all the way through.'
How it works
The article goes on to describe how it all works.
  One script has been turned into a digital comic ("Blackburn Burrow Issue #1") that comes with a survey to get input, and this Kindle comic was recently "the most-downloaded free comic in the Kindle store.

  The article includes some additional thoughts on the process from Edward Saxon, Oscar-winning producer of "The Silence of the Lambs," who's "one of a handful of big-name producers who have signed on to Amazon Studio projects." ... Amazon "has 21 movie projects and nine TV projects in development, to be made for theatrical release."  Warner Bros Pictures gets "first-look" at these.

This definitely involves a new, innovative type of focus group   :-)

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  1. The problem I see with this is that the most interested customers will participate in the iterative development process, and by the time the final product is released, won't they feel like they've already seen it? There's a certain viewing fatigue that will set in. This is not unlike the same effect with software development. Back in the day I wrote a few video games. While I thought they were good, and I was always excited about the concepts I developed, by the time I had a finished product, it wasn't so much fun for me to play because I had already spent so much time in the guts of it. Other people would enjoy them though.

    1. Blackbeard, that's what I thought at first too. But I imagine they provide only the first third or less, give people an idea of the structure, the initial flow, and they'll actually feel invested in it when/if it becomes a theatrical release.


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