If you’ve been following my previous post on Amazon Studios’ option model and consider list, you know I’ve chosen not to accept their offer to post my screenplay to their shortlist. The post was featured on John August’s website, and mentioned on Bleeding Cool.
But I still hold out hope that Amazon can straighten out all the confusion among screenwriters, and find some way for the writers to take advantage of the offer without compromising rights to their own screenplays.
I did get a follow up email from Amazon Studios that promised to clarify things. It didn’t.
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NEW: Follow up post here
Amazon (yes, that Amazon) is launching a movie studio, and they just gave our horror screenplay Faeries a “consider”. What’s that mean? Not a lot, as near as we can tell.
First, here’s a brief primer on the history of the Amazon Studios deal. (I’m confident in my understanding of this history, but if I’m wrong about any of the details, point me at a source, and I’ll make a correction.)
How it all started
About a year ago, Amazon announced that they were going to become a movie studio, and produce their own content.
A reader posted a comment on the article “10 Things To Think About When You Option Your Screenplay” and it’s such a common question, and my answer ended up being so long, that I thought I’d just turn it into a post of its own.
I have been given a six-month, non-exclusive option by an older, award winning producer, for two of my scripts. While it sounds good on the surface, I wonder if I’m being conned. The query was sent to his production company, but he wanted to read the script as a “consultant” and if he liked it, he’d option it.
The family feature screenplay Rocket Summer has officially sold to eKidsFilms.
Those of you who know the story of Rocket Summer know it’s been around for nearly a decade. My first feature screenplay, it’s been through an option and extension, and myriad rewrites. The past few years it’s sat in my virtual drawer while I worked with my writing partner Sean Meehan on the family road trip screenplay Grampa Was A Superhero, the horror screenplay Faeries and a yet to be titled western-horror mashup screenplay currently in its first draft.
eKidsFilms approached me last month to inquire about the screenplay’s availability. We talked about their vision for the film, and I agreed to do a rewrite to incorporate their notes and modify the third act.
Sad but true. Faeries, quite possibly the best unsold or unproduced creature feature horror screenplay on the market today, did not make the finals in the BlueCat Screenplay Competition. Boo. But the readers over at BlueCat did have great things…
My screenwriting partner and I can’t always be in the same room at the same time… so we’ve been searching for the best collaborative screenwriting software solution since 2009.
In a perfect world, collaboration would be real-time, it’d work on a Mac or a PC, and it would be compatible with Final Draft, Movie Magic, or any other screenwriting software.
Asking too much?
Getting feedback from a screenplay consultant or reader can be humbling, and confusing. Maybe even a little demoralizing.
Knowing what to do with screenplay feedback can be crippling.
Partly because it’s just words on a page. Just like an email or a text message, written feedback doesn’t provide an opportunity to discuss and clarify, so if the screenplay consultant misunderstood something, or isn’t clear in their recommendations, you’ve got no recourse. You’re left to interpret (or misinterpret) to the best of your meager ability… or simply discard what could be valuable feedback.
What can you do about it?
* This post was recommended and redistributed by the fine folks at BlueCat Screenplay Competition.
We hear it all the time. If you want to write a better screenplay, get feedback and listen to it.
But I promise you this: the feedback you get from contest readers, other writers, and even friends and family will not be consistent. Readers will contradict one another, you’ll get mixed messages even from single readers, and figuring out how to use any of it to build a better screenplay will be overwhelming.
A few years ago I attended a talk with Sony’s Sam Dickerman. My favorite observation of his was that when producers say “That’s great, but can we add aliens somewhere?” they don’t literally mean “add aliens”. They mean they’re looking for something spectacular and unexpected, and it’s your job to understand what result they’re looking for, and find ways to deliver on that while remaining true to your story (and yourself).
So what do you do?
In my original article “10 Things To Think About When You Option Your Screenplay” I included the passage:
“…negotiate the rights to any changes or alternative versions created by the producer or on behalf of the producer during the option period. In other words, if the script reverts back to you, so should the rights to any changes made to the script while the producer had it. Otherwise, you’ve got your script back, but the producer potentially still has rights to their version… and now you’re in competition with another version of your script that you don’t control. That’s not a place you want to be.”
But was I right?
I recently received some guidance on that point from Adam Levenberg of HireAHollywoodExec.com.
“Technically what you wrote is not correct. In the case of rights reversion, you are not competing with the ‘producer’s draft’ because the producer does not have the rights to shop, sell, or produce their version. But you are correct that without proper language in the contract, the producer does hold on to the rights to those ‘producer drafts’.”
I thought you should hear more from Adam, so I’m turning the blog over to him. Here’s what he’s got to say.
“beautifully written … unusual and unique … terrifying, gruesome and disgusting … well-rounded, complex characters”
[Faeries is a feature length horror screenplay, and is available for option or purchase.]
We’ve received a third round of notes from another Bluecat Screenplay Competition judge. We received our first feedback from Bluecat (see it here) a few weeks ago, and took the opportunity to make some adjustments based on those notes, and resubmit (Bluecat is great about that… your first submission gets notes from two readers, and writers can resubmit their screenplays for a third opinion after making modifications if they choose).
This third set of notes confirmed the success of the adjustments we’d made, and echoed the positive comments of those first readers. We’re proud of the terrific reception the screenplay is getting, and wanted to share the notes here. Emphasis mine.