The Social Experiment

So, a few days ago, I was trying to make a decision about something that I couldn’t talk about. Now I can. It’s a new initiative by Amazon to develop film projects using community feedback.

You can read about it in The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and The Wrap. If you want to consider buying Amazon stock, you can also see what Market Watch has to say.

For the launch, they invited a few writers to submit their projects a couple days early, so they would have some sample content up on the site for the first visitors. The incentive was a few moments of exposure before the onslaught of other entrants to the competition, which I think will happen fairly quickly. There were more than 6000 entrants for the Nicholl Fellowship this year, and the entry fee was about fifty bucks I think. There is no entry fee for this contest, although I hope everyone who enters reads the fine print–because you give an eighteen month option to enter. If you are a writer, and are interested, you can go to Amazon Studios and check it out. (While you are there, download my script–even if you don’t have time to read it, it will help me out!)

In the end, I decided to accept the invitation, post my script and see what happened. On one hand, it seems unlikely that many people will have time to download full length scripts and read them…but if they do, the idea of a project being developed in the public eye is fascinating.

What sets this initiative apart from other contests, is that, not only can people comment on your work–but they can REWRITE your work and post it. Or you can take their notes and rewrite your own work. And then you can get reactions to the rewrite–and rewrite again! This is pretty much a standard development process–by which I mean, if you were working with a producer or a studio, you’d be getting notes and rewriting, but the pool of opinions who determine the direction could theoretically be much larger. If you ever see a bad movie and wonder “what were they thinking?” now you can see the trail all the way back to initial concept.

Of course, all that is dependent on any one script breaking out from the white noise of thousands of other script enough to attract a critical mass of feedback. So, if you do have an interest in such things–you can check out my project and profile here. You need to be logged in with your normal buy-a-book Amazon account. If you read and comment–please feel free to be honest in your criticism–because I can use your feedback to rewrite. I don’t know if this experience is going to be cool–but if it is, that will be why!

P.S. Our friend Julie is staying with us, and she took an “author headshot” for me this morning to put on my Amazon studios profile. I liked it and decided to use it as my profile pic on this blog as well. She’s great with a camera, and you can check out her other work here.

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