June 25, 2012, 8:30 AM — Amazon is ready to start differentiating its Video on Demand library by developing original content. In doing so it is following in the footsteps of competitors Netflix, Hulu and YouTube.
While Netflix and Hulu are following a more or less traditional system of acting as a studio to bring shows like Lilyhammer (Netflix) and Battleground (Hulu) to market, Amazon seems to be sticking closer to the YouTube model. YouTube, you'll remember, supported original content developers by distributing a reported $100 million in funding to various content providers such as Felicia Day, who used the support to develop her Geek and Sundry YouTube channel.
In Amazon's case, they invited content developers to submit their ideas back in May. As of now they've picked four of these to take a closer look at. Three of them are comedies (The 100 Deaths of Mort Grimley, Doomsday and Magic Monkey Millionaire) and one is a children's show (Buck Plaidsheep). The creators of these projects will each get $10,000 to help expand on the series and potentially develop a pilot. In exchange for the $10K Amazon extends its options for the series for 18 months.
So to be clear, these shows aren't being made yet; instead they're still in the incubation phase and sometime in the next 18 months Amazon will make the decision to move forward on production or not.
What I find interesting about the process is how much transparency there is behind it. If you click any of those links above you'll arrive at the Amazon Studios page for that project, and you're free to read the initial script and creative notes. There's a tab for videos though so far it's empty for these shows but presumably we'll see snippets of a pilot eventually. And you can rate and comment on the ideas, though what that will accomplish isn't clear.
It'll be interesting to see which, if any, of these four shows Amazon gives the green light to.
If you want to learn more about getting your show idea going at Amazon Studios, the FAQ on the Getting Started page is a good place to start. Right now they only want comedy and children's show ideas but seem to be more open when it comes to movies. If you're just an interested fan, there's a page for you, too.
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