Amazon will soon join the likes of Hulu, Netflix and Yahoo in producing original episodic programming for the web as Amazon Studios, its content development division, will begin to develop comedy and children's series.
Starting Wednesday, aspiring television showrunners can upload proposals for those series to the Amazon Studios website.
This pushes Amazon into the world of episodic series, adding to the film projects it has been developing since Amazon Studios launched in November 2010. It currently has 15 movies in development.
A few outlets reported that Amazon was looking for creative executives in this field back in February, but this marks the official soliciting of series ideas and the impending development of shows.
“A lot of writers and filmmakers reached out and expressed an interest in developing series,” Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, told TheWrap. “The customers on Amazon love TV series, of course, so it seemed like a great match.”
Price said it is unknown how many shows would be optioned, when they will come out or what the budget will be.
However, those hoping Amazon will option their work must submit a five-page description and a pilot script (22 minutes for comedies and 11 minutes for children’s shows). Videos are welcome as well.
Within 45 days, Amazon will either extend an option for $10,000 or invite the creator to add the project to the Amazon Studios site. If the project is not optioned, the submitter can either take it down or leave it up to receive feedback.
If Amazon chooses to develop the project for a full series, the creator nets $55,000 and up to 5 percent of revenues from toy and T-shirt licensing, as well as other royalties and bonuses.
Amazon produces projects through its People’s Production Company with Joe Lewis overseeing comedy and Tara Sorenson developing children’s series. Michael Lewis fills that role for films.
PPC just signed deals with the Writers Guild of America and the Animation Guild, Local 839, which means that Amazon can court both established entertainment figures and unknown scribe.
With everyone from Netflix to Yahoo getting into original programming, Amazon stands out, Price said, with its open door for creators and its interaction with the customers.
“We’re creating a development process that looks more like a conversation than a top-down process,” Price said. “One thing we’ve learned is that there are people out there who are eager to create and people out there eager to watch stuff and give feedback.”
Perhaps with a hint of irony, he compared the Amazon model to the democratic model, marking the end of monarchy and the age of Democracy.
As for what kinds of shows might get produced, Price said there are no specific parameters.
“What will work is an original, character-driven comedy with a voice,” he said. “That’s pretty broad. It takes in everything form ‘Modern Family’ to ‘Archer.’”