Long-time readers probably remember I took great exception to the original mission of Amazon Studios, which seemed to be attempting one of the most egregious exploitations of amateur writers that I'd ever seen attempted. Beyond that issue, I had the distinct impression that the people behind the then-new venture had little understanding of the industry they were attempting to "revolutionize." While it would be improper to go into any great detail about some off-the-record encounters I had with those behind the scenes, I will say that nothing I learned through any channel - both official and unofficial - dissuaded me from that feeling.
But as Amazon Studios seemed to give up on their attempts to seize rights to all the amateur scripts willing to dive into its maw, I found less motivation to focus on their dealings. The rules for those amateur submissions seemed less draconian, and more importantly, they seemingly did a pretty thorough job of alienating most amateurs by so clearly focusing on projects from established writers.
And yet, even after two and a half years and all those changes to the program, I still feel like the guys in charage are way too naive about the TV and film business. What makes me say that? Quotes like this from Amazon Studios director Roy Price:
TV Guide Magazine: Why did you cast and produce these pilots during network pilot season, when competition for talent is fierce?
Price: That was not intentional. That's just the way it worked out. I guess if we had really planned it by the calendar then maybe going off cycle would have been a good idea. Maybe we'll try that in the future.
Did Price just admit they didn't put a lot of thought into the timing of their venture? They they were completely ignorant they were competing with network pilot season? That would be like failing to realize that you accidentally scheduled your Great Britain Appreciation party for the Fourth of July! You can't have more than 12 months of experience in this business and NOT have an appreciation for how all-consuming pilot season is.
It would be one thing if they made a deliberate decision to go head-to-head with the big boys. (I don't know WHY they would, but at least it would be an informed choice.) Price's phrasing indicates that they're only focused on their venture and not accounting for it's position relative to the rest of the ecosystem they inhabit.
Addendum - 1:00am PST: Just to toss this into the mix too - compare Amazon Studios foray into streaming programming with Netflix's. Netflix brought in people like Kevin Spacey, David Fincher and Eli Roth - creators with strong visions. Those are guys used to having creative control and all indications are that Netflix gave them fairly close to a free reign in developing their shows. Meanwhile, Amazon's method is more along the lines of test-marketing and focus-grouping the hell out of their pilots.
Netflix = few-to-no notes.
Amazon Studios = mountain of notes.
Which one seems more conducive to the creative process? Which one would you rather be working under when you ascended to the rank of show-runner?
So what do you guys think?