Amazon Studios options my TV pilot, “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street”

08/22/2012

What I Wrote and Why

I wrote a pilot script and proposal for a 1/2 hour single camera kid TV series called “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street”. The show is a look at the lives of three quirky but lovable tweens. It’s whimsical and funny and dark and wondrous and sad all those things that childhood can be, especially when you are in the process of leaving it behind.

I wrote Gortimer because I look at TV and I don’t see anything that represents what I felt as a kid becoming a teen becoming an adult. Disney and Nickelodeon right are overrun with slick corporate kidcoms where everything is bright and dumb and punchy. The main characters often possess a very special talent that makes them very special and if you aren’t very special you don’t deserve a TV show anyway, it seems. Most of us growing up were not secretly rock stars or wizards. And I’m fairly certain there emotions on the continuum somewhere other than cute and perky.

And so I wrote “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street”. I wrote it, and less than a month after submitting it to Amazon Studios, I optioned it for $10,000.

How Amazon Works

Many electrons have been spilled on the Internet debating the pros and cons Amazon Studios and I’m not going attempt any such analysis here. Mostly because it’s irrelevant for me now — “Gortimer” has been optioned. There’s no turning back. Since I do get questions about how the option works and what the process will be as Gortimer (I hope) heads to series, I’ll try to spell it out here.

Amazon Studios is a unique animal. It’s a little bit like a contest, but there is no entry fee. It is a little bit like a traditional studio, but there is no gatekeeper. It is a little bit like Facebook, but there is no Farmville.

The Amazon Studios FAQ explains how the open-door submission process works:

If you upload your original script to Amazon Studios, it still belongs to you. But for the next 45 days, Amazon Studios will have the exclusive right to buy your script for $200,000 if it is a script for a feature film or $55,000 if it is a script for an episodic series. This is called an option.

Anyone can submit material to Amazon Studios. You don’t need an agent, a manager, or a list of credits. You can upload a project publicly and let everyone on the net look at it, rate it, comment on it, and set permissions so that others can even rewrite your script if you want them to.

You can also chose to submit to a private review, where only Amazon Studios sees your work for the 45-day option period. This is what I did with “Gortimer”.

Amazon Studios can also pay you $10,000 to extend this option for 18 months, which we can do up to two times. If we extend the option, your script will be added to our Development Slate.

This is what happened to “Gortimer”. It has been optioned for an 18 month period for $10,000 and added to the Development Slate.

The Next Step and Beyond

Last Friday, I had a development meeting with Amazon Studios and it went very, very well. Everyone is excited to be moving forward with this series. I’ll be getting notes from Amazon Studios next week and then I’ll be rewriting the pilot script.

Amazon Studios has an array of projects on their series development slate and continues to add to it. At some point in the next few months they’ll chose projects to go to pilot. I hope “Gortimer” will be among them.

The pilot may be live action or an animatic or a combination, and will be used to test the series with the target demographic audience. If Gortimer tests well, we head into production on the series. The series could end up on network television, cable, or — most likely, I think — as original content on Amazon’s own instant streaming service.

What You Can Do

Because of the unique nature of Amazon Studios, the pilot script for “Gortimer” is available for you to download and read right now. Please visit my Amazon Studios project page and download the full original TV pilot script. You can also access the pitch document, or “mini-bible”, which describes what the show is about and lists ideas for future episodes.

If you enjoy reading the pilot, you can do one or more of the following:

1. Rate the pilot script on Amazon Studios

2. Leave a comment or start a discussion in the forum on the “Gortimer” project page

3. about “Gortimer” and let others know they can read the pilot too

4. Post the project page link to Facebook and encourage your friends to read and comment

5. Blog about “Gortimer” and be sure to send me the link to your post

6. Leave a comment or question below

Thanks everyone. I’ve already recieved some great comments and “Gortimer” has quickly become the most popular series on the Amazon Studios Development Slate. I appreciate everyone’s support. Let’s get “Gortimer” made.