series

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

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.

16 Comments

  1. So good to hear that this is moving forward for you. I noticed that their series slate is just two categories: 22m prime time comedy or 11-22m children’s. I guess it makes sense because it’s the easiest to sell. This is your zone. Very curious to see where it all goes.

    Reply

    1. It’s actually three: prime time, children/tweens, and preschool. I’m the only tween. I think that’s a good thing. As you said — my zone.

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  2. Hi David. Was just reading about your success with getting optioned over on Hollywonks.com – good work. Always nice to have your hard work pay off and be working with people as passionate about your project as you are. Hope the re-write goes well buddy. I’ll be following along on your blog.

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    1. Thanks, Brett! The re-write has been turned in and I hope to have news soon.

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      1. Hi David, CONGRATS on the success. I actually am in a similar situation to option my property with another company and this world is sort of new to me and I’d love to ask you one of two questions about the process. And sorry if I’m being presumptuous… So, My pilot was already created and online and the company wants to purchase it. They gave me a contract that basically asks for all rights etc.. but I want to know if it’s possible of better to sell them the already film original pilot I shot but then to “option” the rights to develop/produce the series to them? So basically separating the sale of the original pilot i created versus optioning the rights for development to them? And do they have to pay me for the new scripts the asked for as well? Thanks soo much sir .

  3. Hi, I was wondering how long did it take you to hear back from Amazon after you posted the project?

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    1. David Anaxagoras April 8, 2013 at 7:14 am

      About 30 days.

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  4. That’s fantastic. I uploaded a TV pilot a few days ago. Crossing my fingers.

    Just curious, do they just e-mail you and say “hey we’d like to option this” or do they call you? Best of luck to you man.

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    1. They will call you. Good luck!

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  5. Wonderful to hear about your experience David. I’m about to submit a screenplay for a feature here in the next week or two. I hope it all goes well. There are a LOT of screenplays on there. :/

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  6. I am curious I submitted my script about twenty days ago and made it public for review. I have only seen four downloads of the script and it has been sitting on page four under SI-Fi for a few days now… do the number of downloads and where it is in the pages of projects play into the choice to option much? If so how (aside from social media) can you create a buzz and see more downloads as well as reviews? Thanks for your time and any info you may have on the subject.

    Reply

    1. I’m not really privy to the exact process and what factors go into choosing a project for option. I submitted mine privately so I have no experience to judge from. You won’t have long to wait, though, which is a good thing. Good luck!

      Reply

  7. Thank you for the heads up on that. Its good to know they don’t linger when making a choice :)

    Reply

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