Amazon Studios Update – no option

Quick backstory: I posted my script to Amazon Studios (AS) on 11/2/15 when they still had the 45-day option. Meaning, my 45 days would be up 12/16/15. On 11/19/15, AS announced they would no longer require a 45 day option and once your project went to COMPLETE status you’d hear from them within 48 hours. On the day of the switchover, my project went to complete and I waited to hear from them. 48 hours came and went. I waited the full original 45 days (not wanting to appear to be a desperate eager-beaver or a nag.) So the night of 12/16 (last night) I contacted AS customer service with the following:

Today was the original 45–day option end date. I haven’t gotten an email and there’s no REMOVE button for my script.
It went to COMPLETE on the day of the switch to the new  no-45-day-option version of the site.

This morning I got this reply (my bolding for emphasis):

Hello,

Amazon Studios submission policy changed on November 19, 2015 to a more open submission process. The email that you received informing you of the change promised a notification when our evaluation is complete. I am sorry you had to wait longer than expected for an e-mail with our decision.

I can confirm that our professional script readers have reviewed “Max the Knife” and we are not moving forward to option your project at this time.

We encourage you to make or keep your project available for public review on the website to seek feedback from the community. If you upload a significant revision of your script, it will be considered again for the Development Slate.

If you would like to have the script removed, please reply and let us know.

Thank you for your interest and participation in Amazon Studios.

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the links below to tell us about your experience today.

Best regards,
Jasmine H.

To which I replied:

Please, remove my project (Max the Knife).
Thanks.

I mean, looking at what (little) they’ve shown interest in, I don’t think my script is what their looking for, movie-wise. I knew it was a long shot (as with trying to sell any script anywhere.) Not to say I won’t try again. I will complete my drama series pilots and try them there, since they’re accepting them now.

Now a suggestion for AS: FIX THE GLITCH! Seriously. After the switchover to no-45-day-options-necessary, people (like myself) have been waiting beyond the 48-hours promised for a reply. I waited the full 45-days! I know people wait much longer than that hearing from producers, but my point is, AS shouldn’t make promises they wont keep.

And I also know it technically doesn’t matter since there’s no automatic option anymore and we can still try to sell our scripts elsewhere. And probably more importantly, if AS was interested they would no doubt contact you immediately and not leave you hanging. And yeah, I know about producers requesting to read scripts and never replying with a yay or nay. But still! AS is essentially an automated system. Once someone clicks COMPLETE, that means a decision has been made. Option or no option. So why is it that people aren’t automatically being sent a rejection or option email? You get one once you upload a project. It’s like anything else on the site. So it really makes no sense.

The switchover to AS3.0 (or whatever version they’re on now) was not a smooth one. And since November 19th, I have not seen any improvements. Instead of placing REMOVE buttons back on our project pages, we have to do it via Customer Service emails. (NOTE: I don’t have any complaints against Customer Service. They’ve been very helpful to me and everyone else… so I’ve read on the forums. So kudos to them at least. And it sounds like sometimes they aren’t being told what’s going on from the higer ups. So they’re really not the ones we should be mad at when things aren’t going the way they should be.)

Advice to writers using AS: At this point, set it and forget it…. until the status of your project goes to COMPLETE. When it goes to complete and you don’t hear from AS within 48-hours, contact Customer Service and tell them. Also, if you want your project removed, mention that clearly in the same email so you don’t waste time with a back and forth.

My Experience with Inktip – a review

I spent a total of $100 on Inktip for my screenplay MAX THE KNIFE. $60 for listing my script on Inktip (for 4 months, so $25/mo.) and $40 for a logline listing in their magazine. This was the first time I used Inktip. Was it worth it? I’m leaning towards a NO.

Why NO?

Not a single person actually downloaded my script!

Logline views doesn’t mean that the “pro” user actually read your logline. I knew this going in, but I thought at least I’d get a few downloads (ie. script reads or at least interest enough to download my script.) I’ve tweaked my logline and still… no downloads or contact.

Let’s look at a screencap of my script viewings (taken 12/14/15):

InktipLoglineViews

I’ve gotten 60 logline “views” and 1 resume view. The resume view (not shown, it’s on 2nd page) at least shows someone clicked on something of mine. I guess he wasn’t impressed because I don’t have anything produced and have no awards. We all start somewhere.  I only recently started trying to sell my scripts.

And you know what the sad thing is? I researched the production company and from the synopsis and movie poster of their ONE film… it looked like a good fit for my movie. And this production company did show up SO MANY times (not shown, on 2nd page) as logline views. Too bad they never downloaded my script.

I also noted with the RED ARROWS huge date gaps where there was absolutely no viewing activity. I always bring my listing to the top when allowed (every 6 weeks) just so my script doesn’t get buried under all the new scripts. I think it should be allowed more often. Maybe every 3 weeks.

Another suggestion: if a screenplay doesn’t get a single (legitimate) script download after 4 months, you get your money back. Hey, now that’s an idea! I don’t think that’ll happen though. Because it could be that your logline isn’t intriguing enough. Or maybe you’re the only one who thinks your title is brilliant. (I’m actually changing mine after this.)

Also, these aren’t big production companies. Most of them don’t even have websites and aren’t listed on IMDB. I believe they mostly do low budget stuff, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, my script is a thriller/drama based mostly in Brooklyn and I’m guessing it could be shot on a low budget. There aren’t any major special effects. No explosions. No jumping out of planes or anything crazy like that. It’s a pretty realistic story.

I’m not complaining about the cost. $25/mo is the same as listing on The Blacklist, which I have yet to try. But for $25/mo I would like to get some reads. Frankly, I feel like I’ve taken $100 and flushed it down the toilet.

Some have had some success on Inktip. They’ve gotten their films produced, they’ve hooked up with reps, etc. That didn’t happen with me. I know the odds aren’t that great in the film industry. It’s getting harder and harder to sell spec scripts. I wasn’t exactly expecting the to sell my script , but I was expecting more of an active interest (download of script of synopsis.) In four months, that has not happened.

I think there are two problems: (1) your script gets lost in a sea of scripts and (2) low activity on the other end (perhaps not too many people seriously looking for scripts on the site. I don’t have specific daily usage numbers but I wrote a THRILLER which is one of the most popular genres purchased!)

Now, before you say my script probably sucks. I know it doesn’t. I wrote it in college under an Emmy-award winning filmmaker. He said my script was probably the hardest one in class to write but it was very good and I got an A grading! I put it away for SEVEN years and then made improvements on it. It’s MUCH better than it was in college. I’ve done countless drafts. It’s not something sloppy and just thrown together. But how will anyone (these pro users on Inktip) know if they don’t bother to even download it?

Well, my listing expired December 22nd (in 8 days.) If anything major happens between now and then, I’ll definitely update on here. But at this rate, it’s not looking good.

So yeah, I’m disappointed. Will I use Inktip again? I’ll use it to list some shorts. (Shorts are free to list, but loglines are publicly viewable, as in not kept private.) I do actually have one listed on there. But I’ll have to think long and hard before listing another feature. Although, I am intrigued by some of their Preferred List leads. I think I’d have a better chance querying someone looking for a script that mine actually fits into than letting it sit on Inktip going unnoticed. I’m just not sure if I have to have the fitting script listed to use the Preferred leads.

I’m looking forward to trying some other screenplay hosting/selling services. I think I’ll try The BlackList next.

So until then, I’ll keep plugging away. (Just finished another script a few days ago.)

2015 – 2016 Screenplay Contests and Competitions

The year’s coming to an end and I have plans to enter some screenplay contests/competitions. I’ve already entered POSTCARDS FROM SHERIDAN (a short supernatural horror script) into Bluecat 2016 competition. I got reader’s notes already. Maybe I’ll post it in another post with my commentary.

I plan on entering (one or more) feature length scripts into Nicholl’s Fellowship, Script Pipeline and Page Awards.

I just completed my first draft of my second feature length thriller, called KNEES AND TOES.

I’m changing the title of MAX THE KNIFE and fixing it up a bit more. And here I thought it was the final… FINAL draft!

I’m also working on my first feature length (spoof) comedy. Won’t talk about it just yet. I want it completed and copyrighted first. It’s pretty unique… at least I haven’t seen it done. I laugh so hard while I’m writing it. But then, I do have a quirky sense of humour. Think: Tim & Eric, Strangers with Candy, League of Gentlemen, Woody Allen, Louis CK.

I think I may try out The Blacklist (blcklst.com) and see if I can do well there. My Inktip script listing is going to expire this month on the 27th. I’ll do a review of it.

Amazon Studios – Still No Word After Nixing 45-day Option

So, I uploaded MAX THE KNIFE (my feature length screenplay) to Amazon Studios (AS) on November 2nd. There used to be a 45 day option, meaning the option for my screenplay ends December 16th. On November 19th, Amazon Studios did away with the 45-day option and I got an email from them stating the following:

Dear Terri,

You’re receiving this notification because we have expanded our open-door submission policy and you have submitted work to Amazon Studios for your project, Max the Knife, within the last 45 days.

Amazon will no longer require an unpaid 45-day option for you to submit your work and will instead review your work with no strings attached. If we’re interested, we will reach out to you directly with a paid option that meets or exceeds any applicable guild minimums. As a result of this change in policy, Amazon is releasing any unpaid option currently in effect on work you’ve submitted for Max the Knife. You can continue to track where your work is in our evaluation process by visiting your project page. We are continuing to evaluate any material that is not yet marked “Complete.” You’ll receive a notification either way when our evaluation is complete.

Thank you again for the opportunity to consider your work, and we hope to see you at Amazon Studios again soon.

Sincerely,

Amazon Studios Cast and Crew

The DAY I received this email, my project status went straight to COMPLETE. I have not heard a word from AS. If they wanted it, I’m sure they would’ve e-mailed me right away. So I’m guessing I will have to wait until December 16th (day after tomorrow) to hear from them. But then again, if you look through the AS Forums, it seems some people aren’t hearing from AS even when the original option end date comes and goes.

Also, I’ve noted that some have commented on how their projects go from COMPLETE to DECIDING or some other status. I guess they still have some glitches to work out. Oh well. Hopefully, they’ll work out the kinks soon. If there are any updates, I’ll post about it here.

Max the Knife is Now Available!

I uploaded my screenplay (Max the Knife) to Inktip and bought a logline listing for their next issue of Inktip Magazine, so it’ll get in front of a lot of industry professionals (producers, directors, actors, etc.) Not long after I posted my script I’m already getting some views. Great! I think this just might be worth the price. I’ll keep you all updated on how things go.

For any industry pros who might be reading this, let me offer my logline here:

While visiting his mother and dying brother in New York City, a writer kills a stranger, completely unprovoked. He thinks he can get away with this senseless crime but there was a witness lurking in the shadows… and he wants revenge.

If you’re intrigued, you can find my screenplay through Inktip. Just search my name (T. K. Jones) or the title of the script. Thanks!

My Screenplay MAX THE KNIFE is complete!

I just finished writing my screenplay “Max the Knife.” It’s a psychological thriller set mostly in contemporary New York (Brooklyn: Brighton Beach and Bensonhurst) in the vein of Fritz Lang’s M and Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia.  (Total: 88 pages)

Some history: I wrote the first draft of the screenplay in my college Screenwriting course. This was in 2007/08. Wow, 7-8 years ago! And only recently did I decide to pull it off the shelf and make something of it. I marked up my copy from college to the point where every page was covered in red ink! I added some scenes. I feel like I added more depth to the story and characters. I even changed the title!

Reading the first draft I’m surprised I got an A on it. I remember my professor commented that my story was the hardest to write in class. I enjoyed writing it. I’ll set the screenplay aside for a few days and do one last read (just to proofread.) Then, I plan on posting it onto Inktip. I may also make use of Virtual Pitchfest.

So, now what? Well, I have about five screenplays queued up waiting to be written. And I’m really excited about them! I got these ideas while writing Max the Knife.

A Productive Writing Week & Plans for the Future

I’ve been having one productive day after another this past week. I hope this luck continues. Or maybe it’s not luck? Maybe it’s just hard work and obsession. I’ve entered some short story and poetry contests and have been making a long list of others to enter. The hardest part is waiting for the results!

Also, I have found a few writing fellowship/residencies that I would just LOVE to go to. I should just write more and get together my strongest pieces. I need to get published. And I don’t mean self-published. Anyone can do that! (And I have.) I’ve also been thinking (dreaming?) about getting my MFA but have run into a few problems, the largest two being: Money (the lack of it, to be more exact) and Recommendations. I graduated from college in 2008, seven years ago. I hear it’s OK, but I would feel a bit strange asking professors and advisers who don’t even remember me to write me a letter of recommendation. And having been a mix of self-employed and unemployed over the past four years, I don’t really have any professional recommendations. It’s pretty depressing/embarrassing.

I need to balance things better (ie. don’t just write all day but find time to READ more.) I love reading about other writers and their lives. Dead or alive. I highly recommend Kindle Unlimited for writers out there. It’s inexpensive and there’s a pretty good selection of e-books you can borrow. I find myself investing in my writing more which I think is a great thing. Instead of wasting what little i have on junk that I really don’t need, I’m subscribing to writing magazines and paying for contest fees. I feel it will pay off in the future.

If you haven’t already, do check out my Twitter profile. (See the right hand column for my Twitter feed.) I’ve been posting a lot of “microflash” or “twiction” on there. Creative stories in 140 characters or less! You should try it. hashtag or no hashtag! (It’s a little difficult when you use a hashtag… every character counts! I just hope no one reads a fictional tweet I wrote and think it’s real!)