Amazon Studios unveils first four original content series for development

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In May, Amazon opened up the floor to filmmakers who could pitch their ideas to Amazon Studio, Amazon’s foray into the business of original TV content. The studio, after a call for comedies and children’s programming, has announced the selection of its first four series – three comedies and one children’s show.

Amazon, with heated competition from the likes of Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix, is ramping up its original television programming with budgets rivaling those of terrestrial television. Amazon is planning on investing a serious amount of capital in these crowd-sourced scripts.

According to its F.A.Q., the type of content Amazon is looking for must have the potential to attract talented actors and experienced directors: “We’re looking for great stories well told. Stories that could be successful movies — artistically, commercially or both. They should have roles that could attract talented actors, and enough story appeal and visual possibilities to entice an experienced director.” With big-name A-listers including Julia Stiles, Ben Stiller and Kristen Bell finding a second home in various to-be-released Web series, Amazon has already been able to reel in some stars.

Those ideas that capture the interest of Amazon get pooled into its “Development Slate,” where the project’s creators are awarded $10,000 for further development. Amazon’s own story department may help in developing the script and refining the concept, and will garner feedback from audience, but projects in the Development Slate are not guaranteed to be developed into pilot shows.

If a series is selected for production, Amazon will then offer to purchase the rights. Series creators get $55,000 and movie creators get $200,000, with up to a 5 percent cut from the merchandise sales. The series will be distributed on Amazon Instant.

Amazon Studios TV series pitch process

Projects that have potential but require further conceptualization and a rewrite are added to the “Consider List.” The lists will be updated on a regular basis as Amazon takes up to 45 days to review a script.

The following are the first four shows that have been selected for the “Development Slate.” Let us know what you think about these shows. Would you watch them?

Comedy shows:

The 100 Deaths of Mort Grimley 

Creator: Angel Castillo

Premise: In this animated comedy, Hell desperately needs new customers. Mort Grimley, new to the Underworld after accidentally taking his own life, is offered a deal: Get Hell’s numbers up and maybe get a transfer out (and up), or face eternity in fire and brimstone alongside the cruel mother he tried to escape.

Why we like it: Angel has created a world and characters that are imaginative, visual, hilarious and different than anything that’s out there. It’s dark subject material, but handled with a deft and smart comedic hand.


Creator: Nathan Thomas

Premise: This mockumentary follows an ensemble of diverse characters as they ready themselves for the supposed end of the world — including the guru who made the doomsday prediction.

Why we like it: Nathan’s script is a smart, laugh-out-loud comedy with interesting and compelling characters that you want to follow anywhere, especially as they prepare for what may be their final days.

Magic Monkey Billionaire

Creator: Diana Wright

Premise: When their wealthy magician owner suddenly dies, his two animal assistants — Rabbit and Monkey — are shocked to learn that Monkey alone has been left his billions, soon unleashing the ultimate forces of good and evil as former friends turn to arch enemies.

Why we like it: The premise of this script and the origin story of Rabbit and Monkey is great and, in the vein of Spy vs. Spy and Itchy & Scratchy, paves the way for an animated comedic series with an epic showdown between two iconic characters.

Children’s show:

Buck Plaidsheep

Creators: Frank Suarez (artist) and Clark Stubbs (writer)

Premise: Buck Plaidsheep chronicles the adventures of a courageous little critter named Buck. Whenever there’s a problem on Fleecy Farm, Buck races full-speed into action in one of his souped-up vehicles. And although things may not always go as planned, it’s Buck’s “never give up” attitude that makes him the sheep that always saves the day!

Why we like it: This show features memorable characters (like a plaid sheep and a paisley sheep), strong narrative threads and adventures, and good qualities for young children to emulate, such as perseverance and helping others.

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