When you hear the word “Amazon,” one of two things probably come to mind: Online retailer Amazon.com or (maybe) that river in South America. Well, here’s a third option: Amazon Studios, the online moviemaking arm of Amazon.com, which awards cash prizes to scripts, trailers and test movies (inexpensive, full-length movies that get the point of the eventual feature across without super-polished visuals) submitted by members as a way to help up-and-coming moviemakers get discovered and complete their films.
Since its founding in 2010, members of the Amazon Studios community have submitted more than 7,000 scripts and 700 test movies, and in the last year alone more than $1.9 million has been awarded to a total of 39 scripts, test movies and trailers. Earlier in the month, Amazon Studios went big when it announced the winners of its annual Best Test Movie and Best Script Awards. What did moviemakers Rob Gardner and Matthew Gossett win? For his test movie 12 Princesses, Gardner took home a prize of one million dollars (yep, you read that right), while Gossett’s script Origin of a Species netted him a cool $100,000.
“Amazon Studios seemed genuinely interested in exploring avenues outside the standard channels, and I thought I’d give it a whirl,” said Gossett on his decision to enter his script, which was selected as the winner by a panel of judges consisting of producer Lawrence Bender (Inglorious Basterds, Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting), writer Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, I, Robot) and Warner Bros. executive vice president of production Courtenay Valenti. Guest judges on the Best Test Move panel, meanwhile, were writer/director Alexander Payne (The Descendants, Sideways) and Sundance Film Festival director of programming Trevor Groth.
“It has been a very exciting year for Amazon Studios. We received projects from all over the world and have enjoyed collaborating with filmmakers and screenwriters on some amazing original stories,” says Amazon Studios director Roy Price. “Choosing the best test movie and the best script of the year was extremely challenging—with thousands of projects submitted, it was difficult to recognize only two.”
You can find out more about the winners—and become a member of the Amazon Studios community yourself—by visiting studios.amazon.com.