February 6, 2014
Slate includes first two dramas, from ‘X-Files’ creator Chris Carter and ‘The Wire’s’ Eric Overmyer
NY Digital Editor
Amazon Studios is releasing 10 pilots for the Internet masses to weigh in on — including its first two dramas, from Chris Carter (“The X-Files”) and Eric Overmyer (“The Wire”) — from which the studio will select the next batch of full series for its Netflix-like subscription service.
Starting Thursday, the studio’s pilots will be free for anyone to watch — and rate — on Prime Instant Video in the U.S. and Amazon’s LoveFilm in the UK. As previously announced, the sophomore slate includes the two dramas (Chris Carter’s supernatural thriller “The After” and “Bosch,” starring Titus Welliver, pictured above); three comedies (“Mozart in the Jungle,” “Transparent” and “The Rebels”) and five kids’ shows (“Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street,” “Hardboiled Eggheads, “The Jo B. & G. Raff Show,” “Maker Shack Agency” and “Wishenpoof!”).
Amazon Studios’ first pilots premiered in April 2013 with eight comedy pilots and six kids pilots. Of those, “Alpha House” and “Betas” were greenlit into full series, which premiered last fall, along with three kidvid series — “Annesdroids,” “Creative Galaxy” and “Tumble Leaf” — which are to be available sometime this year.
Amazon Studios director Roy Price expects to make decisions on which of the 10 pilots to greenlight within 60 days, based on viewer feedback and ratings. In the first round of pilots customers submitted thousands of reviews within the first few days and more than 80% of those reviews were 4 and 5 stars. Price said the pilot-selection process worked as expected in the first go-round, he said, and he isn’t making any major changes for the second bake-off.
“The philosophy behind our TV and movie development is to keep the focus on customers, and pay attention to that customer feedback — to make that part of the ultimate decision process,” Price said.
Jill Soloway, creator of dark comedy ”Transparent” about an L.A. family forced to confront their secrets, said she brought the project to Amazon because the deal combined production and distribution in one package. “Going to Amazon and recognizing that they were willing to do this quickly, and make a decision quickly, was awesome,” she said. “I know if I sold it to HBO or Showtime, there was a possibility it would not get made.” Among other credits, Soloway was showrunner for “United States of Tara” on Showtime and won the 2013 Sundance Film Festival dramatic directing award for “Afternoon Delight.”
As for Amazon’s popularity-contest format for pilots, Soloway is down with the approach. “There is a relieving feeling of, well, at least everybody gets to decide — and it’s not that the people upstairs didn’t like it,” she said.
Roman Coppola, who scribed “Mozart in the Jungle” with Jason Schwartzman and Alex Timbers, said the production with Amazon Studios had a very indie vibe. “They threw down and said, ‘Let’s make it,’” he said. “It clicked for me personally. The fact that this is a more adventurous way to create something attracted me.” The half-hour pilot shot in New York last November in about a week.
Since its launch in November 2010, Amazon Studios has received more than 20,000 movie scripts and 6,000 series projects, although obviously only a handful of those have progressed into development. Viewers can watch the pilots at Amazon.com or via the Amazon Instant Video app available on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, Kindle Fire tablets, various smart TVs and other connected devices.
Amazon has signed Geico as a sponsor for the second round of pilots, available to watch on the website here.
Story follows eight strangers thrown together by mysterious forces and who must help each other survive in a violent world that defies explanation. Written and directed by Chris Carter (“The X-Files”), exec produced by Marc Rosen of Georgeville Television and produced by Gabe Rotter. Cast includes: Aldis Hodge, Andrew Howard, Arielle Kebbel, Jamie Kennedy, Sharon Lawrence, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Adrian Pasdar and Louise Monot.