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April 11, 2023

How to Pitch a Show to Amazon

With Amazon’s ever-growing presence in the streaming world and its reputation as a first content creator now firmly established, it’s no surprise that many budding filmmakers are eager to get their shows picked up by the digital giant. However, knowing how to pitch a show to Amazon can be a challenge.

In this article, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to successfully pitch a show to Amazon.

The benefits of getting on Amazon and other streaming services

Even 10 years ago, the goal of most budding screenwriters was to make it in Hollywood i.e have their script picked up by a major production company and turned into either a blockbuster film or a prime-time show.

But times are a-changing, rapidly. The place to be these days is on streaming platforms who are growing at a bigger rate. The big 5 as of 2023 are:

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Netflix
  • Disney +
  • Apple TV
  • Hulu

The benefit of getting an episodic series or a movie on one of these platforms is that they will often grant productions a bigger budget and greater creative freedom.

Unlike big studios that rely on tentpole films as their main line of business, Amazon, for example, is a huge conglomerate spanning its online store, Kindle e-books, and other ventures. Amazon can take more of a risk on material where other platforms cannot.

A great example of recent times is The Grand Tour. Under its past iteration as Top Gear on the BBC, the car show presented by Richard Hammond, Jeremey Clarkson, and James May was limited by the constraints of a state broadcaster. This meant that even though it was one of the corporation's most-watched shows, budgets were always limited and there was constant concern about the trio's controversial behavior.

An image of Richard Hammond, Jeremey Clarkson and James May staring out to sea for The Grand Tour
Clarkson, Hammond and May got a new lease of life when they signed with Amazon following their high profile departure from the BBC.

When Clarkson was sacked by the BBC, ending his contract, the main talent was poached by Amazon who paid a reported $160 million for them to come over. They gave them the freedom to tour the world in top-of-the-range cars that would have been unthinkable on the BBC.

Amazon and Netflix are also great homes for shows and films that have a strong niche audience whereas Hollywood and mainstream networks attempt to cater to everyone.

Amazon Prime Video vs Amazon Studios

Before you begin pitching your TV show or film to executives, it's important to understand how Amazon's business actually works. This means understanding the difference between Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Studios.

Amazon Studios is the production and distribution arm of Amazon Prime Video. They are responsible for producing Amazon's original content to stream on the platform and for licensing it. Previously you could pitch to Amazon Studios, however, they no longer offer an open submissions window.

Amazon Prime Video is a platform that distributes both original content produced by Amazon Studios and content Amazon has licensed as part of its subscription service. They have recently acquired the rights to the 4,000 strong library of MGM, one of the oldest and most prestigious film companies in the world.

Some shows and films on Amazon Prime Video are included in a monthly subscription similar to Netflix. Other shows are available to rent or to purchase on an individual basis. Just because a show is available on Amazon Prime Video it does not necessarily mean it's included in the subscription.

The pitching process

Pitching to Amazon has become harder since they stopped accepting unsolicited submissions and don't have publicly available submission requirements. To pitch to Amazon directly you have several options.

The most traditional route is to get yourself an agent. These are also hard to come by and many don't accept direct submissions as well.

A screenwriter dressed in a grey suit handing over a script to an executive
The pitching process is long and a slog but don't give up.

One way in is to enter a screenwriting contest. This will help bring you to the attention of directors, executives, and people in the industry.

Find out who is the commissioning editor for the genre you are writing in and try to attend events where they or their colleagues may be likely to appear. Build and nurture these relationships. Don't pitch to them straight away.

Also read interviews with key executives and see if they have been interviewed on YouTube. For example this interview with Amazon's Head of Content in Australia, Tyler Bern.

Amazon is a huge company and so getting your foot in the door is crucial. You could consider getting a job in one of their other divisions or at Amazon Studios to understand how Amazon works.

Foreign language films: the current trend

Since the release of Squid Game and Lupin on Netflix, both worldwide blockbuster hits in a foreign language, streaming services have realized non-English produced and speaking content could have a wide appeal.

As a result, both Amazon and Netflix are known to be on the hunt in countries across the world for the next big hit. If you happen to live outside the Western World or you've written something in another language or featuring a different culture, you might find it easier to get your script read.

Check Amazon's website and do some research to find out if Amazon is looking to set up a commissioning and production division in your home country.

Niche down

Remember this is the age of the niche. Previously screenwriters were encouraged to broaden the appeal of their scripts such as making locations more generic and themes more universal and prioritizing an American audience.

Now commissioning editors want shows and series that develop a cult and loyal following.

Amazon Prime Video has seen huge success with multiple series of richly detailed sci-fi shows such as The Expanse and the dystopian vision of The Man in the High Castle both based on novels. Don't also forget streaming services are less affected by regulators in the way Hollywood or other companies are, though they are now regulated by Ofcom in the U.K.

How to pitch a show to Amazon as an indy filmmaker

Did you know if you're an indy filmmaker you can submit your finished film to Amazon to see if they will accept it for licensing on Amazon or the Amazon Prime Video store?

Submitting a show pitch to Amazon is a simple process. First, you'll need to create an Amazon Video Direct (AVD) account, which will allow you to access the AVD Video Content Submission Form.

This form will ask you to provide basic information about your show, such as a title, synopsis, and a list of actors, as well as more detailed information such as potential season lengths, a budget estimate, and a trailer. You'll also need to provide additional creative elements such as artwork, key art, and clips of your show. Once your form is complete, simply click the “Submit” button and your show pitch will be sent to Amazon for review.

Consider Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video is a great streaming service that you should consider when deciding where your screenplay would best fit.

Streaming services continue to grow and with the advent of AI, theyare best placed to invest in new technology as the film and TV world continues to grow.

If you're pitching to Amazon you'll want your screenplay to look as sharp and professional as possible: Arc Studio's industry-standard screenwriting software can take care of this for you by automating the formatting.

Download it for free today.


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How to Pitch a Show to Amazon
Harry Verity

Harry is a professional writer. His first novel The Talk Show was published in the U.S and the U.K by Bloodhound Books in 2021 and he is currently working on adapting it for screen using Arc Studio. He's also written for Media Magazine - a UK magazine for students of A-level Film, Media and Television Studies. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, Readers' Digest and Newsweek, amongst many other publications. He has just finished his second novel for young adults, set in a boarding school. He holds a BA in English from Loughborough University.

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