See new behind the scenes photos of dramatic comedy, Mozart in the Jungle. Written by Oscar-nominated writer and director Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom, The Darjeeling Limited), actor and musician Jason Schwartzman (Saving Mr. Banks, Moonrise Kingdom, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), and Tony-nominated writer and director Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher).
Character Spotlight: The Inventors at "Maker Shack Agency"
Amazon Original kids pilot, Maker Shack Agency takes a unique look at the adventures of Wolfie, a 13-year-old inventor with grand ideas and a motto of “fail forward.” Together with his friends Merle, a tech wizard, and Jo, a girl who can build anything, they create gadgets to help fellow classmates. Wolfie, Merle and Jo use all the branches of science and personal ingenuity to solve problems with a new invention in every episode. Watch the pilot now and help decide if this show should be made into a series.
More on the characters:
“If I wasn’t creating problems for myself, then I wouldn’t have a reason to fix them.”
If you combine the brilliant scientific mind of Ben Franklin, the resourcefulness of MacGyver and the naturally charismatic leadership of Ferris Buehler, you got the Wolf (add a little Max Fisher from RUSHMORE for good measure). He’s irrepressibly confident, naturally inquisitive and believes that every problem in life has a scientific solution.
“I write the codes that make the whole world sing.”
Youngest son of famed professional football player Merle “Lights Out” Haggerty. Both his brothers are walking refrigerators and legends in the town, sure to follow in their father’s footsteps and play professional football. To keep his father happy, Merle plays on the football team, but his true passion is computer programming where he can hack into anything.
“I sold my Barbies to buy my first power drill”
She’s the daughter of the town’s used car salesman and having grown up around the mechanics at the car dealerships, if she can’t build it, it can’t be built. Underneath her welding mask is the beautiful face of a future prom queen, but she loves getting her hands dirty. She’s popular but hasn’t been able to fully express herself and all her talents.
The Art of Storytelling– Jill Soloway gets “Transparent” for Amazon Studios
Prior to the release of her Amazon Original pilot, Transparent, we asked creator Jill Soloway a few questions on the art of storytelling, her inspirations and the future of her new show. Read the article below.
Writer/Director/Producer Jill Soloway has always considered herself a “storyteller first and a filmmaker by necessity”. As a child, she and her sister created and performed plays for anyone that they could get to watch. This evolved into a drive to write and direct films and TV and to tell longer and better kinds of stories. Her career has been a successful one, serving as a writer and producer for series such as United States of Tara and Six Feet Under - for which she was nominated for 3 primetime Emmy Awards and a WGA award. She also took home the Best Director prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival for her feature film Afternoon Delight which she both wrote and directed.
Jill’s latest project is Transparent, an original comedy pilot greenlit by Amazon Studios about an L.A. family with serious boundary issues. Their past and future begins to unravel when a dramatic admission causes everyone’s secrets to spill out.
We spoke to Jill about her inspirations, her approach to her multiple job titles and her expectations for Transparent.
Character Spotlight: Miss Hudspith from "Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street"
Emmy-award winning actress Fionnula Flanagan (The Others, Lost) guest stars as Miss Hudspith, Gortimer Gibbon’s glamorous, headstrong neighbor who mysteriously lost her sight decades ago. After a chance encounter with Gortimer at the local convenience store, she enlists his help for an unusual household project — one that could unlock the mystery behind Miss Hudspith’s haunted past…and Normal Street’s sweltering present.
Amazon Pilot Spotlight: "The Jo B. and G. Raff Show" from Josh Selig
The Jo B. & G. Raff Show is an animated series created by multiple Emmy Award-winning writer and producer Josh Selig (The Wonder Pets). Created specifically to help teach preschoolers the importance of resolving conflict in constructive ways, The Jo B. & G. Raff Show follows two best friends, Jo B. and G. Raff, who are hosts of their very own TV show. Each day, just as their show is about to start, Jo B. realizes G. Raff has gone somewhere new and exciting and needs to go find him. Jo B. travels to get G. Raff, but G. Raff always wants to stay and explore. The two friends reach a compromise by the end of the show.
Written by Jeremy Garelick and Jon Weinbach, sports comedy The Rebelsfollows Julie Levine (Natalie Zea) after her husband suddenly dies and leaves her as the sole owner of a pro football team. The Rebels creative team also includes executive producer, Matt Alvarez (Ride Along), musician and actor Ice Cube and Michael Strahan, former football player for the New York Giants and host of Live with Kelly and Michael.
Written by Angela Santomero, creator of Blue’s Clues, Creative Galaxy, and the Emmy-nominated literacy series, Super Why!, Wishenpoof! is an animated pilot that revolves around Bianca, who has “wish magic” which means if she wishes to play under the sea then— Wishenpoof! — she’s a mermaid, swimming around with the sea horses. Bianca uses her wish magic to help others and learns to solve life’s problems in her own creative way because with magic, or without, we all have the power to make good choices. This is Santomero’s second Amazon Studios pilot. Santomero’s first pilot, Creative Galaxy, is currently in production and scheduled to be available on Prime Instant Video in 2014.
Go behind the scenes of the making of Amazon Original pilot, Bosch. Watch 3 new clips as creator and author Michael Connelly walks through the set of the Hollywood Station and Bone Lab and talks working with Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead).
I saw Spike Jones’ Her last night and I’ve been thinking about how virtual versions of things measure up to their physical world counterparts. A writer only has a few tools and most of them are a computer. The remaining ones; the backs of receipts, pages of chicken scratch, conversations with friends… are usually as much a hindrance to the process as they are helpful.
As Amazon continues to roll out tools that simplify a (perhaps unneeded) complex process, their intention becomes clearer. Innovation. Amazon simply removes the writer’s tools’ vestiges, which in this case, happen to be the trappings of the physical world. An infinitely long and maneuverable corkboard! A drawer that never gets cluttered with junk mail! Virtual adhesives that never lose their stickiness! This is what I think the jump to the virtual world is about…getting to the root of what makes certain things useful, or joyful, or cringe worthy, and figuring out the ways that humans can connect with them. Whether it’s a sexy OS or a scriptwriting program, the point is the same. Can the physical world be improved upon? Should it be?
Maker Shack Agency takes a unique look at the “maker” movement through the adventures of Wolfie, a 13-year-old inventor with a grand idea and a motto of “fail forward.” Together with his friends Merle, a tech wizard, and Jo, a girl who can build anything, they create gadgets to help fellow classmates. Wolfie, Merle and Jo use all the branches of science and personal ingenuity to solve problems and kids can look forward to a new invention in every episode. Created in conjunction with the think tank Applied Minds and the production company Electus, the pilot was written by Arland DiGirolamo (Sketchy), Geoff Barbanell (Kickin’ It) and directed by Alex Winter (Ben 10, Downloaded) and features original music from Dr. Dog.
I had quit screenwriting in spring of 2012, just around the time when Amazon Studios opened up to TV pilot submissions. I had written many feature film screenplays (and gotten nowhere) but I had never attempted a TV pilot. So I figured I would have just one more go.
And I had just one idea.
I wrote “Gortimer” for an audience of one — me. I knew it was different from the current crop of standard corporate “kidcoms” and thus no one would buy it. I wrote it anyway. I wrote it because I wanted to see something with a sense of adventure where ordinary kids ventured into extraordinary circumstances with courage and friendship — without a laugh track.
I sent “Gortimer” to Amazon Studios through their open submission process. I had no expectations about the outcome and set to work outlining a novel. Four weeks later, Amazon Studios made the call I had waited for my entire writing career. They wanted to option “Gortimer”.
I was stunned. It’s one thing to have a vision, but another thing entirely for there to be people to receive that vision, to understand it and champion it. That’s really what has made all the difference — Amazon Studios didn’t just option my pilot, they were and remain huge fans.
After a year of careful development, “Gortimer” was given the greenlight for production. This was a strange new experience for me. For ten years, screenplays were written, made a short trip out into the world, and were then retired — placed in the metaphorical trunk. Going into production was like being invited to the cool-kids party when you had only planned to stay home that night and brush the mats out of your cat’s fur. Getting the greenlight was certainly cause to celebrate. Nobody grudgingly greenlights a pilot. There has to be a lot of energy, support and enthusiasm for it to even have a chance. It really does feel as good as you might imagine.
Not that it isn’t effort. There are many moving parts to a production, and they all have to work together. When you think about it, it just seems improbable that anything could be committed to film. It’s really a miracle that any movie or TV show gets made.
Guest Blog: Author Michael Connelly on Bringing Harry Bosch to the Screen
Neal Thompson is Senior Editor at Amazon Books. He is also a journalist & author, amateur photographer/videographer, and compulsive reader-writer. Neal interviewed Michael Connelly, creator of Bosch, a new Amazon Original Pilot.
In 1992, a seasoned crime reporter named Michael Connelly published his first novel, the story of a body in a drainpipe, a bank robbery, and police corruption, based partly on a true crime that had occurred in LA. Featuring Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch, a Vietnam vet turned LAPD detective, The Black Echo won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, established Connelly as a new voice in the mystery/thriller world and Bosch as one of the more complex characters in modern crime fiction.
Now, more than a dozen novels later, Bosch is coming to the little screen. Amazon Studios has produced the first episode in a hoped-for series entitled Bosch, co-written by Connelly and with Titus Welliver (who has also appeared in Argo and The Good Wife) as Connelly’s maverick detective. In the pilot, Bosch investigates the murder of a 13-year-old boy while facing accusations that he, too, is a murderer.
The pilot episode is available for free to watch on Amazon Instant Video. (More Amazon Studios pilots are available for viewing at AmazonOriginals.com; Amazon solicits votes from viewers to determine which pilots will become a series.) Bosch is already finding an audience: the pilot has received more than 3,000 five-star ratings.
Recently, we spoke with Connelly by email to find out how it feels to see Bosch brought to life.
You’ve been down this road before, with The Lincoln Lawyer. But Bosch is your man, your best-known character. Any parental concerns about setting him loose onto the screen?
There were many concerns initially. My process in the past was to do due diligence on the producers interested in my stuff and then hand it off to the people I thought most likely to be loyal to it. That worked very well with The Lincoln Lawyer. But with Bosch I had a twenty-year investment of creativity and he is really the character I am all about as an author. So when it came to making a deal my terms were pretty simple and unalterable: If you want Bosch you have to take me, too, and I am going in to safeguard how this character will be presented and I am going to have a say in every decision I want to have a say in. I got lucky and found a partner who said that’s a deal, we want you to have a say.
In new Amazon Kids Pilot Hardboiled Eggheads, Miles Van Vleep and Kelvin Quark are brilliant scientists…who happen to be in the fifth grade. With the help of their feisty friend Pilar, our two no-nonsense brainiacs use their smarts and their gadgetry to defend their school, their city, and occasionally the world from science run amok —often perpetrated by their arch-nemesis, the diabolical but hilarious Professor Zam. Created by Emmy Award-winner Duane Capizzi (Transformers Prime, Jackie Chan Adventures, Men in Black: The Series).
“It is thrilling to see Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street come to fruition and to have the pilot directed by Oscar winning director Luke Matheny,” said creator David Anaxagoras. “As a creator that broke into the industry thanks to the Amazon Studios open door process, it’s been a very positive experience working with Amazon and their excellent creative teams.”
“We can’t wait to share The After with audiences all over the world via Amazon.com. It’s an exciting time to be making TV—and this is an exciting place to be doing it,” said Chris Carter, creator of The After.
“It’s like I’m reading a book, and it’s a book I deeply love. But I’m reading it slowly now. So the words are really far apart and the spaces between the words are almost infinite. I can still feel you, and the words of our story, but it’s in this endless space between the words that I’m finding myself now. It’s a place that’s not of the physical world. It’s where everything else is that I didn’t even know existed. I love you so much. But this is where I am now. And this who I am now. And I need you to let me go. As much as I want to, I can’t live your book any more.”—Spike Jonze, Her (via theunquotables)
Build and enhance your outline using Amazon Storybuilder, a cloud-based tool that lets you build movie and series outlines with digital notecards. Add images for character or location inspiration or store them in a “drawer” for later use. If added to an individual notecard, you can also write detailed notes for each image.
“He would say, “Fail, and then fail better.” And that kind of environment where failure is an option is magical, because then you can really go for things. Because it’s not about getting it right, it’s about getting it true.”—Lupita Nyong’o on the environment created on set by director Steve McQueen | Vanity Fair
Breaking story can be exhilarating, but it can also be the most frustrating part of a writer’s life. That is, besides rewrites, producers’ notes, and impossible deadlines. To help me create my latest outline in a more fun and inspiring way, I’ve been using Amazon Studios’ new cloud-based Storybuilder tool. In Part 1 of this series, I covered setting up the basic index carding. Part 2 explored their unique contributors feature, where you can invite writers to give you feedback on your notes. Today, I’ll explain my experience tagging and coloring cards.
As a Twitter junkie, I love the hashtag, which allows me to search Twitter for any topic tagged. Storybuilder’s tagging feature is just like that, complete with the pound sign.
At the top of each card, under the title, you’ll find “add a #tag.” Simply click on it and add anything you’d like, such as character names, subplots, theme, etc. As you create a tag, a drop down appears helping you easily add ones of the same name.
Why tag your cards? Tagging allows you to quickly search for those cards with the content you want to explore further. To search tags, you have to be in the home screen with the cards collapsed. When you click on “Tags” in the upper right, a drop down list will appear. Click on one of those and the cards tagged with that word will be highlighted. You can click on more than one tag at the same time and any cards relating to those tags will show.
This past week, I invited writers to contribute to my boards on Amazon Storybuilder. For those who aren’t familiar with Amazon Storybuilder, it’s a free, cloud-based notecard tool, allowing you to digitally create movie and television outlines. Feedback on a story concept helps a writer determine if their new story concept is viable as well as brainstorm potential plot points and character development. Learning how to accept honest feedback is critical for a writer. The fact that Storybuilder offers a way to obtain that so early in the process is invaluable.
Inviting someone to your boards is as simple as clicking on the “Manage” tab and either searching for them via their Amazon Studios account, or inviting them using their email address. Once the invitation is accepted, their name will pop up on your list of Contributors.
Notice under each name is a “Remove” feature. At some point during any brainstorming process, a writer is confident of what they’ve created and no longer in need of feedback. Simply click “Remove,” and they will no longer have access to your board.
Before you panic about what a contributor can and cannot do, let me assure you, no one can edit the actual cards you created, nor can they drag your cards into a different position. Your cards are completely secure. The only contribution that can be made by an invited contributor is the addition of yellow sticky notes and pictures. All contributors can see everything, including each other’s notes and what’s in your “drawer.”
Every writer has a different system for breaking story. For those readers who are familiar with me, you know I always keep it real and admit my shortcomings. Well, here goes: My number one writing weakness is starting a new project. I am a rewrite junkie, but when it comes to outlining a new story, I procrastinate.
Since I’m not a girl who accepts weakness, especially my own, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to get an outline down that don’t feel like pure torture. So, when Amazon Studios launched their free Storybuilder tool, I had to give it a shot. Maybe notecarding is the magic trick I’ve been looking for.
My typical outlining process is done in Word, not notecards. However, I do use cards during my rewrite process in order to juggle scenes and rework structure. But I’ve never actually started a project using them.
Since I love stepping outside of my comfort zone, I dove in.
Storybuilder is a cloud-based platform that allows you to work off of your laptop, your phone or your tablet. When I poked around the tool, I found what is called a “drawer.” Its purpose is to store ideas, and even pictures, that you might want to add to your outline. You can open it for easy viewing or close it to focus on the board itself. Think of it as a writer’s hoarding drawer to dump all your ideas.
Already inside the drawer you can find a template based off of the Save the Cat Beat Sheet. You can either import the entire template onto your board, or you can drag individual cards as well as delete them.
Need help starting an outline for your movie or series script? Use Amazon Storybuilder, a new tool from Amazon Studios that brings the physical notecard process online. Select from our templates to start your corkboard. We have basic movie and TV sitcom structures or have fun with our templates from stories including Alice in Wonderland, Huckleberry Finn, and Romeo & Juliet.