55 posts tagged contests
55 posts tagged contests
A Okay, the story of three roommates and their LA misadventures, has won Amazon Studios’ first Series Promo Video Contest, with awards totaling $7,000. Check it out and let us know what you think.
The deadline is May 31 (Thursday) — don’t miss it!
Fifteen cast members from three of our most popular test movies (“12 Princesses,” “I Think My Facebook Friend is Dead” and “Sky Pirates”) are semifinalists for our February Best Actor awards. Have you seen them yet? You can watch them, free, at Amazon Studios.
Congratulations to 12 Princesses and Origin of a Species, the projects selected today by a panel of top industry judges to receive Annual Awards totaling $1.1 million from Amazon Studios, the movie-development arm of Amazon.com.
“It has been an exciting year for Amazon Studios. We received projects from all over the world and have enjoyed collaborating with filmmakers and screenwriters to develop their original stories,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios. “Choosing the best test movie and the best script was extremely challenging; with thousands of projects submitted it was difficult to recognize only two.”
The $1 million Best Test Movie Award went to 12 Princesses, the musical tale of a farmboy who risks his heart (and his life) to discover how royal sisters escape each night from the imprisonment of their mad father. Rob Gardner of Mesa, Ariz., wrote and directed the test movie, based on his stage musical version of the Grimm fairy tale of “The 12 Dancing Princesses.”
“It was really well received and, since then, I’ve felt like it would make a great film,” Gardner said. “When I heard about the Amazon Studios contest on NPR, it sounded like the perfect avenue to try to get such a movie made.”
The $100,000 Best Script Award went to Origin of a Species, the story of a former police officer whose German Shepherds are infected with rabies and terrorize a small, Midwestern community. Brooklyn-based screenwriter Matthew Gossett said his story has roots in reality: “I used to work with a guy in Cincinnati who was embroiled in a property line dispute with his elderly neighbor, and as their confrontations escalated, I wondered what would happen if chaos erupted. This screenplay is about chaos fed by humans and set loose upon a town.”
Annual Awards judges included Lawrence Bender (producer, Inglourious Basterds), Akiva Goldsman (writer, A Beautiful Mind), Trevor Groth (director of programming, Sundance Film Festival), Alexander Payne (writer/director The Descendants) and Courtenay Valenti (
More than 7,000 scripts and 700 test movies have been submitted to Amazon Studios since its launch in November 2010. And in the past year, dozens of scripts, test movies and trailers have been awarded nearly $2 million.
On Feb. 7, Amazon Studios will select its Best Test Movie of 2011 from five finalists, including The Alchemist Agenda, written and directed by Marty Weiss. This week, we’re telling our finalists’ stories (see more here). Learn more about the Annual Awards — totaling $1.1 million — here.
In The Alchemist Agenda, a sunken German U-boat is discovered off the coast of New York, prompting a thrill-seeking nautical archeologist and a beautiful professor with a secret agenda to scour the globe for the secret formula to alchemy.
This suspenseful test movie was written and directed by Chicago native Marty Weiss, 41, who lives in Los Angeles and works as a commercial director.
Why did you make this test movie?
My script for The Alchemist Agenda was given one of Amazon Studios’ early Best Screenplay awards. But good scripts don’t always translate into good movies, and Amazon Studios maintained that test movies should be an important step to more easily ascertain strengths and weaknesses of a story and help determine when projects are ready for production. So making the test movie was an opportunity to use my filmmaking background to demonstrate the screenplay’s potential.
How long did it take to make it?
From August to November, including evenings and most weekends.
Tell us about your team/collaborators.
After an extensive search of animators and animation/visual effects companies, I chose to work with The Hive, a small production studio that had experience in animatics. Yesenia Higuera and Ben Price started this new company to produce varied forms of media and provide editorial services. Yesenia was also the main editor for my test movie.
Once I determined the style of the film, we brought in freelance artists to prepare the frames and layers of artwork. Matthew Hill was our art director with whom I worked to determine the look of everything from character faces, wardrobe, color palettes, etc.
Nick Kunin was my main animator who put all the layers together. The other artists were Eric Koda, Alain Norte, Turne Lange, Darron Price, and Jeremy Arambulo. (Jeremy also designed the title sequence.)
I used about 15 actors, most of whom are part of the Groundlings acting program which specializes in improvisational techniques. The actors played multiple roles since the script called for nearly 75 characters.
The music was composed by my good friend, Gregor Narholz, through his company APM Music. Another friend, Lisa Fishman, wrote and performed the original song “Mr. Husky Eyes.”
Sound design was done by freelancers D. Chris Smith and Will Riley at their home studios.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in telling the story?
Time. The Alchemist Agenda is a fairly dense script with a lot of action. To get the most impact, I really wanted the action sequences to be fully animated, and animation is time-consuming. We had to draw the nearly 2,000 frames of artwork needed to tell the story, and my first challenge was getting enough shots for good coverage, which included a lot of prioritizing and reconfiguring along the way.
What’s your favorite line, scene or moment?
My favorite scene is probably the opening that introduces our hero. It has an interesting quality that sets up his state of mind before the adventure begins.
My favorite line is when two students watch the hot professor walk by and one asks, “What do you call that?” The other answers, “Sex walking.”
What do you most enjoy about filmmaking?
Everything. I love the varied stages of production. I love the creative process, starting with an intention and watching it take on a life of its own. I also love the collaboration, working with several people toward the same goal. And I really get excited once it all comes together.
What do you hope the audience gets out of the story?
I hope the audience is transported to another world and entertained.
What other movies have you made?
I directed shorts as a film student at NYU, and my first feature was Vampires: The Turning for Sony/Screen Gems Entertainment in 2005 – an action/horror movie that evolved out of John Carpenter’s Vampires, filmed in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Then came The Pre-Nup, a 30 minute comedy starring Larry Miller and Alex Borstein – acclaimed throughout the 2007 film festival circuit, including the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, the Santa Barbara Film Festival, the Palm Springs International Festival, and The World of Comedy Film Festival, Toronto.
I also directed two Spike TV original movies – Backwoods, starring Haylie Duff, Ryan Merriman, and Danny Nucci, which premiered in 2008 – and Xtra Credit with Micah Alberti and Marina Black, which aired in 2010.
What made you decide to be a part of Amazon Studios? What have you gotten out of the experience?
When I heard about Amazon Studios, I saw a huge media company that wanted to get into the motion picture content business, build a creative community, and do it in a unique way. Whether you’re a writer or filmmaker, they offered a myriad of ways to participate. It’s been an incredibly exciting place to be. I had a great time interacting with other writers and filmmakers, and I’ve definitely made several new friends and future collaborators.
— Ernest Jasmin