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How Amazon Studios Pioneered A New Generation of Independent Filmmakers

How Amazon Studios Pioneered A New Generation of Independent Filmmakers

The world we live in today has been incredibly transformed by the technological innovations that aim to enrich, ease, and enhance human existence and experiences. Out of all the developments in the past decades, what has tremendously benefited our society is the modernized methods of acquiring goods and services. One of the pioneers of this revolutionary change is the Seattle-based multinational tech giant, Amazon.

We all know that Amazon is an internet-based enterprise that retails books, music, movies, electronics, toys, and many other goods to millions of consumers worldwide. Its success was rooted from humble beginnings when founder, Jeff Bezos, had a simple idea of building an online bookstore, which was inspired by his fascination with the rapid growth of the worldwide web back when he was still working on Wall Street. Together with his wife, they financed the company with $10,000 from their own savings while setting up base in their modest garage. Today, Amazon is a trillion-dollar enterprise and Bezos is known as the wealthiest man in modern history.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Due to shifting market and consumer behavior, the company evolved from e-commerce to media, which gave birth to Amazon Studios in 2010. It is a streaming service that produces “bold and innovative series and films from top tier and up-and-coming creators to customers in over 200 countries and territories” (Amazon, 2019). It takes pride in being a modern and all-encompassing studio, from developing, producing, and distributing its acquired and original content. Being the first streaming service to win 3 Oscars has not only earned them respect from the entertainment industry but also communicates that they are a force to be reckoned with.

In the independent filmmaking world, Prime Video Direct is considered as one of the simplest methods to get your material to consumers worldwide. The company works directly with filmmakers, which cuts down the traditional lengthy process of dealing with a sales agent, distributor, or an aggregator to get your material in the marketplace. Moreover, allowing the filmmaker to become a self-distributor instantly cuts down the financial costs because they are able to upload their content free of charge on Amazon.

The company works directly with filmmakers, which cuts down the traditional lengthy process of dealing with a sales agent, distributor, or an aggregator to get your material in the marketplace.

In 2013, Amazon Originals was launched, a division of the company dedicated to creating original films and series. Emmy award-winning hits include The Man in the High Castle (2015), Sneaky Pete (2015), and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017), as well as Oscar-winning films, Manchester by The Sea and The Salesman to name a few. Unlike other streaming services, Amazon takes pride in releasing their original films primarily with a theatrical release before it goes to Video On Demand (VOD), which attracts filmmakers especially those who are aspiring to make a name for themselves in the industry.

This distribution strategy implies that the films gain more attention through word-of-mouth, especially among esteemed critics and industry professionals, and could qualify for the prestigious Academy Awards. This strategy offers consumers the option to have the best of both worlds by living through a collective experience at the theater or in the comfort of their own homes. Amazon happens to excel in the field of entertainment despite being a relatively young entertainment entity simply because they believe in being more filmmaker friendly as well as to “maintain a handcrafted, artisanal way of doing each film” that no major studio would dare to do (Lang, 2017). Above all, the company takes pride in providing filmmakers an avenue through which their work is valued and respected, and would provide resources to turn their vision into reality; which is why award-winning filmmakers such as Woody Allen and Richard Linklater continuously collaborate and work on the studio’s projects.

How Amazon Studios Pioneered A New Generation of Independent Filmmakers
Amazon Studios Execs (Jeff Blackburn, Jason Ropell, Kimberly Steward, Lauren Beck, and Kevin Walsh) along with Casey Affleck celebrate his Oscars win for his role in Manchester by the Sea
TODD WILLIAMSON/GETTY IMAGES FOR AMAZON

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

The company’s audacious and innovative concept of putting the power in the hands of filmmakers to personally manage the way their content or material is handled and distributed is truly a breakthrough in the industry particularly at the peak of the digital age. Due to the highly-sophisticated technology we have today with the rise of streaming platforms, the manner in which we consume content has evolved by giving us more freedom and alternatives to access quality entertainment on-the-go, meticulously tailor-fitted to the hectic lives we lead. Being a self-distributor is advantageous to filmmakers because they are able to tap into different markets and reach the widest possible audience around the world at no cost, compared to traditional distribution methods that include unnecessary fees and would require going through different gatekeepers or middlemen before it gets released.

Amazon’s distribution strategy has the most flexibility and benefits among other streaming services and major studios, which is why up-and-coming, as well as seasoned independent filmmakers, prefer to utilize this method to strategically get exposure and earn profit for their material because of its feasibility and positive return on investment.

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