Amazon Kills Online Story Tools for Budding Filmmakers

Amazon had a clever idea for filmmakers looking to create and pitch ideas for their Amazon Studios. Create an online script writing tool, which works in tandem with  a storyboard utility to create the ideal package to submit and pitch your ideas. But as of June 30, 2019, Amazon Storywriter and Storybuilder will be discontinued. And users have until then to backup their ideas, scripts and storyboards before they’re gone, forever.

“At Amazon, we are always reinventing ourselves and looking for ways to become even more efficient. As we have grown and evolved over the last several years, we are making changes to our website. Amazon Storywriter and Amazon Storybuilder will no longer be available after June 30, 2019.”- Amazon’s announcement that they will be closing down Storywriter and Storybuilder

After Adobe Story was shut down in early 2018, there weren’t that many online portals outside of Amazon Storywriter to rely on, especially for pitching your ideas as well. Amazon Studios sought to get rid of the pantheon of gate keepers that most beginning storytellers run into, with democratized development portal that took story tellers from script, to storyboards to pitching. Now, the word is, it’s going away. The irony is, it never got out of BETA.

I suppose it makes sense. According to Amazon Studios, the company had only greenly a single screenplay from the crowdsourced development system, which taught to use the community to choose the most popular screenplays for production. That single order to series was a children’s show called Gortimer Gibbons Life on Normal Street, from first time writer and preschool teacher David Anaxogoras.

Outside of that, in the four and  a half years that the program was online, not another story idea was greenlit to production. So from a sheer efficiency standpoint, which the company used as justification to cancel the online portal, it makes complete sense to move on. But there may be another reason Amazon is eager to put the program behind them. Former Amazon Studios founder Roy Price was fired in the fall of 2017 for sexual harassment allegations. Amazon may be looking to close the books completely on the Price era, and a derelict online screenwriting program may simply be more trouble than it’s worth.

Users have until June 30, 2019 to backup and print their story ideas.

It is unfortunate however, as Storywriter and Storybuilder had a pretty standard and smooth interface, that worked well between each other, and made for submitting a story idea really easy. I liked how you could write from the web interface, from just about any device. I get a lot of my ideas when I’m out and about, and usually end up writing scripts and treatments on my phone. So having an online interface was a great option. And then you could move over to the Storybuilder storyboards app and upload sketches to tell your story visually.

Now that Amazon Storywriter and Storybuilder are going to shut down by the end of June, Amazon is advising users to backup their ideas by downloading them, or printing them out. This includes  all scripts, storyboards, and “virtual cork boards” created through Storybuilder. Users have until the end of June 30,2019. After which, all story ideas will be purged from Amazon’s servers.

If you’re looking for a similar online option for developing your ideas, might I suggest CELTX?  They have a free online version, as well as several apps for iOS and Android. With their paid monthly plans, however, users get access to storyboard, virtual index cards, budgeting, scheduling, shot lists, and reports. There’s also a game production level, and a bundle for 15% off.

Check it out at Celtx.com.

About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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