You don't have to be plugged in to "Tinseltown" to get a movie made these days. A Tampa writer is on the very edge of hitting the big time, without leaving the comfort of his home.
Jay Levy of Tampa has a full-time job working as the manager of a storage unit company, but his life's passion is writing. A screenplay he wrote might be on the way to becoming a major motion picture, thanks to a name better known for shopping online and free shipping.
Levy entered Amazon Studios script-writing contest, and out of thousands of entries, he won.
"They paid me $10,000 to option it, which means they have 18 months to decide if they want to make it into a movie or not. Right now they're working on developing it," Levy said.
Amazon Studios is developing Levy's script by turning it into a four-part graphic comic series you can read for free online or download on your Kindle.
"Blackburn Burrow is about a nameless man that comes across supernatural horrors in an Appalachian town, set around the Civil War period," he described.
Using Levy's story, the strip is actually being penned by a couple of heavy hitters in the world of comics. Matthew Dow Smith did the art. Ron Marz, of "Green Lantern" fame, wrote the dialogue. Levy says he simply has to keep pinching himself.
"It kind of blows your mind, because I've read Ron Marz repeatedly. I've got little toys and figures that he's created in the his comics," he says.
For Amazon, it's a way to sample the audience and get feedback before they commit to making the movie.
"At the end of each one of these comics, there's a survey where you, the reader, can go and tell them what you thought of the comic itself and the story, which will help them develop it in the future," Levy explains.
For writers like Levy, it's a way to get noticed if you don't have a Hollywood agent.
"Right now, if you want to sell a screenplay, pretty much you either know someone or you have an agent or manager. The only way to get an agent or manager is to sell something, so that makes it very difficult for people to break in, especially somebody who's not in Hollywood," Levy said.
If Amazon does make Levy's movie, who would he like to see direct? The magical touch of a Spielberg? Perhaps a sci-fi master like Ridley Scott?
He says he would opt for none of the above.
"I'd like to see a new director take it because they would have a fresh vision. They'd have a new way to look at it. It would be a chance to make their mark."
And while Levy's waiting to make his mark, he's hard at work on his next screenplay, confident that if Amazon doesn't bite, someone else will.
He's enjoying the ride. "I just want people to read whatever I write and enjoy it."
To read "Blackburn Burrow" online:
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