Amazon Prime Video has become one of the premier platforms for independent filmmakers to showcase their work. With over 200 million subscribers worldwide, having your short film included in Prime Video’s selection can expand your reach tremendously and provide exciting new monetization opportunities through Amazon’s royalty-sharing program.
Getting your film onto Prime Video though requires meeting some criteria set by Amazon and going through a submission and review process. By following the right steps, you can get your short film up on Prime Video and available to stream for their massive global audience.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process from start to finish with step-by-step instructions on how to get your short film on Amazon Prime Video. Let’s dive in!
Step 1: Plan Your Short Film to Meet Prime Video Requirements
Before you even begin making your short film, it’s important to understand the requirements set by Amazon Prime Video to maximize your chances of acceptance:
- Length Requirements – For short films, Amazon requires the runtime to be 40 minutes or less. Keeping it under 15 minutes is ideal. Double-check what categories and runtime requirements apply based on whether you are submitting a short film, feature film, or series.
- Production Quality – Amazon expects professionally produced content, so ensure your short film meets industry technical standards for image quality, sound, lighting, etc. The visuals and audio should be clear, stable, and well-executed.
- Closed Captioning – Closed captions in multiple languages are mandatory. You’ll need to have captions created and embedded in the video file itself or as a separate caption file. We’ll cover more details later.
- Licensing Rights – You will need to own or have secured the rights to all elements of the film including music, scripts, performances, archival footage, etc. Amazon requires evidence of ownership or licenses.
- MPAA Rating – Getting a voluntary MPAA rating for your film, while not required, can increase visibility. You can opt for no rating as well.
By keeping these key Prime Video requirements in mind from the start of production, you set yourself up for smooth sailing through the submission process later.
Step 2: Register at Amazon Video Direct
Once your short film is complete, polished, and meets the baseline requirements above, you’re ready to set up your filmmaker account and register your title on Amazon Video Direct (AVD).
Here are the steps to get setup:
- Create a Filmmaker Central Account Head to the Amazon Video Direct homepage and click “Become a Filmmaker”. Follow the prompts to create your Filmmaker Central account using your email and password.
- Fill in Additional Account Information Provide essential info for your account including full legal name, address, date of birth, and phone number.
- Enter Tax Information You’ll need to submit tax info such as your ITIN, EIN, or SSN so Amazon can process any royalty payments. International filmmakers will also need to provide info based on their country’s tax requirements.
- Agree to the Amazon Video and Prime Video License Agreement The agreement outlines Amazon’s Video and Prime Video content terms and policies you must comply with. Review carefully before accepting.
Once you complete registration, you can access AVD with your credentials to start uploading and managing your titles.
Step 3: Upload Your Completed Short Film
With your AVD account ready to go, it’s time to submit your finished short film. Here’s how:
Accepted Upload Formats
AVD accepts the following video formats – Apple ProRes, AVC/H.264, MPEG2, and XDCAM. The simplest is H.264 in an MP4 container.
Technical Specifications Your video file must meet these technical specifications:
- Codec: H.264 encoded at up to 15mbps
- Resolution: Up to 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels)
- Frame Rate: Progressive scan at 23.98 or 29.97 fps
- Bit Depth: 8-bit or 10-bit
- Color Space: 4:2:0, 4:2:2, or 4:4:4 chroma subsampling
Refer to Amazon’s detailed technical guidelines for acceptable encoding settings, profiles, frame rates, aspect ratios, audio configurations, and more.
Perform the Upload
Under “Upload Videos” in your AVD dashboard, select your video file and any supplementary materials to accompany it like posters, trailers, captions files, etc. Hit upload and Amazon will process and transcode your film.
Review Once uploaded, your title undergoes a quality control review by Amazon to ensure it meets their technical standards before publishing. This takes 1-2 days typically.
By providing your film in a pristine technically encoded MP4 following Amazon’s specifications, you can breeze through this review step and get your short film live faster.
Step 4: Provide Additional Required Assets
In addition to uploading your main film video file, Amazon requires you to supply other supporting materials which are key to getting it published.
These required supplemental assets include:
You must provide at least one trailer or preview clip of your film in less than 2 minutes. This gives viewers a tease of what your film is about.
Custom Opening & Closing Title Cards
Amazon requires content to have custom opening and closing title cards in a clean template they provide. These help brand the video as yours.
(Optional) Director’s Commentary Audio Track
Adding a commentary audio track where you discuss details behind the filmmaking process can provide extra value for viewers.
Providing these materials thoroughly completes all the required components of your submission to Prime Video.
Step 5: Set Up Pricing, Territories and Availability
Before your title can go live, you’ll need to configure a few key settings in AVD:
- Set Your Royalty Rates – You can earn royalties from Amazon between 15% to 45% depending on what territories your film is available in and whether it is exclusive to Prime.
- Select Distribution Territories – Choose which countries to make your short film available in. Start with major markets like the US, UK, Germany, Japan and Canada. You can expand later.
- Make it Free To Watch – Maximize exposure by making your short film free to view for Prime members. You’ll monetize through ad revenue shares.
Optimizing these availability settings spreads your short film to the ideal audience, lets you earn revenue quickly, and builds your brand with viewers.
Step 6: Add Closed Captions
As mentioned before, closed captions are mandatory for Prime Video. You have two options to add captions:
- Do-It-Yourself: Add Captions Manually AVD provides free tools to add captions yourself including the Subtitle Editor or uploading SRT caption files. This is the most affordable path for indie filmmakers.
- Hire Professional Caption Services: If you have the budget, hiring professional captioning services can save time and provide polished multi-language captions quickly. Rates range from $100 to $250 per hour of video.
Make sure captions are in a minimum of one language, formatted correctly, and display well synced to the video before submitting.
Step 7: Submit for Review
Once you’ve uploaded your film, supplied accompanying materials, configured settings, and added captions, you’re finally ready for the big step – submit for review!
Here’s what you can expect:
- Standard Review Process – All titles undergo Amazon’s standard content review process which checks for quality, copyright, licensing, multi-language captions, etc.
- Review Timeline – The review takes up to 7 weekdays. Complex reviews may take longer. You’ll receive email updates on status.
Tips to Pass Review
Maximize chances of passing review flawlessly by:
- Meeting all technical specifications
- Completing all required materials thoroughly
- Securing all necessary rights and licenses
- Complying with content and IP guidelines
With Amazon’s review standards in mind, you can submit smoothly and get your film published on Prime Video!
Step 8: Market Your Title
Once your short film is live on Amazon Prime, the real work begins – getting eyeballs on it!
An effective marketing strategy is key to maximizing viewership. Consider these proven promo ideas:
- Share the launch on social media and ask your audience to watch and review it.
- Pitch your title to relevant bloggers and reviewers who may cover it.
- Utilize AVD’s built-in marketing tools like social scheduling, free trial promotions, etc.
- Run a social media advertising campaign to target relevant demographics.
- Promote your film at screenings, festivals, and events.
- Leverage email lists and influencer networks.
- Issue a press release.
Consistent marketing both at launch and over time will keep driving continuous viewers to your film on Prime Video.
Step 9: Analyze Performance
Amazon provides handy analytics within AVD to gain insights into how your short film is performing.
Be sure to regularly check stats on:
- Top streaming territories by views
- Royalty earnings from full streams and advertising
- Audience retention showing drop-off points
- Traffic sources
- Most popular devices
Crunch these numbers, spot trends in the results, and continuously fine-tune your marketing and availability settings to maximize your Amazon Prime presence.
Conclusion – How to Get Your Short Film on Amazon Prime
We’ve just walked through the full process to get your short film onto Amazon Prime Video to share with their expansive subscriber base.
By following the steps outlined here carefully, you can get your film published on Prime Video smoothly and enjoy expanded reach plus earnings from Amazon’s royalty-sharing programs.
Some key tips to recap:
- Plan your production to meet Prime Video’s requirements
- Register at Amazon Video Direct as a filmmaker
- Upload your film adhering to technical specifications
- Provide all required supplemental materials
- Configure pricing, territories, and availability optimally
- Add high-quality closed captions
- Submit for review and pass certification
- Market aggressively to drive viewership
- Analyze performance data regularly to optimize
Ready to showcase your short film to millions around the world? Get started now by joining Amazon Video Direct! We’d love for you to come back and share your experience getting your film onto Prime Video.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to put a movie on Amazon Prime?
There is no cost to submit your film to Amazon Prime Video. You simply sign up for an Amazon Video Direct account, provide your film and materials, and go through their standard review process. Once published on Prime, you earn royalties between 15-45% of streaming revenue.
How do I get my short film on a streaming service?
Major streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Hulu all have programs for submitting independent films. For Amazon, register at Video Direct and follow their process for upload, review, and publishing. For Netflix, submit via FilmFreeway. For Hulu, submit your completed film through their online form. Each platform has specific technical and content requirements.
How do I pitch a story on Amazon Prime?
To pitch an original film or series idea to Amazon Prime, you need to first sign with a talent manager or agent. They will arrange pitch meetings with Amazon Studios development executives. You should have a well-developed pitch deck outlining the concept, characters, settings, and storyline arcs. Alternatively, you can submit your script via online screenplay contests and competitions like ScreenCraft which partners with studios.
How do I sell my short film on Netflix?
Netflix currently does not have a direct process for filmmakers to submit short films. The best options are to get your short into major film festivals where it may catch the eye of a Netflix development executive, or work with an experienced producer/sales agent who can market and sell rights to Netflix and other global outlets.
Does Prime pay for movies?
Yes, Amazon Prime Video offers royalty payments to filmmakers ranging from 15% to 45% based on exclusivity and territories. You earn royalties when Prime members stream your full film or short. Amazon also shares ad revenue from any ads displayed before or during your video.
Can I sell an idea to Amazon?
Amazon Studios does not accept unsolicited ideas or concepts. The best way to sell an idea to Amazon is to partner with a producer and fully develop a pitch package with the pilot script, character bios, detailed concept overview, and sample visual assets. With packaged projects, experienced producers may be able to get pitch meetings to sell projects.
How do I sell a script to Amazon Prime?
The most viable path is to secure a reputable literary agent or manager who can market your script directly to Amazon Studios execs and potentially get it into development. You can also submit your script to screenplay contests like the AWS Screenplay Competition, which provides opportunities to get your work noticed by major studios like Amazon.
How do I get my short film noticed?
Maximize visibility for your short film by submitting it to top film festivals like Sundance, SXSW and Tribeca to play in front of industry executives and audiences. Promote it heavily on social media and pitch it to pop culture sites for reviews. Submit via options like Amazon Video Direct to reach streaming audiences. Screen at local festivals and events and leverage press releases.
How do you get paid for short films?
As a short film creator, you can earn money through screening fees at festivals, selling distribution rights to streaming services, collecting online ad revenue shares (e.g. YouTube Partner Program), entering contests with cash prizes, crowdfunding, and more. Monetizing short films is challenging, so a multi-prong strategy across platforms and outlets is key.
Where can you sell a short film?
Popular outlets to potentially sell short film distribution rights include Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo On Demand, ShortsTV, Omeleto, Dust, Gunpowder & Sky and more. Work with an experienced film agent or producer’s rep to market and sell your short film to the most lucrative services and maximize reach.