As lead investor and former Facebook General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly today stepped in as interim head of the curated film streaming service Fandor after CEO Ted Hope left for another gig, speculation is building on where Hope will go next. We’re hearing it might be a top post at Amazon Studios steering its fledgling film production unit. Hope took the Fandor job last January with the intention of doing for festival and foreign films what Netflix does for mainstream film and TV series. Before that he ran the San Francisco Film Society and prior to that he had a number of producing gigs, and in the 90s formed Good Machine with James Schamus and become a force in indie fare.
Amazon Studios has already gotten underway on the small screen, and made its first significant feature screenplay buy late last year when it has acquired The Wall, a script by Dwain Worrell about a deadly cat-and-mouse contest waged by an American sharpshooter and the Iraqi sniper who has him pinned behind a small chunk of concrete. The sniper has commandeered the communications frequency and the enemies talk to each other through a standoff that will prove fatal for one of them. There was a colorful back story to this one in that Worrell, a Barbados-born, Boston-raised aspiring writer, spent nine years in China as a translator and polisher of content for the government-run TV station CCT. He also rewrote a script for a Chinese production company, teaching English and taking local acting jobs while he wrote on the side. Despite these opportunities, he was walled off in Beijing from the kind of resources screenwriters in the U.S. take for granted: sites like Twitter and Google are blocked in China. He managed to get access to Facebook where a friend had posted about Amazon Studios. He’d learned from his soldier brother about an almost mythical sniper in Iraq and used that as the basis for The Wall. Worrell submitted the script to the Amazon Studios website in August, Amazon Studios bought the script and he got a manager and agent.