Short Film Lands Student a Contract with Amazon

By Breana Cacciotti, April 17, 2018
The streaming giant offers student a five-year contract for her film about a heist gone wrong.

For most college film students, getting a deal with Amazon may seem like a far-fetched dream. Ithaca College junior Casey Schoch made that dream a reality when the short film she executive produced caught the attention of Amazon Prime and landed her a contract to stream it on the service for the next five years.

The film, “Dead Weight,” was produced in the spring semester of 2017 for her Advanced Cinema Production class in the Roy H. Park School of Communications. It follows the journey of a girl who must take matters into her own hands after she is stranded by her partner in a heist gone wrong.

Shoch had just finished a summer internship with the film distribution company Digital Media Rights, when one of the company’s CEOs asked if she would want her film to be available for streaming on Amazon. Before she knew it, a five-year contract was in the works.

“I really did not know how to react. In fact, I tried to remain as calm as possible,” Schoch said. It wasn’t until later that night that the reality of the situation hit her emotionally.

But before she signed the contract, Schoch knew she should get professional advice. She decided to seek guidance from faculty members Phil Blackman in the School of Business and Jack Powers in the Park School.

“Film students never go into their films expecting any money back, however, getting the film out there was an opportunity that I was not going to pass up."

Casey Shoch

Blackman and Schoch went through the contract line by line, with Blackman providing an explanation for the key terms and what they meant for the film. He wanted Schoch to appreciate the business side of content creation.

“We’re trying to foster better interdisciplinary collaboration between the schools,” said Blackman. “So we can provide our content creators and aspiring creative professionals the business background they need to be successful.”

When Schoch came to Powers for advice, he noted that he was impressed.

“I thought it was most impressive that a student had written and produced a short film that intrigued Amazon enough to potentially make it available as part of their streaming service,” Powers said.

In their meeting, Powers focused on the financial aspect and the image of the film to make sure the deal was fair. He explained that the film would likely generate little to no revenue. But to Schoch, it wasn’t the money that mattered.

“Film students never go into their films expecting any money back, however, getting the film out there was an opportunity that I was not going to pass up,” Schoch said. “Amazon Prime is one of the leading streaming services available today, and getting my film onto that platform was and still is an opportunity that I knew not to take for granted.”

“Dead Weight” began streaming on Amazon Prime in November 2017. The film has also been accepted into seven film festivals, aired on television in Buffalo, New York, and premiered at a female filmmaker showcase in Brooklyn, New York.