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JaGra 04-15-2019 11:46 AM

Re: Nicholl 2019
 
I did not denigrate Nichollís position. I simply clarified that which is highly misleading. They are often billed as the best screenwriting contest, but in reality actual screenwriting craft is not their number 1 priority.

They enjoy the false narrative of looking for the best screenwriters because it keeps them rated number 1 with lots of submission fees paid by people who have no chance because they wrote a comedy that may be highly entertaining but has zero chance because itís not about some important serious issues a la The Big Sick.

In one year two finalist scripts were about the horrors of female circumscision. Two out of 7000 just happened to have the best screenwriting craft And oh by coincidence theyíre both about the same female social struggle issue? This is a blatant case of whatís really going on. Itís social importance over screenwriting craft by far, and they should market and advertise the contest that way to keep things above board and fair, and stop swindling the comedy, sci fi, action adventures writers out of their submission fees because they might not have added important issues to their already entertaining scripts.

Youíre right I donít have to apply to Nicholl. As I said in my original post, they gets not a dime from me. But someone asked what types of scripts theyíre looking for. I answered honestly. Honesty is not denigration. All the numbers I alluded to in previous posts are there to be verified if you want to do the research yourself. If you think Iím going to go out of my way to provide everything to you on a silver platter, forget it. Especially since most of you would choose to believe the false narrative over the truth even in the face of evidence. Start with the 70/30 m/f submissions. You can find that on Nicholl website. Then you can ask why the make up of finalists and winners doesnít approach that ratio anymore?

Weíll see who was correct when this years list of finalists comes out. I got female protagonist scripts for the win and it wonít be close.

Quote:

Originally Posted by UpandComing (Post 960540)
Do you have actual evidence of this? Because I've found people often spout out "facts" like these without performing any kind of actual analysis. We're all happy to see any numbers.



I watched the video link you provided. In it, Robin says that craft is indeed important; however, the most important thing to the Nicholl is not "perfection" in craft. She emphasizes three things the Nicholl is looking for: stories that are original, stories that are thought-provoking, and stories that "encompass the full spectrum of all human behavior" (direct quote).

So, it appears that their criteria includes a mix of craft and powerful story (there is no reference to "social issues" in her speech). I'm pretty sure this has always been Nicholl's mission. And I don't see what's wrong with it, as a script could have all the craft in the world and still feel meaningless.

There are a million screenwriting contests out there, many of which prioritize more commercial stories. You're free to enter those. You don't have to denigrate the Nicholl just because you don't agree with its mission.


catcon 04-15-2019 01:28 PM

Re: Nicholl 2019
 
I expect that their judges' determinations are about story, first and foremost, whatever that story is. It is presumed and expected that any submission is reasonably close to the industry standard formatting. (They have their own famous little sample formatting script that can be followed: http://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/scriptsample.pdf)

I know that they're not interested in Marvel/DC adaptations, or novel adaptations (unless it's your own I.P.). But anything else, if it adheres to formatting standards and is in English and is less than 140 pages, ought to be in contention.

But, they are tough. You won't get a simple Die Hard clone past 'em.

gregbeal 04-15-2019 01:43 PM

Re: Nicholl 2019
 
Since "facts" have been provided by several posters, let me state a few as well as a few of my own opinions:

I retired in January 2018. At that time Joan Wai took over my position as the administrator of the Nicholl Fellowships program. Joan is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the program. Two other full-time employees complete the Nicholl department.

One disclaimer: since I have not been involved in the program since January of 2018, it is possible that things within the competition are no longer the same as they were.

Robin Swicord, a screenwriter and Academy Board member, is the chair of the Nicholl Committee. She was appointed chair in 2014.

The committee oversees the Nicholl program but is not involved in its day-to-day operations. The committee chair may lead discussions but decisions regarding the broad mission and direction of the program are made by the committee as a whole. The committee tends to meet twice a year. In concert with the chair, the staff program administrator sets the agenda for committee meetings.

In the past committee membership was limited to nine consecutive years; it may now be limited to six consecutive years. New members have been added to the committee in recent years to expand its total membership.

Since the program's initial year in 1986, the relationship between staff and chair and committee has shifted from time to time, with the committee taking more initiative in some years and much less in other years.

One way the committee has taken initiative is in the revising of reader judging criteria. This has occurred several times over the past 30-plus years, most recently several years ago. Here's a link to the competition page. Click on Judging Criteria to see the current guidelines.

While the number of finalists has typically been at or below 10, the committee voted several years ago to allow the number of finalists to rise to as high as 15. This, of course, meant that the committee would have to read more scripts as part of the finalist evaluation process.

By my count from 2014 through 2018, fellowships have been awarded to 16 females and 11 males. During the same period, Nicholl finalists, including fellows, numbered 27 females and 34 males.

To compare to an earlier period, again by my count: from 2004 through 2008, fellowships were awarded to five females and 26 males. Nicholl finalists, including fellows, numbered 15 females and 43 males.

While the percentage of female/male quarterfinalists and semifinalists have relatively closely mirrored the percentage of female/male entrants over the years (within a percentage point or two on either side of 70% male to 30% female), the gender percentage split among finalists and fellows has varied greatly from year to year. Considering all 33 previous years of the competition, though, the gender percentage of fellows and finalists is much closer to that of entrants.

While I administered the competition, the committee often discussed what they were looking for. The point that I always stressed, both to individuals when they asked and to the committee, was that the Nicholl Fellowships is a best screenwriter competition, not a best screenplay competition, even though screenplays had to be used to identify the best screenwriters.

JaGra 04-15-2019 03:23 PM

Re: Nicholl 2019
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by gregbeal (Post 960560)
...

While I administered the competition, the committee often discussed what they were looking for. The point that I always stressed, both to individuals when they asked and to the committee, was that the Nicholl Fellowships is a best screenwriter competition, not a best screenplay competition, even though screenplays had to be used to identify the best screenwriters.

Thank you for chiming in here. Although I understand this sentiment, it is maddeningly frustrating because how can there be a discrepancy between best screenplay and best screenwriter?

What else are they measuring to create the discrepancy? It is my belief, based on Swicordís passionate description of real writing, that the thing that they are measuring to create the discrepancy is Ďimportanceí of subject matter, which is based more on the judgesí socio-political belief system to determine what is a meaningful story and what is not. It neglects to focus on the execution of screenwriting ability, the screenplay itself.

For some people, writing a comedy that makes people laugh is a meaningful story because genuine laughter is love and thereís a lack of it in the world. And those writers also need help getting their careers started. And are being unfairly excluded as potential winners, but ainít nobody refunding their entrance fees even though they have virtually no shot of winning.

The way Swicord describes deep, meaningful writing, it seems like the contest should be for essays and fiction writers, not screenwriters. Thereís something special about screenwriting that differentiates it from all other forms of writing. Itís all in the execution and by not placing screenwriting craft as the number one factor determining the winners, the contest is actually overlooking that which is special and unique about screenwriting. If any of these writers go on to work in the industry theyíll learn right away itís all about the screenplay, not the importance of subject matter.

I think it would be good if the Nicholl went back to the beginning and welcomed stage plays and other types of writing since theyíre playing so much of a priority on deep, meaningful writing over the craft of screenwriting. If Nicholl is advertising itself as a screenwriting contest, then actual execution of the screenplay needs to be the number 1 criteria so that the contest is not misleading fee-paying entrants.

figment 04-15-2019 03:41 PM

Re: Nicholl 2019
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JaGra (Post 960566)

I think it would be good if the Nicholl went back to the beginning and welcomed stage plays and other types of writing since they’re playing so much of a priority on deep, meaningful writing over the craft of screenwriting.

JaGra, all you have to do is enter some other contest that's right for you. The type that doesn't care about "deep and meaningful writing," if you find that offensive. Or the kind that don't let girls win, apparently. I mean, come on, dude.

ETA: lots of contests have their own leaning. Isn't it Industry where most of the winners and runners-up are thrillers or action? Would you say the same thing to them? Complain that their winners should be Oscar-bait films? Because if not, you don't really have a leg to stand on here.

JaGra 04-15-2019 04:02 PM

Re: Nicholl 2019
 
As Iím saying now for the third time. Nicholl gets not a dime from me. What youíre really saying is it bothers you when I speak the truth. If itís not true, why does it bother you enough to respond? All you have to do is ignore this post and respond to one that doesnít offend you. You called me dude as if you know for a fact that I self identify as male?

The reason I responded to answer what Nicholl looks for is because my conscience wonít allow me to sit by complicit while I can see the truth of whatís going on even though most cannot. I cannot abide fraudulent behavior. You canít run an open contest making people think they have a fair chance to win, when in reality itís a stacked deck. Nicholl can do what they want with their contest but if they are misleading or dishonest about it, people who can see through the false narrative will be there to speak up. Whether or not other people choose to listen is totally up to them.

My comments arenít going to change the way Nicholl runs itís contest, so ask yourself why you are so bothered by my comments?

Quote:

Originally Posted by figment (Post 960568)
JaGra, all you have to do is enter some other contest that's right for you. The type that doesn't care about "deep and meaningful writing," if you find that offensive. Or the kind that don't let girls win, apparently. I mean, come on, dude.


UpandComing 04-15-2019 04:13 PM

Re: Nicholl 2019
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JaGra (Post 960553)
I did not denigrate Nicholl’s position. I simply clarified that which is highly misleading. They are often billed as the best screenwriting contest, but in reality actual screenwriting craft is not their number 1 priority.

They enjoy the false narrative of looking for the best screenwriters because it keeps them rated number 1 with lots of submission fees paid by people who have no chance because they wrote a comedy that may be highly entertaining but has zero chance because it’s not about some important serious issues a la The Big Sick.

Nicholl doesn't tout itself as the "best" anything. It is touted by others as the best screenwriting contest for getting your foot in the door in the industry. And it still is, as its winners (and many finalists) are read by every shop in town, and many go on to get repped. Nicholl does say it is looking for the best screenwriters, but I don't recall the Nicholl ever positioning itself as looking for the best screenwriter purely in terms of craft -- so your whole "false narrative" argument makes no sense. If you can find evidence of that, feel free to provide it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by JaGra (Post 960553)
In one year two finalist scripts were about the horrors of female circumscision. Two out of 7000 just happened to have the best screenwriting craft And oh by coincidence they’re both about the same female social struggle issue? This is a blatant case of what’s really going on. It’s social importance over screenwriting craft by far, and they should market and advertise the contest that way to keep things above board and fair, and stop swindling the comedy, sci fi, action adventures writers out of their submission fees because they might not have added important issues to their already entertaining scripts.

It's silly to cherry-pick one year and try to use that as representative of what the competition is all about. Anyone can pick a year that had scripts with similar themes, but all you are doing is making a generalization. If you can indeed show a pattern of "social issues" scripts dominating over several years, then your argument would actually carry weight instead of coming off as a bitter rant. As I said before, Robin made it clear in her speech that the competition is looking for a combination of craft and a powerful story (not necessarily focused on social issues).

Quote:

Originally Posted by JaGra (Post 960553)
But someone asked what types of scripts they’re looking for. I answered honestly. Honesty is not denigration.

You didn't answer "honestly." "Honestly" would mean an answer based on a proven fact. Instead, you answered with a generalization based on your perception by saying that Nicholl is looking for this:

-female protagonist who struggles against an oppressive, male dominated society.
-pro #metoo #timesup
-may be kind of boring but speaks to important ‘social issues’ (liberal leaning)

Again, you have provided no evidence whatsoever to back up this assertion.

May there have been more female protagonists in winning scripts in recent years than in the past? Sure! But it doesn't mean that all of those female scripts are about women who "struggle against an oppressive, male dominated society." Where the hell did you get that from?

And what do you mean that a bunch of scripts have been "pro#metoo #timesup"? Have you read a bunch of winners with such a message? Or did you just pull that out of your ***, as it appears?

And how would you know if a bunch of the winning scripts are "liberal leaning" unless you actually read them yourself?

Quote:

Originally Posted by JaGra (Post 960553)
All the numbers I alluded to in previous posts are there to be verified if you want to do the research yourself. If you think I’m going to go out of my way to provide everything to you on a silver platter, forget it. Especially since most of you would choose to believe the false narrative over the truth even in the face of evidence. Start with the 70/30 m/f submissions. You can find that on Nicholl website. Then you can ask why the make up of finalists and winners doesn’t approach that ratio anymore?

We’ll see who was correct when this years list of finalists comes out. I got female protagonist scripts for the win and it won’t be close.

You seem to be really bothered by a higher number of female winners. But that outcome in itself is not necessarily proof of an agenda. It could just be that women have been producing better or more unique work in recent years. It doesn't matter if more men still submit than women; quantity doesn't automatically equate to quality.

figment 04-15-2019 04:49 PM

Re: Nicholl 2019
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JaGra (Post 960569)

The reason I responded to answer what Nicholl looks for is because my conscience won’t allow me to sit by complicit while I can see the truth of what’s going on even though most cannot. I cannot abide fraudulent behavior. You can’t run an open contest making people think they have a fair chance to win, when in reality it’s a stacked deck.

But... it's no secret whatsoever the types of scripts Nicholl picks. They freely list their winners' loglines for all to read, year after year, thereby giving potential entrants a very big clue as to what types of scripts they're looking for.

So I'm confused as to why you think they're committing some type of fraud -- your word, not mine.

But whatever. Good luck!

docgonzo 04-15-2019 05:13 PM

Re: Nicholl 2019
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by figment (Post 960573)
But... it's no secret whatsoever the types of scripts Nicholl picks. They freely list their winners' loglines for all to read, year after year, thereby giving potential entrants a very big clue as to what types of scripts they're looking for.

So I'm confused as to why you think they're committing some type of fraud -- your word, not mine.

But whatever. Good luck!

This. Writers need to do their own research on whether or not Nicholl the right contest for them to enter. If they don't, that's really on them. Obviously JaGra was smart enough to figure this out and has determined Nicholl is not the right for him/her. Others should do likewise.

JaGra 04-16-2019 04:06 PM

Re: Nicholl 2019
 
Wouldnít it be awesome if Nicholl had genre categories like some of the other contests?

Since they have up to five winners, how about one fellowship winner in each category?

For example,

-Action Adventure/Sci Fi
-Drama
-Crime/Thriller/suspense
-Comedy/Romantic Comedy
-Diversity/Underrepresented

one can dream. Iíll be sure to do it that way when I open the JaGra screenwriting fellowship. :)


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