Re: The New Black List
This is the history of the Nicholl fellowship.
1986 – The first Nicholl fellowships are awarded to Allison Anders, Dennis Clontz, and Jeff Eugenides at a reception held in the Academy’s Grand Lobby. In the initial year of competition, the 99 entrants were not required to submit screenplays; they could submit a screenplay, a teleplay, a TV series episode, fiction or a stageplay. The competition was limited to California college students.
1987 – The Nicholl Fellowships expanded eligibility to include college students in nine states and to residents of Texas.
1989 – Eligibility was expanded again to include all United States residents who had not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay.
1990 – Rules for judging were modified to:
Early rounds – paid, professional readers narrow thousands of entries to the top five percent which are then passed onto the quarterfinal round.
1991 – Eligibility was expanded to include international entrants writing in English who had not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay.
I pasted this from the Oscars.org to highlight a few points to those people who are arguing AGAINST the new Blacklist.
In 1987, The Nicholl decided to expand the fellowship to Texas. Surely, California (more specifically, Hollywood) is where all the good scripts will come from. Why is the Nicholl expanding to include Texas? What a debranding of a wonderful fellowship backed by the prestigious Oscars.
In 1989, they decided to include EVERY U.S. resident who has not sold or optioned a screenplay. WHY? Surely, they must not have sold for a reason. Now you are telling me anyone with a typewriter can enter a script?!?!?! Have these "writers" even seen a screenplay?
In 1991, they decided to include EVERYONE, even "writers" whose first language isn't even English. WHY? Surely, these scripts must be terrible. Wow, they are letting anyone with a script and $30 to enter... as many scripts as they want.
Within 6 short years of inception, The Nicholl fellowship went from being limited to 99 California college entrants who didn't even have to submit a screenplay (if there's ever a closed shop for a contest, this is it) to having thousands of entrants from around the world in 1991.
Is the Nicholl better for it? History would say yes. Are the writers better off for it? Again, think of all the people who finished a script because of a Nicholl deadline. Think of all the people who got their first break because they became quarterfinalists, semifinalists, finalists, fellows. And think of all the people who used the Nicholl fellowship as motivation to spend those extra hours at night writing instead of sleeping, watching TV, or whatever.
Every argument that the naysayers are saying about the new Blacklist could have been made for the Nicholl every time it broadened its reach to enable more undiscovered writers (first from Texas, then the U.S., then around the world).
And finally to those who argue that Franklin Leonard is going to make a financial killing from this, you are using the same flawed math of:
7,000 Nicholl entries x $50 (for simple math) - 5 $30K fellowships = $200,000.
I don't want to overestimate the importance of the New Blacklist. But I am certain that WRITER A who posts his script on Blacklist has a better chance of getting discovered by someone in Hollywood than WRITER B who writes his script and does nothing.