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Old 03-02-2019, 08:46 PM   #11
finalact4
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Default Re: Nicholl 2019

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Originally Posted by DaltWisney View Post
All else being equal, I think you're going to do better with straightforward dramas and thrillers than you are with comedies or crazy sci-fi/fantasy stuff. I also think the committee nature of the judging process means you're going to want to skew risk-averse. A script that gets a 7/10 from 10 random readers is going to fare much better in a competition like this than a polarizing script that gets a 10/10 from 2 readers and a 4/10 from the other 8. The Nicholl is not the ideal platform for your "Tim and Eric Awesome Show", "Eric Andre Show", or "Hobo With a Shotgun" type of material. You're going to want to think more in terms of hitting all four quadrants.

As for the subjectivity, I've submitted the same script three times with minimal changes. One year it got top 10%. The next year it got top 15%. The next year it didn't even make the top 20%, though it was noted to have received at least one positive review. For the sake of comparison, this is a script that averaged slightly below a 7 overall when I put it up on the Black List and got a bunch of evaluations.

There's a crapshoot aspect to the competition, but I do think there's a general correlation between quality and results. I've really pivoted towards TV writing and pilots, but I may barf something out in April just to chuck into the Nicholl since it's such a great opportunity for exposure if you happen to run deep.
interesting. another aspect i considered is the comment in the guidelines where they say "do you think the writer has the potential to be a professional writer." all along i thought they were judging against pro level, so that was new news.

i've run through a number of the loglines and i don't consider them 4-quad movies at all. they aren't going to hit the under 25 male and female. typically 4Q are tentpole Pirates of the Caribbean, Lion King, Titanic, Armageddon, Men In Black, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and not all big budget, for example, The Sixth Sense was a knock out-- i think of that as 4Q.

i think you're smart to move into TV writing, probably a good idea for any feature writer to show that they can do both, and they are different from each other. I'll be working on a new pilot later this year myself.

interesting conversation.
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Old 03-02-2019, 09:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: Nicholl 2019

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaltWisney View Post
All else being equal, I think you're going to do better with straightforward dramas and thrillers than you are with comedies or crazy sci-fi/fantasy stuff. I also think the committee nature of the judging process means you're going to want to skew risk-averse. A script that gets a 7/10 from 10 random readers is going to fare much better in a competition like this than a polarizing script that gets a 10/10 from 2 readers and a 4/10 from the other 8. The Nicholl is not the ideal platform for your "Tim and Eric Awesome Show", "Eric Andre Show", or "Hobo With a Shotgun" type of material. You're going to want to think more in terms of hitting all four quadrants.

As for the subjectivity, I've submitted the same script three times with minimal changes. One year it got top 10%. The next year it got top 15%. The next year it didn't even make the top 20%, though it was noted to have received at least one positive review. For the sake of comparison, this is a script that averaged slightly below a 7 overall when I put it up on the Black List and got a bunch of evaluations.

There's a crapshoot aspect to the competition, but I do think there's a general correlation between quality and results. I've really pivoted towards TV writing and pilots, but I may barf something out in April just to chuck into the Nicholl since it's such a great opportunity for exposure if you happen to run deep.
Yaz. This. Plus, if you’ve got one of those social issue topics, you’re in!
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:28 PM   #13
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Default Re: Nicholl 2019

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Originally Posted by finalact4 View Post
i've run through a number of the loglines and i don't consider them 4-quad movies at all. they aren't going to hit the under 25 male and female. typically 4Q are tentpole Pirates of the Caribbean, Lion King, Titanic, Armageddon, Men In Black, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and not all big budget, for example, The Sixth Sense was a knock out-- i think of that as 4Q.

I didn't mean four quadrant in the conventional sense of some huge blockbuster. What I meant is a script that will be relatively satisfying to everyone without offending or alienating anyone.

Maybe we can use food as an analogy. Almost everyone likes pizza and ice cream. On the other hand, sushi is a slightly more niche thing. Some people are really passionate about it, but other people find the mere thought of it repulsive.

As far as the Nicholl goes, I think you want a script that's more pizza than sushi. In order to make a deep run in the competition, your script needs to earn high marks from a variety of judges, who each have their own tastes and preferences. With that being the case, something really bizarre or off-center is unlikely to clear all those different hurdles. On the other hand, a well-executed and relatively safe script should do pretty well.

You can argue that this is both a strength and weakness of the Nicholl, as winners are likely to be solid scripts, yet some of the stuff that has strong niche potential will probably flame out. You wouldn't necessarily expect an Inception, Donnie Darko, Idiocracy, Drive, Fight Club, There Will Be Blood, Royal Tenebaums, Step Brothers, or Moonlight to dominate in this type of competition. These are NOT necessarily films that I love (or even like), but they've been relatively successful in some respects despite featuring content and creative choices that are likely to repel some people.
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Old 03-03-2019, 07:20 AM   #14
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Hey guys! First of all, I'm beyond happy to be a spectator on this one. I hope one (or more) of you becomes a fellow this year - I'm rooting for you! My script that won last year (and also won Austin) was indeed what I would consider more niche or independent due to the setting, characters and subject matter. However, I've heard from so many people that it's a thriller at heart and a "page turner" and has served as an incredible calling card/writing sample for me. Winning the Nicholl has changed my life. I am currently repped by UTA who read my Nicholl script and asked what else I had. Because I've been writing for so long and have a big body of work in multiple genres I was able to send them a high concept comedy (which won PAGE gold in 2011) and those two scripts landed me my feature agents. I also had a tv pilot that was a finalist in the sundance episodic labs and that added a tv agent in the same company.

During the Nicholl week (and the week following) last November I went on 30 general meetings with all the major studios and many amazing production companies with these three writing samples. I subsequently went on another 15 generals in Juanuary. Needless to say I went from never meeting a producer to having 45 meetings under my belt. It's been an incredibly surreal, exciting, exhausting and sometimes nerve-wracking experience. (I'm a full blown introvert)

In the last 3 months, I've pitched on an open assignment to a major studio (my first pitch.) I've read half a dozen books sent to me to consider for adaptation. I've had multiple producers reach out to me to work on their tv projects and (knock on wood) I think I'm optioning one of my specs next week. I love my agents, they work extremely hard for me and I feel they have my back. I don't have a manager. I am not yet in the union.

It's HAPPENING!!!

As far as the Nicholl goes, I've been applying since 2003 and rarely with the same script twice. I've submitted dramas, comedies, horror, family adventure, etc. The main thing I've noticed is that I slowly started going from no placement to QF to SF to a win over the course of the years, no matter what genre. I became a better writer, chose better scripts and maybe just got a little luckier this time around.

I'm very proud of myself and my accomplishments. My family is proud of me. I'm excited to transition to a working professional writer and I'm ready to do the work. I struggle with anxiety and self-doubt and the hustle is not easy for this old lady but I've worked hard to get here and I'm going to ride this opportunity out to the fullest.

Good luck to all of you.
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Old 03-03-2019, 07:45 AM   #15
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Default Re: Nicholl 2019

That's amazing wenonah! Congratulations! What a testament to perseverance.

Did you learn anything particularly important over the years of writing and submitting that you think might be helpful?
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Old 03-03-2019, 08:22 AM   #16
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That's amazing wenonah! Congratulations! What a testament to perseverance.

Did you learn anything particularly important over the years of writing and submitting that you think might be helpful?
Thank you :-) I feel like I've always known and it's been said many times all over that Nicholl favors drama heavy with a slant toward social issues or at least issues that you may have a personal story or association with. My semi-final script the year before was a great depression era zombie script in the Oklahoma dust bowl. While I feel it's a high-concept, well-written fun ride I can see now why it didn't go further. I imagined sitting in those seats at the big oscar theater and having these esteemed committee members talk about these deep, life-affirming, socially impacting, personal tales... and wenonah's zombie script ... and I would have felt a bit silly.

Horsehead Girls (the Nicholl script) is definitely a thriller. It has vengence, a murder mystery, sex trafficking and violence. (non of which I'm personally involved in) It's also female-driven, Native American, and about protecting your children. Those last three are what connects it to me and what makes me able to be passionate about the project. I also think the current climate for women minority writers is really good right now and I can say that 18 years ago it wasn't so hot.

If you look at the other winners last year they all have some sort of flavor (for lack of a better word) A family facing the opioid epidemic, An amateur mathematician in prison and a neighborhood fall out shelter. Knowing the writers and their passion for their works sort of set off a lightbulb for me. I'm not sure if I could replicate my script again or if it would have the same result in another year but it was the right time, the right subject matter and right script. Will any of these sell? Who knows - not mine, yet. I do know that if I were to submit this year I would take a lot of time finding that story so that I wouldn't feel silly sitting in that seat being introduced to give a speech about dust bowl zombies.
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Old 03-03-2019, 08:55 AM   #17
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Default Re: Nicholl 2019

Lots of inspiring stuff here, with an emphasis on perseverance.

I was especially amused by your dust bowl zombie story. As I see how much I can afford to submit this year- one, two or three submissions - the most likely script to go is my dust bowl dramedy (circa 1933, written in 2016). It's in the Frank Capra vein, and fortunately contains no zombies - though over the years I have done several about the undead!
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Old 03-03-2019, 11:42 AM   #18
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Default Re: Nicholl 2019

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaltWisney View Post
I didn't mean four quadrant in the conventional sense of some huge blockbuster. What I meant is a script that will be relatively satisfying to everyone without offending or alienating anyone.

Maybe we can use food as an analogy. Almost everyone likes pizza and ice cream. On the other hand, sushi is a slightly more niche thing. Some people are really passionate about it, but other people find the mere thought of it repulsive.

As far as the Nicholl goes, I think you want a script that's more pizza than sushi. In order to make a deep run in the competition, your script needs to earn high marks from a variety of judges, who each have their own tastes and preferences. With that being the case, something really bizarre or off-center is unlikely to clear all those different hurdles. On the other hand, a well-executed and relatively safe script should do pretty well.

You can argue that this is both a strength and weakness of the Nicholl, as winners are likely to be solid scripts, yet some of the stuff that has strong niche potential will probably flame out. You wouldn't necessarily expect an Inception, Donnie Darko, Idiocracy, Drive, Fight Club, There Will Be Blood, Royal Tenebaums, Step Brothers, or Moonlight to dominate in this type of competition. These are NOT necessarily films that I love (or even like), but they've been relatively successful in some respects despite featuring content and creative choices that are likely to repel some people.
yes, that's a good analogy. the 4Q threw me off. i understand what you mean.

to clarify, i don't think there's anything wrong with the Nicholl or the way they select winning screenplays. they're helping writers every year and that's commendable. my only real comment, which i think we agree, is that the better you understand the mission and mandate of a contest the better decision a writer can make about where they're going to focus their dollars and can even play a part in the type of script they choose to write.

to me, it seems prudent to show that you can tackle more than one kind of film. i have the utmost respect for the Nicholl.

i'm considering a contained thriller with only a few characters myself, set in the wilderness, but still with a sci-fi spin that isn't immediately obvious. it might be a good fit. don't know yet. have a high concept rom-com and an action with a female lead that should be ready in a month or two.

Quote:
originally Posted by wenonah
I'm very proud of myself and my accomplishments. My family is proud of me. I'm excited to transition to a working professional writer and I'm ready to do the work. I struggle with anxiety and self-doubt and the hustle is not easy for this old lady but I've worked hard to get here and I'm going to ride this opportunity out to the fullest.
damn, props to you. i'm proud of you, too. an amazing journey. i'm so happy that you have your time, it's clearly well earned and well deserved. an inspiration to all writers, or anyone, really chasing their dream.

Horsehead Girls, love the title and it sounds like a very compelling story. i would've loved the zombie fare, i mean, who doesn't love a good zombie movie. haha.

this is also a testament to what it means to have "real" representation. i signed with a manager/producer who was really very interested in producing my two big budget films. both are good in their own right, and both had an option on the table. neither came with the terms necessary for me, at my lawyer and manager's agreement, to take the option. people just want your ip for nothing.

he didn't set up one meeting even though there was interest in me for assignment writing and i could have had meetings, he just didn't focus on it because i was in Connecticut at the time.

he really wasn't interested in managing, more selling. both scripts are great samples. i had another manager who really wanted to rep me within a day of my manager and i can honestly say, that i might be in a different place had i taken that manager up on his offer to rep me.

my manager really loved my writing, they both did. it felt really good to have two people want to rep me, BUT you have to be really smart about who you go with, i think. he wasn't a true manager, but a producer.

and don't get me wrong he is amazing at asking you all the right questions that allow you as a writer to elevate an already very good script.

so, i find myself without a manager, but with a strong connection to a producer who has gotten my work into top execs at studios and moderate sized prodcos: sony tv, screen gems, warner bros. you get the idea.

i'll be looking for a manager after the rom-com is ready to market in the next month or so, and then follow up with the action thriller that will be ready shortly thereafter. just finished my new website last week, so, i'm hopeful. getting things in line to put my best foot forward.

i've blathered long enough. haha. good luck to all.
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Old 03-03-2019, 12:10 PM   #19
Furious Anjel
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Default Re: Nicholl 2019

Quote:
Originally Posted by wenonah View Post
Hey guys! First of all, I'm beyond happy to be a spectator on this one. I hope one (or more) of you becomes a fellow this year - I'm rooting for you! My script that won last year (and also won Austin) was indeed what I would consider more niche or independent due to the setting, characters and subject matter. However, I've heard from so many people that it's a thriller at heart and a "page turner" and has served as an incredible calling card/writing sample for me. Winning the Nicholl has changed my life. I am currently repped by UTA who read my Nicholl script and asked what else I had. Because I've been writing for so long and have a big body of work in multiple genres I was able to send them a high concept comedy (which won PAGE gold in 2011) and those two scripts landed me my feature agents. I also had a tv pilot that was a finalist in the sundance episodic labs and that added a tv agent in the same company.

During the Nicholl week (and the week following) last November I went on 30 general meetings with all the major studios and many amazing production companies with these three writing samples. I subsequently went on another 15 generals in Juanuary. Needless to say I went from never meeting a producer to having 45 meetings under my belt. It's been an incredibly surreal, exciting, exhausting and sometimes nerve-wracking experience. (I'm a full blown introvert)

In the last 3 months, I've pitched on an open assignment to a major studio (my first pitch.) I've read half a dozen books sent to me to consider for adaptation. I've had multiple producers reach out to me to work on their tv projects and (knock on wood) I think I'm optioning one of my specs next week. I love my agents, they work extremely hard for me and I feel they have my back. I don't have a manager. I am not yet in the union.

It's HAPPENING!!!

As far as the Nicholl goes, I've been applying since 2003 and rarely with the same script twice. I've submitted dramas, comedies, horror, family adventure, etc. The main thing I've noticed is that I slowly started going from no placement to QF to SF to a win over the course of the years, no matter what genre. I became a better writer, chose better scripts and maybe just got a little luckier this time around.

I'm very proud of myself and my accomplishments. My family is proud of me. I'm excited to transition to a working professional writer and I'm ready to do the work. I struggle with anxiety and self-doubt and the hustle is not easy for this old lady but I've worked hard to get here and I'm going to ride this opportunity out to the fullest.

Good luck to all of you.
+1
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Old 03-03-2019, 01:00 PM   #20
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Default Re: Nicholl 2019

Quote:
Originally Posted by wenonah View Post
As far as the Nicholl goes, I've been applying since 2003 and rarely with the same script twice. I've submitted dramas, comedies, horror, family adventure, etc. The main thing I've noticed is that I slowly started going from no placement to QF to SF to a win over the course of the years, no matter what genre. I became a better writer, chose better scripts and maybe just got a little luckier this time around.
So happy for you, Wenonah! Thank you for sharing what your life has been like since winning both Nicholl and Austin. It's great to get a firsthand account of what these contests can do for your career (don't think many former winners have done so on DDP).

A quick question -- did you query HORSEHEAD GIRLS with any managers/agents/prodcos prior to winning the contests? And if so, did some of those same places that showed no interest before become interested after you won? Just curious, as I experienced this the first time I had a Nicholl QF script. Of course, you don't have to give any specific companies/names.
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