Nicholl 2021

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  • All good stuff about the industry, VoltarReturns, and I get what you're saying about the Nicholl competition and the competition in the Nicholl competition.

    My question to you, though, has nothing to with those things except maybe the topic of an original idea. So here's my question:

    Where has Voltar been all this time? Who chased him off (presuming Voltar is male), and why has he returned? More specifically, why has he returned now? Does it have anything to do with global warming? Cryptocurrency? Super Chicken?
    "If you're going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all." — Joseph Campbell

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Clint Hill View Post

      Where has Voltar been all this time? Who chased him off (presuming Voltar is male), and why has he returned? More specifically, why has he returned now??
      (1) November is a good time to get serious about writing (multiple) scripts to get the lowest rate
      (2) after several delays because hospital placed restrictions on elective surgeries I had my second total hip replacement on October 22. Using a walker and facing at least three months of rehab
      (3) didn’t know Greg Beal was no longer Director . So many questions and curiosity about his future plans
      (4) tired of screaming at tv. Started doing that during the Weinstein trial. Got worse during Chauvin trial. Now LA LAW is coming back. Need to find an agent at CAA
      (5) names of ten finalists were released. Searched for why those ten and they were all “original “ concepts
      (6) great serials with the shadow, the legion of darkness before Superman made jumping over tall buildings popular. Can I sell the Nicholl committee on an updated pulp hero?
      Disney has Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel and paid more than $8 billion for them?

      enough about voltar - for now - do the readers really consider all genres equally in the search for great writers? Time for cancel culture to experience some push back.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by VoltarReturns View Post

        (1) November is a good time to get serious about writing (multiple) scripts to get the lowest rate
        (2) after several delays because hospital placed restrictions on elective surgeries I had my second total hip replacement on October 22. Using a walker and facing at least three months of rehab
        (3) didn’t know Greg Beal was no longer Director . So many questions and curiosity about his future plans
        (4) tired of screaming at tv. Started doing that during the Weinstein trial. Got worse during Chauvin trial. Now LA LAW is coming back. Need to find an agent at CAA
        (5) names of ten finalists were released. Searched for why those ten and they were all “original “ concepts
        (6) great serials with the shadow, the legion of darkness before Superman made jumping over tall buildings popular. Can I sell the Nicholl committee on an updated pulp hero?
        Disney has Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel and paid more than $8 billion for them?

        enough about voltar - for now - do the readers really consider all genres equally in the search for great writers? Time for cancel culture to experience some push back.
        You seem to be tilting at windmills. The Nicholl isn't the giant you're making it out to be. If it motivates you to write and get stuff done by a certain date then that's great. But it's not an end in itself. It's a subjective competition that exists in parallel to a much more important subjective marketplace where scripts get bought and made into movies. Any attempt to decode criteria is a waste of time. Write whatever appeals to your sense of taste and excitement.

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        • Agree. Probably one out of 250 people who break in do so through the Nicholl. Why write a script that's targeted specifically for that?

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          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltar_(comics)
            Originally posted by VoltarReturns View Post
            ... great serials with the shadow, the legion of darkness before Superman made jumping over tall buildings popular. Can I sell the Nicholl committee on an updated pulp hero?

            ... enough about voltar - for now....
            Voltar? Sure! Why not?! Long live Filipino illustrator Alfredo Alcala!



            "If you're going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all." — Joseph Campbell

            Comment


            • Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
              Agree. Probably one out of 250 people who break in do so through the Nicholl. Why write a script that's targeted specifically for that?
              To provide an answer to your rhetorical question, discussions here and elsewhere raise concerns about the quality of judges in numerous other contests.

              In contrast, the affiliation of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences makes the Nicholl competition stand out as a contest with qualified judges.

              Placement in the Nicholl is considered a "win" by many undiscovered screenwriters, and that's what makes it a legend as a lofty goal worthy of attempt.

              Of course, it's not the only way to "break in." One might do so by being "strikingly" beautiful or handsome, or by birthright, as one born into Hollywood royalty. Also, if one has children, the first-born child is accepted as a sacrifice to the gods and goddesses of Hollywood, and in these politically correct times, there is no longer a gender preference.

              Sadly, there is also a belief that talent can be taught, which is partly true—anyone might teach a monkey how to perform actions or strike a pose in front of cameras. But the key to a quality performance lies in inflection and delivery—whether on the page or on the stage—and that seems a talent in limited supply these days.
              Last edited by Clint Hill; 11-26-2021, 12:03 PM.
              "If you're going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all." — Joseph Campbell

              Comment


              • Originally posted by zetiago View Post
                If it motivates you to write and get stuff done by a certain date then that's great..... Any attempt to decode criteria is a waste of time. Write whatever appeals to your sense of taste and excitement.
                I went to the Herrick Library (years ago) and read a few winning scripts. Made some notes because we weren't allowed to make copies. Couldn't figure out why those scripts won anything.

                https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_darkest_minds

                The Nicholl Committee now has Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who directed "The Darkest Minds" based on a YA novel. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 15% critics and a 73% user score. I didn't know you could get a score as low as 15%, so right away, I'm intrigued.

                From a posted review: There is no resolution for any of the story lines haphazardly dangling like electrical wires. The central villain is not defeated, main plot points are not untangled. When the credits roll, there has been no catharsis for the 90 minutes of movie preceding it, which makes it all feel like a protracted introductory sequence for a sequel that, god willing, will never come. What we’re left with is a Mad-Libs version of a dystopian YA adaptation done by someone who saw half of an X-Men movie on TV once, with no depth, no new ideas, and no point... At times, the dialogue is so generic and characters so two-dimensional it feels as though this film has contempt for its audiences. (end)

                (2) Instead of building on its most pertinent themes — or on any themes — The Darkest Minds wanders around haplessly in a fog of tired tropes and unmotivated bits of plot. It has neither inspiration nor purpose, and it eventually, almost literally, effervesces into blank irrelevance. (end #2)

                (3) The novel felt like one damn thing after another, but with director Jennifer Yuh Nelson helplessly jamming all those elements into a 105-minute run time, the frantic rush from underdeveloped villain to underdeveloped villain starts to feel like a master class in how not to write a Hollywood script. (end)

                These reviews are excellent examples of "Voice." Strong, confident, driving home a point, bringing in on-point examples from unexpected tangents.

                #1 seems to be very much on-point, if the movie's director is judging OUR scripts for dialogue and craft.

                First and quarterfinal round readers include (some recent graduates) from the Academy’s Diverse Reader Training Workshop, a free referral-only program established to train individuals from underrepresented communities as story analysts. The semifinal round was judged by a diverse assortment of Academy members, with the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee reading and judging the 10 scripts selected as finalists and selecting winners.

                Jennifer Yuh Nelson is a storyboard artist. The Nicholl Committee is going to read all ten Finalists and debate which five should be given Fellowships. Most of the elimination process comes from a point system, again, comparing apples to oranges (comedy to pulp heroes to pro cyclists on the Tour de France)...

                If your script is "diverse" - if it delves deep into a culture or subject that isn't already on Netflix, (such as a mentally ill boy thinking he's a robot,) .. but the better conclusion is, they're looking for writers who show the kind of talent that will allow them to take someone else's work (say, the YA novel "The Darkest Minds") and turn it into a great movie.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Clint Hill View Post

                  Voltar?

                  Where has Voltar been all this time? Who chased him off and why has he returned? More specifically, why has he returned now? Does it have anything to do with global warming? Cryptocurrency? Super Chicken?

                  Sure! Why not?! Long live Filipino illustrator Alfredo Alcala!
                  Amending my previous answer to your question, why has Voltar returned now?

                  My heroine Margo (Cobie Smulders) is terrified. She put her life with Voltar behind her, married a billionaire tech entrepreneur and runs their charitable foundation. Now she wakes up in strange hotels, with receipts from millions of dollars she won at Hong Kong and Canadian casinos but her memories erased. In "The Mysterious Dr. Voltar," the disembodied voice of a stranger recruited a teenage Margo for his mission of revenge... In the sequel, "Dr Voltar Returns!", has her husband become the new target? Margo suspects the worst...

                  There was no diversity in my initial concept. None. So I moved David Voltar off-stage and played out the action through Margo's fragmented memories.

                  Deadline: Jennifer Nelson Yuh is directing "A Bittersweet Life", an action-thriller remake of the cult classic 2005 Korean film. Michael B. Jordan will play a mobster whose longtime loyalties to his crime family are challenged when his boss orders him to kill a mistress he’s recently grown close to. The filmmakers see this as a high-concept, character-driven genre film with franchise potential. (end)

                  Obviously, my initial concept is too close to a 2005 Korean cult classic. What to do? Give the Heroine some real financial clout and the resources to fight back.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Clint Hill View Post

                    To provide an answer to your rhetorical question, discussions here and elsewhere raise concerns about the quality of judges in numerous other contests.

                    In contrast, the affiliation of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences makes the Nicholl competition stand out as a contest with qualified judges.

                    Placement in the Nicholl is considered a "win" by many undiscovered screenwriters, and that's what makes it a legend as a lofty goal worthy of attempt.

                    Of course, it's not the only way to "break in." One might do so by being "strikingly" beautiful or handsome, or by birthright, as one born into Hollywood royalty. Also, if one has children, the first-born child is accepted as a sacrifice to the gods and goddesses of Hollywood, and in these politically correct times, there is no longer a gender preference.

                    Sadly, there is also a belief that talent can be taught, which is partly true—anyone might teach a monkey how to perform actions or strike a pose in front of cameras. But the key to a quality performance lies in inflection and delivery—whether on the page or on the stage—and that seems a talent in limited supply these days.
                    There are many less competitive contests that provide a list of their judges who are all legitimate industry reps. Why not write something commercial that has a hook and hope you make the top 25 and you know your logline will be read by reputable agents and managers? And then you have an actual movie that financiers would actually want to make and people would want to see.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Satriales View Post
                      Why not write something commercial that has a hook and hope you make the top 25 and you know your logline will be read by reputable agents and managers? And then you have an actual movie that financiers would actually want to make and people would want to see.
                      Nothing wrong with any of that. But you always want to know how your script would have done in the Nicholl.

                      (1) You join a community of past winners. They meet for lunches.

                      (2) My hook is a billionaire (Mackenzie Scott, wife of Jeff Bezos, net worth $62.2 billion) and the cost of making the movie would be enormous. Bezos might take it personally.

                      (3) I have a file of letters from Greg Beal. His sincerity is an inspiration to us all.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Clint Hill View Post
                        Placement in the Nicholl is considered a "win" by many undiscovered screenwriters, and that's what makes it a legend as a lofty goal worthy of attempt.

                        Of course, it's not the only way to "break in." One might do so by being "strikingly" beautiful or handsome, or by birthright, as one born into Hollywood royalty. Also, if one has children, the first-born child is accepted as a sacrifice to the gods and goddesses of Hollywood, and in these politically correct times, there is no longer a gender preference.
                        The way to break in is to write a great script and fight like hell to get it read. Winning Nicholl is prestigious. But spending time writing a script specifically aimed at its perceived sweet spot is not a good strategy; IMHO.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                          Winning Nicholl is prestigious. But spending time writing a script specifically aimed at its perceived sweet spot is not a good strategy; IMHO.
                          Did you watch last year's Oscar telecast? I think "Nomadland" won Best Picture. Interesting because actress Frances MacDormand optioned the book and hired the director to make the movie. For the women in the Actress, writing and Directing branches, it was a Huge Victory, suggesting that actresses are also great producers. But few people in the TV audience cared about "Nomadland."

                          Can you suggest a type of movie that would have drawn a larger audience to the telecast?

                          The Academy is looking for more Diversity. But what they need is another "Titanic" where James Cameron was Director and writer, and I didn't see ANY visible Diversity on the screen.

                          "Write a great script" isn't helpful. Please be more specific.

                          We've been talking about this year's five Nicholl winners. Which one of them would make the best movie? Any of them a candidate for Best Picture?

                          Animal Shelter : taking a job at the Animal Shelter to gain early release, a woman fights hard to save the life of a pit bull

                          The Academy has said they want more nominations in the Acting Categories where the actors are not white. Will another "Wakanda" movie be nominated in the acting categories? What they call Afro-futurism? Women breaking through the glass ceiling in international corporations or tech start-ups?

                          I'm in Georgia, I see lots of movies on TV with black actors but they are mostly super-depressing. Other countries are producing better movies (Parasite, War Wolf) but America still has the edge. What the Academy needs is a wonderful movie with human values that has a huge following leading up to the telecast.
                          Last edited by VoltarReturns; 11-26-2021, 04:44 PM.

                          Comment


                          • Having a desire to write awards fare is a fine goal. But let’s assume that the trends you are chasing are still a thing in the four/five years it takes you to write, set up, produce, and release a feature. I still feel you are approaching this in a very “I forced a bot to watch 100 Oscar nominated features and this is what it spit out” kind of way. I don’t think that works.

                            Just write something great. Easier said than done, obviously. Personally I’d recommend it be commercial. But even if it isn’t, that’s ok. But it better be great.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Satriales View Post
                              let’s assume that the trends you are chasing are still a thing in the four/five years it takes... Just write something great. Easier said than done, obviously. Personally I’d recommend it be commercial. But even if it isn’t, that’s ok. But it better be great.
                              From an interview with Larry Kasdan:

                              “Steven [Spielberg] had purchased my script Continental Divide... Steven’s enthusiasm for it was what got me involved with him and George. I think that what they were looking for was someone who could write Raiders in the same way that Hawks would have someone write a movie for him —

                              a strong woman character,

                              a certain kind of hero.

                              So that’s what got me the job. Phil Kaufman had provided the MacGuffin of the Lost Ark of the Covenant, which his orthodontist had told him about when he was eleven years old. When I was brought in, it became a Lucas-Spielberg-Kasdan movie. We sat down and decided on the kind of hero Indiana Jones would be, his name, his whip, and talked about serial films (from the 1940's) . After that, we created the film by jumping through favorite moments — the sort of thing we would like to see. the spirit of onrushing events and constant crises — that’s from the serial. I think what they brought me in for, and what I tried to do, was to give it a Hawksian spine, plot or story or the production angle (end)

                              I wanted to say something about "Voice"

                              Joan Wai: engaging a reader via the page is paramount. What can make a script stand out, all other factors being equal, is writing voice. This voice, your unique point of view, is what makes your script and you, the writer, special. (end)

                              Here's a good example from Kasdan's "The Bodyguard"

                              In the darkness we hear dripping water, the echoing approach of two sets of footsteps. There is the sound of a sudden, quick scuffle, a heavy fall of bodies.

                              THREE BOOMING GUNSHOTS. Two from one gun, one from another. So fast and close, they're barely distinguishable. The sound of the SHOTS ECHOES against concrete walls and dies away. Silence.

                              SLOW, SLOW, FADE IN:

                              FRANK FARMER'S FACE -
                              mid to late 30s, peers intently over a smoking gun. He is The Bodyguard.

                              MAIN TITLES BEGIN.

                              FRANK'S POV as he looks over the gate, the wall, the heavy vegetation and the rising grounds beyond. (NOTE: The use of the term FRANK'S POV, is not to be taken simply as a camera direction. Rather, it represents a recurring attempt to make the audience see in the special way Frank sees. Frank lives by constant vigilance, heightened awareness. It is his genius and his burden. The audience must be put in the position of looking, searching, scanning with him.)

                              ANGLE - HIT MAN dead on his feet, leans against a car. A gun drops heavily from his hand. His life ebbs as he slides slowly down the car door to his knees then falls forward, face down on the cement floor.

                              A SLOW PULL BACK reveals that FRANK is lying on top of KLINGMAN. Protectively pressed body to body on the filthy cement floor of the garage. Blood spreads from the body of the hitman, a few yards away. Klingman starts to raise himself up but Farmer keeps him pressed to the floor, still alert for any further threat.(end quote from The Bodyguard)

                              barely controlled fear
                              His life ebbs as he slides
                              constant vigilance, heightened awareness
                              It is his genius and his burden.
                              the spirit of onrushing events and constant crises

                              (2) The Academy will still be seeking ways to add Diversity to their nominations in five years. Also, in ten years.

                              A movie can be a substitute for a vacation, when travel restrictions are in place.

                              Raiders and A New Hope went to the desert. Then the sequel Trilogy went back to a desert planet. Now Dune has given us another vacation where sand stretches to the horizon in every direction.

                              What would be a really cool place to take our next vacation? (Other than Hogwarts)
                              Last edited by VoltarReturns; 11-27-2021, 08:56 AM.

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                              • Ya lost me. Sorry.

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