Nicholl 2021

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  • Originally posted by VoltarReturns View Post
    What would be a really cool place to take our next vacation? (Other than Hogwarts)
    In the Amazon jungle, now growing full-size trees atop a vine-covered undiscovered pyramid, one with many secrets and multiple traps to protect them.

    “Nothing is what rocks dream about” ― Aristotle

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    • Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post

      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.
      "True dat," as they say in my neighborhood. You're correct to say "write a great script," of course, a truism for all time in Hollywood. Those learning the craft seem never satisfied with that answer, though, whether you or I give it to them. It's too brief for them to believe it has the weight it truly carries.

      Any great "screen story," as William Goldman called them, can make it to the top in any type of contest, even pitching. The dark side of "write a great script" (screen story) is, as we all have come to know and understand, that not everyone can write one, and here I would add, "every time at bat."

      Pro or amateur, each time a screenwriter sits down to the first page of a new screen story, they have an equal chance to execute it well, or not to execute it well, to make a script work or to make it not work. It is the great equalizing measure in screenwriting.
      Clint Hill
      Member
      Last edited by Clint Hill; 11-27-2021, 02:23 PM.
      “Nothing is what rocks dream about” ― Aristotle

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      • Originally posted by Clint Hill View Post
        Pro or amateur, each time a screenwriter sits down to the first page of a new screen story, they have an equal chance to make a script work or to make it not work. It is the great equalizing measure in screenwriting.
        Pro or amateur, every person who swings a bat has an equal chance of hitting a home run off of Corbin Burnes.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Satriales View Post
          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.
          (2) Ya lost me. Sorry.
          I didn't want to talk about "Voice" until I got through with "Originality" and "Magic and Meaning."

          Here's the link for the Joan Wai interview.

          https://livinglifefearless.co/2021/h...ing-questions/

          Another example is "La La Land." Damien Chazelle writes the lyrics of original songs as the best part of his dialogue.

          (1)
          We MOVE with her slowly now -- surrounded by the party, but everything set at a snail's pace, the crazed carousers moving in SLOW MOTION. It's the sadness underneath the revelry, the pain underneath the cliches... Gradually we RAMP UP.

          SEBASTIAN
          You're acting like life's got me on the ropes -- what you don't understand is, I want to be on the ropes. I'm letting life hit me `til it gets tired. Then I'm gonna make my move. It's a classic rope-a-dope.

          CARLO ...Goldilocks from the point of view of the bears. Home-invasion thriller. Fox and Warners are going crazy for it.

          Mia spots Sebastian, passing by the Valet with his keys.

          CARLO (CONT'D)
          ...We're going after Charlize. For the bear. We're flipping it. Feels like a franchise. But the thing is it's grounded.

          Follow Mia OUTSIDE, where we see the splash of blue-green that is the POOL -- and a flurry of FAKE SNOW falling from above... As we reach FULL-SPEED, a PARTY-GOER races to the edge, jumps -- -- and we PLUNGE WITH HIM INTO THE POOL.

          This is the climax of the number. Everyone joins in, circling the pool -- a swath of color against the black sky. Everyone dances, everyone sings -- and the song concludes with a blast of fireworks.

          (2)
          The door opens -- and Mia steps in. She sees Sebastian at the piano. Is instantly struck by his playing. [MIA AND SEBASTIAN'S THEME]

          Gradually -- all sounds but the music drop out. We drift away from reality. Even the walls seem to go slightly darker -- as though Sebastian and Mia were all alone... He concludes his piece with a jumble of chords, his playing almost free jazz now, as we pull back to real life...

          (3)
          Just then, they reach a clearing -- AND THE CITY SKYLINE APPEARS BELOW. A ribbon of lights, stretching as far as you can see. It's the most romantic sight imaginable. They look at each other. A beat. And then --

          MIA Eh.

          They walk on, the lights shimmering behind.

          SEBASTIAN
          Not much to look at.
          MIA
          Agreed. I've seen better.

          And on that -- they SING. [A LOVELY NIGHT]

          Mia and Sebastian try to downplay the romanticism of this setting, this moment -- being lost here, at night, alone together, atop a hill, the city glittering before them. It's "no big deal", nothing they haven't seen or felt before -- because, after all, there's no chance for romance between them...

          Of course, the music, swelling and building, suggests otherwise. Mia tires of her heels, finds a bench and fishes for flats in her handbag. Sebastian sits beside her as she slips the flats on. They look at each other, suspicious...

          Revision 22. He moves his foot. She moves hers. They look at each other again. Still suspicious... He moves again. She moves again. They seem to be moving in sync -- without their even wanting to...

          And -- bit by bit -- before our eyes -- they've almost slipped into DANCE...

          Sebastian rises. Mia rises as well. The two look at each other. Run back to the bench, hop atop it -- the lights stretch out like a magic carpet. They share a moment -- share a look -- jump off -- AND START REALLY DANCING NOW.

          https://imsdb.com/scripts/La-La-Land.html

          If you're thinking about entering the Nicholl - at least know that the judges talk about "Voice" in every interview.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post

            Pro or amateur, every person who swings a bat has an equal chance of hitting a home run off of Corbin Burnes.
            YouTube Video:
            Every Home Run Given Up By Corbin Burnes In 2021
            “Nothing is what rocks dream about” ― Aristotle

            Comment


            • Originally posted by VoltarReturns View Post
              If you're thinking about entering the Nicholl - at least know that the judges talk about "Voice" in every interview.
              Voice, perhaps the most memorable part of any story—how it's told. For those inured by multiple script reads—daily, weekly, monthly—voice might be more memorable than the story itself. Certainly, it helps so-so stories read better, while the lack of it can make a great story read poorly.
              “Nothing is what rocks dream about” ― Aristotle

              Comment


              • I will never understand this line of thinking for writers regarding The Nicholl. I know many pro writers -- not one of them made it because of the Nicholl. Most reps say they may read the top Nicholl specs, but that's just a read -- they still have to like the material themselves. It's not like even winning the Nicholl makes a rep loves your spec. My friend got Top 150 in Nicholl and most reps didn't even request his spec when he queried. So it's "something" but it's not "everything."

                I got one producer who told me my spec is one of the funniest specs he ever read and then 24 hours later another producer is telilng me how I offended her. Same material. Honestly, I don't get too excited or too down by either review.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Bono View Post
                  I will never understand this line of thinking for writers regarding The Nicholl. So it's "something" but it's not "everything."
                  I'm not trying to talk anyone into entering. The title of this thread "Nicholl 2021" suggests writers who want to share how they did in last year's contest.

                  From "Judging Criteria"
                  Meaning and Magic: Are the themes of the story thought-provoking, across genres? Is the story “about something” that might spark discussion among friends?... Does the idea have a purpose as opposed to being simply about misery? (end)

                  "The Good Wife" was a hit. A wife who was in love with her boss at work, and constantly having fantasies about a future together. "Bull" is a series about jury "science" that Spielberg left as exec producer. "Perry Mason" and "LA Law" are remakes of great lawyer shows. "Law & Order: SVU" is half about prosecutors.

                  Looking at last year's ten finalists, the judges didn't reward any scripts that tackled controversial issues. Rescuing a pit bull from an animal shelter? Trying to save a dog before the authorities put him to sleep? How is that thought-provoking? Or, in an even less controversial script, preventing elephants from being killed in an African game preserve. These are not risk-takers.

                  I loved the series "Homeland" but I needed time to understand why they did it that way. CIA officer played by Claire Danes didn't have a personality quirk. She spent months in a mental hospital getting the manic phases of her bi-polar condition under control.

                  (2) If you want to sell something this year, you don't send it out yourself. You have an agent who knows people who buy things. Who knows the best place to send them. And, his agency represents directors who want to make certain types of movies. Steven Spielberg's agent at CAA sends him scripts every week and he passes on most of them.

                  Maybe the question should be, "Which contest does the best job of rewarding thought-provoking and controversial scripts?"

                  Ron Howard (Opie Forever) and Brian Glazer had a contest where they promised to help writers without an agency or management company find representation.

                  https://www.indiewire.com/2019/12/im...op-1202194309/

                  As the entries poured in, they realized they had no hope of doing that. So they changed the rules, and now they send the winning scripts over to Netflix and Skydance. And hook the writers up with mentors who think "The Spy Who Dumped Me" and "Hillbilly Elegy" were commercial hits.
                  VoltarReturns
                  Regular
                  Last edited by VoltarReturns; 11-29-2021, 09:06 AM.

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                  • Originally posted by Bono View Post
                    Most reps say they may read the top Nicholl specs, but that's just a read -- they still have to like the material themselves. It's not like even winning the Nicholl makes a rep loves your spec.
                    It always comes down to one thing: Does the premise of a screenplay have universal appeal?

                    "If you're going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all." — Joseph Campbell
                    “Nothing is what rocks dream about” ― Aristotle

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Clint Hill View Post

                      It always comes down to one thing: Does the premise of a screenplay have universal appeal?

                      Nothing says you have to send out your winning Nicholl entry.

                      The Nicholl judges like a single protagonist. This year, 14 year-old girls were popular. And an older girl hoping to reduce prison time by working in an animal shelter. A boy who lost contact with reality and imagined he was a robot.

                      You might want to send producers and agents a script with a lead role for an adult A-list actor. Or a character web that would employ actors who were nominated a decade ago.

                      Jurassic Park had the ideal mix of child and adult actors. Sam Neill had a great arc. Harry Potter fans are anxiously awaiting another franchise by a different author.

                      VoltarReturns
                      Regular
                      Last edited by VoltarReturns; 11-29-2021, 09:02 AM.

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                      • "Calculate less" -- Brian Koppelman

                        Enter a script or don't. Nicholl gets over 7k entries a year so in the grand scheme of things, one more or less really doesn't matter. Write or don't. The world, ultimately, doesn't give a **** if you do or not.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Bono View Post
                          I will never understand this line of thinking for writers regarding The Nicholl. Most reps say they may read the top Nicholl specs, but that's just a read -- they still have to like the material themselves. It's not like even winning the Nicholl makes a rep loves your spec. My friend got Top 150 in Nicholl and most reps didn't even request his spec when he queried. So it's "something" but it's not "everything."
                          On the official Nicholl site, log lines for the top 50 scripts, with finalists at the top. Four of the top five are "Drama" and one is Comedy.

                          https://www.oscars.org/news/nicholl-...50-screenplays

                          Fred Martenson
                          Demons in America
                          Drama, Horror, Historical/Period, Supernatural, True Story
                          In 1972, comic writer Bill Blatty and maverick director William Friedkin take on Hollywood, the Catholic Church, and the Devil himself to make horror classic 'The Exorcist'.

                          Great example of using the names of real people in your entry.

                          Yael Galena
                          Twenty Three
                          Comedy, Coming of Age
                          After an emotionally stunted super-Jew discovers she has zero Jewish ancestry, she and her newfound half-sister head to Buenos Aires in search of their biological father only to uncover horrifying family secrets, forcing the two sisters to face the truth and— even worse— face themselves.

                          Yes, it's a COMEDY.

                          Laura Germano
                          Superior Creatures
                          Drama, Coming of Age, Fantasy
                          Three years after her sister’s death, an eccentric young woman believes she is still alive— living as a mermaid in the town lake. Now, she must prove her sister's existence before lake-side construction destroys the sacred habitat.


                          Read down the Top 50 and they start to blur together. Are there any scripts here that you would spend two years turning into a movie?

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                          • The “Nicholl Fellowship YouTube” (google it) has video interviews with this year’s Fellows

                            ”Pumping Black” about a member of a Tour de France going along with a doctor’s plan for blood doping (based on Lance Armstrong rumors) …

                            during the interview, she shows how she spent six months diagramming the story on a six foot by nine foot white board before she sat down to write the script….

                            VoltarReturns
                            Regular
                            Last edited by VoltarReturns; 12-08-2021, 07:14 PM.

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                            • Originally posted by VoltarReturns View Post
                              The “Nicholl Fellowship YouTube” (google it) has video interviews with this year’s Fellows

                              ”Pumping Black” about a member of a Tour de France going along with a doctor’s plan for blood doping (based on Lance Armstrong rumors) … she spent six months diagramming the story on a six foot by nine foot white board before she sat down to write the script…. (2) Olivia Wilde interviews another Fellow

                              would other writers say they enjoyed reading your script? That seemed to surprise some of the Fellows who had files full of rejection letters…

                              The word “immigrant” and “separated from children at the border and held in cages” appeared in the list of top 50 from last year… and children as the main protagonist

                              will This be the year. “Run, Harvey, Run” explains why Weinstein stayed in the United States instead of producing a movie in Asia or Europe? When his original legal team predicted a conviction, Weinstein fired them and hired lawyers from Chicago who predicted a not guilty verdict (a story with so many connections to the Academy it should be??)

                              A story told thru the eyes of a justice’s grandchildren
                              VoltarReturns. VoltarReturns. Last radio transmission garbled. Over. Too much static. Over. Repeat last transmission. I say again: Repeat last transmission. Over and out.
                              “Nothing is what rocks dream about” ― Aristotle

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                              • OK, let's try that again. We've spent some time thinking about what the Nicholl judges SAY they're looking for, which is a powerful lead character who takes them on a journey. Now, the much more difficult part. Coming up with an Original Concept. I tossed out a few suggestions to inspire this process. Try writing out your ideas on a white board, spend months working out the emotional roller coaster that the Hero goes through, how his actions push the story forward, and how the writer keeps his audience in suspense.

                                (2) The WGA has just released their Top 101 screenplays of the 21st Century (so far.)

                                Assuming there will be overlap between the WGA and the early round judges, let's look at:

                                #1. "Get Out."

                                Jordan Peele displays a "Voice" and an "Original" with the premise that white liberals are transplanting the brains of elderly relatives into the bodies of black men, basically, because they are jealous of the physical abilities of black men.

                                Jordan Peele told his unique view of why white women date black men. If the WGA hadn't chosen this as the Top screenplay of the 21st Century, I wouldn't be reviewing it. But yes, the writers who put "Get Out" at #1 are also the judges for the Nicholl.

                                The WGA president says he wants their list to start arguments over which screenplays deserve to be in the top ten,

                                jordan peele was willing to take a risk because Jason Blum wanted the budget under $5 million. Blum looked like a genius for letting peele make a horror movie his way. That’s what the Nicholl is doing. Offering writers the chance to tell an original story without a studio setting rules
                                VoltarReturns
                                Regular
                                Last edited by VoltarReturns; 12-08-2021, 07:25 PM.

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