Nicholl 2021

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  • Bono
    replied
    I understand you feel that’s an odd statement but I’ve read well over 100 amateur scripts. All 100 suffered from the same issues. Like exact. Character Depth. Pacing. A solid through line.

    I've written 40-50 amateur scripts and going to guess I've read way over 250 in my time... and read more specs that sold or written by pro writers too... and why I find the same issues in many scripts because they are screenplays and not flying cars so how many things could there possibly be to find -- 100 have the same exact issues? That's impossible.

    Also those 3 things are not the top things I'd be worried about when judging writing -- what about the concept? If it's a horror spec was it scary? Is it well written? Do you care about the characters? Did you feel like you just watched a real movie it was that good?

    You know what else is an open event? Querying reps? Breaking into Hollywood. You can enter the Nicholl -- but I think it's 100x harder to win the Nicholl than to land a rep. And that's very hard. Because reps will be open to your comedy, action or horror spec more than this contest.

    Enter. Or don't. But please let's all stop over blowing how important this one contest is. Also it's almost impossible to win (way to go Vango). But it's far from the only way to break into Hollywood.

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  • Cyfress
    replied
    I understand that the percentage of Nicholl scripts that don’t make the QF but wind up selling or getting someone an agent is not 0%. But it’s not even 1% either. Outliers exist in every single probability and statistic study.

    Im not in the camp that believes subjectivity is to blame for most of the cuts. I think it’s effectiveness of the story.

    I absolutely hate period romance stories. Not my genre at all. However, if I read one that was well written I’d be able to tell vs one that was a train wreck.

    if I was a judge and my two scripts were a period romance and a crime genre and the period romance was an obviously better written script, I’d advance that one.

    I understand you feel that’s an odd statement but I’ve read well over 100 amateur scripts. All 100 suffered from the same issues. Like exact. Character Depth. Pacing. A solid through line.

    Being able to move people with words is hard. Real hard. There’s lots of aspiring writers out there that have no aptitude for it. This contest, the Nicholl, is the big daddy and it comes once a year. And it is an “open” event. Meaning there are no minimum qualifications you need to enter. Any amateur can enter and they do. Only 50 scripts have a legit shot to win. That’s what I think.


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  • figment
    replied
    Originally posted by Cyfress View Post
    I think 80% of the entries will be a first draft that's unrevised and unedited.

    You have some potential in terms of ability and you put the work into the script then your script should be better than 95% of Nichol entries. off the bat.

    I know others feel there is great subjectivity in contests but not really for the really good scripts.
    You're forgetting SUBJECTIVITY is a real thing. Like Little Miss Sunshine not even making Nicholl QF but winning an Oscar. I would call an Oscar winner a "really good script."

    Likewise, to say that just having "some ability" means you're automatically better than 95 percent of Nicholl entries is an odd statement. Even people with ability still need the right CONCEPT that is appealing to Nicholl itself.

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  • Bono
    replied
    Originally posted by blue439 View Post

    Sure, I agree with this -- theoretically. In reality, if you're unrepped how are you going to get your script into the hands of most the industry's execs so that they can vote for it? If you are repped and you made less than the minimum, I suppose you could enter the Nicholl but even if you win it seems like a backward move to me. What's to gain? You already have representation. And yes you don't need the Nicholl or the Black List to break in.
    What is your genre you write in? I'm a comedy guy. So my route was to write comedy and query reps directly. I did well in trackingb contest, but at the same time I was querying -- got 2 offers for representation -- took the one I found myself via email query. Same spec.

    Black List your reps can I guess push for votes -- but yes it's aftermath of already being successful. But a lot of my friends got on the list with specs and it helped their careers a lot. They may have sold specs before, but getting on that list go their Q rating up and it lead to more work...

    Anyway keep writing.

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  • blue439
    replied
    Originally posted by Bono View Post

    Mine is writers can make either list with the same spec and more importantly most writers who break in will never do well in Nicholl or make The Black List.
    Sure, I agree with this -- theoretically. In reality, if you're unrepped how are you going to get your script into the hands of most the industry's execs so that they can vote for it? If you are repped and you made less than the minimum, I suppose you could enter the Nicholl but even if you win it seems like a backward move to me. What's to gain? You already have representation. And yes you don't need the Nicholl or the Black List to break in.

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  • Bono
    replied
    Originally posted by blue439 View Post

    NIcholl is looking for the next Diablo Cody, not the writer of next hot action series.
    I don't think they are. That's not how she got started. Name a writer like her that they discovered...

    Sure they may like Juno more than John Wick in Nicholl contest. But I don't think either would be a finalist.

    Nicholl is looking for a specific type of movie. More serious drama is going to win over comedy or horror or action specs. Oscar worthy is what I would call it.

    So on paper a quirky comedy about a teenager being pregnant and giving away her baby is not something i expect to win that contest. After it gets made, I expect movies like that to maybe get Oscar nominations.

    Anyway -- write what you like to write. Not want you think Nicholl or anyone will want.

    I'm too lazy but here is a list that someone can go through and break it down...

    https://writers.coverfly.com/lists/nicholl

    Also interviews...

    https://scottdistillery.medium.com/m...s-8b39ef35604b

    Second interview I clicked -- Nikole Beckwith’s original screenplay, the gripping drama “Stockholm, Pennsylvania” won a 2012 Nicholl Fellowship and a spot on the 2012 Black List.

    Funny enough just watched a trailer and i liked the idea -- sent it to friends -- didn't realize who it was

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1128528..._=nm_flmg_wr_2

    Others you click on, seemed to vanish after their win -- they can still be writing in industry or already out of the business... not everyone makes it... sad reality...

    My overall point is I believe great writers, great scripts can be discovered in more than 1 way... so I like to give credit not to the contests or lists -- but to the writer's talent...

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  • blue439
    replied
    Originally posted by Bono View Post

    Your last post you wrote this -- The Nicholl and the Black List are not the same thing. The point of the Nicholl, as they state, is to discover new, fresh talent. Original voices. It isn't the "best writing" or "best screenplay" contest.

    So you don't even seem to agree with yourself.

    Let me ask you directly -- what is your point? I have no idea.

    Mine is writers can make either list with the same spec and more importantly most writers who break in will never do well in Nicholl or make The Black List.
    NIcholl is looking for the next Diablo Cody, not the writer of next hot action series.

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  • blue439
    replied
    Originally posted by Vango View Post

    I wouldn't say by beginners, the people who win are usually a bit older and have been writing for years, decades even, waiting for their break. Some scripts can get made. Some are not as commercial, so it's tough. Everyone who wins Nicholl gets representation after if they don't already have it. You will get a lot of immediate offers, you won't have to query anyone. A lot of Nicholl scripts can also make the Blacklist if the people around town reading it love it. This is a good resort if the script doesn't get made imo.
    Oh sure. You win by getting representation. Getting your foot in the door. I did the math once and it was something like 12% of Nicholl finalists that got made. If you look at the finalist scripts, most of them are just not that commercial. They're writer showcases. Winning Nicholl kickstarts your career. Hopefully, further on down the road something of yours can get made.

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  • Bono
    replied
    Originally posted by blue439 View Post

    In fact, scripts that execute a genre really well but aren't original don't do well. Nicholl is looking for the best writers, not the best horror script.
    Your last post you wrote this -- The Nicholl and the Black List are not the same thing. The point of the Nicholl, as they state, is to discover new, fresh talent. Original voices. It isn't the "best writing" or "best screenplay" contest.

    So you don't even seem to agree with yourself.

    Let me ask you directly -- what is your point? I have no idea.

    Mine is writers can make either list with the same spec and more importantly most writers who break in will never do well in Nicholl or make The Black List.

    Leave a comment:


  • blue439
    replied
    Originally posted by Bono View Post

    So much of this is untrue. This board is really getting me depressed lately with the misinformation or false assumptions. JUNO is a script that could easily win Nicholl and be the top of the black list... so I do not understand why you choose that one...

    Black List (industry list chosen by executives favorite scripts they read that year) and Nicholl (contest reading submitted scripts) yes they are different things for sure. But the same spec can be on both. It's not only pros on black list and it's not only newbies who enter Nicholl. Sure more beginners enter script contests and more working writers would be found on the black list -- but some people who get on the black list it's the first spec that ever went out. And they could have also entered that into script contests....

    My mind is going to explode. I don't mean to take it out on you Blue.
    Yes, JUNO could theoretically be on both the Black List and the Nicholl just based on quality, but could a great action script like AMBULANCE be a Nicholl finalist? Do you see JOHN WICK being a Nicholl finalist? TAKEN? Don't think there's any scripts on the Black List by unrepped writers. In fact it's probably necessary to have reps to lobby for your script to make the BL. A lot of newbie writers think, because they've heard the name, that if they write a great horror or comedy it'll do well in the Nicholl. In fact, scripts that execute a genre really well but aren't original don't do well. Nicholl is looking for the best writers, not the best horror script. Please provide examples of scripts that were Nicholl finalists AND topped the Black List.

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  • Cyfress
    replied
    24 days until the last entry deadline for Nicholl. Where are you with your entry? I’m scripting the last ten pages of Act 3 then Act 3 will need major revisions. Then I have a grammar snob and tough critic gonna read the script for me then I’ll have time for one more page 1 rewrite then off she goes for better or worse.

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  • Cyfress
    replied
    It depends what people mean by beginner. Writing a quality story is hard. That's why I laugh when amateurs bash the 3 act structure because it's so "cookie cutter". That's the point. You can't even do cookie cutter. You can't even execute a standard 3 act script that has all the bells and whistles. Getting a story down on paper that works is not easy to do. Like I said, there may be 20 - 50 scripts that have a shot to win out of the 7 - 8 thousand entries. I think 80% of the entries will be a first draft that's unrevised and unedited. Amateurs don't know what they don't know and unless you're a natural and you have these abilities without even knowing they exist, God bless. But If you're an aspiring writer that thinks they are getting close and thinks they just about have it nailed, go over to youtube and sit in on some screenwriting lectures from professors in MFA programs. You're gonna hear things and say: Wow, I never even considered that when I wrote my script and this guy is saying it is essential for a story to work.

    You have some potential in terms of ability and you put the work into the script then your script should be better than 95% of Nichol entries. off the bat. That's how I feel anyway. I know others feel there is great subjectivity in contests but not really for the really good scripts. The Nichol winners would also probably do well at Austin and Final Draft.

    Arlington Road was a Nichol winner. Started Ehren Kreuger's career. Arlington Road was a terrorist/thriller. Great movie too. Tim Robbins is spooky as hell. Imagine that year of the Nichol and a judge reads Arlington Road after reading through God knows how many amateur scripts. Of course the script advances. Does the Nichol like scripts about characters that overcome great obstacles? Yea, they do. I'll bet my bottom dollar that one of the winning scripts will be about a character overcoming racial bias. That is a hot topic for scripts these days. The Blacklist had a bunch of scripts about it.

    I think to immediate retreat to a place where you think you got the wrong judge is doing you no justice. Odds are your script probably wasn't great. It's being read by people who read scripts looking for a good story all the time. That's a tough critic. Truth is 99% of the amateur writing population is not educated or practiced enough in the craft to write a good script and they can't see that because writing is a one man sport per se. They can't see their limitations. Seeing your limitations is what makes you want to learn and practice.

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  • Vango
    replied
    Originally posted by blue439 View Post

    The Nicholl and the Black List are not the same thing. The point of the Nicholl, as they state, is to discover new, fresh talent. Original voices. It isn't the "best writing" or "best screenplay" contest. They value a script like Juno way more than say, your perfectly executed heist movie. The scripts entered in the Nicholl are mostly by beginners. Most scripts by beginners, it they're good enough, get you in the door. They rarely get made. The Black List, on the other hand, is about writers who already have representation getting their scripts attention by the industry.
    I wouldn't say by beginners, the people who win are usually a bit older and have been writing for years, decades even, waiting for their break. Some scripts can get made. Some are not as commercial, so it's tough. Everyone who wins Nicholl gets representation after if they don't already have it. You will get a lot of immediate offers, you won't have to query anyone. A lot of Nicholl scripts can also make the Blacklist if the people around town reading it love it. This is a good resort if the script doesn't get made imo.

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  • Cyfress
    replied
    I said a bunch of contests, not one. If you've entered Nichol 6 times and Austin 3 times and Final Draft 4 times and not one of your scripts ever stood out or got recognized as having some kind of merit among your peers how could you even think about querying?

    There's so many scripts in the Nichol that flawed scripts must advance to the QF. They aren't 300 -- 500 scripts in the field that "work". There's just not. So scripts that don't work must advance and that's when you get into the subjectiveness of what scripts work on which levels.

    I used to play in huge poker tournaments all the time back when online gambling was not monitored and the whole world was able to play together. These days it's legalized and monitored and can only play vs others in your state. But coming in the top 10%, 15%, 20% in a field of 7,000 is not that great of variance, IMO. The script landed somewhere between the top 10 - 20 percent each year. I'd say that's pretty targeted.

    I think a have decent script that shows some craftsmanship in plot and character but also has some weaknesses it will have to advance because a lot of the competing scripts won't have that. There might be a few very well written scripts that work out of the whole bunch.

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  • Bono
    replied
    Originally posted by blue439 View Post

    The Nicholl and the Black List are not the same thing. The point of the Nicholl, as they state, is to discover new, fresh talent. Original voices. It isn't the "best writing" or "best screenplay" contest. They value a script like Juno way more than say, your perfectly executed heist movie. The scripts entered in the Nicholl are mostly by beginners. Most scripts by beginners, it they're good enough, get you in the door. They rarely get made. The Black List, on the other hand, is about writers who already have representation getting their scripts attention by the industry.
    So much of this is untrue. This board is really getting me depressed lately with the misinformation or false assumptions. JUNO is a script that could easily win Nicholl and be the top of the black list... so I do not understand why you choose that one...

    Black List (industry list chosen by executives favorite scripts they read that year) and Nicholl (contest reading submitted scripts) yes they are different things for sure. But the same spec can be on both. It's not only pros on black list and it's not only newbies who enter Nicholl. Sure more beginners enter script contests and more working writers would be found on the black list -- but some people who get on the black list it's the first spec that ever went out. And they could have also entered that into script contests....

    My mind is going to explode. I don't mean to take it out on you Blue.

    Leave a comment:

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