Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

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  • Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

    The 2014 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition is open for submissions.

    If you have any questions about the competition, feel free to ask away.

    Academy Nicholl Rules & Application link

    Many topics about the competition have been addressed in the FAQs.

    Information and updates about the competition are often posted on the Academy Nicholl Facebook page.

    The writers of nine of the Academy Nicholl-winning scripts have given us permission to post PDFs of their screenplays online. To read them, visit: Winning Scripts. All Nicholl-winning screenplays are available to be read at the Academy's Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills.

    To see a list of produced and published work by Nicholl fellows, visit: Notable Nicholl Fellows.

  • #2
    Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

    Thanks for the notification Greg. And the links to scripts... Look forward to seeing some Winning Scripts!
    " Don't really like writing. But I do like having written." Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad.

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    • #3
      Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

      Yes, thanks Greg, this is cool.

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      • #4
        Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

        Greg -- I've searched the forum and I'm wracking my brain because I'm sure you've answered this before: what is the reason for the 3 script limit?

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        • #5
          Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

          Originally posted by Rhodi View Post
          I've searched the forum and I'm wracking my brain because I'm sure you've answered this before: what is the reason for the 3 script limit?
          Probably have answered it but I don't remember.

          Multiple reasons: We didn't feel good about accepting entry fees from writers whose dreams may have exceeded their skill levels when they submitted 6 or 10 or 15 scripts. One of the last years prior to the limit a writer submitted something like 111 hard copy scripts. At least the early entry fee was only $20 that year.

          Since the Academy Nicholl Fellowships is a best screenwriter competition and not a best screenplay competition, we didn't think the limit would hinder us from identifying the best writers. Off the top of my head I can only think of a single Academy Nicholl fellow who entered more than three scripts in the year he received a fellowship. More often than not, fellows only submitted a single script in their winning years.

          Several entrants seemed to be attempting to game the system by entering multiple versions of the same script or scripts with different titles. By limiting entries to three and adding a rule against entering multiple versions of the same script, we reduced the possibility of any entrant being able to game the process.

          Imposing the limit has probably reduced the overall number of entries by 300-500 each year, thus making the reading task slightly less onerous.

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          • #6
            Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

            Hey Greg -- question. Other top contests/industry sites (Austin original Tv contest, trackingb, black list) have done away with earnings restrictions, is it something the Nicholl ever thinks about it?

            Seems a little arbitrary. Who's to say a writer who has earned more than 25k lifetime is further along than a writer who's now repped at CAA who hasn't sold anything? Seems like there are many factors which could signal a "close to pro" writer, and income is just one.

            Do you think it would mostly self-select? Those who have made it for the most part wouldn't use contests... Those who haven't, might.

            Would probably help raise the level of entries and successes as well... Just curious!

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            • #7
              Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

              Originally posted by jsay View Post
              Hey Greg -- question. Other top contests/industry sites (Austin original Tv contest, trackingb, black list) have done away with earnings restrictions, is it something the Nicholl ever thinks about it?
              I think this is exactly why the Nicholl needs to keep its earning restrictions. Becoming a working, paid screenwriter is so difficult to do that earning $25,000 suggests that you've gained some kind of traction. There needs to be at least one contest out there that tries to limit entry to the really little guy.

              Besides, Nicholl already gets more than 7,000 entries a year; dropping the income limits would only serve to make that number explode and make judging a real headache
              "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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              • #8
                Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

                Originally posted by jsay View Post
                Hey Greg -- question. Other top contests/industry sites (Austin original Tv contest, trackingb, black list) have done away with earnings restrictions, is it something the Nicholl ever thinks about it?

                Seems a little arbitrary. Who's to say a writer who has earned more than 25k lifetime is further along than a writer who's now repped at CAA who hasn't sold anything? Seems like there are many factors which could signal a "close to pro" writer, and income is just one.

                Do you think it would mostly self-select? Those who have made it for the most part wouldn't use contests... Those who haven't, might.

                Would probably help raise the level of entries and successes as well... Just curious!
                Never say never - but much teeth-pulling was involved in convincing the committee to move from no earnings to $1,000 and then to $5,000 and most recently to a $25,000 limit. I don't think any additional change upward is on the horizon.

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                • #9
                  Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

                  I think it's excellent the committee raised limit to 25k.

                  In the future to make it seem less arbitrary, it might be cool if the limit was the same as the award amount.

                  Just a thought, but 25k is definitely an improvement.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

                    i think earning a minimum amount as a writer should be a threshold to entry

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                    • #11
                      Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

                      Using a comment in another thread as a starting point, I thought I'd answer an oft-asked question:

                      You don't think Amy Pascal is reading in the Nicholl semifinal round, do you?

                      Well, no, Amy Pascal has never read during the Academy Nicholl semifinal round, but one former studio chief turned producer has and another former studio chief was a mainstay of the Academy Nicholl Committee for nine years through the 2012-2013 fellowship year. Academy members reading during the semifinals are similar in experience and achievements to the members of the Nicholl Committee. In fact, eight of the current members of the committee served as semifinal round judges prior to joining the committee.

                      Who judges the entries throughout the competition?

                      The Academy Nicholl Committee reads the finalist scripts and selects the fellows. The committee currently consists of chair Gale Anne Hurd, John Bailey, Naomi Foner, Ron Mardigian, Dan Petrie, Jr., Tom Rickman, Eric Roth, Eva Marie Saint, Peter Samuelson, Vicki Sanchez, Robert Shapiro, Buffy Shutt, Dana Stevens and Robin Swicord.

                      Volunteer Academy members read the scripts in the semifinal round. The judges are drawn from a number of Academy branches, covering all aspects of the creative and production process. Each year about half the volunteers are producers and executives. In 2013, 35 of the Academy member semifinal round judges had either won or been nominated for an Academy Award during their careers.

                      First-round readers and quarterfinal-round judges are all involved in the industry, but none of them are Academy members. We assemble a good mix of people. While a majority are writers, some of whom read to pay their bills, we also get a number of producers and development execs as well as those who work in other areas of development or production. The key attributes we look for are skill and experience in reading and evaluating scripts.

                      Last year, the 75 first round readers averaged about 10-15 years of industry experience.
                      gregbeal
                      Member
                      Last edited by gregbeal; 01-27-2014, 09:47 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

                        I can vouch for what Greg says. A few years ago I had a meeting with Michelle Manning who used to be head of Paramount and who now has her own production company. She mentioned that she and her assistant read and judge about seven of the Nicholl semifinalist scripts a year in the semi-to-final round. And they really READ them. That's just amazing.

                        I've also received telephone calls from judges about my semifinalist screenplays, the most recent being last December for my 2013 semifinalist screenplay. The judge was a lovely guy, an Academy member who has worked with Mike Nichols and Buck Henry, very much an experienced industry professional. It was clear from our conversation that he had read the screenplay carefully and he had even jotted down a few notes to give me.

                        Another call in a prior year came from a prominent film editor, also an Academy member.

                        The caliber of the judges for the Nicholl is awesome. There's no guarantee that anything will come of it -- there never is -- but it's a level of reader that writers who usually must go through gatekeepers (i.e., interns, entry level assistants) rarely have access to.

                        Late Night Writer

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                        • #13
                          Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

                          Academy Nicholl fellows in the news since January 1:

                          Nikole Beckwith (2012 fellow) - "Stockholm, Pennsylvania"
                          http://www.deadline.com/2014/02/saoi...-pennsylvania/

                          Stephanie Shannon (2013 fellow) - "Queen of Hearts-
                          http://www.deadline.com/2014/02/oddl...ordon-to-helm/

                          Ehren Kruger (1996 fellow) - "Transformers: Age of Extinction-
                          http://www.youtube.com/embed/4F33PCU...layer_embedded

                          Pat Gilfillan (1995 fellow - "Lila and Eve"
                          http://www.indiewire.com/article/tel...e-lila-and-eve

                          Destin Cretton (2010 fellow) - "I Am Not a Hipster"
                          http://www.latimes.com/entertainment...#axzz2rtxspyIb

                          Susannah Grant (1992 fellow) - Untitled ABC-TV drama series 13-episode order
                          http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/abc-...nt-1201067213/#

                          Raymond De Felitta (1991 fellow) - "Rob the Mob"
                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aDphVOLHPo

                          Barbara Stepansky (2013 fellow) - Interview
                          http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/20...lack-list.html

                          Chris Bessounian & Tianna Langham (2011 fellows) - "Cristina and Violetta- (Ruffieux Residency winners)
                          http://www.dreamago.com/residency-finalists/

                          Ken Kristensen (2008 fellow) - "Down in Robotown- (comic book)
                          http://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/01/...-world-record/

                          Bragi Schut (2003 fellow) - "Deep Blue- (comic book)
                          http://www.comixology.com/Deep-Blue-...al-comic/57993

                          Plus:
                          "So You Want to Be a Screenwriter?,- Entertainment Weekly (January 10, 2014) - on the Academy Nicholl Fellowships and a number of fellows and semifinalists.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

                            Originally posted by badbunny
                            Hey Greg, would you mind explaining this in detail? I think this is a very interesting distinction even though I don't fully comprehend it.
                            The goal of the program is to identify and encourage talented new screenwriters.

                            Academy Nicholl Fellowships are awarded to the writers, not to the screenplays.

                            The screenplays submitted to the competition are the means of identifying the talented writers.

                            Since the Academy is not a production company or studio, we're not trying to find scripts suitable for production (though it's perfectly fine if the scripts are produced).

                            Since the Academy is not an agency or managerial company, we're not trying to find screenplays that could be sold to or optioned by a production company or studio (though it's perfectly fine if the scripts are sold).

                            We are trying to find the screenwriters of the best scripts submitted to the competition.

                            One way to think of the distinction is by considering the submitted scripts to be writing samples. We're not looking for the scripts per se but for the writers of the scripts.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Academy Nicholl Fellowships - 2014 - Questions & Answers

                              Many thanks for your reply.

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