Nicholl 2020

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  • Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post

    Exactly. And you're far from alone in thinking so despite the demonisation attempts by one individual.
    Also, your opinion is valid and doesn't need to be requested, despite the implication to the contrary.
    Thank you guys for the wishes. I appreciate them.

    Hi Sundown,

    The logline for Goodbye, Iraq is: After a failed assassination attempt on President Saddam Hussein, a paranoid ex-soldier and his fiery daughter must brave a nightmarish trek from Iraq to the U.S. while they're hunted by Saddam's ruthless regime.

    It is an action thriller inspired by true events. It also can be classified as historical fiction with elements of magical realism. So the story is not about an Iraqi adapting to an American lifestyle, as you initially presumed. The story is one of the most violent and action oriented scripts I've ever written I would say.

    I believe being able to write something that was both entertaining and engaging/informative while leaving all the political screed in the background/subtext is the main reason that people liked the script, since as you say, a lot of great dramatic scripts are a little bit heavy on the commentary.

    Everyone has their own preference though.

    Comment


    • The above loglines and titles are drawn from the Nicholl website (which apparently various posters have never bothered to visit while pontificating about what Nicholl has been). The scripts represented by these loglines and titles were written by either finalists or fellows from 2009-2017 (the first year log lines appear to have been posted through my final Nicholl season). Most of the titles were written by finalists (and I added the genres from memory until 2016 and 2017 when log lines were posted for both finalists' and fellows' scripts).

      I attempted to select only the genre scripts but may have included a few "harder" dramas (for instance, in my memory, Queen of Sleaze is a black comedy/drama).

      I didn't include any log lines or titles if I didn't remember whether they were dramas or genre scripts.

      Comment


      • I just want to go on record, Vango. I don't think you need to defend your script. It sounds perfectly fine, and frankly, more watchable than a lot of scripts that win.

        My original point in relation to it was that Nicholl-winning scripts often have what I call "ingredients" and combined with your fitting title, I was able to decipher a general vision of what'd it be without reading the logline.

        My commentary on the Nicholl as a whole has literally zero to do with what I think of the writers that win.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Prezzy View Post
          I just want to go on record, Vango. I don't think you need to defend your script. It sounds perfectly fine, and frankly, more watchable than a lot of scripts that win.

          My original point in relation to it was that Nicholl-winning scripts often have what I call "ingredients" and combined with your fitting title, I was able to decipher a general vision of what'd it be without reading the logline.

          My commentary on the Nicholl as a whole has literally zero to do with what I think of the writers that win.
          It's okay Prezzy. Not defending just wanted to provide more information. I think based on the title, Goodbye, Iraq doesn't sound like an R-rated action thriller, it does sound more of a pure immigration drama, so I just wanted to clarify the logline in case people were curious. Regardless, you are correct, in that both the Oscars and the Nicholl often reward scripts that have the ingredients of which you speak, but I believe that most great scripts do have that. I do very much like deep films that are still very entertaining in the vein of PRISONERS or NIGHTCRAWLER. I thought the Dark Knight was one of the best scripts from the Nolan brothers because of how thematically sound it was. There was a lot going on in the background of all the action. Those are the films I personally love, and try to emulate, though I'm far from the level of a Nolan or a Guzikowski or a Gilroy. But yeah, there's a reason those films are rated so highly, and were loved by viewers and critics alike.

          My two cents.

          Comment


          • I agree that all great stories have common ingredients, but I think they come in several groupings rather than one gigantic monolith. Each grouping has their specifics.

            The likes of Christopher Nolan aren't bad ones to emulate. If you can do that, you'll probably find me watching something of yours one day.

            I also think emulating great writers with your own flare is a good way for a writer to develop their voice. And I don't think doing that necessarily makes someone's work derivative if they're smart about how they go about doing that.

            Comment


            • Greg, Prezzy was off base by saying the Nicholl was "taking money of genre writers to fund their search of mainly drama writers." I had done research of the first 13 years of the Nicholl's 68 Fellowship winners from 1989 to 2002 and all genres, with the exception of one, according to the percentage of entries to percentage of advancement, performed on target or over performed. There was no favoritism for dramas.

              The thing is, the one genre that underperformed was comedies. Straight comedies, not hybrid's like comedy/dramas.

              At the time I presented this research, you agreed that comedies did underperformed. Your excuse for that happening was because comedy possessed an additional hurdle than the other genres: they need to be funny.

              I believe even if they were funny (I mean you have the best comedy writers in the world entering, so there must be a few who aren't terrible) comedies will still underperform. I believe this because it makes common sense that a superficial, fun, escapism type of entertainment such as, "Dumb and Dumber," "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "Happy Gilmore," etc. is not gonna be able to fairly compete with deep, weighty, emotional genres/stories such as, " Casablanca," "The Godfather," "Seabiscuit," "It's A Wonderful Life," "The Silence of the Lambs," etc.

              They would need to be a hybrid with dramas such as, "Lost in Translation," "The Graduate," "The Apartment," etc.

              Greg, are you willing to admit, according to the facts, that broad comedies are at a disadvantage in the Nicholl competition?

              I mean, during the years of 1989 to 2002 there were 3 western winners and 3 comedy winners. Why is this relevant? Westerns made up only 1% of the entries and comedies were the second largest genre of entries after dramas.

              I haven't looked at how the comedies fared in the past years as far as obtaining a win for a Nicholl Fellowship. I hope they haven't underperformed, but if the first 13 years are any indication of what to expect, then I don't think the previous 13 years will be any different.
              Last edited by JoeNYC; 10-14-2020, 05:22 AM.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by JoeNYC View Post

                ... At the time I presented this research, you agreed that comedies did underperformed. Your excuse for that happening was because comedy possessed an additional hurdle than the other genres: they need to be funny....

                ... Greg, are you willing to admit, according to the facts, that broad comedies are at a disadvantage in the Nicholl competition?
                Dear God, will you stop trying to pin people into some lame gotcha moment?

                Greg Beal's answer isn't going to change what you choose to write, anyway. Guess what, BROAD COMEDIES are at a disadvantage EVERYWHERE right now, because it's not the 80's or the 90's. Why would the Nicholl be any different?
                Last edited by figment; 10-14-2020, 10:59 AM.

                Comment


                • Is it really surprising that straight comedy is at a disadvantage in a contest run by the Academy, when there've been only a few comedies in history that've won Best Picture awards? (Annie Hall, The Apartment, It Happened One Night... am I missing something?)

                  So people think comedy is "light." So what? Find another path.

                  Comment


                  • I don't have access to the Nicholl database, so I can only do this from memory.

                    I administered the Nicholl Fellowships from August 1989 through the end of 2017. During that time I continuously adjusted and readjusted the way the competition worked. The Nicholl Committee also made some adjustments. At some point during my first decade, I recognized that comedies seemed to be underperforming overall. Not by all that much but enough as to be noticeable. For instance, if comedies constituted about 20% of the entries, only about 16-17% of the quarterfinalists were comedies. At some point I began hitting aspects of comedy evaluation harder during each year's orientation sessions for first and (later) quarterfinal round readers. [Initially, volunteer Academy members served as judges in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. As we expanded the number of readers/judges per round, we switched to readers for both the first and quarterfinal rounds.] At some point we also began reading all scripts at least twice during the first round.

                    By the later years of my tenure, comedies were performing about as well as dramas and all other genres in terms of reaching the quarterfinals. In at least one year comedies overperformed.

                    Over the last ten years of my time with the Nicholl competition, I would guess that entries looked something like this: approximately 40% dramas, 20% comedies, 40% all other genres. In most of these years, the scripts advancing to the quarter and semifinals were reasonably close to those percentages.

                    One thing that I noticed over the years is that broad comedies and comedies in general had a better chance with the Nicholl Committee if there was a comedy writer among the members. For many years, Hal Kanter carried that torch. More recently, Kiwi Smith has served on the committee.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post

                      Is it really surprising that straight comedy is at a disadvantage in a contest run by the Academy
                      Surprising? Not anymore, but it was when I was a naïve newbie.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by gregbeal View Post

                        At some point during my first decade, I recognized that comedies seemed to be underperforming overall. At some point I began hitting aspects of comedy evaluation harder during each year's orientation sessions for first and (later) quarterfinal round readers.
                        figment, you seeing this highlighted post?

                        Years ago comedy writers spoke up about the Nicholl readers judging of fun, light comedies. Greg heard these voices and seen that comedies underperformed and made a special effort to bring this to light with his readers during orientation sessions.

                        When I see something that doesn't make sense to me, I challenge it. It doesn't matter if an opinion came from a pro or non-pro. This helps me come at something deeper and stronger. From every angle, giving me a great understanding, making me a stronger writer. Making me better at articulating my thoughts, which all of this will make me stronger in a room with a producer.

                        figment, my god, tell me, do your lips ever get tired from all the ass you kiss?

                        Comment


                        • You knew this about Nicholl long before you started your current comedy script. You decided to write a script that you say no one will read off a query, and your entire marketing plan was to... win Nicholl?

                          (FWIW, Nicholl is 100% the gold standard of screenwriting contests. But even so, a tiny tiny tiny fraction of working writers got their start by winning Nicholl. There are a thousand doors. Go through another one.)

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                            You knew this about Nicholl long before you started your current comedy script. You decided to write a script that you say no one will read off a query, and your entire marketing plan was to... win Nicholl?

                            (FWIW, Nicholl is 100% the gold standard of screenwriting contests. But even so, a tiny tiny tiny fraction of working writers got their start by winning Nicholl. There are a thousand doors. Go through another one.)
                            "your entire marketing plan was to... win Nicholl?"

                            Jeff, for comedic effect you're over dramatizing. I never said my entire marking plan was the Nicholl. I know the odds of this teen romantic comedy winning is not comforting. Because the Nicholl is the gold standard of contests, I can't ignore it. I've got to believe if the writing is strong enough maybe it could advance. Unlike the Nicholl, the other big competitions have a separate comedy category.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post


                              It seems like poor form to you because you lack basic comprehension skills (hence your confusion above). Not once did I attack the writers or question the quality of their scripts. Every writer is clearly exceptional and way more talented than I am. I even congratulated Vango. All I did was justify my fair and widely-shared opinion of Nicholl when assaulted.

                              That you, and those who liked your post, missed all of this and require macro-level explanation of plain English is a damning reflection of your reading comprehension and if none of you like being told so, then learn to understand what's written before commenting or liking.

                              Now, I'm done with this ridiculous hoo-ha over my innocuous and legitimate opinion of Nicholl.

                              That wasn't very nice. I guess we're not going to become pals and help each other navigate the shark-infested waters of the industry.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                                Is it really surprising that straight comedy is at a disadvantage in a contest run by the Academy, when there've been only a few comedies in history that've won Best Picture awards? (Annie Hall, The Apartment, It Happened One Night... am I missing something?)
                                Shakespeare In Love
                                Argo(ish)

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