Nicholl 2020

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  • I might take some heat here, but am I the only one that thinks entering any comedy script into any screenwriting contest is a monumentally stupid concept to begin with?

    Generally, if there's a drama that everyone else likes, I can at least be like, "I can see why people like this" because there are some generally agreed upon standards of what makes a drama a good drama.

    Meanwhile, Chuck Lorre is one of the most wildly successful comedy writers of our time. But if I was a contest reader, and he submitted his latest feature, I wouldn't be able to read past page five because my brains would be splattered all over page six.

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    • Originally posted by sc111 View Post
      Sundown: in another thread, I pointed out the irony of you responding to Vango about your low opinion of Nicholl winners, unaware he wrote one of the winning scripts you described as "kitchen sink" etc., etc. My take was your comment sounded like sour grapes.

      Then Will moved those comments here and since that move you've posted a few thousand words just to prove your "case" it wasn't sour grapes. Hmmmm.

      Edited to add: These comments are not "innocuous" as you claim:

      .
      Far be it from me to let yet more facts get in the way of your hatchet job but the'few thousand' words' that you claim I wrote in desperate defence was actually just 1607. And that was in response to multiple posters with 1/3 of that 1607 being a detailed,match-winning rebuttal to your asinine claim that I can't possibly know what material the Nicholl likes or how titles are a strong giveaway of material.

      The sad thing is that you don't actually have an issue with anything I said, You've been in previous Nicholl discussions and accepted similar sentiment Your only reason for your behaviour this time around is because I made my comments to Vango and so you manifested a false out of anger. And FYI, I didn't take any shots at any writers - just Nicholl - but feel free to believe what you want.

      Like I said, I'm done with responding to you. I just felt the need to call you out as you've continued to distort the truth.



      Originally posted by Vango
      It is an action thriller inspired by true events.
      I stand corrected regarding your script. Sounds good. Hope it makes it way into production.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by gregbeal View Post
        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).
        C'mon, Greg. Man up rather than this passive-aggression. We all know who you're talking about so just say my name,

        Here's the thing, FA4 was the latest member to post a breakdown of genre success in Nicholl - detailing how anything remotely popular is heavily outnumbered by navel-gazing melodramas. She noted that half were dramas and the remaining genres were having to fight for a share of the other half. Your own figures back this up - assigning 40% to dramas alone and that doesn't disagree with what I said about Nicholl. 60% split amongst the 8 broad genres of horror, action, sci-fi, thriller, family, fantasy, romance and comedy? That's just 7.5% each. Even less as you said about 20% are comedies to leave 40% split amongst the other 7 genres for a 5.7% split vs 40% for drama.

        I don't see why you even fight this - just own the fact that Nicholl is as everyone sees it, and which the results bear out: heavily-geared towards drama - particularly heavy, introspective drama that the artsy/luvvie types applaud but which the film-loving public avoids. The Nicholl has every right to run itself how it wants so no need to be defensive.
        Last edited by SundownInRetreat; 10-15-2020, 12:31 PM.

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        • Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post

          I don't see why you even fight this - just own the fact that Nicholl is as everyone sees it, and which the results bear out: heavily-geared towards drama - particularly heavy, introspective drama that the artsy/luvvie types applaud but which the film-loving public avoids.
          The largest genre entered into the Nicholl each year is drama, so this means a large number of dramas are gonna advance and win. For example, if 40% of the entries were dramas, then one could expect 40% of the dramas to advance. You can expect to see 2 to 3 of the 5 winners be dramas.

          What I've been discussing is the supposed so called "Bad Low Concepts and Good Low Concepts." The majority of these dramas are not going to be commercially viable, but its writing will be quality. The majority of these screenplays will not get produced, but for some of these writers, the writing will get them noticed by the industry, where these writers will break in.

          The goal of the Nicholl is not to judge the commercial potential of a logline, or screenplay. It's to judge the quality of writing. It's to find great writers that are talented enough to sustain a career in the industry. It's a proven fact that a unique, high concept has the potential to be extremely commercial, but for some of these produced films the writing was just competent and you never heard from these writers again.

          And all of the other genres, other than dramas, that enter into the Nicholl, with the exception of one (comedy), do not have to get into a slugfest to advance. Their entry percentage to their advancement percentage are on target, or over in regard to performance.
          Last edited by JoeNYC; 10-15-2020, 01:53 PM.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post

            Here's the thing, FA4 was the latest member to post a breakdown of genre success in Nicholl - detailing how anything remotely popular is heavily outnumbered by navel-gazing melodramas.

            I don't see why you even fight this - just own the fact that Nicholl is as everyone sees it, and which the results bear out: heavily-geared towards drama - particularly heavy, introspective drama that the artsy/luvvie types applaud but which the film-loving public avoids. The Nicholl has every right to run itself how it wants so no need to be defensive.
            I'm not going to defend the Nicholl, per se. I'm glad it exists. I think it probably does reward melodrama. Not drama, melodrama.

            However, I have no idea what you mean by popular vs non. There is little correlation between popularity and quality. This holds true in basically every art form. Almost all Oscar nominees in any year make far less at the box office than blockbusters. A mass market paperback fiction author is never going to win the Man Booker Prize. It seems like you have a you against the world opinion. Like the canon and overriding critical opinions of quality need to be reconsidered because it's not 'popular' enough for you.

            Earlier in this thread you tried to draw a contrast between two loglines (listed below), obviously trying to illustrate what in your thinking is Nicholl worthy and not.

            1) When an alien prison ship crashes on earth, unleashing six murderous creatures, a loner police detective must team up with an intergalactic bounty hunter to save the world
            2) A young nun operating a sanctuary during the Nazi occupation of her homeland must confront her growing attraction to a benevolent farmhand whilst caring for her autistic sister

            I think both of those concepts are awful. If I absolutely had to watch one of those movies I would choose the second one and I actively try to avoid any movie about WWII or is a kind of misery porn.

            Finally, when you say 'the film-loving public' I'm not sure who you mean. In the US roughly 50% of people watch about 1 movie in a theater per year. And my guess is they'll choose the 'popular' titles. When you get down to the 15% who go more than once per month, what I'd call film lovers, you'll find an array of attitudes and tastes. That group is by no means comprised of people who will only go see 'popular' cinema. Before COVID I went to the cinema roughly once a week and I can count on one hand the 'blockbusters' I've seen in the last 5-10 years.

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            • Well, I was responding to everyone who has ever said that Nicholl only selects dramas, but now I'll respond to you, Sundown.

              Each year (from at least 2005 through 2017):

              approximately 40% of Nicholl entries were dramas and approximately 40% of the scripts advancing to the quarterfinals were dramas;

              approximately 20% of Nicholl entries were comedies and approximately 16-20% of the scripts advancing to the quarterfinals were comedies;

              approximately 40% of Nicholl entries consisted of all other genres and approximately 40% of the scripts advancing to the quarterfinals consisted of all other genres.

              The extra 0-4% of advancing scripts in a given year were distributed among dramas and all other genres.

              I think these stats also apply to semifinal advancement, but I didn't want to make that claim without access to the Nicholl database and files.

              I don't remember what FA4 may have posted, but over the years either I or Nicholl colleagues have posted on this forum and elsewhere (Zoetrope, Facebook, etc.) detailed breakdowns of genre statistics from entries through fellowship winners.

              The genres of Nicholl-winning scripts have been available for decades on oscars.org/nicholl in the FAQ at https://www.oscars.org/sites/oscars/..._updated_0.pdf.

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              • “”approximately 20% of Nicholl entries were comedies”

                is that straight comedy, or are romantic comedy and comedy-drama included?

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                • Genres of Nicholl Fellows Entry Scripts (1989 to 2019)

                  Drama - 53
                  Coming-of-age-drama - 12
                  Romantic Drama-Fantasy - 2
                  Comedy-Drama - 13
                  Comedy - 9
                  Romantic Comedy - 5
                  Animated Comedy - 1
                  Thriller/Crime/Caper - 23
                  Action-Adventure - 11
                  War/Terrorism - 23
                  Science Fiction - 4
                  Horror - 3
                  Western - 3

                  Dramas performed on target over the years.

                  Edited to Add: For Greg to get the 16-20% comedy advancement target he must have credited the total of Comedy, Romantic Comedy and Comedy-Dramas.

                  If you don't include comedy-dramas and romantic comedy, comedies badly underperformed over the 30 year period. Even if you include comedy and romantic comedies, comedies still underperformed.
                  Last edited by JoeNYC; 10-15-2020, 05:57 PM.

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                  • He said 16 to 20 percent advanced to the quarters. These are winners.

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                    • Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                      He said 16 to 20 percent advanced to the quarters. These are winners.
                      Still, on average, over time, the percentage of genres entered should correspond with the percentage of winners. If say there are 10% comedies entered, then 10% of the winners should be comedies. If 75% of the winners are comedies, then something is wrong. Unless it's a fluke and it doesn't happen every year.

                      Previously, years ago when this discussion came up about genre advancement, Greg had included comedy, romantic comedy and comedy-dramas together, but I protested about including comedy-dramas with comedies for our demonstration at the time, so he did some math with and without.

                      Comment



                      • Originally posted by gregbeal View Post
                        Well, I was responding to everyone who has ever said that Nicholl only selects dramas, but now I'll respond to you, Sundown.

                        Each year (from at least 2005 through 2017):

                        approximately 40% of Nicholl entries were dramas and approximately 40% of the scripts advancing to the quarterfinals were dramas;

                        approximately 20% of Nicholl entries were comedies and approximately 16-20% of the scripts advancing to the quarterfinals were comedies;

                        approximately 40% of Nicholl entries consisted of all other genres and approximately 40% of the scripts advancing to the quarterfinals consisted of all other genres.

                        The extra 0-4% of advancing scripts in a given year were distributed among dramas and all other genres.

                        I think these stats also apply to semifinal advancement, but I didn't want to make that claim without access to the Nicholl database and files.

                        I don't remember what FA4 may have posted, but over the years either I or Nicholl colleagues have posted on this forum and elsewhere (Zoetrope, Facebook, etc.) detailed breakdowns of genre statistics from entries through fellowship winners.

                        The genres of Nicholl-winning scripts have been available for decades on oscars.org/nicholl in the FAQ at https://www.oscars.org/sites/oscars/..._updated_0.pdf.
                        Thanks for the clarification. With that said, you have to ask:

                        1) Despite this 40-20-40 split why are the finalists so overwhelmingly drama (specifically melodrama)?
                        Just 3 finalists being horror. thriller and comedy would be seismic even though it would still leave 70% as drama - almost twice the 40% that would reasonably be expected.

                        2) Why is the popular notion of Nicholl that it's being heavily pro-drama and artsy rather than popular and commercial?

                        3) Why does drama (especially melodrama) make up such a high percentage of entries when, for the past 50 years, across cinema, home video and now home streaming, audiences have swarmed to the genres that only make up just 60% of Nicholl entries, resulting in drama being somewhat of a niche category?

                        For me, the answer to all these questions is down to how Nicholl operates. Writers think it likes a certain type of script and that's why the submissions are so skewed towards drama, that's why Nicholl has the perception that it does, and the finalists are routinely overwhelmingly melo)drama because that's what the judges favour. Again, there's nothing wrong with that but the Nicholl does need to own up to it.
                        Last edited by SundownInRetreat; 10-16-2020, 07:04 AM.

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                        • Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post

                          For me, the answer to all these questions is down to how Nicholl operates.
                          Mr. Greg Beal, SundownInRetreat is entitled to his/her opinion. I suggest that you let it be, or you'll just find yourself in an endless loop with this member.

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                          • Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post

                            1) Despite this 40-20-40 split why are the finalists so overwhelmingly drama (specifically melodrama)?
                            Just 3 finalists being horror. thriller and comedy would be seismic even though it would still leave 70% as drama - almost twice the 40% that would reasonably be expected.

                            2) Why is the popular notion that Nicholl that of it being heavily pro-drama and artsy rather than popular and commercial?

                            3) Why does drama (especially melodrama) make up such a high percentage of entries when, for the past 50 years, across cinema, home video and now home streaming, audiences have swarmed to the genres that only make up just 60% of Nicholl entries, resulting in drama being somewhat of a niche category?

                            For me, the answer to all these questions is down to how Nicholl operates. Writers think it likes a certain type of script and that's why the genres of submissions are so skewed, that's why Nicholl has the perception that it does, and the finalists are routinely overwhelmingly melo)drama because that's what the judges favour. Again, there's nothing wrong with that but the Nicholl does need to own up to it.
                            The finalists aren't melodrama, they are drama. But you already know that.

                            Over 8k entrants have no problem with the Nicholl, or they probably wouldn't enter it. No one is forcing you to enter the Nicholl.

                            It's ridiculous of you to tell Greg Beal of all people, to "own up to" your negative opinions, as if Nicholl has some sort of scam going to keep all the ACTION WRITERS of the world down!!
                            Last edited by figment; 10-16-2020, 07:39 AM.

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                            • I've already answered your gripe and drawn a line under your discussion, Fig.
                              Rest assured, 'scam' wasn't implied - can't apply when everyone already knows the score - and Greg can speak for himself.

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                              • Fairly sure that when I counted comedies, that group included comedies, romantic comedies, black comedies and comedy-dramas. It most likely didn't include action comedies, comic thrillers, horror comedies, etc.

                                One of the problems in assigning scripts to relatively few genre groups is that entrants often identify their scripts as being multiple different genres (i.e., action-comedy-horror-thriller or romantic comedy drama adventure fantasy, etc.). With a few scripts (i.e., the finalists), it is reasonably easy to assign the scripts to genres, having read the scripts. With thousands of scripts in a given year, we have to depend on what the entrants tells us, making the task more difficult.

                                At one time, I broke down the Nicholl entries by all the genre identifiers used by the writers, which resulted in a count far greater that the number of entries in a given year. I might have posted those stats here long, long ago. I think my Nicholl colleagues provided similar stats in a pie chart for several years in the mid-2010s. These charts may still be posted on the Nicholl Facebook page.

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