Nicholl 2020

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  • Originally posted by gregbeal View Post

    With a few scripts (i.e., the finalists), it is reasonably easy to assign the scripts to genres, having read the scripts.
    Greg, thanks for the reply.

    So, with just 9 comedy winners over 30 years and considering that comedies are the second largest genre entered into the competition, I would think that comedies do underperform (even if you included the 5 romantic comedies).

    I don't like including comedy/dramas toward judging the performance of comedies because it's not pure comedy. It's 50/50. 50% of the story is dramatic.

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    • Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post

      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.
      Guess you didn't bother to read the loglines and titles of finalists' and fellows' scripts with genres I posted earlier in this thread. During my tenure at the Nicholl (1989-2017), finalist scripts were rarely over 50% drama. I don't remember there being a year when 7 of 10 finalists were drama.

      I have no clue what definition of melodrama you're using but my understanding of the word as it applies to contemporary film and screenplays suggests that few, if any, Nicholl finalists have been melodramas.

      Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post
      2) Why is the popular notion of Nicholl that it's being heavily pro-drama and artsy rather than popular and commercial?
      Don't know why this has happened. One difference between my view of the Nicholl program is that I consider what scripts advance to the quarterfinals, to the semifinals and to the finals while this "popular" notion may have arisen from people who only considered the fellowship-winning scripts and then only by title, without actually knowing the genres.

      Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post
      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?
      You might have to survey entrants for the answer to this question (although I don't think you actually know the split amongst genres produced for film and television over the past five decades).

      Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post
      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.
      Not sure how writers made this decision early on when little was known about the competition (it only opened to all US residents otherwise eligible in 1989 and to writers in English worldwide in 1991). I don't remember what the genre stats looked like in my first few years, but I suspect it didn't change much over time.

      As I stated earlier, during my tenure the finalist scripts were never "overwhelmingly melo)drama" (sic) nor overwhelmingly dramas

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      • Originally posted by JoeNYC View Post

        Greg, thanks for the reply.

        So, with just 9 comedy winners over 30 years and considering that comedies are the second largest genre entered into the competition, I would think that comedies do underperform (even if you included the 5 romantic comedies).

        I don't like including comedy/dramas toward judging the performance of comedies because it's not pure comedy. It's 50/50. 50% of the story is dramatic.
        I've noted that comedies (including romantic, black and comedy-dramas) have underperformed in most years.

        To compare apples to apples, though, we would have to consider only comedies. Without access to the database and files, I can't isolate comedies (and might not be able to even with access due to the issues I mentioned above).

        I'm not sure what happens when romantic, black and comedy-dramas are excluded, but it is possible that comedy would no longer be the second largest genre entered into the competition.

        As I mentioned, I consider what advances to the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals to inform my description of the Nicholl competition, not solely what scripts earn their writers fellowships.

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        • Originally posted by gregbeal View Post

          I've noted that comedies (including romantic, black and comedy-dramas) have underperformed in most years.
          Okay, cool.

          I just wanted to make this point because years ago, when I was a wee lad, I went on a rant how comedies were at a disadvantage and the members said that wasn't true. They said, it was because the comedy screenplays weren't good enough to win. I took offense to their take on this because it didn't make sense. The best writers of thrillers, actions, dramas, etc. advanced and won, but the best comedy writers weren't as good to perform just as well?

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          • Originally posted by gregbeal View Post

            Guess you didn't bother to read the loglines and titles of finalists' and fellows' scripts with genres I posted earlier in this thread. During my tenure at the Nicholl (1989-2017), finalist scripts were rarely over 50% drama. I don't remember there being a year when 7 of 10 finalists were drama.
            Try this year - it appears 9/10 were drama. And I don't even mean cinematic dramas, like Rocky, Taxi Driver, The Breakfast Club, or Wall Street but lots of small scale, introspective, gloomy dramas. Material that is a hit with critics rather than audiences.


            I have no clue what definition of melodrama you're using but my understanding of the word as it applies to contemporary film and screenplays suggests that few, if any, Nicholl finalists have been melodramas.
            I'd include the titles in my earlier post, in pale blue font, We can remove the 'melo' aspect if you want, and leave it as 'drama'.


            You might have to survey entrants for the answer to this question (although I don't think you actually know the split amongst genres produced for film and television over the past five decades).
            I know that the popular genres are comedy, horror, thriller, action and that drama is down the list. Alien, The Terminator, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws - all seminal, superbly-crafted, character-driven classics - routinely make the 'best films of X decade' lists and encompass a range of genres yet I don't think anyone would expect such like to make the Nicholl final whereas they do expect is a lot of brooding, personal tales of hardship and familial struggles.


            As I stated earlier, during my tenure the finalist scripts were never "overwhelmingly melo)drama" (sic) nor overwhelmingly dramas
            I believe I've seen you express exasperation at people seeing Nicholl as I've described, and posting stats to prove that commercial fare, gets a fair shot. Hence the questions in my previous post. - because it's not just me asking them. Resolve those questions and the issue of having to debunk the myth disappears

            See, despite what some members with axes to grind have implied, I'm not out to slam Nicholl. I have no dog in the fight - I'm just making the observations FA4 made (but didn't receive flak that those members are trying to give me here). Simply: if Nicholl is happy with its skewed dominance of drama and low percentage of commercial fare (horror, action, superhero, thriller, fantasy etc) then they should just own it and save the hassle of trying to prove otherwise.

            Anyway, there's nothing more to say so I'll end with 'good luck' whatever path Nicholl chooses to take.
            Last edited by SundownInRetreat; 10-17-2020, 04:30 PM.

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