Nicholl 2020

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  • SundownInRetreat
    replied

    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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  • JoeNYC
    replied
    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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  • gregbeal
    replied
    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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  • gregbeal
    replied
    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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  • JoeNYC
    replied
    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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  • gregbeal
    replied
    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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  • SundownInRetreat
    replied
    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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  • figment
    replied
    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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  • JoeNYC
    replied
    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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  • SundownInRetreat
    replied

    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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  • JoeNYC
    replied
    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.

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

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  • JoeNYC
    replied
    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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  • JeffLowell
    replied
    “”approximately 20% of Nicholl entries were comedies”

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

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  • gregbeal
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:

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