Tag Archives: Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Competition

A Nicholl for your thoughts (Part 4)

I received my email from the competition on Monday evening and the screenplay I entered did not make it to the quarterfinals this year.

However, at the bottom of the email was…

“PS: Your script received two positive reads.”

According to this entry from the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Facebook page, that means my entry fell somewhere in places 1427 – 2526 out of almost 7,200 scripts.  I need to remind myself to feel good about being in the top 20%-35% and take that as a positive to keep writing and honing my skills.

On a positive note, my friend Ron Maede’s script “God Gets Fired” did make it into the quarterfinals!  I had a chance to read this script awhile back and am very excited for Ron since it’s a quite clever, interesting, and fun story.

Good luck in the quarterfinals, Ron!!!


A Nicholl for your thoughts? (part 3)

“A Nicholl for your thoughts?” parts 1 and 2 were about the 2011 competition, which was a bittersweet experience:

About month before the first round results were announced in July of last year, I got some fantastic notes on Sawbuck from both talented local writers who have sold and optioned scripts, and from a couple pro screenwriters currently writing blockbuster movies. That month was a little tough because I knew deep down I wasn’t going to advance as far as I had originally hoped.

When the first round results were announced, I was actually pleased to find out I got two positive reads (places 1302 – 2161 out of 6,800 scripts) considering what I knew needed to be fixed in the script.

Armed with valuable notes and a positive experience with the contest, I put two other scripts on hold and started on a page one rewrite to get ready for…

The Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting 2012 Competition

I basically tore Sawbuck down to the studs and rebuilt.

One example of a major change was taking 3 secondary characters and combining them into one (a corrupt Police Sergeant + a Detective + a Forensic Psychologist = a Detective).  This difficult, time-consuming revision changed motivations and timelines throughout the script and, along with a myriad of other changes, had a positive effect by simplifying the story, putting much more focus on the protagonist, and taking the whole script to deeper mysterious and emotional levels.

I couldn’t be more pleased with this draft.

One of my favorite parts of being involved in the contest is seeing the daily Reader Comment Excerpts posted on Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Facebook Page.  Of course, it’s easy to read some of them and think, “Oh man!  They’re talking about mine!”

Could it be?

We’ll see.


A Nicholl for your thoughts? (part 2)

I received my email from the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Competition this weekend informing me that I did not advance to the quarterfinals.  While I was disappointed, there was a silver lining as I scrolled down to the last line of the email:

“PS: Your script received two positive reads.

According to their FAQ, that means my script was in the top third of entries.  One more positive read and this is a whole different post.  Not bad, considering…

Over the last month, I’ve been given some extremely valuable feedback on the script from a manager, a writer/director, and another working screenwriter.   So, while I secretly wished I would advance further in the contest, down deep I knew the script would not go as far as I had originally hoped.

But that’s okay, because  I’m not spending one second in sour grapes blaming the system or cursing the names of unnamed, misguided readers who don’t “get it.”  It’s a professional contest with a great system.  I’m lucky to be able to move forward working on changes driven by solid notes that I feel will make the script twice as good…  Progress!

Best of luck to everyone who advanced — may you all experience huge success!!


A Nicholl for your thoughts?

For those of you unfamiliar with the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Competition, the short description is that it’s the screenwriting contest.  The grandaddy of them all.  There isn’t even a close second.  Along with awarding up to five $30,000 fellowships each year, even those screenwriters who make it to the quarterfinals and semifinals gain the attention of those hard-to-access decision-makers in Hollywood.  So the stakes are high.

Even though the script I entered has gotten great feedback (both professional and otherwise), the competition is fierce with over 6,800 entries.  So, I’m trying not to get my hopes up.  Making it more difficult to keep my expectations just this side of the ozone layer is the contest’s Facebook page where every day they post contest reader comments.

While some of the comments are either story or genre specific, and absolutely could not apply to my script, many are general, making it all too easy to think “Hey!  They must be talking about my story!” …

“The twists here are delicious. The first ones are huge and extremely effective. The writer does a good job of keeping them coming and staying a step ahead of the reader.”

Then there are those that actually could be mine…

“This is a complicated yet engaging murder mystery, which works mainly because of the compelling, inventive protagonist. . . . a somewhat convoluted journey, but the individual scenes are clever and rich with detail.”

… and those I truly want to believe are…

“Whew! Wow! What a colorful, fantastical imagination at work here! A wonderful wild ride! … this is a beautifully, professionally crafted story. Quite an amazing talent here – so many surprises – and the emotions range from pathos to hilarity, unexpectedly.”

With the first round of results not coming until August, I can’t decide whether or not this steady stream of reader comments is a blessing or a curse.  As of right now, I feel like I’m getting something extra for my entry fee because it’s just plain fun to wonder.  One thing is certain, I’ll be reading every day waiting for that one comment that can only be about my script. :)

Good luck to everyone who entered!