Nicholls - Complications Ensue
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is now accepting entries for the 2009 Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition. As many as five $30,000 fellowships will be awarded through the program later this year.

Application forms may be downloaded from the Academy’s Web site and mailed with the other required materials, or they may be completed and submitted online. Rules and details are available at http://www.oscars.org/nicholl.

The Nicholl Fellowships competition is open to any individual who has not earned more than $5,000 from the sale or option of a screenplay or teleplay, or received a fellowship or prize of more than $5,000 that includes a “first look” clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer’s work. To enter, writers must submit a completed application form, one copy of their original screenplay in English, and an entry fee of US$30. Entries must be postmarked or submitted online no later than May 1, 2009.

Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during the fellowship year. The Academy acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts.

Last year’s competition drew more than 5,000 entries. Since the program’s inception in 1985, 108 fellowships have been awarded.
Unlike online competitions like Scriptapalooza (which I suspect are for-profit), the Nicholls is a venerable competition run by the Academy. Winning the Nicholls really means something. Note the 1000-1 odds.

Note however, that I still don't take screenwriting competitions seriously, because they're irrelevant. If you have a great hook and a decent screenplay, and you make a reasonable effort to get it out there, you'll get an agent and your agent will sell your script for more money than you will ever get from a competition. And competitions don't necessarily pick the script most likely to get made into a movie. They pick the "best script," whatever the hell that means.

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1 Comments:

Although inaccurate, I think contests are good way to gauge if you're on the right track (especially for beginners). Last year, I was hoping to at least make the quarter finals in the Nicholl Fellowship just to see if my current draft was an improvement. I got a letter stating that I hadn't made the cut and was bummed out until I got the same letter a week later, but with the added note, "Close. Top 10 percent." This extra bit of fuel helped. As long as we're careful in our selection of contests, they can't hurt. Especially if they offer feedback, like Blue Cat. At the very least, they give us "nobodys" a much needed ingredient: a deadline.

By Blogger Daniel, at 4:15 PM  

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