Academy Announces Nicholl Fellowships

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Five writers have been selected as winners of the 2012 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition. Each writer will receive a $35,000 prize, the first installment of which will be distributed at a gala dinner in Beverly Hills on November 8.

This year’s winners are (listed alphabetically by author):

Nikole Beckwith, Brooklyn, NY, “Stockholm, Pennsylvania”

Sean Robert Daniels, Laezonia, Gauteng, South Africa, “Killers”

James DiLapo, New York, NY, “Devils at Play”

Allan Durand, Lafayette, LA, “Willie Francis Must Die Again”

Michael Werwie, Los Angeles, CA, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile”

The winners were selected from a record 7,197 scripts submitted for this year’s competition. This is the first time entries from Louisiana and South Africa have been selected as winners.

Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during their 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.

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee is chaired by producer Gale Anne Hurd and includes writers Naomi Foner, Daniel Petrie, Jr., Tom Rickman and Dana Stevens; actor Eva Marie Saint; cinematographers John Bailey and Steven B. Poster; costume designer Vicki Sanchez; executive Bill Mechanic; producers Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro; marketing executive Buffy Shutt; and agent Ronald R. Mardigian.

Since the program’s inception in 1985, 123 fellowships have been awarded. Among the recent achievements by Nicholl fellows: Jacob Aaron Estes wrote and directed “The Details,” premiering theatrically on November 2; Jeffrey Eugenides’ third novel, The Marriage Plot, was a 2012 National Book Critics Circle award nominee; Andrew Marlowe created and executive produces the ABC series “Castle”; and Rebecca Sonnenshine serves as executive story editor on the WB series “The Vampire Diaries.”

  1. That’s a pretty lame list of “recent successes.” Generally, these people are never heard from again. Let’s face it, Nicholls is a poor man’s Black List. I’d much rather make the Black List than win a stupid Nicholls.

    1. Apples and oranges. Of course you’d rather be on the Black List! The Nicholl is only for folks who have earned less than $5000 as a screenwriter. Whereas the Black List features a lot of writers who are already seasoned pros. Subtract the folks who are already successes from the Black List, just look at the newcomers, and it’s a more fair comparison…

    2. And yet, that will never happen either. Might as well keep busy trolling contest winner announcement posts. Btw, if you get hungry before mom gets home, there’s some mac n cheese boxes in the pantry.

  2. @ Rat — one of the more ignorant comments I’ve seen here in a while.

    There are no similarities between the Nicholl Fellowships and the Black List other than they’re lists with names of screenwriters. Comparing them is absolutely pointless. The Black List is a list of scripts from professional and/or repped and/or working and occasionally extremely rich writers on projects with major producers and producing entities attached. Occasionally the script from a studio franchise winds up there. Many of the films are already shot by the time the list comes out and/or the writers have cashed fat checks. The Nicholl Fellowships is a competition for unknown/unrepped/unpaid writers from around the world.

    Um not sure why you put “success” in quotation marks, the examples cited are unquestionably successes by any standard. If it’s the lack of “volume” of success you’re referring to, again you’re off the mark. The Fellowships could have cited any number of success — including Susannah Grant (Oscar nomination) and Ehren Kruger (studio blockbuster writer) and recent successes like Jason Micallef whose Nicholl-winning was actually produced.

    Most of the writers are never heard from again? Oh right, except the ones that get Oscar nominations and studio franchises. As to “most” of them, most writers and directors and actors of every stripe are rarely “heard from again.” Sustained success in this business is a rare rare thing in all fields. Fact is the Nicholls is far and away the most prestigious of the screenwriting competitions and has broken more writers than any other program by a large factor. Never mind I’m tired of lecturing you on something you clearly know nothing about.

    Congrats to the winners! Five out of 7,000 ain’t bad.

    1. No, putting “success” in quotes was not a comment on the number of people who’ve found success it was a comment on the level of success among those mentioned. I hardly consider being a story editor on a lame WB show to be a success.

      1. If you don’t think staffing is being successful, I feel sorry for you. Getting paid to write is the only true measure. I’d be happy to have her success. Go back to your hole, Rat.

        1. You don’t consider staffing a success? Well how about being a creator/showrunner? Andrew W. Marlowe created Castle and he and his wife Terri who also writes on the show met at that Nicholl Fellowship gala dinner back when they were both winners. The show’s gotten Emmy nominations, won People’s Choice Awards, consistently wins its timeslot, is going into its 5th season and was sold into syndication after just 2.5 years. So much for the “success” of Nicholl winners, you’re totally right.

    2. Agree with pretty much everything you’ve said, and congratulations to the winners. But, just FYI, it’s not a contest for only “unrepped” writers, at least two and possibly three of the five fellows are repped.

      1. @ Rat staffing a popular network show is pretty much the textbook definition of success.

        @ gobacktosleep — correct, being repped does not stop anyone from entering, the stipulation for entry is that the writer can never have earned more than 5K (cumulative) as a writer. So, the fact they’ve never earned money writing and feel they need to enter contests to further their career is an indication of how “repped” even the repped ones are.

        I don’t know the particulars of the ones you’re talking but I know a lot of them get signed during the competition itself (including during the earlier rounds — the quarters and semis — which were announced weeks and months ago). Being repped now doesn’t mean they were repped when they entered, FWIW.

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