Five Scripts Share 2013 Nicholl Screenwriting Prize

Related: Academy Unveils 2013 Nicholl Finalists

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Four individual writers and one writing team have been selected as winners of the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition. Each winner will receive a $35,000 prize, the first installment of which will be distributed at an awards presentation on Thursday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. For the first time, the event will also feature a live read of selected scenes from the fellows’ winning scripts.

This year’s winners are (listed alphabetically by author):
Frank DeJohn & David Alton Hedges, Santa Ynez, CA, “Legion”
Patty Jones, Vancouver, BC, Canada, “Joe Banks”
Alan Roth, Suffern, NY, “Jersey City Story”
Stephanie Shannon, Los Angeles, CA, “Queen of Hearts”
Barbara Stepansky, Burbank, CA, “Sugar in My Veins”

The winners were selected from a record 7,251 scripts submitted for this year’s competition.

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.

Directed by Rodrigo Garcia (“Albert Nobbs,” “Mother and Child,” “Nine Lives”) and produced by Julie Lynn ( “Albert Nobbs,” “Mother and Child,” “The Jane Austen Book Club”), the awards presentation and live read, which is supported by Lexus, will include members from the Academy’s Actors Branch performing scenes from the five winning scripts. Casting for the live read will be announced. Tickets to the event are available to the public at

Lexus will engineer a new and innovative extension of the fellowship for the first time. One of the top five winners will be presented with a grant which will allow them to write and produce a short film that will appear on certain Lexus creative platforms such as

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, chaired by producer Gale Anne Hurd, is composed of writers Naomi Foner, Daniel Petrie Jr., Tom Rickman, Eric Roth, Dana Stevens and Robin Swicord; actor Eva Marie Saint; cinematographer John Bailey; costume designer Vicki Sanchez; producers Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro; marketing executive Buffy Shutt; and agent Ronald R. Mardigian.

Since 1986, 133 fellowships have been awarded, including one to 2010 winner Destin Daniel Cretton who recently wrote and directed “Short Term 12” from his Nicholl Fellowship-winning script. Creighton Rothenberger co-wrote “Olympus Has Fallen,” which opened in theaters this past March. Rebecca Sonnenshine is a writer and executive story editor on “The Vampire Diaries.” Andrew Marlowe is a writer and executive producer, and Terri Edda Miller is a writer and consulting producer on “Castle.”

  1. Congratulations to the winners, in such a competitive year, being in the final five out of 7251, is a remarkably impressive accomplishment…and after seeing the brilliant Short Term 12 (a previous Nicholl winner), I must say, I can’t wait to see these scripts made into films !

  2. Barbara Stepansky is a rock stare! SUGAR IN MY VEINS is poignant, funny, and at times, unnerving. A really great screenplay.

    1. News flash: there’s suppose to be sugar in your veins. You may as well have entitled it Red Blood Cells in My Arteries

      1. News Flash: Jealousy is unattractive. You may as well have just cried yourself to sleep instead of posting here.

  3. Huge congrats to the winners!

    Given that 60% of the winning scripts were penned by women, and less than 8% of all spec sales this year were scripts by female writers, can we finally get Hollywood to abandon the excuse that women don’t write what the market wants and start examining the inherent discrimination in representation, development and production?

    Would love to see these three women enter the market with the same opportunities as their male counterparts. I know it won’t happen, but we should at least start the dialogue so that someday it might.

    1. Ummm make sense- winning an award does not equal “what the market wants”- not by a long shot!

  4. Congrats to these winners but really I would replace Barbara Stepansky, whose script was very good with LOST CHILDREN, which was great. Oh well.

  5. Congrats to all! You join the ranks of such past winners as… I mean, you’ll be quoted along past alum like… Hmmmm… Well, congrats!

    1. Really? Past Nicholl Fellowship alums include screenwriters such as Susannah Grant, Ehren Kruger, Andrew Marlowe, Allison Anders, Doug Atchinson, et al. Solid bunch.

  6. Congratulations indeed. With any luck you’ll be one of the few contest winners to get your film made. Like “Killing Season” with Hollywood megastars John Travolta and Robert Deniro. Or “Akeelah and the Bee” which was was produced by Starbucks. “Killing Season” scored a big $39K at the box office.

  7. He’s the guy who options all the scripts before the winners are announced. Then tries to make them with varying degrees of success.

  8. Yes because many previous Nicholl screenplay winners went on to have their scripts produced into fantastic box office hits like…oh wait.

    Screenwriting competitions are a JOKE. And the people who judge them read scripts in THE JOKER make-up. “Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? This town needs an enema.”

    1. Ummmmm hits like ERIN BROCKOVICH and TRANSFORMERS and AIR FORCE ONE, just for starters. Try to learn at least a little about topics at hand before shooting your negative mouth off. Your wording was ambiguous with “their scripts,” it’s unclear if you mean Nicholl fellowship winners who go on to write additional scripts, or you’re specifically referring to the scripts which won the Fellowship. Regardless, your point is equally moot. Some Nicholl scripts do in fact get produced (ARLINGTON ROAD comes to mind), but the point of the fellowship is not to find commercial scripts that can be turned into commercial hits, it’s about NURTURING WRITERS’ CAREERS. At which the fellowship is wildly and consistently successful and doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the other competitions you’re disparaging.

      The Fellowship is only open to writers who have earned virtually no money (like, 5K) from their work. 99% of them are unrepped when they submit. Movies with CREDITED contributions from Nicholl fellowship winning writers have now grossed over 4 billion (yes, with a B) dollars in theatrical box office receipts. That doesn’t even include TV shows like CASTLE, which were created and produced by Nicholl fellows. And not that box office is the measure of quality of writing, but it’s the standard you introduced to the discussion. And the standard which revealed your utter ignorance of which you speak.

  9. But none of these writers will be able to parlay this accolade into an Oscar like Diablo Codey did for Juno (and what respectable screenwriter doesn’t use her stage name alias as a stripper for her pen name).

    If only I could write a screenplay with characters like a pharmacist who taunts a teenage girl over a pregnancy test with lines like “Face it, your eggo is preggo.” That’s EXACTLY how most pharmacists speak to scared teenage girls inquiring about OTC pregnancy test results. Assuming David Lee Roth was the director and casted a PG-13 version of Jason Mewes as the pharmacist.

    But like I said, none of these Nicholls’ winners will touch the pure genius of Juno. They just won’t.

    Because awards represent the truth in art.

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