Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nicholl again

I'm hoping not to be eligible next year, so this may be my last time trying. Here's this year's rejection letter. Same results as last year with the lovely P.S.

Dear Emily,
If you have been following the comment lines posted on Facebook, you already know that many exceptional scripts were entered in this year’s Nicholl Fellowships competition. Now that scores have been tallied for all 6,304 entries, we have to inform too many writers of scripts featuring intriguing stories, engaging characters and strong craft that they have not advanced into the next round. Regrettably, Burnside was not one of the 326 entries selected as a Quarterfinalist in the 2010 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.
You should realize that while we strive to make the evaluation of screenplays as objective a process as possible, it is inherently both a personal and an extremely subjective matter. A lack of success here may not have any bearing on your reception in the marketplace where a sale is the ultimate measure of success. I’ll even venture a prediction: several non-advancing writers will become professional screenwriters in the near future.
To tell you a little about the process: each script was read once. After receiving an initial positive evaluation, nearly 2,900 scripts garnered a second read. Over 900 scripts were read a third time. Each read resulted in a numerical score being awarded. Scores for each entrant's script were totaled, and the Quarterfinalists were selected on the basis of highest scores.
Early next year, we'll send you a link to a 2011 application form, which will include a list of the recipients of the 2010 Fellowships. Results will be posted online at in November.
Best of luck with all your future endeavors.

Greg Beal
Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting
PS: Your script was among the top 10% of all entries.


  1. Anonymous11:28 AM

    It's really difficult to advance to the second round.

    Here's a little blurb from an interview with a past Nicholls winner, Patricia Burroughs.

    Q: Were there competitions in which your screenplays did not garner any attention, but slipped through the cracks?

    A: Four of my five scripts have been (at least) semifinalists in the Nicholl Competition. Every script that advanced in the Nicholl also bombed out of the Nicholl at one time or another.

    Same scripts, same drafts. That first cut is a killer. When thousands of scripts are getting eliminated, good scripts don't make it.

  2. Yeah I did an interview with a Nicholl finalist who had previously entered the same script two or three times without it even making the quarterfinals.

  3. That really is a lovely PS isn't it? Congratulations and commiserations Emily.

  4. I fell somewhere in the next 100 after the quarterfinals cutoff, which isn't too bad for one of my first feature specs, though of course I'd hoped to go further. Still in it for PAGE, and I'll find out about Scriptapalooza on Friday.

    Patrick Sweeney
    I Blame Ninjas

  5. Anonymous3:45 PM

    I have given up on Nicholl. Not my stuff. I read so many of the winning scripts and read on the writers bio after winning. Google helped a lot. Is this what I want. NOPE. I did my research. I dont want a boring career or a boring task being a producers bitch or slave. Respectively, Nicholl is not a place to find cool scripts. This is really not for me. Okay, the Nicholl winning scripts are well formatted, I give it that, but for god sake they are so boring and they not engage or controversial or intense in this century. Maybe I read or picked the wrong on. Hold on, even Hare's The Fly Fisher is okay. It's so funky but too low-budget to be made and released in Multiplexes. No producer would take that risk

    Maybe someone here can tell me a couple of good, intense, fast-moving script that won or came close at Nicholl. You know I want to read the next Traffic, the next The Big Fish, the next Eclipse, the next Jaws, the next True Blood (the movie!), the next Silverado, the next Godfather, the next Life of Brian, the next Grease, the next Footloose, the next High School Musical, the next The Dark Knight, the next Inception, the next Deer Hunter, the next Avatar, the next screenwriter like David Goyer, Spike Lee, Francis Ford Coppola, Sophia Coppola, Steve Martin,Zallian, George Lucas etc.

    And it's hot outside right now and it gets very frustrating to read anything about Nicholl when I came to the realization that this contest is really not for me, ever. And I don't feel guilty or bad. Just free.

  6. Good luck, Firefly Games. And yeah, that ain't bad for an early script.

    And no, Nicholl isn't known for giving fellowships to action films. The scripts that usually win tend to skew indie drama more than other genres, but there have been several finalists with action scripts in the past and several of the winners have gone on to careers as working writers, although certainly not all of them.

    Fortunately for me, I don't need to write the next Avatar. I just want to get paid to write.

  7. I didn't get through, either. Always important to remember how subjective screenwriting and "screenreading" is. Each reader has their own tastes and idea of what a good movie entails. It's not necessarily a reflection on the quality of your work. I read a good quote in a food magazine a few years ago: "if popularity equaled quality, McDonald's would make the best hamburger, and Pizza Hut would make the best pizza". Keep plugging--there's something to be said for persistence, particularly in this industry!

  8. That is one fabulous P.S. Hats off to you.
    I haven't applied for Nicholls. I'm trying for Sundance Screenwriter's Lab. The waiting is excruciating.
    Being paid to write... man, if only.
    Best of luck.

  9. congrats! I made the top 20% after a 10+ year hiatus with a script I began writing at the beginning of April and squeezed in under the deadline.

  10. Anonymous3:25 PM

    Regarding the Nicholls, I have had scripts place in the semifinals in the past. Those scripts never sold. Oddly, my noir crime thriller that was rejected by the Nicholls (twice) is now in post production. They are just one avenue to getting produced and certainly not a guarantee.

  11. Howdy. Long time no post.

    I gave up on contests as I don't hear bout a lot of he scripts winning actually being made and making money.
    That makes it difficult to know what actually makes a good contest script.

  12. WOO HOO!!!!!!!! That is so damn fabulous. Top 10% would get you into Harvard btw.


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