Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I got a letter

Dear Ms. Blake,

As they return scripts week by week, Nicholl judges often remarked on the overall quality of competition entries. This abundance of good scripts made for a difficult and exacting selection process. Now, with scores tallied for 5,224 entries, we have to inform too many writers of scripts featuring intriguing stories, distinctive characters and strong craft that they have not advanced into the next round. Regrettably, Not Dead Yet was not one of the 261 entries selected as a Quarterfinalist in the 2008 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 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 bit about the process: each script was read once. After receiving an initial positive evaluation, nearly 2,400 scripts garnered a second read. Just under 700 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 the highest scores.

Blah blah blah try again next year. This year you sucked donkey balls, you ugly old loser. And you’re fat. And you smell like rotten cheesecake.

Greg Beal
Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting


  1. I'm totally shocked he would say you smell like rotten cheesecake, but maybe I shouldn't be surprised. ;)

    Sorry, E. Now go sell it so you can wave your big fat check in the face of the Nicholl's winners and their quiet dramas about childhood traumas.

  2. yep - got the same letter. it's a bit of a tease that they tell you there's a three step process of elimination before the quarterfinals, but then don't say where you fell out in that process. be nice to know if you at least made it to the 700 out of 5224 entries.

  3. One nice thing the Nicholl people do: they write you a few weeks after the quarterfinals, telling you if you were in the top 20%. Yes, I was pissed- damn it! so close! - but it told me that I was good enough. Maybe my theme wasn't clear, or I got lost in my fun and games, or ?
    Get a check, Emily- it makes everything better. And you can!


    My dad took one look at the letter (while I was home) and goes,

    "Ah. The whole thing is fixed anyway."

    ...So...take solace in the conspiracy.

  5. this will amuse Emily:

  6. Competitions are kind of harsh on genre scripts.

    I had a straight up Adventure script turned down last year at Nicholl, that was actually very similar to one of the finalists. The biggest difference was in the tone. Mine was a fun light-hearted adventure, tonally in the vein of Robin Hood. And the finalists was set in the real past, about some Russian aviatrix.

    The funny thing is that I got a lot of meetings with producers from that script.

  7. Great Link VC.
    I rated on the first try by answering truthfully:

    Your knowledge, strength, and will to survive are unstoppable. It would take a Nuclear holocaust to remove you from the face of the earth. Zombies Don't stand a Chance.

  8. "One nice thing the Nicholl people do: they write you a few weeks after the quarterfinals, telling you if you were in the top 20%."

    Are you kidding me!!!?!

    I am so discouraged about this whole writing thing.

    It doesn't discourage me when producers, or readers, or actors...make light of writers.

    But when writers just sit and accept bullshit...after laboring over a work; and then get HAPPY when...

    "The funny thing is that I got a lot of meetings with producers from that script."

    This script needs to be flipped...and with the quickness.

    When will writers realize that producers are a...

    ...wait a minute, this horse has already been beat to death.

  9. Anonymous8:40 AM

    Here's the thing: Scriptapalooza just announced their finalists of 4300 entries. I didn't make the cut. And they had less that 100 readers.

    Arithmetic: At $50 per entry, over $200,000 collected from saps like us; More than 40 scripts per reader.

    Let's get fucking real here!

  10. That's exactly why I don't enter most contests. They're mostly scams. The Nicholl is the real deal.

  11. Anonymous9:46 AM

    I got a worse version of this letter, a note scribbled at the bottom that said, "Just missed it - next 100 scripts." I think I'd rather just outright suck rather than "just miss it."

  12. Ouch.

    On the upside, you now have proof that you don't suck, in case you were worried. I always am.


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