Archives for category: Academy Nicholl Fellowships

When the screenwriting competition results season comes around this year, I can’t bemoan having all my screenplay eggs in the Nicholl basket like last year. The ScreenCraft Sci-Fi Screenplay Contest recently came to my attention and I entered my feature length science fiction screenplay in it.

This one doesn’t have the huge cash prizes of some of major players, but the top prize is four figures, which is certainly not too shabby. Along with that comes a phone call with a top Hollywood literary manager. With my history of almosts, winning is not likely (this is my hard won survivor’s attitude), but the other prizes are nice too. Plus, the finalists are judged by an impressive featured judge.

My main thing this year is that I’m diversifying my chances of better results than last year. Somewhat. This is one of the scripts I already have entered in the 2015 Nicholl. It’s done well otherwhere, and sat out last year. And it’s been tightened (again) and polished (again), in hope that it’ll shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.

I could so easily segue into what a hard knock life it can be, or even rhapsodize about the possibilities cradled in the arms of our friend tomorrow. But it’s nearly three in the morning (which, coupled with insomnia is why goofiness attempts to hijack my brain), so I’ll just wrap this up with the one thing I am absolutely sure of.

I love writing screenplays. With a passion. Anything beyond that is icing. Once I get over the hard stuff that tends to come after Fade Out is typed. Living with my own movies in my head is its own prize beyond compare.

It’s that time of year again. After putting all my screenwriting competition eggs in the Nicholl basket last year and expecting to do better than I did, I had to think hard about this year. I’m usually able to roll disappointments off my back, but having done so well in competitions for years (see my Blog Page: Written for Screen and Page ), then having only one positive read each for my three 2014 entries really threw me. Honestly, it took me a few months to get over it.

For all that I know the capricious nature of competition results and the way individual opinions are completely unpredictable, I was still mired in the perceived mud of “only” one positive read each. I’m being frank about this because I know there are others out there struggling with the same thing. Even though you know you can do really well one year and not advance at all the next, it still comes down to feeling as if you’ve been hit in the face with a pie when it happens to you. And that’s the most pleasant of the reactions.

Eventually I realized that I had to stop with the negativity of “only” and focus on the fact that three of my screenplays had received a positive read in the most prestigious of the competitions among more than 7,000 entries. Two of which had flat bombed out when I’d entered them before. Before I learned how to rewrite. So I accomplished quite a bit last year, even if not what I’d hoped for. Encouraging, actually, if humbling.

So what’s on the agenda for this year? Why, three in the Nicholl again, of course. Right back and into that one unpredictable basket! I’d half-intended
to spread them out a little more this time, but the early deadline loomed, the usual formatting disasters ensued, I got inundated with two ice/sleet/snow storms, heat trouble, car trouble, and a leaking roof, and time crunched. Circumstances pushed me to do what I really wanted to anyway…aim as high as possible. Again.

I hope I’m better prepared to do the roll off the back thing now, if I must. The very best way to handle disappointment is to shrug, dig deep, and keep writing. And to not disappoint yourself by aiming lower because you’re afraid. Fear can be a great motivator. So is hope. And faith in yourself.

Nicholl 2015 entries:

2 dramas from last year
1 science fiction

Fear
Hope
Faith

And a long, long wait.

My screenwriting competition results season was short lived this year. I took a huge chance by entering my three dramas in the Nicholl alone, and didn’t get the results I hoped for. All three received one positive read.

Fin.

It’s hard to take, of course. Especially after they’ve all done well in other competitions. Even the one that has been a Moondance Finalist twice and Semi-Finalist once, plus top 25% of the Page Awards (and made the top 10% of the Nicholl itself before I really even knew what I was doing) only garnered the one positive read in this year’s Nicholl. I’m thrown, but not so hard that I won’t bounce back once I get over the disappointment.

I console myself with the knowledge that I tightened and polished the two that got nowhere in their first Nicholl attempts so that they both got a positive read in such a prestigious competition. I also know that subjectivity rules all things creative, when it comes to opinions and reactions. That doesn’t really make things any less difficult right now, but it does seriously mean that another year could bring entirely different results. I also figure my three still rose above other entries that number in the thousands. In no way is that failure, though the egotistic ego brain niche has trouble holding onto that thought for very long at a time.

I don’t know yet what my next move will be, but it might be a good idea to spread things around more. Then again….

And so it goes.

After several years of being kept from entering the Academy Nicholl Fellowships In Screenwriting Competition by technical problems, I am finally back in this prestigious competition. In the meantime I entered the Moondance International Film Festival Screenwriting Competition and did well, with four Feature Length Drama Finalists (three scripts once each and one twice) and a Semi-Finalist. I also entered the Page Awards and did well there as well, with a science fiction feature length drama that was a Semi-Finalist once and a Quarter Finalist twice. Two dramas also advanced to the top 25%. It seems that last year they didn’t send out top 25% emails, so I don’t know if the one that was last year’s Moondance Finalist advanced at all in Page.

That kind of thing is frustrating and the main reason I decided to put all my eggs in one basket this year, as it were. Knowing those other scripts made at least the Page top 25% out of thousands of entries helped me a lot to gauge how I’ve been doing in the constant quest to learn to write screenplays. Without at least that potential indicator, plus the way my sf one inexplicably started moving backward from Semi, I decided it was time for me to give it a rest.

The decision to not enter the
Moodance again this year was more complicated. And difficult. It would be very easy to just keep entering and keep hoping (almost expecting) to make at least Semi and probably Finalist. Doing so well for so long is very gratifying. It also became a little frustrating. I started to wonder if there could be some little something about my writing not quite in keeping with that competition that would keep me from ever winning.

I like to challenge myself periodically. The challenge here was whether I could scrape up the guts to leave what has become something of a comfort zone and challenge myself emotionally. It was hard, but I eventually decided that for this year at least, I’ll be happiest making myself miserable wondering what on earth I’m thinking by entering the Nicholl’s three script yearly limit, instead of any of the other competitions.

Since I’ve reached the top 10% (drama) and top 15% (science fiction) of the Nicholl in the past, it’s not an entirely foolhardy move. Now that all three of my entries have been officially confirmed, only in August, when the emails from the Academy (Yes, that Academy runs the Nicholl) Foundation have come in, will I be able to say how good an idea it was to put so much of my work up at once for consideration for a coveted Nicholl Fellowship. All I know right now is that it was the choice that made me feel the best. That’s a kind of winning in itself.