Archives for posts with tag: the Nicholl

After sitting 2018 out, from all screenwriting competitions, then being back last year to become a Big Break Semifinalist, I’ve gone for broke in this year’s Nicholl. I’ve pushed right up to the limit, with three drama entries. My life’s in a good place this year. Better than in a long time, in fact. This leads me to hope that if I get three emails with disappointing results, perhaps in a grocery store parking lot as has been known to happen in the past, those blows will be easier to withstand. I love screenwriting and entering competitions just as much as ever, but that’s now colored through through a lens that makes screenwriting and writing in general an important part of day to day existence, but an integrated part of a broader whole. It’s as if the landscape of my life has flowered into something different, with familiar landmarks joined by new ones of enticing promise. Promise, hope, anticipation of things yet undiscovered…life, screenwriting\writing…faith that the best is yet to come.

This year the Nicholl early entry deadline loomed on my personal horizon, daring me to hit it in time. With so much going on in my nonwriting life, as my mom’s health started to decline at a rapid rate, I was afraid I’d miss all the deadlines entirely.

So of course I took advantage of an unusually quiet night to make sure I got my requisite three entries in and confirmed well before the early deadline. That turned out to be just ahead of the point where we reached real crises mode, so it worked out the best it could have.

I’m still happy to be a part of the Nicholl experience. The waiting. The fun of reading the anonymous reader comments on their Facebook, imagining too many of them could be about my scripts. The waiting. The breathless anticipation of announcement season. Um, did I mention the waiting?

There’s also the wishing I’d had a new script ready to go in time. Maybe next year.

I think I have too much on my mind this time to be as devoted a waiter, wisher, and maybe–er as I usually am. That could be a good thing, because all of those other things come with an extra dose of stress I don’t need right now. Anticipation a little less coated in stress is a welcome bright spot.

Three dramas.

Three virtually hole punched dreams, bound with two shiny imaginary brads, all PDFed and waiting for their closeup…scrutiny.

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Competition sprang the Quarter Finalists announcement early this year. I think that’s a good thing. Find out, celebrate and wait again, or deal with not advancing and move on.

Though my screenplays didn’t make Quarter Finalist, I did a bit better than last year. Both in results and attitude. Last year each of my three scripts got one positive read, which crushed me after they’d all done well in other competitions. This year I did some attitude adjusting.

I decided that if I’m going to place myself into the biggest, most prestigious competition out there, and enter into fierce competition with thousands of entries (7,442 this year), knowing full well that only 375 would be Quarter Finalists, I’d better get over myself. Particularly, since I did it with three scripts!

So, here’s how I emerged.

Drama–Two positive reads
Drama–One positive read
Science Fiction–One positive read.

And here’s how I feel about it.

First level… terrible. Of course. I enter everything I enter to win. I know the odds are against me, but I dream big and aim high. If I didn’t it wouldn’t be worth the effort and stress.

Second level…better. It starts to sink in that some Nichol readers like my screenplays.

Third level… happier. Once I put it into common sense perspective, I realized that I really accomplished something encouraging. With three scripts I got six reads, four of which were positive. Four out of six, in this extremely competitive arena, means I’m doing something right. Something I can be proud of. And I am.

I’m at a much better place than I was last year, when the initial results came out. Realizing that it would be very wise to mentally set the Nicholl apart from all other competitions and just try as hard as I can to do the best I can within its rarefied confines has really helped me. It’s fun again to anticipate. And I’m happy to embrace my four positive reads out of six.

I’m very grateful that any Nicholl readers liked my writing. It means a lot and gives me incentive to keep reaching for the stars.

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.