a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

If I Had a Nicholl For Every Time...

So I'm biting the bullet this year, and finally entering the Nicholl Fellowship competition again.

I've entered it a few times in the distant past (Ten years or so ago? More? Yikes.) with an early, underrealized version of my psychic girl script, which even (once? twice?) got a notation that it had just missed making the first cut. Now, as far as I know, they put that notation on a whole bunch of scripts (there's probably a stamp), but it helped make the cut a little less painless.

Still, the Nicholl is the big dog, since even being one of 300 or so scripts to make the quarterfinals has a certain cachet. Plus I know one of the winners from last year, and a guy who was a finalist a few years ago. And they're writers, just like you and me.

So, as one of the steps to launching the year that I become "Scott the Writer", I've temporarily back-burnered my supernatural thriller in mid-rewrite, and I'm submitting two other of my scripts instead.

There's my legendary frozen-time script, which almost got me an agent a few years back, though the problem was that the frozen time movie "Clockstoppers", was currently in release sucking all life out of the genre. Still, everyone always loved my script, and I finally finished the rewrite/polish that I gave it early last year. It's in shape, it's ready, it's going in.

The other is the umpteenth incarnation of my psychic girl script, which I printed out yesterday to read, something which I'll hopefully get around to sometime in the next few days. I think it's only a small polish away from being a valid candidate as well.

Otherwise, my theory is that a decent percentage of good amateur writers must hang around the scribosphere, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if a solid number of people who at least make the quarterfinals are reading this right now. Yes you. And you. And that girl over there. And the guy in the cowboy hat.

Who else is entering this year? Show of hands. Let's kick this competition's ass.

And for those you on the fence, entries must be postmarked by Monday. You can even download the application off the Internet.

Tick, tick, tick, tick...


At 11:29 AM, Blogger Webs said...

This'll be my first entry. And with either very good luck or very bad luck, my last.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Brett said...

The aspect of contest season I'm actually OK with is the idea that "it just doesn't matter."

(And yes, it sounds a lot better if you use your Bill Murray MEATBALLS voice).

We can write our sad little three-chambered hearts out, we can spin epic soul-shaking tales of love and loss and danger and redemption and all that. We can stir emotions unfelt since the last time some reader was caught in the middle of a flaming bison stampede. We can create situations so absurdly comedic that the audience ought well be issued Depends absorbent underwear for all the pee-in-your-pants laughter we are responsible for.

And at the end of the day some first round reader who hates comedy, or who hates period drama, or who hates ellipsi or mustard or brunettes or firm-fleshed fish or the sound of a schwa or German imports or whatever will wind up being the Impassable Obstacle for our little pile of words, and we'll get a politely worded "dink" letter from Greg Beal that may say "regrettably" and "chin up, little camper" and all that but still is actually screaming "YOU SUCK, LOSER!" when we first read it, but we'll take hope from the fact that someone we know somewhere advanced to the second or final round, and we even have some vague awareness of one of the folks who actually WON the thing, and it will all somehow prove that we were just this close to breaking through, and sure we'll sulk for a week or month or two and then throw ourselves right back into the roaring surf in the hopes of finding our own perfect wave.

Victory often goes not to the swiftest nor the strongest, but rather instead to the defiant bastard who was just too dumb to quit.

Good luck to you all, but mostly to me. ;-)

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I notice that they finally put in a rule stating that you can't submit the same script multiple times in the same year. I guess more and more people were doing that, just to protect against a bad read that one draft might get.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger writergurl said...

I'm in. With the script YOU read. We'll see how it does, although, I did polish it a bit form what you read.

At 12:45 PM, Blogger jefe said...

I'm entering mine for the first time. A comedy, which for some reason seems to put it at a disadvantage, to me. Who knows.

At 12:49 PM, Anonymous kristen said...

I'm not making it this year. I suck. Good luck, Scott!

At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Andy B. said...

Me too. Again.

For the last time, though, I have to acknowledge.

I've placed before, with different scripts (both comedies, jefe, so take heart!), and I've cheerfully sent out scripts to whomsoever requested them
afterwards, and I've followed up and made some contacts.

But I'm increasingly convinced there's virtually no chance of a career in this unless I'm in LA. And I can't do that.

Plus, by looking at it that way, I can blame geography and circumstance, rather than my writing! (Ask Scott; he's read two of my entries for this season!)

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous George said...

Good luck, Scotty-boy! Glad to hear you made the deadline.

At 4:09 PM, Blogger William said...

I'm in with a screenplay YOU read also. It's actually being printed up right now as I write this. I've been going to the site to do an online application but it's having some real problems. It's up, it's down. I already have an account but I can't login to it. I would ultimately like to apply online so I can check the status and be disappointed as soon as humanly possible but I don't want to get caught in the system so I think it's going to have to go as a hard copy along with the script.

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Chris said...

*raises hand*

With your super notes, I'm plowing through the rewrite of my Writer's Arc finalist script for submission to Nicholl. Two acts down, one to go. So if I do well, you deserve at least 6% of the credit ;)

The thing about contests, be they Nicholl or the lessers, even if you don't win or place or show, at the end of the day you still have a new script or better rewritten script on your hands. So they serve some function in forcing one to meet a deadline and finish something.

At 5:38 PM, Blogger Cathy Krasnianski said...

I'm also entering a script that you kindly read for me. I made drastic changes (for the better), so hopefully, it now stands a chance!

At 8:51 PM, Blogger ScriptWeaver said...

I entered 4 years in a row, submitting at least 3 different scripts each year. Never advanced. Never got a kind word from Mr. Beal.

Last year, I finally broke through and became a QF, with two others getting kind words from Mr. Beal. (One Top 6%, one Top 10%)

I didn't make it beyond, but oh man, the emails started rolling in. Like Andy B., I'm still talking to some of those people. Nothing to show for it yet, but what a world of difference it makes on a resume.

At 3:51 AM, Blogger Noah Brand said...

Hey, it's not a cowboy hat!

At 5:55 AM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

This year's contest season will come and go and I will have naught to show for it, unfortunately.

My first script still needs a major rewrite. My second script has remained untouched because it was a collaborative effort and we are doing our own things right now. And my latest script is still in the writing process. Ho hum.

Contests are a double edged sword methinks. They can help your career. Cream does rise to the top, but there is certainly luck involved.

I think just submitting work is a good thing, but if it is the only thing, then it is not enough.

I have to believe that if I write something of true quality, and put it out there, that it will be recognized.

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Matt Waggoner said...

This is my first entry. I mailed it in last Thursday, but I haven't gotten a confirmation yet, which makes me nervous. Any idea how long it usually takes to get a reply? I understand they're probably getting deluged with screenplays right about now, and it probably takes some time to hear back, but I don't want to miss the deadline because of some postal problem.

Okay, okay, so I'm just being nervous and paranoid.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Matt -- According to the website, it takes about 6 weeks for entry confirmation. So I guess you need to have faith in the postal system, or you'll go crazy.

Thomas -- I think it is also important to enter contests when the time is right. For me, it makes a lot of sense, because if I do happen to do well, and get meetings with agents/producers, I have two scripts in very good shape I can show them, plus hopefully in the next few months I'll have done a rewrite of my supernatural thriller as well. Plus, since I'm in L.A., it's all very convenient.

And, if I don't make the first cut in three months with either script, I should still have three very solid scripts to take another dive into the agent pool with.

So I'm not counting on anything. But it did make for a good deadline to do definitive versions of the two scripts I submitted (and both, I was shocked to discover when I read them, were better than I'd remembered) and now my brain/desk is clear to tackle the-script-formerly-known-as-HIDING-BILLY again.

At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Andy B. said...

Scott makes a good point about "having two scripts in very good shape" in the event that a Nicholl placement spawns requests for them.

If a writer goes ahead and sends something maybe-not-quite-ready to a contest, well and good. Who hasn't? Who wants to wait another year? But I'd keep improving it post-May 1, in case it places and prompts calls from industry folks.

Scott's are already there; I wish I could say the same of mine.

Also, to William: Does applying online give you news of your placement sooner? I thought it just allows you to confirm that they received your script ... assuming the process ever gets back on line, of course...

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Also, to Matt -- You may get your cashed check back in less than 6 weeks, which would be pretty good confirmation right there.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Aaron said...

I'm sending my script to Sundance and because I'm also sending out a short film, I may not go with Nicholl this year -- if I'm not carefull I'll spend my rent on festivals and contests... but I have few more days to decide.

At 8:09 PM, Blogger James Patrick Joyce said...

Not sure where else to put this, but I thought I'd let you know that there's a new Pro-Blog:

Bill Martell is a Blogger, now.

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

That's what I was gonna say - if they cash your check, they got your script. I never wait for confirmations, just check your bank account.

At 3:27 AM, Blogger Piers said...

No Nicholl entry for me this year. Having had a long hard think about it, the script's just not ready. And there's no point in putting it in when I know there's still things that need fixing.

At 8:20 PM, Blogger jefe said...

So I entered my Nicholl script. I noticed 5/1 is also the deadline for the Script Pimp contest. Anybody think that's worthwhile? $40.

At 7:41 PM, Blogger suzbays said...

I entered back in early April. I was entering FIND's Screenwriters Lab so I figured I'd send to Austin and Nicholl as well. Both Austin and Nicholl have cashed my check. Of course, the DAY after I sent it to FIND, they extended their deadline to today. Whatever. I was happy with the script and didn't think waiting for more feedback would benefit the story since all the notes I was getting were fairly minor. So, yes, I entered. It's an English comedy so who knows how it will do.


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