Thursday, April 17, 2008

Speaking of the Nicholl Fellowship

Haven't obsessed over the Nicholl this year because with the 6,000 or so entries that will probably get dumped in Greg Beal's mailbox, I've kind of adopted a Tripper Harrison (Meatballs) attitude toward the whole thing:

And even if we win, if we win, HAH! Even if we win! Even if we play so far above our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days; even if God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the field; even if every man woman and child held hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn't matter because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they've got all the money! It just doesn't matter if we win or we lose. IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!
That's how the Nicholl works. You can't control the variables -- what desk your work lands on, what kind of experience your readers have, what genres they like, or whether they GET IT. There's only so much the Nicholl can do to level the field. And, honestly, maybe your poop DOES stink despite loud protestations to the contrary.

Yeah. I'm going to enter and I still want to win a Nicholl. Why? I dunno. Why does anyone set any kind of goal at all and then go after it. Don't tell me it's not the only gate to Hollywood. I know that and I don't care. It's not just about access. It's a goal. It's MY goal.

I enter the Nicholl for the same reason that I drag my sleepy butt to the gym every morning and torture my aging body on cardio and weight training equipment although I know full well that these sufferings may burn a few calories but will never make me a size six again. Never. I can't control all the variables. But it's a goal and working toward a goal -- ANY GOAL -- is, at the very least, moving me forward, getting me somewhere today that I wasn't yesterday.

Oh, and for the record, cottage cheese is nasty.


potdoll said...

Go girl! I agree, goals are good. I love the feeling when you're striving for something. Makes me feel alive.

I quite like cottage cheese. Does that make me a freak? :)

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Maybe it makes ME the freak. I eat cottage cheese for the protein but I mix it with yogurt. And yeah, goals are good. I want big Texas beauty pageant hair again, too. Does that count as a goal?

potdoll said...

You mix it with YOGHURT! Actually I was in the US these last three weeks and your cottage cheese tastes different to our cottage cheese.

We visited Austin for the weekend. Loved it! I put on 6lb in two days! Now I have a new goal of losing it all again.

Go for the beauty pageant hair Maryan! :)

Sal said...

Go for it, Maryan! Goals are definitely good, and only you can choose the ones that are right for you.

And yeah, for the most part, cottage cheese is nasty. I'd rather eat real cheese, and work out a bit more

annabel said...

Good luck with the Nicholl! I had hopes of submitting this year, but it doesn't look like it is going to happen.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

If my hair gets much longer, potdoll, I can braid it and use it as a ladder.

Thanks, Sal. I also have a goal to clean out my garage but that's not going anywhere...

Annabel, not sure if it's going to happen for me either! Tick! Tick! Tick!

Unk said...

I hate cottage cheese.


Cheryl Laughlin said...

Every time I enter the Nicholls, I feel like Silvio on Sopranos quoting Michael Corleone:

"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."


MaryAn Batchellor said...

Tick tock, Cheryl!!!

Erik M. said...

I've read one of last years winning scripts and it was good but not the oh-my-lord-that-was-an-amazing-script you'd expect. It was original and damn good writing, but proves the idea that it's a goo chunk of it is about right place and right time. Either way, good luck!!!

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Well, that's good, Erik, because I don't think I have an oh-my-lord-that-was-an-amazing-script.

E.C. Henry said...

Wish I could read my entry into this years Nicholls to you, MaryAn.

I've got the story NAILED. BUT I just re-edited off a pro's coverage, which sited my formatting problems. What's SO CRAZY about all this is I used formatting conventions which screenwriting books advice.

This screenwriting things is SO NUTS. There's so much double speak out there. I feel like the pros throw you crumbs from time-to-time and from those crumbs you're expected to know how to make bread.

Hope you're foray into screenwriting has been less stessfull than mine.

Good luck in this years Nicholls, MaryAn. I hope you win.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

MaryAn Batchellor said...

E.C., what formatting problems? Are you not using a screenwriting software that auto sets your margins, etc?

Here's the thing. If the formatting issues are glaring and break cardinal rules, yeah, they have to be fixed or your screenplay will get tossed. But if it's something that's a matter of preference like some people don't think you should use wrylies, secondary slugs, etc., then don't kill yourself over it. My two cents but who am I to argue with a pro?

E.C. Henry said...


IF you use Final Draft formatting issues such as margins, and basic spacing SHOULD be a moot point.

My problem is this: the books I've bought on how to format things such as sound affects, handing characters coming in and out of view, handling secordary headings. This stuff us NOT CONSISTANT book-to-book. LOVE Christopher Rileys "The Hollywood Standard," BUT it is VASTLY different from David Trottier's "The Screenwriter's Bible."

I have enough imagination to craft stories. My consternation comes from the FACT that I'm hearing a lot of double speak. Currently, I'm going with the formatting preferences from an insider in the buisness, BUT the person's advice on how a script SHOULD be formatted IS NOT the same as what those two books advice.

Anyway, time for another round of line editing--will it ever end!!!

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Far Away said...

I also hate cottage cheese.

MaryAn - please pop over and complete a scriptwriter blog survey - takes less than a minute. Ta

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Done. Although, some of the answers depend on WHOSE blog we're talking about. Mine has no influence on the industry but I know of some that do.

Andrea Herman-Carter said...

Hiya - your blog pops right up when someone googles "Nicholl Fellowships," did you know?

My name's Andrea, I was a 2003 fellowship winner. Just wanted to agree that so much of winning is up to chance. My mind still boggles sometimes at how my script made it through. But I'm glad that it did - those calls from Greg Beal are the best things in the world.

Hope yours did well this year!


MaryAn Batchellor said...

Yeah, I've posted so much about the Nicholl that I'm an auto google for anyone asking about it.

Screenplay didn't do well this year but congrats on 2003. Would love to hear all about it. How it changed your outlook, the way you write, prospects, etc.

Anonymous said...

Years back I submitted a script to the Nicholl (by the way, anyone who calls it the "Nicholls", as one poster did, had better have someone else doing the proofreading!) and although I didn't expect to win, I was surprised to learn that I hadn't even made the top 100. I brooded a little...oh, only about two years. One day I found the script lying around and I read it. Guess what, it sucked. Not totally...but enough that I could understand it being shitcanned. At that time and even now, in hindsight, I'm glad that they did so. As I read it I thought I can f-ing write better than this! I could see that I was trying to hard to be what I was thinking they wanted. So I sat down and pumped out two scripts in two months, brushed them up and didn't wait for a competition. Instead I got in touch with a guy who knows a guy and I got one of them read by a dude who knows a dude who once f-ed someone or blew someone or something and the thing was read by a major studio exec who wanted to do a favor for someone else and it ended up optioned and produced by a French gotdam indie company. Yeah, there was a little running around, in fact a lot, but a dream was realized and maybe half a career started. Since then I've sold a few shorts, none of which have been made, nor do I think they will be. I've also written and performed some off-off-broadway stuff, because I want to and I think that artsie actor chicks are hot. Incidentally, if you want to have a career in it, it's more than just writing a great script. It's a game. Learn how to play it...otherwise you'll think you failed at something - the rules of which you weren't even apprised of. What are the rules? There aren't any. I've known a few Nicholl winners and they have to work their asses off day after day, despite having written a winning script that one time. And basically, of these three people, none are great grammarians or any of that shite. But they can beat the shite out of themselves to get a story onto the pages, and then have someone else correct all the BS.

harold said...

I have read most of the Nicholl winners since 2003 only because my dentist is one block from the Academy library on La Cienega Blvd. (I remember vividly reading "Augmentation", the sweet/hilarious story about plastic surgery and the 2003 winner by one of the posters on this thread, Andrea Herman). So whenever I have my teeth cleaned( every 3 months) I spend the afternoon reading a Nicholl winner. That way I can offset the dental discomfort with having gained an edge over other Nicholl contestants in having "secret knowledge" of what the judges want. Guess what? It hasn't worked. I must agree with this blogger that the winning scripts are not blockbuster head-turners. They are all simple stories with well shaped characters and exhibit a knowledge of superior craft by pushing all the right buttons in structure, dialog and theme. But You will never find a Nicholl winner shown in a multiplex, (exception "American History X") the stories being suitable for woman's cable channels or low budget indies. It is not their mission to identify stories but to identify talent.

Anonymous said...

Transformers 2 was written by a Nicholl winner. And I think you meant "Arlington Road" not "American History X". Nicholl winners are doing all sorts of work out there, trust me, I am one.