Seven individual writers and three writing teams have been selected as finalists for the 26th annual Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Their scripts will now be read and judged by the Academy’s Nicholl Committee, which may award as many as five of the prestigious $30,000 fellowships.
This year’s finalists are (listed alphabetically by author):
Chris Bessounian & Tianna Langham, Los Angeles, Calif., “Guns and Saris”
Dion Cook, Altus, Oklahoma, “Cutter”
K.E. Greenberg, Los Angeles, Calif., “Blood Bound”
Ehud Lavski, Tel Aviv, Israel, “Parasite”
John MacInnes, Los Angeles, Calif., “Outside the Wire”
Aaron Marshall, West Hollywood, Calif., “Fig Hunt: The Quest for Battle Armor Star Captain”
Khurram Mozaffar, Lisle, Illinois, “A Man of Clay”
Matthew Murphy, Culver City, Calif., “Unicorn”
Abel Vang & Burlee Vang, Fresno, Calif., “The Tiger’s Child”
Paul Vicknair & Chris Shafer, Los Angeles & Hermosa Beach, Calif., “A Many Splintered Thing”
The finalists were selected from a record 6,730 scripts submitted for this year’s competition. The competition is open to any individual who has not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay for more than $5,000, or received a fellowship or prize that includes a “first look” clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer’s work.
The 2011 Nicholl Fellowships will be presented on Thursday, November 3, at a ceremony held at the Beverly Wilshire.
The Nicholl Committee, chaired by producer Gale Anne Hurd, is composed of writers Naomi Foner, Daniel Petrie, Jr., Tom Rickman and Dana Stevens; actor Eva Marie Saint; cinematographers John Bailey and Steven B. Poster; costume designer Vicki Sanchez; executive Bill Mechanic; producers Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro; marketing executive Buffy Shutt, and agent Ronald R. Mardigian.
Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year. The Academy acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, 118 fellowships have been awarded, and a number of fellows have achieved considerable success. Jason Micallef, a 2008 fellow, wrote “Butter,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. Ehren Kruger, a 1996 fellow, wrote “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” which opened this summer. “The Details,” written and directed by 1998 fellow Jacob Aaron Estes, premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Andrew W. Marlowe, a 1992 fellow, created and executive produces ABC’s “Castle,” for which Terri Miller, also a 1992 fellow, is a writer-producer. Mike Rich, a 1998 fellow, wrote “Secretariat,” which opened last October. Susannah Grant, a 1992 fellow, earned an Oscar® nomination in 2000 for her “Erin Brockovich” screenplay. Grant is the writer, director and executive producer on CBS’s “A Gifted Man,” which debuted earlier this month.
Several other Nicholl fellows have had success in the film industry; to read more about them, visit www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/fellows/notable.html