About the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting
Screenwriters who have not earned more than $25,000 writing fictional work for film or television.
Entry scripts must be the original work of one writer, or of two writers who collaborated equally, and must be written originally in English. Adaptations and translated scripts are not eligible.
There are three deadlines for 2013: early bird is March 1 ($35 entry fee), regular is April 10 ($50 entry fee), and late is May 1 ($65 entry fee). The online application form must be completed and a PDF version of the script uploaded by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on May 1. Because of the anticipated surge in submissions, we cannot guarantee access to the online application form during the last six hours before the entry deadline.
Up to five $35,000 fellowships are awarded each year to promising new screenwriters. From the program’s inception in 1986 through 2012, over $3.4 million have been awarded to 138 writers.
The approximately ten finalists in the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition will be invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars in November.
Fellowship recipients will be expected during the fellowship year to complete at least one original feature film screenplay.
Fellowship payments will be made quarterly subject to satisfactory progress of the recipient’s work, as judged by the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee.
The Academy reserves the right to grant no awards if, in the opinion of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, no entry is of sufficient merit.
- Original feature film screenplay approximately 90–120 pages in length (there is no page limit) in PDF format only
- Completed online application form
- Early bird entry fee of US$35 (by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on March 1) or regular deadline entry fee of US$50 (by 11:59 p.m. PT on April 10) or late deadline entry fee of US$65 (by 11:59 p.m. May 1).
Register and Apply
Writers may create an online account at the Nicholl website at any time. When the competition opens each year, they should use that account to enter, following the links to the Log In page. The Nicholl website allows entrants to fill out the required online application form, submit a PDF version of their script and pay the entry fee with a credit or debit card. It also allows entrants to confirm receipt of their entry and to update their contact information at any time during the competition.
Only online applications will be accepted. PDF or Microsoft Word versions of the application form are no longer available.
An entrant may submit a maximum of three scripts in the current competition.
Writers must create an account at the Nicholl website to enter the competition. Printed scripts are no longer accepted. Scripts must be uploaded and all other requirements met no later than 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on May 1, 2013.
The entry fee must be paid online via credit card or debit card.
Since 1991, more than 3,500 writers have entered the Academy Nicholl Fellowships each year. A record 7,197 entries were received in 2012. All scripts are read at least twice in the competition. About 15 percent are read a third time. About 5 percent of entries advance to the competition quarterfinals, about 2 percent advance to the semifinals and about 10 entries reach the finals.
The first and quarterfinal rounds are judged by industry professionals who are not members of the Academy. The semifinal round is judged by Academy members drawn from across the spectrum of the motion picture industry. The finalist scripts are judged by the Academy Nicholl Committee.
All entrants will receive notification of their status by e-mail sent no later than August 1 of each year. Quarterfinalist letters are e-mailed by August 1. Semifinalist letters are e-mailed in early September.
For more information, contact
Academy Nicholl Fellowships
1313 Vine Street
Hollywood, California 90028-8107
The Nicholl Experience
The following quotes were taken from letters sent to the Nicholl Committee over the years by writers who entered the competition.
“It is clear to me that the Academy Foundation and Nicholl Fellowship competition have but one goal... to encourage and foster high quality, creative screenwriting. The Nicholl competition offers aspiring screenwriters like myself great motivation to write our very best and to keep on writing.”
“No other contest has the prestige and recognition as the Nicholl. No other contest can claim that being a semifinalist in it is enough to garner industry attention... If you want a career, look no further than the Nicholl Fellowships.”
“As a young writer with no contacts in the film industry, the competition got my script read – something I couldn't have accomplished on my own... Thanks to your competition, I now have a script optioned and several people waiting for my next screenplay... I hope your readers and judges realize what a wonderful service they’re doing for tomorrow’s writers.”
“I am pleased to report that last week I signed my first deal... I write not to boast but to thank you. I consider entering the Nicholl Fellowships competition to be one of the most important things that I ever did. At the time I first entered I had only been writing for a short while and had few signposts by which to gauge my potential. I truly believe that without it I would not be a writer today.”