2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships Top 50 Screenplays
Standing above the record 7,251 submissions received from 79 countries, these 50 scripts represent the best work from emerging writers.
The top 50 screenplays include those written by the fellowship winners, the finalists and the upper ranks of the semifinalists. In order to reach the top 50, scripts received at least 8 scores averaging 84 or higher (of 100) from 6 professional readers and 4 Academy member judges. Drawn from a variety of branches, this year the member judges included 34 Academy Award winners or nominees.
The Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting is an annual competition at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In awarding up to five $35,000 Fellowships each year, the Academy Nicholl competition strives to identify and encourage talented screenwriters at the beginning of their careers. To be eligible for the competition, an entrant cannot have earned more than $25,000 for lifetime screen and television writing. For more information about the Academy Nicholl Fellowships, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each grouping of scripts below is listed in alphabetical order by last name.
2013 Academy Nicholl Fellows
Frank DeJohn and David Alton Hedges
Historical Action Adventure
Just days before he is to leave a life of warfare behind him, a Roman Centurion must assume command of a group of misfit soldiers trapped deep within hostile country.
Representation: Jon Huddle and Emerson Davis, UTA. Jake Wagner and Daniel Vang, Benderspink
The son of a Nobel Prize–winning novelist via a genius sperm bank is determined to follow in his father’s footsteps, but suddenly finds himself on a wild odyssey with his real father, a drinking, man’s-man, lothario author of airport novels who was stripped of his own Nobel after a sex scandal.
Representation: Daniel Vang, Benderspink
Jersey City Story
A basketball star faces his bitter past when he’s pursued by a young boy growing up in his old room in the projects.
Representation: Nate Miller and Dan Halsted, Manage-ment
Queen of Hearts
Inspired by true events, this is the story of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” author Lewis Carroll (aka Charles L. Dodgson) and how his relationship with the real Alice Liddell and her family may have inspired one of the world’s most beloved pieces of children’s literature.
Representation: JP Evans, Matt Rosen, Matt Martin and Michelle Weiner, CAA. David McIlvain, Brillstein Entertainment Partners
Sugar in My Veins
Romantic Coming of Age Drama
When a mutual attraction blossoms between a fourteen-year-old violin prodigy and her sister's much older boyfriend, it leads to a risky forbidden affair that has both liberating and disastrous consequences for their lives.
Representation: Kathleen Remington, ICM Partners. Alex Hertzberg, Hertzberg Media
2013 Academy Nicholl Finalists
Thriller Science Fiction
Trapped on a hobbled spacecraft, an astronaut struggles to survive not just the mission, but a crew that's more dangerous than it seems.
Representation: Rima Greer, Above the Line. Brooklyn Weaver, Energy Entertainment
Two men write an erotic novel and employ their female co-worker to front for them as the author. When the book becomes an overnight sensation, a publicity tour threatens to expose their scheme.
Representation: Brian Dobbins and Evan Cavic, Principato Young
Heart of the Monstyr
Coming of Age Fantasy Adventure
Hazel Hopfoot journeys with her little sister into a strange mechanical underworld to recover the heart of the boy she loves from the monster who holds her town captive.
Representation: Camran Shafii, The Rothman Brecher Agency
Noah Thomas Grossman
The Cupid Code
A woman invents a matchmaking service based on DNA, but when her business misfires both professionally and personally she learns science isn't the best gauge of love.
Representation: Josh Turner McGuire, Underground
Dark Indie Drama
The sudden disappearance of a 7-year-old mute girl shatters the lives and exposes the desperate secrets of a small New Jersey neighborhood.
Representation: Jennifer Au, Caliber Media
2013 Top 40 Academy Nicholl Semifinalists
(in alphabetical order)
Historical Sports Drama
Inspired by true events, “Trice” tells the story of Jack Trice, who crossed the Jim Crow color line in 1923 to become Iowa State's first black football player, and who is, today, the first and only African-American to have a major college football stadium named in his honor.
Representation: Craig Dorfman and Wally Schrass, Frontline Management
The Killing Moon
In 1985, a young FBI agent is sent to Florence, Italy to help solve one of the most horrific and prolonged serial murder cases in history. While there, she begins a torrid affair with an older woman.
Bon Ton Roulér
In 1963, a 15 year-old boy and his impulsive mother flee their Alabama home following an altercation that leaves one man dead and a jilted sheriff hunting them down. Yet, on the road, they soon realize that the biggest threat to their survival is not the mess they left behind...but each other.
Eric M. Brown
Coming of Age Drama Comedy
Fatherless Copywriter Nick Adams uncovers a stash of immaculate love letters post marked from Key West and Havana -- all dated the year he was born. Convinced he is Hemingway's bastard love child, he travels to Key West with teenage son in tow to usurp his birthright.
Representation: Matt Martin and Chelsea Reed, CAA. Thomas Carter
Thriller Drama Religious
A casual encounter in New York City between two Pakistani men- a secular network news producer and a poor, religious taxi driver- leads to deadly consequences, when oppressive Islamic values and brutal Pakistani class divisions clash with America’s individual rights and personal freedoms.
A recovering compulsive-pickpocket Alex has to escape the watch of his overbearing NYC detective dad so he can steal the painting that’s his dying granddad’s last request.
What They Had
When her Alzheimer’s-inflicted mother wanders off in a snowy night, a woman who has just left her thirty-year marriage travels to her hometown to help her troubled brother convince their in-denial father to put their mother in a nursing home and face the end of their life-long love affair.
A man who can’t let go of the past travels to Las Vegas to sleep with his high school crush—who’s now a hooker—and get her out of his system. But when he sees her, he falls in love all over again, and risks losing it all to pay for dates to make her love him too.
Representation: Jeff Belkin, Zero Gravity Management
John Dart and Jeff Swanson
During WWII, a team of scientists and non-soldiers at a weather station in Greenland above the Artic Circle have the war come to their doorstep when they are forced to take POW's from a crippled German submarine.
B. Rosson Davis
Drama Coming of Age Thriller Underdog
1969-- An American orphan captures the World. Who knew Chess could be so exciting?!
Close to Me
The sexual, psychological and moral unraveling of an obsessive compulsive, suburban mom who suspects her husband's cheating.
Representation: Darren Trattner, Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein
Roelie F. Fopma
The Coincidence Factor
Science Fiction Drama
When a plane crashes on the mountain behind her Alaskan cabin, a reclusive romance writer has no option but to take in the sole survivor. Soon she finds out he is not what he appears, and she has to save humankind – but is that the right thing to do?
Lynn Esta Goldman
How I Unleashed Mayhem and Saved the Free World
When a maverick computer whiz stumbles on a high-tech plot to sabotage the presidential election, he must outwit a ruthless and well-financed conspiracy in order to save democracy.
After hacking an online casino, a slacker video-gamer has to go on the run from the mafia, a skinhead gang, and his overbearing, pissed-off mother.
Representation: Ray Cavaleri, Cavaleri & Associates Talent & Literary Agency
Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott and Dominic Jephcott
Sleep No More
Shanghaied boxer Charlie Bai must confront the past he left behind, when he agrees to train a fighter from similar circumstances to win the All Asia title in corruption-rife 1930s Shanghai.
Dark Drama Comedy
When a beautiful but scarred Afghan widow and a U.S. veteran amputee begin to bond over wounds only they can understand, her father threatens to keep them apart. Can their overpowering need to connect transcend the emotionally-charged issues that divide their two worlds?
The Disappearance of Daniel Klein
Eleven-year-old Jewish orphan, Daniel Klein, is best known for his mismatched eye color (one blue, one green) and his craftiness with magic tricks. Life changes for Daniel and his friends when a Nazi research doctor takes a dark interest in Daniel’s rare physical trait.
Representation: Gina Panettieri, Talcott Notch Literary Services
Coming of Age Drama
Two girl gangsters start out as each other’s biggest problem, only to discover they just might be each other’s best solution to escaping death on the streets.
Representation: Christina Pickworth, Imagine Talent
Q. Terah Jackson
Period LGBT Drama
When a brilliant but contentious political strategist is ostracized from the civil rights movement for being gay, he endures personal and public shame to advance the career of his promising protégé, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Linda Caryn Jenkins
A Restoration Comedy
Period Romantic Comedy
In 17th century London, a hedonistic actor hatches a brilliant ruse to hoodwink a wealthy theatre benefactor out of a fortune by masquerading as a woman.
Representation: Ken Stovitz, Paradigm; Alan Greenspan, 6 Degree Media
Bryce Wolfgang Joiner
Giants of the Valley
Theodore Tuttleberg, once the tallest man on earth, forms a bond with a morbidly obese recluse whom he saves from death, but when he seeks to make him famous he almost kills the soul of his one true friend.
Black Site 5
2005. A Pakistani Brit is thrown into the US government’s most secret program, a dark world where answers and information are justified by any means. Little does the CIA know he is not only innocent, but an aspiring journalist whose account of the Rendition program may be the story of the decade.
Representation: Alax Shekarchian, ASManagement
Kerry is a teenage girl from the rust belt who is committing residential burglaries to finance her dream of moving to L.A.; but the dream turns ugly when her activities begin to threaten everyone she cares about.
David J. Lee
Crime Thriller Drama
Stacey Slaughter, a reclusive storage facility employee, discovers evidence in one of the units which suggests that a girl may have been kidnapped. When it becomes clear that the police won’t look into it, Stacey becomes the unlikeliest of detectives, and sets out to find the girl herself.
The Cicada's Song
An African-American groundskeeper is willed the estate of his recently deceased white employer, upsetting the status quo of his small southern town. But no one is prepared for the final twist when they discover the secret of the dead man's generosity.
John Robert Marlow
Emerging from the wreckage of a childhood trauma that left his mother in prison, his stepfather dead, and his twin brother in an asylum--a damaged youth struggles to forge himself into a young man strong enough to find and protect the sibling who saved his life.
Scott M. Martin
Fred is a high school student who no one ever notices. His father is serving time in jail for embezzlement. Everything starts to change when Fred’s blog gets hijacked and postings begin appearing that not only make him popular at school, they lead him to discover that his father was framed.
Save the Pieces
A struggling alcoholic is forced to face her demons when her estranged son returns home bringing along with him the grandson she's never met.
H. Woods McLaughlin
The Secret Adventures of Mark Twain: The Treasure of Columbus
Adventure Action Fantasy
A young Mark Twain becomes a secret agent for the Union to keep the mystical lost treasure of Columbus from falling into Confederate hands.
The Sunshine Ward
Coming of Age Drama Comedy
A timid young boy learns the ups and downs of life, love and death when he befriends an eccentric little girl in a hospital ward for children.
Speak of Love
Period LGBT Drama
Two students in post-World War II Harvard--one a rebellious dandy, the other a wealthy Brahmin--become lovers and rivals as they investigate Shakespeare's romantic life through his famous Sonnets, including the possibility that the Bard loved a man.
With America’s first viable Independent Presidential Candidate poised for victory, an idealistic young journalist uncovers a conspiracy, which places the fate of the election, and the country, in his hands. IDES OF MARCH meets ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN.
Representation: Ida Ziniti, Paradigm; Ryan Cunningham, Madhouse Entertainment
As WWI consumes Europe, the German military begs Nobel Prize-winner Fritz Haber to invent an entirely new kind of weapon. His decision not only unleashes weapons of mass destruction for the first time in human history, but threatens to destroy his family as well.
Romantic Sports Drama
An executive for the New York Knicks pursues the biggest free agent of her career while having an affair with her much-younger subordinate and developing a friendship with his sister.
Logline witheld by writer.
Representation: Alexandra Trustman, CAA
Last Knight of Sudan
Coming of Age Drama
After his father is murdered and his sister kidnapped, a young boy must fight his way across the harsh landscape of Southern Sudan to rescue his sister from a life of slavery, whose only solace is her father’s fantastical tales of the Last Knight of Sudan.
Dark Science Fiction Drama
A former child prodigy, currently down on his luck, finds himself on the verge of the greatest scientific achievement of all time, but there’s a catch…
Representation: Ida Ziniti & Lucy Stille, Paradigm Talent. Eric Williams, Zero Gravity Management
Thicker Than Blood
Dark Suspense Drama
A small-town sheriff must cover up the murder of his brother to protect the woman he loves. But when an FBI agent comes to town to solve a grisly crime, she turns everything upside down looking for the one witness who can help – the dead brother.
Ruckus Skye and Lane Sky
Rattle the Cage
Dark Thriller Drama
Locked behind bars in a small Southern town, a mysterious drifter must outwit the charismatic psychopath masquerading as deputy before the sun sets and a deadly plan is unleashed.
Representation: Adam Marshall and Jennifer Au, Caliber Media Co.
Brian Lee Weakland
Last Waltz of Vienna
Historical Drama War
Based on a true story, a young chemist is drafted by Nazis to collect the assets of Sigmund Freud after Hitler's army overruns Austria in 1938. But after becoming the unwitting subject of Freud's psychoanalysis, he disobeys orders and pulls off Freud's daring escape on the Orient Express.
Representation: Chris Cook and Kendrick Tan, Madhouse Entertainment
The Flid Show
Humor, history, and magic combine in a romantic drama about a sexy bad boy Brit whose disability makes him think he will never be loved—until he meets a pretty young American doctor with intimacy issues of her own.