Seven writers have been selected as winners for the 26th annual Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Each writer (or writing team) will receive a $30,000 prize, the first installment of which will be distributed at a gala dinner in Beverly Hills on November 3.
The 2011 Nicholl Fellows are (listed alphabetically by author):
Chris Bessounian & Tianna Langham, Los Angeles, Calif., "Guns and Saris"
Dion Cook, Altus, Okla., "Cutter"
John MacInnes, Los Angeles, Calif., "Outside the Wire"
Matthew Murphy, Culver City, Calif., "Unicorn"
Abel Vang & Burlee Vang, Fresno, Calif., "The Tiger's Child"
The winners 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 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.
Including this year's winners, 123 fellowships have been awarded since the program's inception in 1985. A number of previous winners have achieved considerable success. Jason Micallef, a 2008 fellow, wrote "Butter," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. 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, has been 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."
Several other Nicholl fellows have had success in the film industry; to read more about them, visit http://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/fellows/notable.html