By Ray Pride

Academy Names Nicholl Fellowships In Screenwriting


Scripts to be performed at live read in November

LOS ANGELES, CA – Four individuals and one writing team have been selected as winners of the 2017 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition.  The fellows will each receive a $35,000 prize, the first installment of which will be distributed at the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Awards Presentation & Live Read on Thursday, November 2, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.  For the fifth consecutive year, an ensemble of actors will be reading selected scenes from the winning scripts.

The 2017 winners are (listed alphabetically by author):

Vigil Chime, “Bring Back Girl”

SJ Inwards, “Jellyfish Summer”

Max Lance and Jen Bailey, “The Queen of Sleaze”

KG Rockmaker, “Last Days of Winter”

Cesar Vitale, “The Great Nothing”

A total of 7,102 scripts were submitted for this year’s competition. Nine individual screenwriters and one writing team were selected as finalists.  Their scripts were then read and judged by the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, who ultimately voted the winners.

The 2017 finalists are (listed alphabetically by author):

Donn Kennedy, “Roll the Bones”

Lillian Wang, “P.O. Box 1142”

Sharon Walker, “The Cutting Season”

Michael A. Wright, “Still Life”

Chris Ryan Yeazel, “The Savage”

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.

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee is chaired by writer Robin Swicord.  The members of the committee are writers Tina Gordon Chism, Larry Karaszewski, Dan Petrie Jr., Eric Roth, Misan Sagay, Kirsten Smith and Tyger Williams; animation director Jennifer Yuh Nelson; cinematographer Steven Poster; executives Marcus Hu and Bill Mechanic; producers Stephanie Allain, Albert Berger, Julia Chasman, Julie Lynn and Robert W. Shapiro; and sound Bobbi Banks.

The global competition, which aims to identify and encourage talented new screenwriters, has awarded 152 fellowships since it began in 1986.  In 2017 several past Nicholl fellows added to their feature film and television credits:

  • Allison Anders directed and Nikole Beckwith co-wrote “Beaches,” which aired on Lifetime. Allison also directed episodes of “Riverdale” and “Time After Time.”  Nikole co-wrote “Three Generations,” which opened theatrically in May.
  • Destin Cretton and Andrew Lanham wrote and Destin directed “The Glass Castle,” which opened theatrically in June. Destin and Andrew co-wrote “The Shack,” which opened theatrically in March.
  • Sean Robert Daniels was on the writing staff of “High Rollers” and was head writer on “Grit,” both of which aired on South African television.
  • Bob Edwards co-wrote and produced the feature documentary “The Last Laugh,” which opened theatrically in March.
  • Jacob Estes co-wrote “Rings,” which opened theatrically in February.
  • Ken Kristensen is a writer on the forthcoming TV series “The Punisher” on Netflix and “Happy” on SyFy.
  • Tianna Lanham co-wrote “Il Nido” (“The Nest”), which had its North American premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
  • Karen Moncrieff directed and Rebecca Sonnenshine wrote “The Keeping Hours,” which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Rebecca is a co-executive producer of the television series “Outcast.”
  • Eric Nazarian co-wrote “Three Christs,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Mike Rich co-wrote “Cars 3,” which opened theatrically in June.
  • Abel and Burlee Vang wrote and directed “Bedeviled,” which opened theatrically in June.

Tickets for the 2017 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Awards Presentation & Live Read are now available at  Casting for the live read will be announced at a later date.


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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 8,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.



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