Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Victoria Lucia

What is the Nicholl Fellowship, and Why Is It So Popular?

Like many screenwriters, you've probably heard of the Nicholl Fellowship. What exactly is the Nicholl Fellowship, and why is it so popular?

The Academy Nicholl Fellowship is an international screenwriting competition hosted by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to "identify and encourage talented writers." 

It is arguably one of the most popular screenwriting fellowships in the world. 

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Keep reading to learn more about the Nicholl Fellowship and why you may want to consider entering this prestigious competition.

What is the Nicholl Fellowship, and Why Is It So Popular?

Why is the Nicholl Fellowship So Popular?

The Nicholl Fellowship is popular because it's hosted by The Academy, yes, the same Academy responsible for handing out THAT Academy Award - the Oscar. The Fellowship itself is pretty exceptional; each year, five amateur screenwriters will receive awards up to $35,000! The recipients will also receive individualized Academy member mentorship and work to complete at least one feature script during their fellowship year. Fellowship payments are only doled out upon what the Academy calls "satisfactory progress" of the fellow's work. 

How to Apply to the Nicholl Fellowship

Keep your eyes peeled for when the application season opens sometime in March and remains open until May. Individual screenwriters or writing teams may only submit one entry script to the Nicholl Fellowship. To apply, you must submit an original feature-length screenplay between 70-160 pages in PDF format.

You can be a professional writer, technically, but you cannot have earned more than $25,000 for television or film projects. So, staff writers on TV shows or anyone who has sold a screenplay as part of the WGA are likely not eligible.

The application process involves an online application form, a writing sample submission, and paying the submission fee. 

Cost to Apply for Nicholl Fellowship

The entry fee for the Nicholl Fellowship varies depending on when you submit. The early deadline is $50, the regular deadline is $65, and the late deadline is $90.

Nicholl Fellowship Requirements

Fellowship recipients are invited to participate in awards week ceremonies in November.

Recipients must complete at least one original feature film screenplay during their fellowship year.

Fellowship winners aren't required to move to Los Angeles. If in the Los Angeles area, they are invited to meet other fellows at monthly lunches, but attendance isn't required.

However, networking is a key component of success in the entertainment business, so it would be best if you could take advantage of these important networking opportunities.

How Many People Apply for the Nicholl Fellowship?

Last year, The Academy received a whopping 8,191 entries! The Fellowship assures that judges read all scripts at least twice, and around 15 percent of the scripts are read three times. About two percent of entries make it to the semifinals, and between 10-15 scripts make it to the finals.

How Are Nicholl Fellowship Entries Judged? 

The initial rounds are judged by industry professionals who are not Academy members. Academy members from various areas of the film industry judge the semifinal round. The Academy Nicholl Committee judges finalist scripts. The committee comprises various academy members, including Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Chair of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch, Misan Sagay of the Writer's Branch, Peter Samuelson of the Producers Branch, along with other distinguished academy members.

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Hopefully, this blog provided you with enough information on the Nicholl Fellowship so that you can decide whether entering is for you! Just because a competition or Fellowship is popular doesn't mean that it's the right venue for everyone. Take the information provided and decide if entering provides you a chance at the benefits this Fellowship provides. Good luck!

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