Motion Picture Academy Names Nicholl Fellowship Winners

by TVWriter™ Press Service

Three individuals and one writing team have been selected as winners of the 2018 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 8, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. For the sixth consecutive year, an ensemble of actors will read selected scenes from the winning scripts.

The 2018 winners are (listed alphabetically by author):

  • Allison Buckmelter and Nicolas Buckmelter, “American Refugee”
  • Joey Clarke, Jr., “Miles”
  • Grace Sherman, “Numbers and Words”
  • Wenonah Wilms, “Horsehead Girls”

A total of 6,895 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 2018 finalists are (listed alphabetically by author):

  • Avi Glick, “A Yacht in the Apache Junction”
  • Ernestina Juárez, “Labyrinth of Destiny”
  • Neal McLaughlin, “The Sunshine Ward”
  • Daniel Miska, “The Soldier That Wagged Her Tail”
  • Gabriel Mizrahi, “Beside Ourselves”
  • Jordan Trippeer, “Air”

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee is chaired by Academy Writers Branch Governor Robin Swicord. The members of the committee are Eva Marie Saint (Actors Branch); Steven Poster (Cinematographers Branch); Marcus Hu and William Mechanic (Executives Branch); James Plannette and Stephen Ujlaki (Members-at-Large); Stephanie Allain, Albert Berger, Julia Chasman, Julie Lynn, Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro (Producers Branch); Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Short Films and Feature Animation Branch); Bobbi Banks (Sound Branch); and Tina Gordon Chism, Eric Heisserer, Larry Karaszewski, Dan Petrie Jr., Misan Sagay, Kirsten Smith, Dana Stevens and Tyger Williams (Writers Branch).

The global competition, which aims to identify and encourage talented new screenwriters, has awarded 156 fellowships since it began in 1986.

17 Network Chiefs Predict Their Hits, Reveal Guilty Pleasures, and Admit Which Rival Show They’d Steal

Time now for this fall’s short con – TV network executives, who never seem able to predict their own job futures let alone anything else, are at it again, looking into their glazed over crystal balls to tell us all about how next season’s going to go.

And we, of course, are falling for it. Because…we’re fans, don’tcha know?

by Michael Schneider

Many of TV’s top execs aren’t just suits — they’re also fans. And although they have to spend a big chunk of their day reading scripts, watching dailies and giving notes on their own shows, they’re also consuming a lot of what the competition has to offer. It’s not easy, but when IndieWire asked TV’s top bosses to list how they watch TV at home, they all subscribed to everything: Cable or satellite with the works, plus the major streaming services. Several of them even copped to using the Apple TV device to watch their programming, which is sure to make the folks in Cupertino happy.

As an annual fall ritual, IndieWire once again asked execs for picks on which of their new shows might surprise, as well as what their recent binge or guilty pleasure was, and what show they’d like to steal from other networks. Among the series that the people who make your favorite TV shows watch themselves: BBC America’s “Killing Eve,” and HBO’s “Succession” and “Barry.” IndieWire also asked what questions the execs are asked the most, and what’s keeping them up at night as the business changes at a rapid pace. Here’s the latest insight into what TV’s top executives are thinking, and what’s concerning them most.

Channing Dungey, ABC entertainment president

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit? I don’t think there has been as much buzz as of yet for “The Kids Are Alright.” So if you’re asking me about the sleeper, I think that could be the one. Tim Doyle is telling the story of his own crazy family and it feels real and heartwarming and emotional, in a way that reminds me of a lot of comedies that I grew up watching. It’s going to be a great co-viewing opportunity for families.

Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures. “Succession.” That was really good. I thought the performances were great, the cast was incredible. It’s also one of those shows where every moment there’s an “OMG, I can’t believe this is happening!” moment. Which is fun, and it was something my husband and I watched together.

What show would you love to steal from a rival? I have said for a while that it’s “This Is Us,” and I’m still a fan of “This Is Us,” so I’d probably go with that. I’m hoping “A Million Little Things” is going to scratch that itch for our audience.

What’s the question you’re asked the most? It’s a toss-up between anything that has the word “Roseanne” in it, and what I think about the pending merger and acquisition [between Disney and Fox’s production entities].

What keeps you up at night? I’ve talked before about ratings measurements, which are endlessly frustrating for me. But I think it’s a talent question too. It’s about talent retention in an age of extreme competition.

What do you subscribe to at home? We have Spectrum and an Apple TV, which is how I watch Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. I’ve got everything. In my job you have to have everything, because I don’t want to hear about a show that you suddenly can’t access. But I would have Amazon anyway because I’m a mom and I need diapers to come via Amazon Prime….

Read it all at IndieWire

2018 WGAW Board of Directors Election Results

Yesterday, LB received the following announcement sent by the Writers Guild of America West to all its members:

The Writers Guild of America West has announced the results of its 2018 Board of Directors election.

The following eight members were elected to the WGAW’s Board of Directors for two-year terms, effective immediately: Patti Carr (inc.), Ashley Gable, Betsy Thomas, Deric A. Hughes, David Slack, Jonathan Fernandez (inc.), Patric A. Verrone (inc.), Travis Donnelly. *Note: (inc) denotes incumbent.

NUMERICAL VOTING RESULTS

Board of Directors: Patti Carr (1,667), Ashley Gable (1,587), Betsy Thomas (1,487), Deric A. Hughes (1,426), David Slack (1,360), Jonathan Fernandez (1,342), Patric A. Verrone (1,161), Travis Donnelly (972), Eric Heisserer (927), Dante W. Harper (916), Spiro Skentzos (856), Deborah Amelon (751), VJ Boyd (661).

A total of 2,475 valid ballots were cast. The ballot count was supervised by Votenet Solutions.

“This vote represents the largest turnout in Guild Board election history, due in no small part to an outstanding group of candidates,” said WGAW President David A. Goodman. “I’m thrilled to welcome the new Board members, and I’m very gratified to see, more than ever, writers engaging to strengthen our union.”

Larry Brody and all of us here at TVWriter™ send our congratulations to all the board members and wish them the best during their tenure on what can be a very difficult as well as essential job

Diana Black: TV Writing Checklist Part 5

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you haven’t already read Part 1,  Part 2Part 3, and Part 4, now would be a good time.


by Diana Black

You’ve done it!

You’ve completed the Script in probably half the time you’d normally take. (You might take even less if you employ LB’s GDD – see his article on “Writing the Dreaded Outline.”)

And what’s more, the IP you now proudly own is yours and it’s unique; no one can take this accomplishment away from you. Register your work and ensure that you have multiple electronic copies stored on external hard drives and on the Cloud.

Think of this hard work as a solid investment in your future career as a screenwriter. If you’ve worked through all these steps, you ARE a screenwriter and one who’s wisely adopted professional standards; you simply haven’t got paid yet.

Now do individual Passes – one at a time the whole way through the Script.

For each Character, is he/she consistent across the narrative arc in terms of their dialogue? Do another pass for that same Character in terms of their action. ‘Rinse and repeat’ for every Character.

Check ‘your voice’ – have you made it strong and discernible in terms of style across the entire narrative arc? The next pass (in no strict order) is to tighten the ‘big print’ – shorten descriptions and actions, ensure there’s not an adverb in sight and everything is in active, present tense e.g. “He walks…” not, “He walked…” etc.

Next pass, you’re a formatting Nazi. The beauty of that Tabled Outline is that you can ensure that the Slug-line for the same location is consistent throughout.

Have you done a Scene Analysis for each scene? Is each flat or superfluous, or are they all totally necessary, intermeshed elements of a script that’s a real roller coaster ride, and serious actor, director, and producer-bait?

If the scenes still have problems, now’s a good time for one more rewrite. If they don’t have any you can find, then now’s a good time to conduct a Table Read with REAL actors.

Feed your actors well and after the read, ask for anonymous feedback – have scrap paper and pens on the table between the dip, carrot sticks and chocolate. Have someone who’s not reading record the proceedings so you can re-listen to the energy levels across the narrative, sometime later.

Have someone else listen for culturally inappropriate word usage. This may not be a problem for you, but I’m an Aussie by birth and upbringing, so even being married to an American for a very long time and living on US soil doesn’t guarantee that I won’t stuff-up occasionally.

If you can, instead of sitting at the table with the actors, sit across the room, script in hand, and just listen; although mark aspects needing attention on your Script.

You’ll hear/sense slow spots and others where the actors are ‘lifting it off the page’ – evidence that the pace and action are awesome – you’ll literally sense the ‘energy in the room’.

Afterwards, refer to the anonymous ‘notes’ they did for you. Be honest, brave and know when to follow your instincts… ONLY adjust/rewrite if a comment resonates with you. Your script is not a punching bag. Does the comment make logical sense; is it in keeping with the narrative arc?

If you have the $$, send it out for professional Coverage. If it comes back with a “Recommend” get it off to market asap; they may even offer to ‘open doors’.

You could also put it into Competition but be mindful that there are biases out there amongst Competition hosts and amongst the Readers they employ, so take a win or loss with a grain of salt.

However, if it does well, put it into another competition and if it does well again, add that positive feedback to your calling card when you begin seriously marketing.

For stories in ‘pitch mode’ you must develop a Strategic Plan. The mission objective to generate interest and make a sale.

Do your research and take a systematic approach – don’t just throw your work against the proverbial wall to see what sticks.

Develop your data base of prospective Producers and do your homework – is the potential ‘suit/s’ currently or recently working with this genre, does it fit within their budget range, are they open to reading material coming from an unrepresented, unpublished writer?

Is your Query Letter (QL) well crafted, grammatically correct and using simple language? You do have one, right?

Even with a well-crafted QL, many recipients will refuse. Expect greater than a 95% rejection rate, but by the same token, don’t necessarily take that first “No/Pass” as the final answer – they may be testing your determination and whether you believe in the IP enough to put your neck out on its behalf – so be brave.

Your story and the Characters therein are counting on you. If rejected, offer to present them with something else – they’ll then know you’re not a ‘one-show pony’. Those of you who are actors know that the ‘job’ is to audition, not necessarily ‘book’ the job. Same applies here – our job as emerging screenwriters, is to create quality material and pitch away.

If you get a foot in the door via your QL and a, “Let’s talk” interview, know and rehearse how to pitch intelligently by keeping the language simple and direct.

According to Stephanie Palmer’s, Good in a Room, show empathy and interest in them. Have the Leave Behind (TV) or the One page (Feature) on hand – don’t have them hanging/waiting for anything. Show professional awesomeness.

If it looks like an Option Agreement is looming, research what the Producer has produced beforehand (you’ve probably done that already – determining whether to pitch to them).

Think long and hard before allowing a rookie Producer to take your IP ‘off the grid’ for goodness-knows how many months. Have Legal Counsel review any agreement – it’s worth the investment. If this potential Producer respects you and is professionally legit, they’ll expect this. If they baulk/protest, look elsewhere and fast.

By having read this series of articles and taking actionable steps, you’ll have realized that creating a narrative, regardless of the medium, is hard work.

There’s no way around that, so work smarter.

And don’t give up! This venture has kept you off the streets for weeks if not months, it’s saved you a bucketload of money you’d have spent on frivolous outings, and you’ve travelled into an entirely different world for free… no one-way mission to Mars for you – the Universe is yours – enjoy!


Diana Black is an optioned screenwriter who has placed in competitions with features and teleplays.  She’s also a professional actor with a Bachelor of Creative Arts – Drama, Film & TV and a regular contributor to TVWriter™.

Writing Gig: ‘Review Geek’ Is Looking for a Freelance Product Review Writer

This could be a good one. And you know we don’t always say that. In fact, we never have, til now:

by Jason Fitzpatrick

Think you have the perfect combination of product knowledge and writing skills? We’re looking for a few experienced freelance writers to join the team at Review Geek.

What We’re Looking For

We are looking for freelance writers who can research products across a wide spectrum of topics—don’t worry, you’ll be researching products newer than the typewriter above—ranging from travel pillows to tablets and everything in between.

One day we might be looking at external hard drives, and the next we might be looking at Bluetooth-enabled rice cookers. Is that a thing? It’s probably a thing—and if we hire you it might be your job to find the best one.

The work is freelance, with per-article or per-hour compensation depending on the position, where you set your own hours and write articles for us on your schedule. But we aren’t looking for people who simply want to write an article now and then—flexible schedule or not, you’ll need the free time to write consistently.

Interested in applying? You’ll need to meet these minimum requirements:

  • You can write in coherent standard U.S. English. Think it’s silly we have to spell that out? If you read some of the applications we get, you’d put it at the top too.
  • You’re creative and can come up with article ideas, workshop ideas with your colleagues, and contribute to the team culture. Further, and importantly, you can handle feedback and editorial oversight professionally.
  • You must be at least 18 years old and have a computer.
  • You’re good at editing images of all sorts including everything from quick screenshots to product photo touch ups—we’re all about pretty pictures, and you’ll be in charge of stocking your articles with them.

Here are a couple of examples of the types of articles you’d be expected to produce:

Get the rest of the info, including the all-important stuff about how to apply at Review Geek