Nicholl, ABC/Disney Fellowship reminders

by Paul William Tenny

Since I'm running behind on this myself, I suppose it might be helpful to anyone that's interested in writing for either television or film: The Nicholl Fellowship has been open for 2008 submissions since January, and their deadline is coming up on May 1st. This is a fellowship, not a contest. Winners are paid by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscars people) to do nothing by write for the period of one year, somewhere around $30,000 I believe. The point is to discover new writing talent, and then give them the financial means (at least for a single year) to do nothing but write. The judging process is extensive and includes Academy members, professional script readers, other writers, directors, and development executives. This is *the* competition for feature film writing.

They say that by getting into the quarter-finals, you can probably expect a couple of phone calls from agents and producers that look over the published list every year, scouting for talent. If you make the semi-finals, you might get as many as a couple of dozen phone calls. If you win a fellowship (they award up to 5 per year) then you're going to get a shot at showing your stuff to people that can make things happen.

That won't mean much if your stuff sucks, or your timing is bad and you win a fellowship writing romantic comedies when all the studios want are action and drama flicks. But still, opportunities don't get better than this.

On the other hand, ABC/Disney has a fellowship program of their own that is more skewed towards television (Nicholl is feature only) and their deal is very sweet in its own right. If I remember this, you get paid relocation to L.A., and work as a paid fellow/intern for ABC/Disney, and they'll try to get you on a writing staff if you show promise. That deadline is July 1st, so there's plenty of time to work on that and it may not even be open yet.

Fellows receive a weekly salary for a one-year period, subject to change, but (currently amounting to $50,000/year plus benefits). The program is an intensive, hands-on experience that involves workshops, seminars and mentorships with creative executives from ABC, ABC Television Studio, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Lifetime and Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group.

Both of these cost money to enter and your odds are slim, but if you have any real talent, then you shouldn't worry too much. Coming in second best seems to work better with the Nicholl Fellowship, but either one seems like a dream.

Because I'm a lazy retard, I probably won't have a screenplay ready for Nicholl (if I start tomorrow, I'll have 44 days to do it from scratch) but I'm going to send a guided missile at the ABC fellowship. TV is where I want to be and I have no doubt that I'll get there, sooner or later. I hope to see you there too!
in Film, Television


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