Screenwriters: How the Nicholl Fellowships Work
Academy Awards Week
With the much-anticipated Academy Awards ceremony less than a week away, we profile the official Oscar screenwriting competition for new writing talent – the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting program. In addition to prize money, the winners also get the chance to participate in Academy events and seminars leading up to the coveted Oscars ceremony being held this Sunday in Hollywood. The director of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships, Greg Beal, discusses the ins and outs of the program and reveals some of the scripts that ended up being successful features during this interview for The Insiders, hosted by Sebastian Twardosz.
Before joining Nicholl in 1989, Greg Beal coordinated a variety of programs at the AFI and taught film and screenwriting at Syracuse University. Beal has written several screenplays on assignment, has written and directed several short films, and was the recipient of a WGA East screenwriting fellowship. He attended film graduate school at UT Austin.
Each year, the Nicholl competition awards up to five $35,000 fellowships to amateur screenwriters. Participants submit a feature length screenplay and entry fee via an online application during the open submission period. Fellowship winners are invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars and expected to complete at least one original feature film screenplay during the Fellowship year.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sebastian has been very fortunate to work with leading companies in both film and television for the past twenty years. He is currently the host of The Insiders (http://thelip.tv/show/the-insiders/) which is an entertainment industry talk show produced by TheLip.TV and widely available via the internet. He is also a partner in Circus Road Films (www.CircusRoadFilms.com) which advises and represents emerging filmmakers. Clients have produced films which premiered at all of the major film festivals including Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, Telluride and Toronto and which were released by most of the leading distributors in all media. He was previously a senior acquisitions executive for Allumination FilmWorks (a division of Content Media Corp.) which specialized in the domestic distribution and foreign sales of independently produced feature films. While there he managed one of the company’s main accounts—a licensing agreement with the Slamdance Film Festival. Before that, Sebastian was the head of development for a Paramount-based production company called Craftsman Films which developed numerous studio projects, including early drafts of the feature film reinvention of the Star Trek franchise. For three years, he worked in comedy and drama development at Touchstone Television, the tv production division of the Walt Disney Company and ABC, where he staffed on six produced pilots. He also worked on numerous pilots and on-air tv series for Imagine Entertainment. Sebastian’s first production job was from 1995-1999 for Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner’s Paramount-based company where he started as an assistant and was promoted to executive, actively participating in the making of Mission Impossible 1-2 and Without Limits. Sebastian started in the business as an agent's assistant in the motion picture department at ICM. He graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1993. His short film, Silent Rain, received a Student Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as the Student Emmy. Sebastian recently co-produced the independent feature Small Town Saturday Night starring John Hawkes, Chris Pine and Octavia Spencer, and he has been an adjunct professor at both UCLA and USC teaching about the art and business of film since 2006. Born in Poland, he grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Recent speaking engagements have included: American Film Market (AFM), Chapman University, Pepperdine University, National Public Radio (NPR), Writers Guild of America (WGA), and numerous film festivals and screenplay conferences such as Albuquerque, Catalina, CENFLO, Dubuque, Durango, Santa Fe, Screenplay Expo, and Waterfront.
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