Tuesday, August 04, 2015


Not Advancing to the Semifinals of the 2015 Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting
by Janet J. Lawler

I have to say getting today's news that my script The Tenant didn't advance to the semifinals of the 2015 Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting was like a punch in the gut.

As elated as I was weeks ago about making the Nicholl's quarterfinals, today, it's doldrums city. Yeah, screenwriting competitions crush you. You ride that wave of optimism and hope a judge or reader gets your script all the way to the Finals.  You advance in one category, but have no guarantee to the next. 

Such is life. 

Rejection is what us writers are used to.  We think we're over one mountain, only to find the climb continues.  We can quit or keep pounding the keys. 

Fortunately, also today, before I received the Academy's sad email (see below) I was at work on my NEW screenplay. I have outlined some of my index cards for key scenes and acts. They're all laid out on our dining room table.  It's daunting to take on a whole new project -- from scratch -- to come up with new characters, conflict and dialogue, to play the movie in your head AND to hope someday it connects with a reader out there. A reader that has the power to get it made and on the big screen.
Laying out my new script outline
And there's always the 2016's Nicholl Fellowship.

THANKS to the awesome Greg Beal (Director of the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting) and to all the amazing judges and readers who made the 2015 competition a thrill ride for me. High-five to you  and to all those who have advanced to the semifinals!  Congratulations! 

I look forward to attending the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Awards Ceremony in Beverly Hills on November 4 and meeting my fellow writers.

Until then,

August 4, 2015
Dear Janet,
Always a difficult time of the year for quarterfinalists (and for us) as, sadly, I have to report that The Tenant did not advance into the Semifinal Round of the 2015 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition.
In terms of score, the scripts remaining at the Quarterfinal level fell short of the 149 Semifinal screenplays.  Throughout this industry, at studios, production companies and agencies, such judgments are subjective.  The fact that The Tenant was one of 375 scripts selected from the 7,442 entries may bode well for its future.
For the contact list to be forwarded in the fall to agents, development executives, managers and producers who request it, we’ll use the contact information you have given us.  Check your information below to ensure it is correct. If you elected not to release either your phone number or email, “Withheld by writer.” will be displayed. If you have chosen not to include your logline, “Logline withheld by writer.” will be displayed.
Writer: Janet J. Lawler
Screenplay Title: The Tenant
Genre: Drama, Dark

If you elected to view the comments readers wrote about your script, those will become accessible in your online account by September 1st (simply click tab 7). In October, be on the lookout for an email invitation to the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Awards Ceremony to be held in Beverly Hills on November 4.
In November, we plan to post the lists of Quarterfinalists, Semifinalists, Finalists and Fellows on the Nicholl pages at the Academy’s Web site and on the Nicholl Facebook page.  In January, we'll email you news about the 2016 Academy Nicholl competition, which will include a list of this year's Fellowship winners. 
If past experience means anything, several Quarterfinalists will soon become professional screenwriters. 
Best of luck in all your future endeavors.
Greg Beal
Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting

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