Each year, the Academy Nicholl Screenwriting Competition awards up to five $35,000 fellowships to amateur screenwriters.

To enter, submit a feature-length screenplay and entry fee via the online application when the competition is open for submissions. Fellowship winners are invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars, receive individualized Academy member mentorship, and are expected to complete at least one original feature film screenplay during their Fellowship year.

Up to five $35,000 fellowships are awarded each year to promising new screenwriters. From the program’s inception in 1986 through 2020, 181 fellowships totaling $4.75 million have been awarded.

7,831 entries were received in 2020. All scripts are read at least twice in the competition. About 15 percent are read a third time. About 5 percent of entries advance to the competition quarterfinals, about 2 percent advance to the semifinals and about 10-15 entries reach the finals.

Brief reader comments for each entered script are available for purchase but are not required for entry.
Every screenplay entry will receive at least two comments and may receive as many as six, up to and including the Quarterfinal round. These comments are released on the date specified in the online application.
Not intended as comprehensive notes, these comments offer a peek at readers’ reactions to the entry.

HOW TO APPLY

FELLOWSHIP OBLIGATIONS

  • Up to five fellows in the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition will be invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars in November.
  • Fellowship recipients will be expected to complete at least one original feature film screenplay during the fellowship year.
  • Fellowship payments will be made quarterly subject to satisfactory progress of the recipient’s work, as judged by the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee.
  • The Academy reserves the right to grant no awards if, in the opinion of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, no entry is of sufficient merit.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

  • Writers must create an account on the Nicholl website to enter the competition. (Returning entrants should sign in to their existing one)
  • (Once registered) – verify that your entry has been processed into the competition
  • Update your contact information at any time 
  • Original feature film screenplay (no shorter than 70 pages and no longer than 160 pages) in PDF format only
  • Completed online application form
  • Regular deadline entry fee of $63 (by 11:59 p.m. PT on April 3) or late deadline entry fee of $88 (by 11:59 p.m. PT on May 3).
  • PDF scripts must be uploaded and all other requirements met no later than 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on May 3, 2021.

REGISTER AND APPLY

Writers may create an online account at the Nicholl website at any time. When the competition opens each year, they should use that account to enter, following the links to the login page. The Nicholl website allows entrants to fill out the required online application form, submit a PDF version of their script and pay the entry fee with a credit or debit card. It also allows entrants to confirm receipt of their entry and to update their contact information at any time during the competition. Only online applications will be accepted.

SCRIPT SUBMISSIONS

  • An entrant may submit a maximum of three scripts in the current competition.
  • Script should be no shorter than 70 pages and no longer than 160 pages. The recommended length is 80 to 125 pages. 
  • Writers must create an account at the Nicholl website to enter the competition. PDF scripts must be uploaded and all other requirements met no later than 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on May 3, 2021.

PAYMENT

  • The entry fee must be paid online via credit card or debit card.

JUDGING

The first and quarterfinal rounds are judged by industry professionals who are not members of the Academy. The semifinal round is judged by Academy members drawn from across the spectrum of the motion picture industry. The finalist scripts are judged by the Academy Nicholl Committee. To further the Academy’s commitment to encouraging and valuing diversity in the industry, the Nicholl Fellowships Program takes measures to ensure that our selection process is as fair as possible and without bias.

ANNOUNCEMENTS
All entrants will receive notification of their status by e-mail sent by early August of each year. Quarterfinalist letters are e-mailed by early August. Semifinalist letters are e-mailed by early September.


Regular deadline entry fee of $63 (by 11:59 p.m. PT on April 3) or late deadline entry fee of $88 (by 11:59 p.m. PT on May 3). Find out more and apply here.