Four individuals and one writing team have been selected as winners of the 2016 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 3, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. For the fourth consecutive year, an ensemble of actors will be reading selected scenes from the winning scripts.
The 2016 winners are (listed alphabetically by author):
Michele Atkins, “Talking About the Sky” (Seattle, WA)
Spencer Harvey and Lloyd Harvey, “Photo Booth” (Balgowlah, Australia)
Geeta Malik, “Dinner with Friends” (Los Angeles, CA)
Elizabeth Oyebode, “Tween the Ropes” (Sunnyvale, CA)
Justin Piasecki, “Death of an Ortolan” (Los Angeles, CA)
A total of 6,915 scripts were submitted for this year’s competition. Eleven individual screenwriters and one writing team were selected for the shortlist. Their scripts were then read and judged by the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, who ultimately voted the winners.
The other finalists are (listed alphabetically by author):
Josh Barkey, “Marlene the Divine” (Waxhaw, NC)
Beanie Barnes, “Little Toro” (New York, NY)
Todd Condie, “John Wayne Slept Here” (Brooklyn, NY)
Danielle Ownbey, “The Blast-Off Inn” (Glendale, CA)
Michael Toner, “Hey Jude” (Van Nuys, CA)
Arun K. Vir, “Suburban Turban” (Los Angeles, CA)
Kirk Weddell, “Alone” (Wimbledon, England)
Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year. The Academy acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts.
The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee is chaired by writer Robin Swicord, and marketing executive Buffy Shutt serves as vice chair. The other members of the committee are writers Tina Gordon Chism, Naomi Foner, Eric Roth, Misan Sagay, Kirsten Smith and Tyger Williams; actor Eva Marie Saint; animation director Jennifer Yuh Nelson; cinematographer John Bailey; executives Marcus Hu and Bill Mechanic; and producers Stephanie Allain, Albert Berger, Julia Chasman, Julie Lynn, Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro.
The global competition, which aims to identify and encourage talented new screenwriters, has awarded 147 fellowships since it began in 1986. In 2016 several past fellows added to their feature film and television credits:
Allison Anders directed two episodes of the ABC series “Murder in the First.”
Raymond De Felitta directed the ABC miniseries “Madoff,” which aired in February.
Amy Garcia and Cecilia Contreras wrote “Dear Eleanor,” which opened on VOD in July.
Susannah Grant co-wrote “The 5th Wave,” which opened theatrically in January, and wrote “Confirmation,” which aired on HBO in April.
Anthony Jaswinski wrote “The Shallows” and “Satanic,” which opened in theaters this summer.
Creighton Rothenberger co-wrote “London Has Fallen,” which opened theatrically in March.
Rebecca Sonnenshine concluded her five-season association with “The Vampire Diaries” as a supervising producer and writer.
Tickets for the 2016 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Awards Presentation & Live Read are now available at Oscars.org/Events. Casting for the live read will be announced at a later date.