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2010 Nicholl Fellowship Winners Announced

A.M.P.A.S./Todd Wawrychuk

"It’s an odd thing to start something that actually works, and this has been working out great!" proclaimed Bruce David, Executive Director of the Academy as he greeted a room full of past and current recipients of the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. 

Celebrating their 25th Anniversary, the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting are awarded annual by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to a deserving group of screenwriters who have not earned greater than $5,000 from the sale of a fictional work for film or television.  The Fellowship presents a $30,000 grant to each winner with the understanding that "each recipient would complete a new feature screenplay during the fellowship year."  Throughout the course of the past 25 years, over 102,000 screenplays have been submitted into the competition.  The first Nicholl Fellowship for Screenwriters had 99 submissions and three recipients:  Allison Andrews, Dennis Clontz and Jeffrey Eugenides.  Andrews became a respected journalist, Clontz went on to become a prolific playwright, and Eugenides won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002.

This year’s five winners were chosen from a pool of 6,300 submissions.    They enter a pedigree whose cumulative work has resulted in 75 feature films, 24 cable movies, two mini series, numerous television series, and six more features being released next year.  Before the recipient was presented to the crowd filling the Grand Ballroom at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday, November 4th, a previous Nicholl Fellowship contender addressed the crowd.

Michael Arndt first entered the Nicholl Fellowship competition with a screenplay he wrote after years of toiling as an office assistant and script coverage reader.  He shared the joy of receiving the letters that informed him of first being accepted into the competition and making it into the final round.  Then he received a rejection letter.

"The rejection letter had the usual ‘you should feel honored’ and ‘we really liked your work,’ but there were four words written on the side of my letter that really kept me going," said Arndt.  "Written on the side was ‘Some really liked it," and the word ‘really’ was underlined three times.  Greg Beal (director of the Nicholl Fellowship Program) himself took the time out of his busy day to hand write that note.  Those four words have kept me going over the last ten years."

Arndt went on to share the experience of writing what he thought was his masterpiece script and submitting it to the Nicholl’s committee.  The script was rejected in the first elimination round.  A later draft of this same script went on to become Arndt’s Oscar winning screenplay for "Little Miss Sunshine." 

This year’s fellows come from a wide and diverse background:  a video production teacher, a commercial casting session director, a former opera singer, a man afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, and a Michigan native from a small town of 92 residents.  Each fellow employed their diverse backgrounds and experiences in their winning screenplays. 

Upon receiving his official Nicholl certificate from producer Robert Shapiro, Daniel Destin Cretton shared a tweet he posted  five minutes prior in the bathroom: "I’m about to be introduced by a man who created my three childhood heroes: Superman, PeeWee and Large Marge."   Cinthea Stahl shared the inscription from a fortune cookie she ate the day she submitted her script: "Your hard work is about to pay off."  And Micah Ranum summed up the honor of being selected as a Nicholl Fellowship recipient:

"Thank you very much.  Our gratitude will be shown by what we do."

Below is a list of the 2010 Nicholl Fellowship recipients and their winning screenplays:

Daniel Destin Cretton, "Short Term 12"

Marvin Kruegert, "And Handled with a Chain"

Andrew Lanham, "The Jumper of Maine"

Micah Ranum, "A Good Hunter"

Cinthea Stahl, "Identifying Marks" 


For more information on the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting program, please viist: