On Thursday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored six upcoming screenwriters at its annual Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Awards Presentation & Live Read at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The 2017 winners of the fellowship were Vigil Chime for “Bring Back Girl,” SJ Inwards for “Jellyfish Summer,” Max Lance and Jen Bailey for “The Queen of Sleaze,” KG Rockmaker for “Last Days of Winter,” and Cesar Vitale for “The Great Nothing.”
“Without awards like the Nicholl, it’s very hard for new voices who don’t have an in with the industry to be heard. It’s important to have these fresh stories to be heard,” Vitale said. “Working in film has been a dream of mine since I was a kid so there’s no other way to say that this is a dream come true.”
Out of 7,102 submissions, the five authors that were selected as winners will receive a prize of $3,500 and complete a feature-length script as part of their fellowship year. As part of this year’s ceremony, actors Vince Vaughn, Rodrigo Santoro, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Zoey Deutch read selected scenes from each of the winning scripts. Effie Brown returned to produce and Rodrigo Garcia returned to direct the event.
“Events like this are important because new talent needs a chance. I remember how hard it was when I was starting out in this profession so I understand that it’s important to have that light shone on your work,” Santoro said. “I respect screenwriters so much because when I get a great script my work is halfway done. The incentive and recognition that we’re giving to these young screenwriters is important because it helps them do their jobs better in an already very competitive business.”
Since the Nicholl Fellowship was founded in 1986, over $4 million has been granted to aspiring writers.
(Pictured: Vince Vaughn, Effie Brown, and the Academy’s Dawn Hudson)