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Butter Film (5)
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is now accepting entries for the 2012 Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition. As many as five $35,000 fellowships will be awarded through the program in November.

Jason A. Micallef, whose Nicholl-winning screenplay “Butter” stars Jennifer Garner and is set for a March release, said that being awarded the fellowship from AMPAS created an instant network for him as a writer.

“Every year (the Academy has)  the Nicholl Week, and we have this great dinner. You get to check up on other writers and what they’re doing,” Micallef said. “When you’re a writer,  you’re alone and it can be a little bit of a political minefield. It’s nice to hear everybody’s different ways of handling all of those situations.”

The Nicholl Fellowships competition is open to any individual who has not earned more than $5,000 from the sale or option of a screenplay or teleplay, or received a fellowship or prize of more than $5,000 that includes a “first look” clause, an option or any other quid pro quo involving the writer’s work. To enter, writers must submit a completed application online, upload one PDF copy of their original screenplay in English and pay the entry fee before 11:59 p.m. PT on May 1. The regular entry fee is $52; an early-bird entry fee of $35 is available for those who enter by 11:59 p.m. PT on March 15, 2012.

Online applications, rules and other details are available online.

Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a new feature-length screenplay during the 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.

Last year’s competition drew a record 6,730 entries. Since the program’s inception in 1985, 123 fellowships have been awarded.

Among the other recent achievements by Nicholl fellows: Destin Daniel Cretton wrote and directed “I Am Not a Hipster,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; and Andrew Marlowe created and executive produces and Terri Miller serves as a writer-producer on the ABC series “Castle.”