Academy Broadens Reach With Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowships

The Nicholl Fellowship went to writers from Louisiana and South Africa for the first time — and only one Californian was chosen

This year's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Nicholl Fellowship for Screenwriting saw a record 7,197 scripts boiled down to five winners.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and SciencesEach of the five writers — four Americans and one South African — will receive a $35,000, the first installment of which will be given at a gala in Beverly Hills on Nov. 8. It was the first time entries from South Africa and Louisiana won.

In recent years, four of five winners have typically come from California. This year, only one from Los Angeles won.

The 27-year-old program allows fellows to complete a feature-length script during their tenure.  The Academy does not take rights to the screenplay or help shop it commercially but the awards attract industry attention.

Last week, producers Rick Gitelson and Jeff Wynne optioned Jeffrey R. Field's script "Pop Hit," which was one of 129 semifinalists.

Here are the winners:

>> Nikole Beckwith, Brooklyn, N.Y., "Stockholm, Pennsylvania"

>> Sean Robert Daniels, Laezonia, Gauteng, South Africa, "Killers"

>> James DiLapo, New York, N.Y., "Devils at Play"

>> Allan Durand, Lafayette, La., "Willie Francis Must Die Again"

>> Michael Werwie, Los Angeles, Calif., "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile"