Universal Pictures is Seeking New Writers 2017

Image: The 2016/2017 Emerging Writers Fellowship Writers (L to R) Juel Taylor, Josephine Green, Brian Buccellato, Leon Hendrix and Roseanne McAleese

Applications are now open for the Universal Writers Program, a year-long paid fellowship program for up-and-coming screenwriters. The program seeks to identify writers with unique, global perspectives and to develop storytellers with the intent to incorporate multicultural and global perspectives in screenwriting.

The primary goal of the one-year program is for the selected writers to create material for development consideration; however, concept development is not guaranteed.  In addition to penning two feature-length scripts, writers will participate in a curriculum designed to strengthen their creative approach, personal presentation skills and overall knowledge of the studio production process.

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Applications for the prestigious and lucrative Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting are now open for 2017.

This international screenwriting competition awards up to five fellowships of US$35,000 each year. Since 1986, 147 fellowships totalling $4,090,000 have been awarded.

Who Can Enter

The competition is open to writers based anywhere in the world, regardless of citizenship. All entrants must be aged over 18. Entry scripts must be the original work of one writer, or of two writers who collaborated equally, and must be written originally in English. Translated scripts are not eligible.

The fellowships are intended for new and/or amateur screenwriters. In order to be eligible, an entrant’s total earnings for motion picture and television writing may not exceed US$25,000 before the end of the competition.

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Image via Reddit

Aaron Sorkin is one of the best known and most influential screenwriters working today. He received four Primetime Emmy Awards for ‘The West Wing’ and won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2011 for ‘The Social Network’.

Earlier this week Sorkin participated in an Ask Me Asking session on Reddit to help promote his new online screenwriting class. When Sorkin was asked how much of a character’s backstory he knows before he writes, he provided the following insightful answer:

I don’t like to commit myself to anything in a character’s backstory until I have to. I didn’t know going into the West Wing that Bartlet had MS. Then, along came an episode where I needed to introduce the idea that the First Lady (Dr. Channing) was a medical doctor. And the way I did it was by giving Bartlet MS.

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Hollie Overton - Baby Doll Interview

Hollie Overton is a Chicago-born, Texas-raised writer who has worked on a number of television series including Cold Case, The Client List and Shadowhunters, the series based on Cassandra Clare’s international bestseller The Mortal Instruments.

Hollie’s debut novel, Baby Doll, is out this month. We contacted her to find out more about her experience writing both scripts and books.

You didn’t study creative writing or English Literature at college, but instead acting. Do you think this background as a performer impacts your approach to storytelling? 
Acting was my first love and those skills I learned have been invaluable as both as a TV writer and now a novelist.  I fell in love with performing in middle school and high school.  I learned how to tell stories by analyzing plays, breaking down characters and studying structure. I spent years studying acting and all that knowledge informs everything I write. I visual things that I’m writing, how will it look, is it authentic. The same goes for dialogue.  How would it sound if an actor were saying those words? Even though I didn’t continue my acting pursuits, I’m so grateful for the training and that it led me down this career path.

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The University of East Anglia’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing is offering a free, online course focused on screenwriting.

Starting on Monday 2 May, this course is for anyone new to scriptwriting and for more experienced writers who wish to raise their scriptwriting to a professional level: “It will establish a common vocabulary for approaching the screenplay and form the basis for upcoming courses in dramatic adaptation, the crime screenplay, and other genres and skills.”

The course is led by Michael Lengsfield. A graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, Michael has written scripts for The Walt Disney Company, Harpo Entertainment and others, and his work has screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

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