Emerg­ing screen­writ­ers hon­oured with awards

Times Colonist - - Television - JONATHAN LAN­DRUM JR.

BEV­ERLY HILLS, Cal­i­for­nia — Five emerg­ing screen­writ­ers are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a break­through of a life­time, earn­ing praise from the film academy for their work.

The Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences rec­og­nized each screen­writer at the Ni­choll Fel­low­ships in Screen­writ­ing.

The three in­di­vid­u­als, along with a hus­band-and-wife writ­ing duo, re­ceived $35,000 US and had their work read live by ac­tors Jamie Chung, Lily Collins, Ken Jeong and Blair Un­der­wood.

The event was held at the academy’s head­quar­ters in Bev­erly Hills, Cal­i­for­nia.

Four screen­plays se­lected in­clude: Al­li­son and Ni­co­las Buck­melter, Amer­i­can Refugee; Joey Clarke, Jr., Miles; Grace Sher­man, Num­bers and Words; and Wenonah Wilms, Horse­head Girls.

All those countless hours writ­ing movie scripts, crank­ing out rough drafts and read­ing screen­writ­ing tu­to­ri­als to per­fect their craft have paid off for them.

“You sit at a Star­bucks hop­ing that maybe some day you’ll get the recog­ni­tion and some­one will read your work,” said Al­li­son Buck­melter, who had been writ­ing with her hus­band for more than a decade. “When we found out, we were ex­cited. This is very val­i­dat­ing.”

Her hus­band, Ni­co­las Buck­melter, of­fered a tip to other aspir­ing screen­writ­ers: “Just keep writ­ing. Put some­thing on pa­per, even if it’s bad. No­body is go­ing to read a blank page.”

Win­ners will re­ceive guid­ance from academy mem­bers as they com­plete a fea­ture-length screen­play dur­ing their fel­low­ship year.

The win­ning screen­plays were cho­sen from nearly 6,900 sub­mis­sions.

Since 1986, the com­pe­ti­tion has awarded hun­dreds of fel­low­ships, aim­ing to iden­tify and en­cour­age tal­ented new screen­writ­ers.

Past fel­lows have in­cluded writer-di­rec­tor Al­li­son An­ders, Pulitzer-win­ning nov­el­ist Jeff Eu­genides and Os­car win­ner Su­san­nah Grant (Erin Brock­ovich).

The films Find­ing For­rester and Trans­form­ers: Age of Ex­tinc­tion were also writ­ten by past Ni­choll fel­lows.

Ac­tor Lily Collins is star­ring in the up­com­ing Ted Bundy biopic Ex­tremely Wicked, Shock­ingly Evil and Vile.

The film’s orig­i­nal script, writ­ten by Michael Wer­wie, won a Ni­choll Fel­low­ship prize in 2012.

“We to get to bring life into th­ese scenes,” she said. “Th­ese writ­ers get to see and get a lit­tle taste of what it feels like to hear ac­tors read their work. So the idea of one get­ting off the ground and fi­nally gets made is pretty cool.”

Ac­tors Jamie Chung, from left, Blair Un­der­wood, Lily Collins and Ken Jeong read se­lected pas­sages from four win­ning scripts se­lected from a pool of nearly 6,700 sub­mis­sions world­wide. Each win­ner also re­ceives $35,000 US and help to com­plete a fea­ture-length screen­play.

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