NFTS Screenwriting Student Wins 'Academy' Nicholl Fellowship for Graduation Script

NFTS 2014 Screenwriting MA graduate Melissa Iqbal has been selected as a winner of the 2014 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting for her NFTS graduation screenplay The Death Engine.

Each individual winner and the combined writing team receives a $35,000 prize, the first instalment of which will be distributed at an awards presentation on Nov. 13 at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. For the second consecutive year, the event will also feature a live read of selected scenes from the fellows’ winning scripts by members of the Academy.

The winners were selected from a record 7,511 scripts submitted for this year’s competition. Eight individual screenwriters and two writing teams were chosen as finalists. Their scripts were then read and judged by the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, who ultimately chose the winners.

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

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, chaired by writer Robin Swicord, with marketing executive Buffy Shutt serving as vice chair, is comprised of writers Tina Gordon Chism, Daniel Petrie Jr., Eric Roth, Kirsten Smith and Dana Stevens; actor Eva Marie Saint; cinematographer John Bailey; executive Marcus Hu; producers Stephanie Allain, Albert Berger, Julia Chasman, Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro; and agent Ronald R. Mardigian.

Speaking after the announcement was made, Melissa Iqbal told the NFTS: “Winning the Academy Nicholl Fellowship has been absolutely amazing! The influx of requests I’ve received from producers and agents eager to read my work has been incredible and I’m excited to see what new opportunities arise as a result.

"You work on a script for months, loving it with all your heart, hoping people will connect with it and, when they do, there really is no better feeling in the world. It is such an honour to have been chosen.”

Corinne Cartier, NFTS Head of Screenwriting said: “We are thrilled for Melissa, who combines the great qualities of originality, passion and professionalism. The fact that she wrote this screenplay in her second year at NFTS is all the more impressive. The award should be a fantastic start in her professional life.”

Melissa’s success, just months after graduating from the NFTS Screenwriting course, follows in the footsteps of 2013 Screenwriting graduate Krysty Wilson-Cairns whose Sci Fi screenplay Aether was snapped up by Hollywood company FilmNation Entertainment just months after she graduated. Krysty was heralded as a ‘Star of Tomorrow’ by the film industry magazine Screen International, this year.

Melissa Iqbal is represented by Tracey Hyde at Casarotto Ramsay & Associates. 

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