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American Gem Short Screenplay & Literary Festival
2011 Screenplay Contest

Enter your Short Screenplay, Short Story, Treatment in American Gem Short Screenplay Contest / Literary Festival. 

Winning Screenplay in the American Gem Short Screenplay Contest will be Produced.

Grand Prize Winner / Short Screenplay Gets to Pitch Screenplay to Producers, Studio Executives and Agents. Certificate of achievement awards to the Top 25 scripts and top 3 in each of the other categories.

from script to screen


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FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards
Screenplay Contest Interview



CATEGORY 1 / Crime Mystery

George Nicholis

Crime mystery

George Nicholis
of Astoria, NY, USA


George Nicholis - Ohio native George Nicholis is an up-and-coming screenwriter whose dual-coast experiences working in both the film and television industries have fueled his passion for creating narratives intended for the screen. After graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Telecommunications from Ohio University in 2004, Nicholis worked for Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles, obtaining various positions with The Insider and Entertainment Tonight. While in L.A., he wrote, produced and directed the short film PRISONERS OF WAR, which earned national recognition in the Short Film Festival. In 2006, Nicholis relocated to New York City after accepting a position in marketing and publicity with the independent film distribution company, Picturehouse. During this time, he completed the feature-length screenplay, PAPER AIRPLANES, which secured a finalist position in the 2007 International Writing Contest and went on to receive a staged reading at the IFC Film Center in New York City. Nicholisí next feature-length script, HOLMES, won First Place in the 2009 Creative World Awards Screenplay Contest, was a Top 10 Finalist in the 2009 ScriptShark Insider Competition and a Top 20 Finalist in the 2009 Champion Screenwriting Competition. He currently resides in New York City.


Part 1.


I knew we wanted to be screenwriters........

When I was in the third grade I became obsessed with Shane Blackís The Monster Squad, and would repeatedly screen that movie for all my friends during sleepovers. One day in class we were given a Ďcreative writingí assignment and while everyone else wrote about what theyíd packed for lunch that day or their favorite pet, I wrote a cheap knock-off of The Monster Squad featuring my classmates. I donít think my teacher - a nun - was too thrilled. But from then on I knew I wanted to write stories for movies.

I know I've succeeded........ 

Success is relative, but I think I can say ďIíve made itĒ when Iím able to comfortably leave my day job and write full-time!


My inspiration to write Holmes.....

Iím a crime noir junkie and happened to be reading a lot of Walter Mosley and Dashiell Hammett books a few years ago (and also catching repeat viewings of Blue Velvet) when I got the idea for a different, modern take on a Sherlock Holmes-like character: An African-American kid from the projects who picks his cases from newspaper ads.


Part 2.


FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

George Nicholis: My love of movies, comic books and fictional stories that transport me to another time and place.

FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?

George Nicholis: I didnít do too many conventional exercises to prepare for my first script Ė it was sort of a trial-by-error effort which in turn caused an onslaught of unnecessary drafts. Now I complete detailed outlines for every script so I know exactly what happens before I sit down at my keyboard. But I always try to leave enough room to improvise.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?

George Nicholis: HOLMES is my third feature-length script and it probably took me about nine months to complete from initial idea/concept to final draft.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?

George Nicholis: Since I have a nine-to-five job, I write in the evenings and on weekends. I donít try to reach a certain page-count on a daily basis and I donít always write every day. I typically map out scenes in my head before I sit down to write it.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

George Nicholis: Absolutely! For anyone who doesnít have connections in the entertainment industry, I think itís crucial to submit to screenplay contests. Iíve been fortunate enough to work in the entertainment industry, but I still submit to contests because for me itís proven to be the easiest way to get the decision-makers to read my work.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards / Screenplay Contest?

George Nicholis: I usually choose screenplay contests with prize packages that include distributing winning scripts to agents/managers/producers. Cash prizes are always great, but my main goal is to gain representation. So Filmmakers fit the bill.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

George Nicholis: I try to read a lot of Black List scripts when I can get my hands on them partly because theyíre solid examples of the kinds of stories Hollywood is looking for but also because I might learn a trick or two stylistically from them. One that I read recently, Ryan Condalís GALAHAD, is pretty neat.

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

George Nicholis: Iím passionate about my family, friends and of course my lovely fiancť.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

George Nicholis: I really like Shane Black. Just read his draft of Lethal Weapon and watch Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Prime examples of why.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

George Nicholis:
Iím a big fan of Alexander Payne. I love how he can take characters that should never gain sympathy from an audience, yet he infuses them with life and humor and low and behold, sympathy.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

George Nicholis: Robert Downey, Jr. always holds my attention, no matter what film heís in (yes, even FUR). He can switch from melodrama to comedy in just one facial expression or physical gesture. And Ė he never once looks like heís trying to act. It seems so natural.

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

George Nicholis: Everyone says it and sometimes it can make you gag. But keep writing! If you love to write and keep doing it, youíll get better. Iím not saying write every day, but write often. Read as many books as you can get your hands on. Not only will it help inform your stories, it will also improve your prose.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

George Nicholis: Iím submitting my latest script, a revenge-thriller called BIG BAD WOLFE, to screenplay contests and Iím working on my next script, a comedy.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

George Nicholis: I hope to have a manager and an agent and to continue writing original spec scripts for as long as I can.


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