An entrant for The Academy Nicholl Fellowships gets a comment that you shouldn’t miss

As a writer, you have to expect some people won’t like what they read.  Heck, they might even give you an amazon review that could ruin your life.  But when you submit work to be scrutinized by professionals, how far can constructive criticism go?  Rachel Koller, an aspiring screenwriter, has something to say about that, after receiving comments to her work she deemed inappropriate.

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships, an international screenwriting competition established to identify and encourage talented new screenwriters has released their readers comments.  And now that the verdict is out on all the submissions, it’s almost a given that there are going to be some sour writers out there, who think their scripts are the next “Crash”.  I mean, maybe, but probably not, but let’s keep positive right?  Anyway…as part of the deal, you get comments on your script either from an industry professional or a member of the academy, depending on how far you go in the competition.  This is pushed as something really valuable because entrants are getting constructive criticism from people who are already in the business.

But from Rachel Koller’s experience, constructive criticism isn’t always the case.  Here is the final comment on her script:


So Rachel Koller complained to The Academy.  And lucky for us, Britta Lundin, a friend of the writer, caught the initial response from someone managing The Academy’s account, and posted it to Twitter.

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Do I sense some sass from this post??  It’s clear by the intern’s remarks that he/she is trying to defend the reader’s comments.  The intern sees Koller’s upset as trivial since in the end (aka BTW) she received a positive score.  Everything was supposedly taken out of context, but is this “joke” going too far?  And for some reason the intern keeps posting:

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What caused the intern to keep posting, I have no clue.  This post implies that based on the suggestive title and the description of “stunning” females inside the script, the reader’s mind immediately went to porn and decided to reiterate that with a joke.  Sexist? yes.  Constructive? Not at all.  Understandable, yeah.  If I were to read the title “The Big D”, I don’t think I’m alone in that your mind goes straight to thinking about penis.  It’s natural, this was Koller’s intent, and we don’t have to be ashamed.  But telling someone their written work is equal to the caliber of porn because the girls at least seem attractive is not helpful.  It’s a little weak to be honest.  If I paid to have my script handled that way I would be furious too.  It’s surface level criticism that seems absolutely lazy.

So she posts the entire comment:

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photo credit:

And award for sassiest reply goes to The Academy Intern.  Honorable mention to the girl defending her life’s work.  Why is this intern so intent on proving Koller wrong?  Is it sexism?  Is it sheer boredom because they have to post status updates about people like Clark Gable and Marlon Brando?  I’m not sure.

Although there are a lot of great female filmmakers out there, it’s no secret that the guy:girl ratio is a little skewed.  And it’s also no secret that there is favoritism and chauvinism inside of Hollywood.  I don’t need to say what Patricia Arquette already articulated in her Oscar speech, addressing the gender wage gap.  Sexism is bad, we hate it, I know.

But are these remarks made by the reader necessarily a sexist jab towards Rachel Koller?  A conversation on Facebook brought up an interesting point.

academy 4Do you agree with the Facebookers?  The reader’s for the competition are blind to age, gender, and race.  To say that the comments made by the reader and The Academy’s intern were inappropriate is a fact.  But is it fair to say that Rachel Koller was criticized because she IS a woman?

The Academy has since apologized:

academy 5 What are your thoughts on this debacle?  And what do you think happened to that poor, poor, sassy intern?