A screenplay co-written by a 1997 graduate of Oneonta High School was recently chosen for a prestigious fellowship from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
A script by Alisha Brophy and her writing partner Scott Miles, “United States of F***in’ Awesome,” was one of four chosen for the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. The second to last word in the script’s title is an expletive.
Each fellowship received a prize of $35,000, according to media release from the Academy. The first installment will be given at a Nov. 13 awards presentation at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
“The Nicholl fellowship is truly life-changing,” Brophy said in an email. “Once all of the excitement with the festivities, and awards ceremony dies down, there is still a permanent support system that the academy offers. I look forward to taking advantage of the opportunities that are now coming my way and making the Academy proud,” she said.
Nicholl Fellowships Director Greg Beal said the script co-written by Brophy was one of four chosen from 7,511 submitted. It was chosen after a lengthy process. The script was “funny, irreverent and skillfully crafted. It showed writers with a great deal of potential,” Beal said. In the past 29 years, over 130,000 scripts have been submitted and only 137 writers or writing teams were chosen, he said. “Surviving the gantlet of multiple rounds and the scrutiny of the Nicholl committee was difficult to say the least.”
Brophy describes he prize-winning script as “The Hangover” meets Funny or Die’s “Drunk History.” She summarizes as follows: When Thomas Jefferson finishes writing the Declaration of Independence, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin take him out to celebrate. After a night of debauchery they wake up and realize the document is missing. If they can’t find it in time to be signed at the Continental Congress, there will be no America.
She said her influences in Oneonta include Greater Plains Elementary teacher Dawn Minnette. Her belief that Brophy had the potential to be an author, based on a class project was “life-changing,” she said. High school English teacher Linda Edison also was convinced her student would be a writer. “She helped me get into college to start pursuing that goal,” Brophy said.
She also cites the influences of her family in her career. This includes father Allan Brophy of East Greenbush who is “a storyteller himself.” She says of her mother and grandmother, Pat and Millie Roodhof of Oneonta, “Both women are integral to my success. My mother still edits my writing. My grandmother still laughs at my jokes.” She comes back home several times a year for family visits.
After high school, she took a few years off to find her direction. Brophy graduated in 2004 with a bachelor of arts in English and a minor in creative writing from the University of California at Berkeley. She earned a master of fine arts in screenwriting from the University of Texas in Austin in 2009. It was there she met the script’s co-writer. When she moved to Los Angeles they continued their writing partnership via Skype. Her work in the TV and the film industry includes serving as script coordinator for the Netflix original “Hemlock Grove.” She also teaches TV and screenwriting.