MPI Filmmaker Wins Coveted Academy Nicholl Fellowship

November 10, 2021

As announced in Deadline, MPI filmmaker R.J. Daniel Hanna (and his script Shelter Animal) has been selected as one of five winners in the 2021 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition. This fellowship selection is an impressive accomplishment for Dan and speaks volumes to his screenwriting abilities—his script having beat out over 8,000 submissions.

As a fellow in the Academy’s prestigious Nicholl Fellowship, Dan will be awarded $35,000, given mentorship from an Academy member, and is featured on the Academy’s YouTube channel in conversation with Destin Daniel Cretton (Shang-Chi, The Glass Castle). During the year-long fellowship he will work to complete a feature-length screenplay. 

Dan is the director of the critically-acclaimed MPI Original feature film Miss Virginia starring three-time Emmy winner Uzo Aduba, which subsequently earned him entry into the Directors Guild of America. As an MPI filmmaker, he has participated in numerous screenwriting workshops where he twice refined his winning screenplay Shelter Animal

He has directed commercials for Coca-Cola, Subway, Cole Haan, and numerous other brands, but his true passion is independent cinema that can ignite social change while delivering a powerful human story.

His short film Shelter, starring Clea DuVall (Argo, Zodiac) and April Grace (Whiplash, Magnolia), played at the SAG Short Film Showcase and won the Audience Award from the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles festival among other accolades. His most recent award-winning film Everything is based on a true story of a mother searching for a bone marrow donor for her daughter. It was featured in the Wall Street Journal and is spurring reform in the marrow donation industry.

We are eager to watch Dan’s screenwriting abilities flourish, and we are even more excited to read the screenplay he develops throughout his fellowship year. Congratulations, Dan!

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