Screenwriter Spotlight: Matthew Nicholson



1. Tell us about your background. Where are you from? How did you get into

screenwriting? How long have you been a screenwriter?


I’m an editor and screenwriter based in New York City. Over the last eight years, I have worked on the social media and video teams for Star Trek’s George Takei and now serve as the senior editor for the viral content on his website which has surpassed two billion clicks. I’ve produced and written two web series during my tenure including New York Minutes and It Takeis Two (starring George and his husband, Brad Takei). One of my favorite professional credits was being a researcher for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. There was nothing like the thrill of having a reason to call NASA and to ask about black holes or contact McDonald’s about whether they really have spam on their Hawaii menu. Spoiler alert: they do.


For the last three years, I have been diligently building up my award-winning portfolio of pilots and short scripts. I am currently in the process of promoting my TV pilot New Olympus, which focuses on the reluctant, modern-day descendant of Pandora from Greek mythology.


After failing to make it as an actress, Liz Payne returns home on All Hallow’s Eve to her hometown of New Olympus, Connecticut. The town is a tourist trap similar to Salem or Roswell while substituting the popular lore of witchcraft and aliens with Greek mythology. Once home, Liz takes on the mantle of Pandora from her late mother and vows to trap all of the Original Evils back inside her ancestor’s cursed box once and for all. Can Liz claim her destiny as the new owner of Pandora’s box before her hometown is overrun by evil?


Think Buffy meets Netflix’s The Sandman.


2. What would you ideally be doing in the industry in about 5-10 years from now?


In 10 years, I would love to have worked in some writers’ rooms, developed more projects, and worked towards selling them. Until then, I plan to write as many scripts in as many genres as possible, foster relationships with other writers, and hone my craft. I have 40 screenwriting contest wins and 70+ placements to my name so far, and I am only getting started.


3. Describe your style. What types of stories move you or get you excited? Why?


I am drawn to magical realism rooted in real emotion. You know, what if Pandora’s box exists and it has feelings? Or how does it feel about its part in what Pandora did? The balance between genuine emotion and fantastical situations is a fun thing to play with. Yes, I love a scene with the literal personification of Doubt dressed up as a Scarecrow whispering in my characters’ ears, but what can he say that really takes us to a vulnerable place and forces the characters to grow, to overcome their fears? Overall, I like to champion fantastical stories with joy, hope, and tons of heart.


What I love about television is the long arc and the ability to spend seasons with your favorite characters. New Olympus was the first time I’d had the chance to shape the arc of a whole season and fully develop my ensemble of characters. I reveled in creating the rules of my world and Pandora’s box plank by plank. I know exactly where I’d like to take Liz and her relationship with Pandora’s Box and the residents of New Olympus for years to come.


If you’re interested, I am happy to send you the pitch deck that highlights the entire first season, including episode breakdowns and a taste of what’s in store for season 2.


4. Who is your biggest screenwriting/filmmaking influence? Why?


My brain is basically the love child of J.J. Abrams, Shonda Rhimes, and Amy Sherman-Palladino. In my ideal world, I would go on spy missions with Sydney Bristow, perform surgery and dance it out with Meredith Grey, and still make it to Luke’s diner before closing for coffee with Rory and Lorelai. I got my ear for fast, character-driven dialogue from Amy and Shonda, and from J.J., I discovered my love for action stories and big mysteries.


5. What are your top 5 films or TV shows of all time?


Alias, Buffy, The Good Place, The Magicians, and Warehouse 13.


6. By the end of your screenwriting/filmmaking career, what do you want to be most

known for?


In my final hour, I would like to be known for telling great and dynamic stories that people watched again and again.


7. What’s next for you and your screenwriting talent? Any plans, strategies, or new

projects on the horizon?


I am waiting to hear from several festivals and fellowships for New Olympus, my short screenplay Pietra Fredda, and a few other projects. Fingers crossed that those scripts can open up networking doors for me. I am also developing several new pilots and shorts for the 2023 season, so be sure to follow along on my website at or on Twitter @writerly203.


8. If you can work or collaborate with anyone (past or present) in the film industry, who

would that be? Why?


Sera Gamble (The Magicians, You), hands down. During quarantine, Sera started a Youtube series where she interviewed other creatives about their process and common pitfalls, and it motivated me to start working diligently on my own portfolio.


In one of the videos, she said something that’s always stuck with me, “I will always pick the ambitious failure.” I printed that out and hung it right over my desk to keep me accountable to my writing and as a reminder to take risks in my scripts. I would do anything in my power (and possibly Niffin out)  to have the opportunity to work with her in a professional capacity.


9. If you could spend a day with anyone (past or present) who would it be?


My mother, Nancy Nicholson, who passed away from Huntington’s Disease a few years ago. I wish I could share these screenwriting wins with my mom because none of this would be possible without her support. Art definitely mirrors life with the protagonist’s journey in New Olympus. The death of my heroine Liz’s mother in the script is the catalyst for the story. Only after Liz’s mother is murdered can she realize her potential as a hero and drill down on the lessons her mother left to guide her. Similarly, my mother’s death unlocked a well of untapped strength and determination to chase my dreams to be a writer.


10. What is the one thing that if you can accomplish in your screenwriting/filmmaking

career, would leave you satisfied?


One of the best days of my life was when I saw my name in the credits of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. I think I could die happy after seeing the words “created by Matthew Nicholson” during the opening credits of one of my shows. For now, I am quite satisfied and elated with this finalist laurel in the NYC International Screenplay Awards. Thank you so much for the honor!