Winning a prize at the New York Television Festival might not put your independent TV pilot on the air immediately, but it definitely will put you on the map and on the radar for the executives and showrunners who are looking to hire the next great voice.
Even just before finding out he’d won an award in this year’s “Independent Pilot Competition,” Victor Varnado told me on Saturday that the more important facet to festivals such as NYTVF is the ability to take meetings afterward.
And Luke Cunningham revealed Saturday during the festival’s annual “Late-Night Writers” panel that a NYTVF award helped compel him to move to Hollywood, where he not only took TV writing jobs but also taking a screenwriting course at UCLA. Cunningham now is a monologue writer for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Who left the 11th annual NYTVF the happiest?
Well, The Katering Show and The Parker Tribe tied for “Best of the Fest” honors, with the former also winning “Best Short-Form Digital Series”; the latter, the NYTVF Critics Award and a best actor award for David Koechner. Marshall Stratton and James Coker (pictured above) won best actors in a comedy, plus a development deal with Comedy Central.
“It’s an exciting time to love TV, create TV and develop TV – across all platforms – and this year’s Festival harnessed this excitement as fans, executives and independent artists celebrated this art form,” said NYTVF Founder and Executive Director Terence Gray. “We saw a real uptick across the board in the quality of submissions this year, resulting in strong engagement by industry decision-makers, and a record number of meetings taking place throughout the week between these partners and our Official Artists.”
The festival picked 103 projects for the Independent Pilot Competition out of more than 2,000 submissions. Here are the relevant winners for comedians and comedy fans…
2015 INDEPENDENT PILOT COMPETITION WINNERS
Best Comedy Pilot: “New Partner” Created by Quinn Beswick and Josh Margolin (Los Angeles, CA) starring Margolin, Beswick, Nick Searcy, Josh Fadem, Wayne Knight, Sasha Spielberg and more. Logline: Welcome to the cursed existence of Ron Robinson, a cop who can’t stop getting his partners killed.
Best Drama or Dramedy Pilot: “Riftworld” Created by Jonathan Williams, Andrew Nicholas McCann Smith, and Laura Perlmutter (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), and starring Munro Chambers, Erin Karpluk and Tahmoh Penikett. Logline: A struggling journalist teams up with a dimension-traveling wizard to help him find his way home.
Best Short-Form Digital Series: “The Katering Show” Created by Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia). Logline: The journey of a food intolerant and an intolerable foodie.
Best Unscripted Pilot: “Funny Cause It’s True” Created by Victor Varnado (New York, NY), and starring Rachel Feinstein, Joe DeRosa and Hannibal Buress as themselves. Logline: A “Mythbusters”-style look at the world of comedy that deconstructs a comedian’s act from the inside out.
Best Actress (Comedy): Becky Yamamoto and Meghan O’Neill for “2 Chans”
Best Actor (Comedy): Marshall Stratton and James Coker for “The Other Kennedys”
Best Actor (Drama or Dramedy): David Koechner for “The Parker Tribe”
Best Editor: Tulica Singh for “Croissant Man”
Best Writing: Bob Borrmann and Luca Stein for “Dead John”
NYTVF Critics Award: “The Parker Tribe” created by Jane Baker (Brattleboro, VT), and starring David Koechner, Paula Pell and Cassandra Beske Dunn. Living life in suburban Philadelphia in the late 1970s is both hilarious and painful for Mary “Jo” Parker, a 13-year-old tomboy in a large Irish Catholic family.
2015 NYTVF DEVELOPMENT DEALS AND NETWORK AWARD WINNERS
Comedy Central Development Award: Marshall Stratton and James Coker for “The Other Kennedys” (New York, NY), starring the duo as cousins who are such distant relatives of the Kennedys, they’re not considered part of the family.
Red Arrow Entertainment and Fabrik Entertainment Development Award: Loren Tarquinio for his project “Mamarazzi” (Los Angeles, CA), starring Andrea Anders, Anna Vocino, Will Greenberg, and Minnie Driver as herself. Logline: Two broke, single moms decide to become paparazzi as a last ditch effort to try to support themselves.
Red Arrow Entertaiment and Left/Right Development Award: Micah Sherman for his project “Improvising” (New York, NY), starring Sherman, Natasha Rothwell, Richie Moriarty, Steve Siddell and Jackie Zebrowski. Logline: Four improvisers teach improv in New York City as events in their lives mirror what happens in class and vice versa.
truTV Greenlight Award: Lauren Ludwig and Laura Grey for their project “Ex-Girlfiend” (Los Angeles, CA), starring Grey and Brennan Buhl. Logline: Gregor’s life is thrown into chaos when his ex-girlfriend Anna shows up in his apartment as a ghost. This winner has been selected to develop a project in partnership with truTV and NYTVF Productions.