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New York Television Festival selects indie pilots for 2018 competition

The 2018 New York Television Festival has selected 59 original pilots and pitches for its annual Independent Pilot Competition this July.

This year’s festival, the 14th NYTVF, takes place in the summer for the first time – July 14-20, 2018 at The Helen Mills Theater and Event Space, with select events at the SVA Theatre.

“Some of the most compelling storytelling on TV is coming from writers and creators with a variety of backgrounds, and this has become a real inspiration point for the next generation of creators.  We are seeing this in full force in 2018, and the unique stories being brought forward by indie artists are a clear reaction to this important industry trend,” said NYTVF Founder and executive director Terence Gray.

“At its core, the Festival has always been about elevating the best new creative voices and introducing them to industry decision-makers.  The fact that more than half of these projects don’t have representation, and three quarters are premiering at our Festival, aligns perfectly with our mission and the growing spotlight the industry is shining on independent television.”

NYTVF Director Erin Day said: “In addition to diversity – which remains a strong theme at the Festival, including 10 LGBTQIA-themed projects in competition as well as some sketch comedy from new POVs – we have seen other trends from the just-concluded pilot season and upfront presentations reflected in this year’s lineup. This includes 14 projects that tackle relationships and dating, eight Chicago-based pilots and the most animation selections (seven) and strongest drama pilots we have ever had.”

Information on the 2018 IPC Official Selections

(including links to trailers where available)

The Official Selections also feature a number of names, faces, and voices recognizable to TV fans, including projects created and executive produced by Timothy Busfield (ThirtysomethingThe West Wing), James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti (One Tree Hill), Will Arnett (Arrested Development), Marc Forman (The Gong Show), and Nate Smith (Inside Amy Schumer), Tony Gilroy (Rogue OneMichael Clayton) and Kerry Orent (The TickThe Affair), Kitao Sakurai (The Eric Andre Show), Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tim and Eric Awesome, Great Job!), Brittany Scott Smith (The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore) and Arjay Smith(Sons of AnarchyPerception), Alesia Etinoff (The Mayor), Susane Lee (Gilmore Girls),  and starring/featuring the talents of Robin Thede (The Rundown with Robin Thede), Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Michael Cyril Creighton (High MaintenanceSpotlight), Paul Scheer (The League), Carla Gallo (Bones), Joey Slotnick (Nip/TuckBoston Public), Nathan Kress (iCarly), Melissa Gilbert (Little House on the Prairie), Dylan Baker (HomelandThe Good Wife), Marin Mazzie (Tony-nominee Kiss Me KateRagtime), Danielle Campbell (The Originals, CW’s upcoming All American), Matthew Atkinson (Jane by Design), Jim Santangeli(Our Cartoon President), Ann Carr (Red Oaks), Caldwell Tidicue (Besties), Joshua Eads-Brown and Karl Westerberg (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Alexandra Park(The Royals), Cariba Heine (Home and Away), Christine Garver (Madam Secretary), and Deborah Baker Jr. (Stan Against Evil), Sam Gilroy (ImpostersBillions), Madeline Weinstein (Netflix’s upcoming Alex Strangelove), Melanie Leishman (Space’s Todd and the Book of Pure Evil), Emmanuel Kabongo (21 Thunder), Philip Burgers (Netflix’s Characters), Miles Fisher (Man Seeking Woman), Bob Clendenin (Longmire), Michael Charles Roman (Grace and Frankie), Holly Walker (The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore), Armando Riesco (The Chi), Drew Moerlein (South of Hell), Mary Catherine Garrison (Veep), Emma Fitzpatrick (Significant MotherThe Social Network), Jason Weiss (One Life to Live),  Rachael Holmes (Amazon’s Mad Dogs), Amy Hargreaves (Homeland) and Marlyne Barrett(Chicago MedThe Wire).

Here are the 32 comedy pilots:

12 Beers [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Mike Camerlengo – Brooklyn, NY. Once a year, longtime couple Danny and Sarah each drink 12 beers and decide if they’re going to re-up their lease…and their relationship.

2some [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Kris Isacsson – Pound Ridge, NY. Two stay-at-home dads navigate life in suburbia.. Starring Joey Slotnick (Nip/TuckBoston Public) and Ed Herbstman (The Big Sick)

Alive in Denver

  • Created by Michael Levin – Los Angeles, CA. As an apocalyptic meteor hurtles toward Earth, five friends reveal their deepest darkest secrets to each other while they still have the chance. Starring Nathan Kress (iCarly) and Danielle Campbell (The Originals, CW’s upcoming All American)

Bothered [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Catherine McCafferty and Seth Daniel – Los Angeles, CA. A dark comedy following two twenty-whatever roommates as they poorly navigate life, relationships, and getting up in the morning.

Brooklyn Moving Company [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Ryan Harrington and Isaac Himmelman – Brooklyn, NY. The members of an unconventional moving company try in earnest to transform the lives of their Brooklyn clientele through song and dance.

Brown Ops [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Nate Smith – Los Angeles, CA. CIA Black Ops agents are the smartest, deadliest spies in the world. The best of the best. Then there are BROWN OPS agents… look, not everybody can be the best. Created by and starring Nate Smith (Inside Amy Schumer), starring Jim Santangeli (Our Cartoon President) and Ann Carr (Red Oaks), and executive produced by Electric Avenue’s Will Arnett and Marc Forman, and Artists First’s Peter Principato and Brian Steinberg

Carol’s A Demon [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Amanda Holland – Los Angeles, CA. When Sofia and her friends accidentally summon an optimistic demon named Carol, Sofia has to figure out if she’s willing to help the 3,000 year old demon get into heaven or try to send her back to hell. Starring and Executive Produced by Ashly Perez (Buzzfeed Motion Pictures)

The Cocoa Fondue Show [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Andrew Wyatt Arnold and Will Robelo – Los Angeles, CA. It’s a constant battle for the spotlight on and off stage when the LIPS Network decides to cast archrivals Cocoa Fondue and Catastrawberry as co-hosts for their new Drag-tastic variety show. Starring Caldwell Tidicue, Joshua Eads-Brown, and Karl Westerberg (RuPaul’s Drag Race)

Cross Stitch [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Cristi Rumpza and Emily Schmidt – Los Angeles, CA. When a woman from Mary Beth’s past threatens to sabotage her chances in the Cranberry Festival Bake-Off, she goes to dangerous lengths to maintain her reputation in the quaint town of Stone Lake, WI.

Everyone Is Doing Great

  • Created by James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti – Los Angeles, CA. Five years after their series Eternal has ended, actors Seth and Jeremy lean on each other as they struggle to reclaim their previous level of success and relevance, awkwardly navigating the perils of life and love amidst a humorously painful coming of age. Created by and starring James Lafferty (One Tree Hill) and Stephen Colletti (Laguna Beach) and starring Alexandra Park (The Royals), Cariba Heine (Home and Away), Matthew Atkinson (Jane by Design), Christine Garver (Madam Secretary), and Deborah Baker Jr. (Stan Against Evil)

Framed [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Claire McFadden – Chicago, IL. This Chicago-set improvised series goes behind the counter of a custom frame shop, where a parade of customers reveal their troubles, aspirations, and drama in the process of framing their precious art.

The Gary Gold Story [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Greg Ash – Los Angeles, CA. A comedy series following the attempts of a once great English footballer to resurrect his career in Los Angeles.

Ghost Girl [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Samantha Evans – New York, NY. Quirky, crafty, and musical, Ghost Girl focuses on grief and the strength of a life-long friendship between two young women.

Ghost Squad [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Andy Kushnir and Carley Moseley – Chicago, IL. A mockumentary series which follows a ragtag group of paranormal investigators led by their staunchly optimistic leader Desperado Miller, who join forces to suss out ghouls and spirits from homes across the Chicago area.

Good Hombres [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Cesar Jaime, Damian Anaya, and Jose Molina – Chicago, IL. A sketch comedy show that celebrates and examines Latino culture from a brand new perspective.

Hammerhead [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Dean Imperial – New York, NY. An ambitious, driven and deceptively cunning young man with a deformed forehead, leaves his father’s home after graduate school determined to climb the ladder of success in New York City and find a mate – against all odds. Starring Sam Gilroy (ImpostersBillions) and executive produced by Tony Gilroy (Rogue OneMichael Clayton) and Kerry Orent (The TickThe Affair)

Ian Owes U [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by J.W. Crump, Tim Mele, and Chris Pappas – New York, NY. Lazy and hapless Ian uses a money app to earn rent from strangers, in exchange for doing any single favor they may ask for.

It Girl Gay Assistant [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Pat Regan and Bailey Edwards – New York, NY. The fiercely loyal gay assistant to a quintessential Manhattan “It-Girl” faces an unexpected and explosive career change mid-work week.

John Loos: Too Big For This World

  • Created by John Loos – Chicago, IL. A queer sketch comedy show for all the ex-football player drag queens out there.

Kappa Force [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Addison Heimann – Chicago, IL. Kappa Force tells the story of five sorority sisters fighting the patriarchy, one frat boy at a time. Starring Madeline Weinstein (Netflix’s upcoming Alex Strangelove)

Kristal Clear

  • Created by Amanda Fahey – Toronto, Canada. An internet celebrity and “selfie queen” reunites with her estranged identical twin after she wakes up to discover she’s invisible. Starring Melanie Leishman (Space’s Todd and the Book of Pure Evil) and Emmanuel Kabongo (21 Thunder)

The Mission [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Marie-Marguerite Sabongui and Benedict Moran – Toronto, Canada. An idealistic Canadian diplomat at the UN tries to make a difference, navigating the eccentric characters and impossible clusterf*ck that make up international diplomacy. Starring Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?)

Mr. Nice Girls [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Hope Carew and Allison O’Conor – Austin, TX. Two best friends run a fake ID business at their university in a desperate attempt to seem cool.

The Passage

  • Created by Philip Burgers and Kitao Sakurai – Los Angeles, CA. Phil, wide-eyed and mute, is forced to go on the run in order to keep one step ahead of a pagan cult. His childlike ineptitude keeps getting him into trouble, and agents who’ve been hired to recapture him are always one step behind. Co-created and directed by Kitao Sakurai (The Eric Andre Show), executive produced by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tim and Eric Awesome, Great Job!), and co-created by and starring Philip Burgers (Netflix’s Characters)


  • Created by Giles Andrew, Alex Bourne, and Dan Marshall – Los Angeles, CA. A group of eclectic parents are forced into friendships through a variety of playdates. Starring Paul Scheer (The League), Carla Gallo (Bones), Miles Fisher (Man Seeking Woman), and Bob Clendenin (Longmire)

Queers! [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Peter Kim and Eric Lewis-Baker – Chicago, IL. Queers! follows the everyday struggles of a gay odd couple stumbling through adulthood one embarrassment at a time.

Run For Your Life

  • Created by Martha Williams – New York, NY. A comedy web series about internet dates that make you literally…RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.

Smüchr [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Niccolo Aeed and Marina Tempelsman – New York, NY. Emily, a customer support representative for an online dating company, will make all the lonely people in America couple up like penguins – or she’ll die trying.


  • Created by Susane Lee and Andrew Olsen – Los Angeles, CA. A dark comedic anthology series revolving around the awkward and surreal misfortunes of a young Asian-American woman. Created by and starring Susane Lee (Gilmore Girls)

Urban Press [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Brittany Scott Smith and Arjay Smith – Los Angeles, CA. A group of misfit co-workers at an urban magazine company prove that a nobody can be an anybody. Created by Brittany Scott Smith (The Rundown with Robin ThedeThe Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore), created by and starring Arjay Smith (Sons of Anarchy, Perception), and starring Robin Thede (The Rundown with Robin Thede), Michael Charles Roman (Grace and Frankie), and Holly Walker (The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore)

The Water Cooler [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Teresa Decher and Jason Nguyen – Los Angeles, CA. Two impossibly awkward office employees try to make friends at the water cooler.

Work Buds [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Brett Maline and Damian Gomez – Los Angeles, CA. A recently dumped, pushover bookkeeper lets his clueless, overbearing boss take him out to cheer him up, and one drink leads to the longest night of their lives.


ANIMATION (7 Pilots)

Mixed [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Manolo Moreno – New York, NY. An Asian-American woman in a mixed-race relationship struggles between being a young, urban hipster and a good mother (to an obnoxious musical prodigy).

The North Pole Gang! [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Charlie Laud – Los Angeles, CA. When Santa’s away, you better watch out! Enduring the unforgiving ever-winter of the Arctic is a lot easier with The North Pole Gang at your side.

Omega House [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Marc Sloboda – Chicago, IL. After surviving the nuclear apocalypse, four mutated frat brothers set out on a journey across the wasteland to figure out what the heck happened.

Robits [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Chris Parks – Los Angeles, CA. A group of Robots work a nine to five in corporate America.

Rock Bottom

  • Created by Nick Baker and Tristan Klein – Sydney, Australia. Welcome to Rock Bottom – a filthy underground bar, full of filthy underground bugs.

Slug Seeks Shell [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Amanda DeSimone – Los Angeles, CA. A lonely slug searches the seashore for a shell (her ticket to popularity), only to find the shell of her dreams half-buried under a sassy beached whale.

Tommy Wants His Mommy [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Tom McDonald – Brooklyn, NY. An absurdly banal series following a 28-year-old slacker that moves back in with his suburban Mom, who begins mentoring him in the family business: life coaching.

ALSO in other formats…

True Puppet Theater [World Festival Premiere]

  • Created by Victor Varnado – New York, NY. This comedic series puts an unexpected spin on true-crime formats, with hilarious retellings of startling stories with paper puppets.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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