News / TV

“Hammerhead” takes top honors at 2018 New York Television Festival

A hotbed for independent pilots and development deals, the first-ever summer edition of the New York Television Festival wrapped over the weekend, with Hammerhead taking top honors as both Best of the Fest and winning the NYTVF Critics Award.

Just in time for Shark Week, too!

Hammerhead isn’t that kind of TV show, though. Created by New Yorker Dean Imperial, the independent TV pilot follows “an ambitious, driven, and deceptively cunning young man with a deformed forehead (who) leaves his father’s home after graduate school determined to climb the ladder of success in New York City.”

And in the scripts competition, a comedy (The Curse) written by Vulture’s Jesse David Fox and Halle Kiefer tied with Granted, written by Alison Barton and Bonnie Dennison from Los Angeles.

“Independent television hasn’t only arrived – it is stronger than ever,” said NYTVF Founder and Executive Director Terence Gray. “Each year, I am floored by how much the quality of the work submitted by the independent television community continues to improve – having received more than 3,300 submissions for the third year in a row.  I’m honored that our partners have embraced the Festival as a go-to venue for new and diverse stories, voices and talent during their development process, and proud to be part of an incredible team that has brought opportunities to indie artists by arranging nearly 2000 networking and pitch meetings between them and industry execs over the past three years alone.”

Here are the other big winners from this week’s NYTVF!


Best Animated Project: Omega House – 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.

Best Comedy Project: Smüchr – 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.

Best Drama/Dramedy Project: Paint – Created by Michael Walker (New York, NY). Three young artists live in Brooklyn, struggling to make it, not only in the art world, but in life.

Best Short-Form Comedy Project: susaneLand – 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.

Best Short-Form Drama/Dramedy Project: Avant-Guardians – Created by Alesia Etinoff  (Los Angeles, CA). When the woke-ish Guardian Angel to the future 3rd Black President goes a little off her rocker, she’s mandated by God to visit a no-nonsense Therapist Angel.

Best Unscripted Project: Rooftop Kings – Created by Carmine Famiglietti and Peter Fragliossi (Queens, NY). An inside look at a subculture hiding in plain sight on the rooftops of New York City: This is Goodfellas, with pigeons.

Best Actor in a Comedy: Ryan Harrington and Isaac Himmelman in Brooklyn Moving Company (New York, NY)

Best Actress in a Comedy: Tessa Hersh in Smüchr and 2some (New York, NY)

Best Actor in a Drama: Sam Gilroy in Hammerhead (New York, NY)

Best Actress in a Drama: Deja Harrell in Seeds (Chicago, IL)

Best Direction Drama: Midnights – Directed by Alvaro Donado (Paterson, NJ)

Best Direction Comedy: The Passage – Directed by Kitao Sakurai (Los Angeles, CA)

Best Editing: Ghost Girl – Edited by Alexandra Gilwit and Charlotte Prager (New York, NY)

Best Writing: Alive in Denver – Written by Michael Levin (Los Angeles, CA)

Audible Pitch Deal:

The three below will receive a development grant to further develop their concept with Audible:

  • Don P. Hooper for “BK Time Skippers”
  • Kaitlin Fontana and Carolyn Bergier for “Peace”
  • Gordon Rayfield for “Boomer”

Comedy Central Development Deal: Omega House– Created by Marc Sloboda

Red Arrow Studios Development Award: The Gary Gold Story – Created by Greg Ash

TOPIC Pitch Deal: Damian Gomez for “Hyphenated”

truTV Comedy Breakout Initiative: We Don’t Want to Scare You, But…– Created by Tessa Greenberg and Moujan Zolfaghari

WE tv Pitch Deal: Richard Knight, Carrie Jean Knight, and Anna Boyter for “Now Serving Seconds”

In addition to the above, New York Women in Film and Television awarded a platinum membership to Martha Williams in recognition of her work on Run for Your Life, and the Hollywood Radio and Television Society Script Competition winners – Tara Tomicevic for Bianca (Drama) and Julia Monahan for Teej & The Explorers (Comedy) – were recognized at the Festival. Winners of the Hulu Pitch deal and OneX Comedy Collective Alumni Initiative will be announced at a later date.

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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