Nat Geo, Gannett looking for unscripted at NYTVF

Ahead of the New York Television Festival's ninth annual event next week, NYTVF founder and executive director Terence Gray (pictured) tells realscreen about the two new partners that officially selected artists will be able to pitch to.
October 17, 2013

Ahead of the New York Television Festival’s (NYTVF) ninth annual event next week, NYTVF founder and executive director Terence Gray (pictured) tells realscreen about the two new partners that officially selected artists will be able to pitch to.

The NYTVF, which in recent years launched Unscripted Development Pipelines with Lifetime, A&E, TruTV and others, is continuing its quest to match up emerging producers with networks by adding National Geographic Channel and Gannett – which owns broadcast, digital, mobile and publishing companies, including USA Today, and local television networks across the U.S. – to its pitch program.

The official artists of the fest – those that have submitted a project to one of the NYTVF’s competitions or initiatives and been selected – will be able to submit unscripted pitches to the partners in the pitch program, which include Bio and Sundance Channel.

Roughly 350 writers and producers will be eligible and those with the top pitches get to meet with those partners at the NYTVF marketplace during the week of the festival, says Gray.

He estimates that the newest additions, Nat Geo and Gannett, will meet with 12 to 15 producers as part of the pitching program.

“Everybody’s looking for their next hit,” Gray explains. “There’s a two-part process: they’re always looking for new characters, concepts and formats, and obviously there’s been a lot of great stuff that’s come out of the festival; and secondly, it’s an opportunity to meet up-and-coming producers.

“Maybe the idea isn’t spot-on for the partner, but it’s the start of a relationship with a festival producer that they can maintain going forward. It’s really a way to make a great introduction to new producers.”

As for whether the past Unscripted Development Pipelines and pitching meetings have led anywhere, Gray is optimistic.

“It’s hasn’t been the case where a particular show in the pipeline always gets piloted, or goes to series, but it’s for that producer to get that relationship with the network executive to go on to work on other shows,” he says. “It’s really an opportunity to hone their craft in terms of pitching and creating new shows, getting those introduction to those new relationships, and really starting their career.”

And interest in the NYTVF is growing, with more submissions each year. Gray reports that this year they had more than 3,000 submissions, along with a two-year-0ld UK event.

“We’re kind of unique for TV and episodic content, as the identification platform for the next generation of great creators and producers,” he says. “It’s been great, the growth that we’ve seen. We had 27 projects in the first year and now we have over 200.”

The festival also recently announced that its Connect program will lead-off with an executive keynote conversation with Evan Shapiro, president of Pivot, while other scheduled events include a Digital Day track with an MSN Short-Form Storytellers Challenge and panels all day long during the Development Day.

The NYTVF runs from October 21 to 26 in New York City.

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.