TV Insights, Observations and Obsessions from the NYTVF
Check out our Q&A series with Fest Founder Terence Gray, designed to provide submitting artists and TV fans with insight to the current development landscape. If you're thinking about submitting to the NYTVF, this is for you.
NYTVF STAFF: Big announcement last week with the return of the third annual A&E Unscripted Development Pipeline - any insight you can offer submitting producers outside of what they'll read in A&E's Creative Brief?
TG: I'm so excited to have A&E back in the mix - they were one of our first industry partners when the Fest was launched and I think this is a really terrific opportunity for a producer to get into business with a leading cable network in a meaningful way. This year, A&E is really taking the reins off and encouraging producers to think outside of the traditional "A&E" box when it comes to concepts.
NYTVF STAFF: What do you mean, "outside the box"?
TG: From our discussions with the network and the wording of their creative brief, I think it's clear that they're more open to ideas across the board. I talked a lot about "comedic non-scripted" in the last Development Download and A&E has employed that trend to great success with "Duck Dynasty." It's a show that two years ago might have felt outside of their programming wheelhouse, but it's an off-the-charts success for them. The message here for producers is that if you have a great eye for character and story, there's a market for it.
NYTVF STAFF: Any advice for producers looking to submit?
TG: My best advice is to open your eyes and see the diamonds in the rough around you: your coffee guy, the eccentric neighbor in your parent's cul-de-sac with a nutty hobby, the classmate from middle school who's now an entrepreneur in an exciting industry. Who are your subjects and what makes them interesting and fresh? What/where is their world and how is it different from other worlds we are seeing on TV today? Can you look at these subjects and their experiences through a light-hearted and positive lens? Be a storyteller and have a real sense of the life in your series. And, most importantly, entertain.
NYTVF STAFF: There are a number of additional networks serving as Festival Development Partners this year that are also looking for non-scripted programming. Can this advice be applied to creators making content with VH1, truTV, Channel 4, and/or BET in mind?
TG: First and foremost, make a terrific show. Additionally, I think that all of our producers would be well served to be more actively aware of what's going on in the industry as well as with individual networks. Each of our partners has provided a creative brief outlining their development goals, audience demographics, and general information that's pertinent to producers. I want all of our creators to succeed, and, to succeed in television you need to know who you're selling to.
NYTVF STAFF: What about the producers that don't necessarily see themselves working in the non-scripted space?
TG: Obviously, I want all of the artists that we work with to be passionate about the projects they're submitting to us. That said, I would discourage any producer from too narrowly defining their creative goals by a particular genre. Everyone is looking for great storytellers and if you can inject your own sensibilities and perspective into a project, you might just be bringing something to market that a more traditional producer in that space doesn't see. I know I said this in our last download, but we have so many comedy producers/writers/performers that submit to us and I really believe that there's a world of possibility for those talents to be applied to other genres. Also, just from a pragmatic standpoint, there are many more hours of non-scripted programming today than scripted, so if you're playing the odds, it's worth considering.
NYTVF STAFF: Always good advice, TG. Thanks for the hangout.
TG: My pleasure.