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: The sixth annual FOX Comedy Script Contest was announced today, so maybe now is a good time to talk comedy development.
TG: Absolutely! Comedy is at the heart of so much that we do, and a number of our longest-running partnerships – FOX, obviously, as well as Comedy Central and Festival Development Partners IFC and MTV are built around the strength of our comedy community.
NYTVF STAFF: Any general observations you have on the state of the comedy landscape?
TG: Networks are in the comedy game at varying levels. Even networks that you wouldn't necessarily put in the comedy box are looking for comedic content, both on the scripted an non-scripted sides. We've talked about comedic formats so I don't think we need to rehash that, but it's clear to me that the market is primed for producers with great comedic sensibilities.
NYTVF STAFF: Back in February you moderated a comedy development discussion with Comedy Central, MTV, and truTV -- any insight from those networks you can share?
Well, MTV, in particular, spoke extensively about developing more female-driven comedy. You can see from their creative brief they're open to ideas and comedy talent in a number of different packages - talk, sketch, traditional sitcom, etc.
While Comedy Central's primary audience is skewed more male, they too have recently green-lit female-backed projects, with Amy Shumer's new sketch show and the Amy Poehler-produced Broad City chief among them. I think the key for any producer looking to develop with a specific destination in mind is to really be aware of a network’s programming line-up and what they have in the pipeline. How does your project complement but also stand-out in that group?
NYTVF STAFF: What about truTV?
TG: They're aggressively developing comedic formats, and that's exclusively what they're looking for from NYTVF producers. Again, I really think this area of comedic formats is an exciting space for our comedy producers. It's on everyone's list and comedy writers/performers are uniquely positioned to capitalize on industry demand.
NYTVF STAFF: Why is that?
TG: Because funny is funny, and, if you've been honing your comedic chops for years, then you're already ahead of the game.
NYTVF STAFF: That’s great. Finally, the return of FOX - are you ready to get your script reading on?
TG: This initiative is in its sixth year, and we've received more and more projects of higher quality each year. It's such a remarkable opportunity for writers to have their work considered at the broadcast level, and we're honored to partner with such a reputable network for comedy as FOX... and to answer your question, yes! I always look forward to reading great work.
NYTVF STAFF: What sets the best scripts apart from the rest?
TG: FOX has long emphasized their desire to uncover great voices, and this initiative is an opportunity for writers to bring something truly fresh to the table. Obviously, it's important that your script be appropriate for network TV and that its uniqueness sets it apart. Also, spellcheck, grammar, and syntax are incredibly important and often overlooked.
One additional note that I often receive from our screening committee and script readers: make sure that your characters are easily differentiated from one another; if people constantly have to go back to Page 1 to figure out who’s who, then you're not doing your job.
NYTVF STAFF: As usual, you have shared a wealth of knowledge, TG. Thanks for the chat.
TG: My pleasure.