NYTVF seeks tomorrow’s comedy writers

Festival director Erin Day says the rise in digital platforms has raised the bar in comedy writing, and a new competition taps that same spirit.
April 29, 2016

By Camille Gushway

Tapping the rise of SVOD, OTT, mobile and short-form platforms, bringing with them new avenues of distribution and a voracious appetite for original content, the New York Television Festival (NYTVF) has introduced a new competition, NYTVF Scripts, in a bid to pave the way for some of the world’s best new comedy writers to find their voice.

“There are so many platforms available from all aspects of media that I think the quality of production across the board is really going up,” festival director Erin Day told StreamDaily.

“Broadcast television or cable television are taking chances and looking at content in a new way and engaging artists and audiences…. because they can. I think growth (of online video) has allowed that and empowered that,” she said.

With that growth, the NYTVF wants to reach out to emerging writers and provide them with an opportunity to meet directly with industry insiders and bring their ideas to life across platforms.

“It’s very exciting for us to be able to go to a writer that hasn’t yet been discovered or a writer who hasn’t yet been able to sell their show or get noticed for their show,” she said.

The festival chose to focus specifically on comedy for the contest’s inaugural year because the genre tends to be friendlier to newcomers.

“If you look at the industry’s willingness to take chances on an emerging creative, the statistics for comedy are much higher,” she said.

Comedy productions also tend to have smaller budgets, said Day. She also noted the increasing ability for good writers to self-distribute content, like comedian Louis C.K. did with his self-financed series Horace and Pete. (The comedian recently pulled the plug on the series after one season, admitting it was a failure financially; however, the show was a hit with critics, receiving a 95% score on Rotten Tomatoes.)

The Scripts competition is open to writers 18 years and over worldwide. Writers can submit their original comedy script for a half-hour (20 to 40 page) comedy program to the festival web site starting June 1 until June 15 (or until 1,500 scripts are received).

If chosen, the selected writers’ projects will be made available to all industry partners (which this year include Bento Box Entertainment, Comedy Central, IFC, NBC Universal’s Seeso and truTV), participants and jury members during the months leading up to the festival, which runs from Oct. 24-29. If the partners like what they see, they can facilitate meetings with the filmmakers during the festival.

In addition, the selected writers will also be able to participate in private lectures, special workshops and networking events during the festival.

The NYTVF Screening Committee will judge the competition, as well as juries that will participate in the final decision making process. One script will be recognized as the 2016 NYTVF Scripts “Best of the Fest” during the Festival’s Awards presentation Oct. 29.

The NYTVF and Just For Laughs are also currently accepting submissions for their long-term comedy partnership, From Set to Screen: TV, OTT, SVOD and More. That partnership will result in five new show ideas produced by up-and-coming comedians to a team of industry professionals.

Day added there is a potential that NYTVF Scripts will expand to drama in the future.


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