Over the years, the festival has yielded several network deals for show creators. The 14th annual edition of the festival will be held July 14-20, a shift designed to align it more closely with the industry’s development timeline.
Festival organizers emphasized the diversity of this year’s creators, with a record 72% of pilots featuring people of color above the line, up from 56% in 2017, and 70% featuring women as creators, writers or directors. Geographic diversity is another feature of the lineup, with 30% of projects coming from beyond New York and LA, and entries from the UK, Austria, Australia and Canada.
Pilot Season 2020: Some Studios Begin To Pay Casts Of Pilots That Were Suspended Due To COVID-19 Shutdown
Most of the titles (45 out of 59) are world festival premieres, and 51% come to NYTF without any representation.
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“Some of the most compelling storytelling on TV is coming from writers and creators with a variety of backgrounds, and this has become a real inspiration point for the next generation of creators,” said NYTVF Founder and executive director Terence Gray. “We are seeing this in full force in 2018, and the unique stories being brought forward by indie artists are a clear reaction to this important industry trend.”
Gray added, “At its core, the Festival has always been about elevating the best new creative voices and introducing them to industry decision-makers. The fact that more than half of these projects don’t have representation, and three quarters are premiering at our Festival, aligns perfectly with our mission and the growing spotlight the industry is shining on independent television.”
Here is the full roster of pilots, with descriptions provided by NYTVF:
COMEDY (32 Pilots)
12 Beers [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Mike Camerlengo – Brooklyn, NY
Once a year, longtime couple Danny and Sarah each drink 12 beers and decide if they’re going to re-up their lease…and their relationship.
2some [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Kris Isacsson – Pound Ridge, NY
Two stay-at-home dads navigate life in suburbia.
Starring Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck, Boston Public) and Ed Herbstman (The Big Sick)
Alive in Denver
Created by Michael Levin – Los Angeles, CA
As an apocalyptic meteor hurtles toward Earth, five friends reveal their deepest darkest secrets to each other while they still have the chance.
Starring Nathan Kress (iCarly) and Danielle Campbell (The Originals, CW’s upcoming All American)
Bothered [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Catherine McCafferty and Seth Daniel – Los Angeles, CA
A dark comedy following two twenty-whatever roommates as they poorly navigate life, relationships, and getting up in the morning.
Brooklyn Moving Company [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Ryan Harrington and Isaac Himmelman – Brooklyn, NY
The members of an unconventional moving company try in earnest to transform the lives of their Brooklyn clientele through song and dance.
Executive produced by Thank You, Brain! Productions (Krysia Plonka and Tracey Baird) and directed by Krysia Plonka
Brown Ops [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Nate Smith – Los Angeles, CA
CIA Black Ops agents are the smartest, deadliest spies in the world. The best of the best. Then there are BROWN OPS agents… look, not everybody can be the best.
Created by and starring Nate Smith (Inside Amy Schumer) and starring Jim Santangeli (Our Cartoon President) and Ann Carr (Red Oaks), and executive produced by Electric Avenue’s Will Arnett and Marc Forman, and Artists First’s Peter Principato and Brian Steinberg
Carol’s A Demon [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Amanda Holland – Los Angeles, CA
When Sofia and her friends accidentally summon an optimistic demon named Carol, Sofia has to figure out if she’s willing to help the 3,000 year old demon get into heaven or try to send her back to hell.
Starring and Executive Produced by Ashly Perez (Buzzfeed Motion Pictures)
The Cocoa Fondue Show [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Andrew Wyatt Arnold and Will Robelo – Los Angeles, CA
It’s a constant battle for the spotlight on and off stage when the LIPS Network decides to cast archrivals Cocoa Fondue and Catastrawberry as co-hosts for their new Drag-tastic variety show.
Starring Caldwell Tidicue, Joshua Eads-Brown, and Karl Westerberg (RuPaul’s Drag Race)
Cross Stitch [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Cristi Rumpza and Emily Schmidt – Los Angeles, CA
When a woman from Mary Beth’s past threatens to sabotage her chances in the Cranberry Festival Bake-Off, she goes to dangerous lengths to maintain her reputation in the quaint town of Stone Lake, WI.
Everyone Is Doing Great
Created by James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti – Los Angeles, CA
Five years after their series Eternal has ended, actors Seth and Jeremy lean on each other as they struggle to reclaim their previous level of success and relevance, awkwardly navigating the perils of life and love amidst a humorously painful coming of age.
Created by and starring James Lafferty (One Tree Hill) and Stephen Colletti (Laguna Beach) and starring Alexandra Park (The Royals), Cariba Heine (Home and Away), Matthew Atkinson (Jane by Design), Christine Garver (Madam Secretary), and Deborah Baker Jr. (Stan Against Evil)
Framed [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Claire McFadden – Chicago, IL
This Chicago-set improvised series goes behind the counter of a custom frame shop, where a parade of customers reveal their troubles, aspirations, and drama in the process of framing their precious art.
The Gary Gold Story [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Greg Ash – Los Angeles, CA
A comedy series following the attempts of a once great English footballer to resurrect his career in Los Angeles.
Ghost Girl [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Samantha Evans – New York, NY
Quirky, crafty, and musical, Ghost Girl focuses on grief and the strength of a life-long friendship between two young women.
Ghost Squad [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Andy Kushnir and Carley Moseley – Chicago, IL
A mockumentary series which follows a ragtag group of paranormal investigators led by their staunchly optimistic leader Desperado Miller, who join forces to suss out ghouls and spirits from homes across the Chicago area.
Good Hombres [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Cesar Jaime, Damian Anaya, and Jose Molina – Chicago, IL
A sketch comedy show that celebrates and examines Latino culture from a brand new perspective.
Hammerhead [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Dean Imperial – New York, NY
An ambitious, driven and deceptively cunning young man with a deformed forehead, leaves his father’s home after graduate school determined to climb the ladder of success in New York City and find a mate – against all odds.
Starring Sam Gilroy (Imposters, Billions) and executive produced by Tony Gilroy (Rogue One, Michael Clayton) and Kerry Orent (The Tick, The Affair)
Ian Owes U [World Festival Premiere]
Created by J.W. Crump, Tim Mele, and Chris Pappas – New York, NY
Lazy and hapless Ian uses a money app to earn rent from strangers, in exchange for doing any single favor they may ask for.
It Girl Gay Assistant [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Pat Regan and Bailey Edwards – New York, NY
The fiercely loyal gay assistant to a quintessential Manhattan “It-Girl” faces an unexpected and explosive career change mid-work week.
John Loos: Too Big For This World
Created by John Loos – Chicago, IL
A queer sketch comedy show for all the ex-football player drag queens out there.
Kappa Force [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Addison Heimann – Chicago, IL
Kappa Force tells the story of five sorority sisters fighting the patriarchy, one frat boy at a time.
Starring Madeline Weinstein (Netflix’s upcoming Alex Strangelove)
Created by Amanda Fahey – Toronto, Canada
An internet celebrity and “selfie queen” reunites with her estranged identical twin after she wakes up to discover she’s invisible.
Starring Melanie Leishman (Space’s Todd and the Book of Pure Evil) and Emmanuel Kabongo (21 Thunder)
The Mission [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Marie-Marguerite Sabongui and Benedict Moran – Toronto, Canada
An idealistic Canadian diplomat at the UN tries to make a difference, navigating the eccentric characters and impossible clusterf*ck that make up international diplomacy.
Starring Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
Mr. Nice Girls [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Hope Carew and Allison O’Conor – Austin, TX
Two best friends run a fake ID business at their university in a desperate attempt to seem cool.
Created by Philip Burgers and Kitao Sakurai – Los Angeles, CA
Phil, wide-eyed and mute, is forced to go on the run in order to keep one step ahead of a pagan cult. His childlike ineptitude keeps getting him into trouble, and agents who’ve been hired to recapture him are always one step behind.
Co-created and directed by Kitao Sakurai (The Eric Andre Show), executive produced by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tim and Eric Awesome, Great Job!), and co-created by and starring Philip Burgers (Netflix’s Characters)
Created by Giles Andrew, Alex Bourne, and Dan Marshall – Los Angeles, CA
A group of eclectic parents are forced into friendships through a variety of playdates.
Starring Paul Scheer (The League), Carla Gallo (Bones), Miles Fisher (Man Seeking Woman), and Bob Clendenin (Longmire)
Queers! [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Peter Kim and Eric Lewis-Baker – Chicago, IL
Queers! follows the everyday struggles of a gay odd couple stumbling through adulthood one embarrassment at a time.
Run For Your Life
Created by Martha Williams – New York, NY
A comedy web series about internet dates that make you literally…RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.
Smüchr [World Festival Premiere]
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.
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.
Created by and starring Susane Lee (Gilmore Girls)
Urban Press [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Brittany Scott Smith and Arjay Smith – Los Angeles, CA
A group of misfit co-workers at an urban magazine company prove that a nobody can be an anybody.
Created by Brittany Scott Smith (The Rundown with Robin Thede, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore), created by and starring Arjay Smith (Sons of Anarchy, Perception), and starring Robin Thede (The Rundown with Robin Thede), Michael Charles Roman (Grace and Frankie), and Holly Walker (The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore)
The Water Cooler [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Teresa Decher and Jason Nguyen – Los Angeles, CA
Two impossibly awkward office employees try to make friends at the water cooler.
Work Buds [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Brett Maline and Damian Gomez – Los Angeles, CA
A recently dumped, pushover bookkeeper lets his clueless, overbearing boss take him out to cheer him up, and one drink leads to the longest night of their lives.
DRAMA/DRAMEDY (16 Pilots)
The Applicant [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Paul Connor and Josh Chesler – Los Angeles, CA
Justice and redemption collide in a high-tech world of questionable actions and immense power where nothing is exactly what it seems.
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.
Created by and starring Alesia Etinoff (The Mayor), and starring Zainab Johnson (Last Comic Standing)
Avenues [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Frank J. Monteleone and Nicole DiMattei – New York, NY
This strange little series follows five friends through the seven stages of grief as they all, in their own ways, learn to say goodbye to a wife, a sister, and a friend.
Starring Armando Riesco (The Chi), Michael Cyril Creighton (High Maintenance, Spotlight), Drew Moerlein (South of Hell), and Mary Catherine Garrison (Veep)
Confused [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Louie Salto, Jesse Salto, and Lise Gardo – Los Angeles
Four thirty-something best friends, 3 guys and a girl, deal with the complicated and confusing gender expectations in relationships as they search for love in modern day L.A.
Starring Emma Fitzpatrick (Significant Mother, The Social Network)
Cuff [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Kesav Wable – New York, NY
A talented young rapper, who is considering giving it all up for a safer path, is confronted by a freshly-paroled gang banger he helped put away, forcing him and his dominatrix girlfriend into choices they can never undo.
Devil’s Got My Back [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Vanessa Winter – Salt Lake City, UT
In the near future, a government agency dedicated to researching the paranormal interrogates a woman with a strange connection to a powerful demonic presence.
Dirt [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Hannah Warling – Orange, CA
Set on a Paiute Native American reservation, a girl named Nina struggles to find her missing sister, forced to navigate jurisdictional issues, corruption, and even resistance within her own family.
The Fourth Kind [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Samtubia Edwards and Rasheed Young – New York, NY
Trapped on the streets of NYC, a group of strangers, drawn together by paranormal activities, will answer an invitation from other-world life forms that can either save – or destroy – humanity.
The Gentrifiers [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Jared Goodman – Brooklyn, NY
Set against a lower class neighborhood in the midst of a dramatic upheaval as urban sprawl extends to its borders, six characters intersect as hopes and dreams are fulfilled or crushed on opposite sides of the same street.
Created by Yohan R.M. and Faustine Kooijmann – Los Angeles, CA
Another young girl has vanished into thin air. While the authorities go to extreme lengths to conceal the real story, a young French blogger sets out to uncover the alarming truth.
Starring Jason Weiss (One Life to Live)
Midnights [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Alvaro Donado and Mark Tenn – Paterson, NJ
In the aftermath of a violent midnight street crime, a female trainee police officer suspects a collateral victim is missing and stumbles into an illicit world that does not want to be exposed.
Created by Amanda Renee Knox – Los Angeles, CA
When a cop living in and patrolling Inglewood gets called to a disturbance, she is forced to make an unprecedented decision that will alter her career and her life.
Starring Marlyne Barrett (Chicago Med, The Wire) and Rachael Holmes (Amazon’s Mad Dogs)
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.
Starring Amy Hargreaves (Homeland)
Seeds [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Deja Harrell and C.J. Thomas – Chicago, IL
A socially conscious web series following the misadventures of four young black women.
Created by Timothy Busfield – East Lansing, MI
Dr. Tilly Masters is stepping outside her comfort zone to start a new chapter as Provost at Midwest Central University. Her new role changes the dynamics with everyone in her life: can you be a friend and lover and still be the boss?
Written by, directed by, and starring Timothy Busfield (Thirtysomething, The West Wing), also starring Melissa Gilbert (Little House on the Prairie), Dylan Baker (Homeland, The Good Wife), and Marin Mazzie (Tony-nominee Kiss Me Kate, Ragtime)
Zett [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Maria Hrivatakis, Paul Harather, Daniel Lager, Enes Kas, Christopher Brenner, Leonie Fischer, and Florian Niederstetter – Vienna, Austria
A realistic and authentic window into the secret lives, anxieties, and desires of generation “Z.”
ANIMATION (7 Pilots)
Mixed [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Manolo Moreno – New York, NY
An Asian-American woman in a mixed-race relationship struggles between being a young, urban hipster and a good mother (to an obnoxious musical prodigy).
The North Pole Gang! [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Charlie Laud – Los Angeles, CA
When Santa’s away, you better watch out! Enduring the unforgiving ever-winter of the Arctic is a lot easier with The North Pole Gang at your side.
Omega House [World Festival Premiere]
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.
Robits [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Chris Parks – Los Angeles, CA
A group of Robots work a nine to five in corporate America.
Created by Nick Baker and Tristan Klein – Sydney, Australia
Welcome to Rock Bottom – a filthy underground bar, full of filthy underground bugs.
Slug Seeks Shell [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Amanda DeSimone – Los Angeles, CA
A lonely slug searches the seashore for a shell (her ticket to popularity), only to find the shell of her dreams half-buried under a sassy beached whale.
Tommy Wants His Mommy [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Tom McDonald – Brooklyn, NY
An absurdly banal series following a 28-year-old slacker who moves back in with his suburban mom, who begins mentoring him in the family business: life coaching.
UNSCRIPTED & FORMATS (4 Pilots)
Control [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Robin Pagnanelli and Webster Mugavazi – London, England
An urban-adventure game show where a team of three contestants compete against Control in a race against time.
Rooftop Kings [World Festival Premiere]
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.
Show Us Your Goods [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Anna Boyter, Richard Knight, and Carrie Jean Knight – Houston, TX
With a ‘table to farm’ twist, British Chef Richard Knight and his wife Carrie visit farmers and food industry leaders passionate about sustainable farming, animal welfare, cooking, and culture.
True Puppet Theater [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Victor Varnado – New York, NY
This comedic series puts an unexpected spin on true-crime formats, with hilarious retellings of startling stories with paper puppets.
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