SeriesFest Pilots ‘Currency’ And ‘Brooklyn Moving Company’ Take Jury Prizes


SeriesFest has wrapped its fifth edition in Denver after handing out juried awards to 15 winners.

Beyond the pilot competition, highlights of the June 21-26 festival, inlcuded panels featuring Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos and a team of executives and collaborators from Shondaland. NBC fall drama Bluff City Law had its world premiere, and Starz rolled out the first episode of The Rook. Stevie Wonder and Usher performed at Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside Denver, continuing the mostly TV-focused festival’s annual music undercurrent.

Currency, a drama imagining a “green-out” that threatens the capitalist system, captured Best Drama Pilot honors as well as the Audience Award. Best Comedy Pilot went to Brooklyn Moving Company, which depicts movers who burst into song and dance.

Jurors screened 53 pilots at the Sie FilmCenter, the arthouse multiplex that is the year-round home of Denver Film. (See the full list of winners below.)

“This year’s pilots showcased an unprecedented level of storytelling,” SeriesFest founders Randi Kleiner and Kaily Smith Westbrook said. “We are in awe and inspired by all of the work. Thank you to the jurors for their time and commitment to supporting independent series and we’re excited to see what’s next for these creators and actors.”

In its four previous editions, SeriesFest has been a seedbed for several shows that have gone on to secure wider distribution. Up North got an eight-episode order from Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios. Show creator Emil Pinnock also signed a blind script deal with Blumhouse Television and has been tapped to write an untitled Daymond John project.

Festival organizers also recognized honorees of three annual initiatives, “Storytellers,” “Jan Marino Scholarship” and “Women Directing Mentorship,” as well as announcing the first “International Innovator” award.

Rachel Myers (Wendy’s Shabbat) was announced as the recipient of the “Women Directing Mentorship.” She will shadow a director for an episode of a Shondaland original series and a $5,000 stipend to use during the duration of their mentorship.

Mary Robbins received the Jan Marino Scholarship, designed to support women over 55 who are students in the Stephens College M.F.A. in Television and Screenwriting program. Liberty Global and SeriesFest presented the inaugural International Innovator award to Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, creator of Fundamental, alongside Global Fund for Women.

SeriesFest, in partnership with Elysium Bandini Studios, announced that the Storytellers Initiative, a program created to discover original episodic writers, was awarded to Amanda Dreschler & Michael Livingston. from the pilot project, Forgive Us Father.

Dreschler and Livingston received an exclusive first look development deal with Elysium Bandini, along with a professionally produced pilot presentation valued at $60,000. On the closing night of SeriesFest, they did a live reading of their project.

Here is a full list of winners in the pilot competition:

Best Independent Pilot – Drama
Jury: Peter Mensah (Actor), Chaka Pilgrim (President, Roc Nation Record) and Jack Turner (SVP of Scripted and Documentary Content, Matador)
Best Pilot: Currency (created by Scott Gabriel & Sofi Marshall)
Best Director: Julien Lasseur, Palomino  & Swissy
Best Writer: Brian Goh, Palomino & Swissy
Best Actress: Naomi Ko, Nice
Best Actor: Jay Santiago, Currency

Best Independent Pilot – Comedy
Jury: Nina Dobrev (Actress/Producer), Sean Walsh (Manager, Strategy, ABC Entertainment) and David Rubin (Agent, Gersh)
Best Pilot: Brooklyn Moving Company (created by Ryan Harrington, Isaac Himmelman)
Best Director: Laura Moss, Neurotica
Best Writer: Jake Delaney, Cara Fano, Paige Hoffman, The Filth
Best Actress: Lauren Aboulafia, Broker
Best Actor: Omar Maskati, Revenge Tour

Jury: Nina Dobrev (Actress/Producer), Sean Walsh (Manager, Strategy, ABC Entertainment) and David Rubin (Agent, Gersh)
Multi-Hyphenate Award: Ruthie Marantz, Actor-Writer-Director, Rainbow Ruthie

Audience Award Winner – Comedy, Drama, Unscripted

Unscripted (Independent Pilot & Digital Short Series)
Jury: Nina Dobrev (Actress/Producer), Sean Walsh (Manager, Strategy, ABC Entertainment) and David Rubin (Agent, Gersh)
Best Digital Short Series & Independent Pilot/Unscripted: Her Turf (Created by Shantel Hansen and Dean Blandino)

Digital Shorts
Jury: Mahzad Babayan (Director of Talent, Fullscreen), Jason Sondhi (Co-Founder, Short of the Week), and Jose Acevedo (Director of Development & Original Programming, Comedy Central)
Best Digital Short: Human Interest (Created by Matthew-Lee Erlbach & Mallory Portnoy)
Best Performance in a Digital Short: Ali Liebegott, Girls Weekend
Best Direction in a Digital Short: Patrick Wimp, Brothers From the Suburbs

Late Night
Jury: James Belfer (Co-Founder and CEO, Cartuna), Laura Schwartz (Director of Development, New Form Entertainment) and Andre Hyland (Actor/Filmmaker)
Best Series: Kwaczala (Creators: Joe Kwaczala, Daniel J. Clark, Liz Maupin & Caroline Clark)
Honorable Mention: 2020

Fullscreen Select Award Winner: The Gary Gold Story (Creator/Director/Writer: Greg Ash)

Jury: David Person (Manager, Original Programming , IFC TV), Jessika Borsiczky (Writer/Director/EP, Refugee Productions), and Mike Esola (CEO, Ficto)
Pitch-A-Thon Winner: Bands (Created by Barrett Schuler)

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