- Wednesday, May. 4, 2016
The international television and content festival SeriesFest announced today the Independent TV Pilot Competition official selections for this year’s festival and the esteemed jury members.
SeriesFest’s Independent Pilot Competition official selections will showcase programs by emerging and established creators and directors. This year, 34 titles in competition will compete for ‘Best Pilot, 'Best Actor,’ ‘Best Actress,’ ‘Best Director,’ ‘Best Writer’ in the categories of Drama and Comedy, along with the illustrious ‘Audience Award,’ from Thursday, June 23rd to Saturday, June 25th at the Sie FilmCenter in Denver, CO.
This year’s pilots feature such talent as Brad Leland, Jane Lynch, Tim Matheson, Amber Nash, George R.R. Martin, Tahmoh Penikett, Missi Pyle, Maisie Williams and Michael K. Williams.
“We are excited to present a vibrant and diverse lineup of independent pilots at this year's festival,” said Randi Kleiner, CEO of SeriesFest. "As more and more independent filmmakers turn to episodic storytelling, and as the channels on which they are shown continue to evolve, we are proud to provide a platform to showcase and support these fresh and innovative works from around the world."
The 2016 SeriesFest Independent TV Pilot Competition jury board is comprised of a prestigious group of industry professionals, including award-winning actors, journalists, producers, artists and festival executives.
The jurors for the Drama Pilot Competition section are:
Emma Tillinger Koskoff: President of Production for Sikelia Productions, Emmy Award-winning Producer, and Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated Producer
Jason Ritter: Actor; Gravity Falls, Parenthood
Diana Williams: Producer, Lucasfilm Story Group
The jurors for the Comedy Pilot Competition section are:
Kim Cattrall: Golden Globe Award-winning Actress
Pablo Schreiber: Emmy Award-nominated Actor
Janet Pierson: Head of Film, SXSW
"We are proud to have such a creative and distinct group of talents comprise this year’s jury. The six esteemed members—who join us from all corners of the entertainment industry, ranging from programming and producing to on-camera work—each bring a well-rounded perspective and superior level of expertise to the table as they look to award competition standouts and exemplary storytelling works," said Kaily Smith Westbrook, CCO of SeriesFest.
The primary screening venue will be at the Sie FilmCenter, which is the year-round cinematic home of SeriesFest’s partner organization, Denver Film Society. Denver Film Society is a nonprofit cultural institution that produces film events throughout the year, including the award-winning Denver Film Festival and the popular, summertime series Film on the Rocks.
SeriesFest will kick off with an Opening Night special performance by Grammy and Golden Globe Nominee Sia alongside the North American Premiere of BBC America’s The Hunt presented by Emmy-winners Alastair Fothergill and Huw Cordey at the internationally-renowned Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Wednesday, June 22nd.
SeriesFest is also partnering with Interlude to launch the 48-Hour Interactive Series Jam (“Series Jam”) at SeriesFest: Season Two. “Series Jam” will redefine the concept of digital storytelling in a two-day, intensive hackathon designed to inspire and create the next great interactive series. Series Jam will take place in downtown Denver on Thursday, June 23 through Saturday, June 25, 2016.
Tickets for Opening Night at Red Rocks and VIP passes for SeriesFest are now on sale at www.seriesfest.com. Single tickets for Sie FilmCenter programs go on sale on Friday, May 27th.
Drama Pilot Competition Screenings & Descriptions
Aeris (World Premiere)
Creator: Lukas Huffman
Cast: Lanie McAuley, Elise Gatien, Taylor Godber
A scripted dramatic series that follows the story of Terra Madley, a female professional snowboarder struggling to recover from a debilitating injury and devastating personal tragedy. Aeris explores the journey of being a woman in the male-dominated action sports world and shows what redemption looks like for these real-life heroes.
At All Costs (World Premiere)
Creators: Alex Calleros, Daniel J. Clark, Ryan McDuffie, Michael Tucker
Cast: Jonathan Pan, Bao Lam, Greyson "Goldenglue" Gilmer, Ben "LOD" deMunck, Colin "Solo" Earnest, Juan "Contractz" Garcia, William "Stunt" Chen
USA, 22m, Unscripted
At All Costs is a documentary series that gives viewers an inside look at the exploding, cutthroat world of professional competitive gaming (“e-Sports”). The series follows Ember, a rookie team that puts blood, sweat, and millions of dollars on the line for a chance to make it into the major league of competitive gaming, the coveted League Championship Series.
Creators: Stefano Nurra & Fabio Paladini
Cast: James Bryce, Rosie Macpherson, Daniel Watson
UK, 35m, Fantasy
An unlikely trio—Lou, a burnt-out TV psychotherapist; Kate, a lonely young mother; and Shane, a homeless teenager—join forces to open a passage towards a parallel world beyond dreams. Border Queen weaves a hypnotic tale of lucid dreaming, alchemy, and doors to other worlds.
Creator: Jeffrey Simon
Cast: Brad Leland, Morgan West, Declan Michael-Laird, Tyler Cook, Zach Louis, Jeff Rosick
Days before a boys summer camp is set to open, the beloved Camp Director is fired for being gay, setting off an unexpected chain of events. Camp Abercorn gives us a heartfelt look at the power of brotherhood, the beauty of the American wilderness, and the path to self-discovery.
Creator: Steve Neufeld
Cast: Jarod Joseph
Dogged by a violent past and armed with enough idealism to try anything, rookie teacher Shae Fitzgerald takes on the task of teaching five tenth-grade misfits, who just drove their last teacher into early retirement. Will Shae suffer the same fate?
The Donovan of a Civilization
Creator: Gabriel Fleming
Cast: Donovan Keith, Ruth Fowler, Carolyn Richards, Gabriel Fleming
While backpacking in India, young, naive Donovan is drawn into an ancient conspiracy of global proportions, involving mysterious rocks, confounding iPhones, and an enigmatic ghost. Filmed around the globe by two backpackers with no crew, and utilizing improvisatory techniques in storytelling, The Donovan of Civilization offers a unique, around-the-world experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Doomsday (World Premiere)
Creators: Sonja O’Hara & Jaspal Binning
Cast: Donald Paul, Alice Kremelberg, Sonja O'Hara, Mark St. Cyr, Jaspal Binning, Karin Agstam, Ellen Toland, Kelsey Lynn Stokes
Doomsday follows the daily lives of the residents of Yesterday’s Promise, a millennial cult in the Catskills worshipping youth and productivity above all. But what happens when youthful ideals evolve into deadly extremes?
Creators: Jan Galli & Martin Rohé
Cast: Mehdi Nebbou & August Schmölzer
When Iranian refugee Dr. Omid Afarid, now living in an asylum seekers hostel in a refugee camp in Germany, is denied a license to practice medicine, he begins treating patients illegally, putting both himself and his family at risk.
Fanatic (World Premiere)
Creator: Luke Aherne
Cast: Duncan Airlie James, Andrew McIntosh, Simon McCay
When a terrorist organisation suddenly resurfaces in Eastern Europe, former Special Forces officer Douglas Bormann is brought out of retirement to face an old enemy. But, all is not as it first appears...
Creator: Aidan Largey
Cast: Shaun Blaney, Ian Beattie, Stephanie Donaghue, Lynn O'Neil, Patrick Buchanon, Gary Crossan, Patrick Molloy
Set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Farr follows Michael Gallagher, an ambitious young detective investigating the city’s most dangerous crime family, the Farrs. As his investigation deepens, Gallagher must confront a dark secret that puts his career, life, and the entire operation at risk.
Five Star (World Premiere)
Creators: Ryan Booth & Henry Proegler
Cast: Brandon Jones
USA, 26m, Unscripted
In Texas, the top high school football recruits are seen as kings. Every major college football program in the country wants senior Brandon Jones, the number one strong safety recruit in the nation. As Signing Day approaches, the stakes continue to mount. Brandon has 41 full-ride scholarship offers. He can only say yes to one.
The Grind (World Premiere)
Creator: Brendan Cochrane
Cast: Joe Assadourian, Victor Girone, Pascal Yen-Pfister, Melvin Lima, Samantha Opitz, Al Pagano, Emily Fleischer, Samantha Scaffidi, Jamar Greene, Matthew Muzio
The Grind is a gritty crime drama that explores a New York-based auto theft syndicate being investigated by the police and the FBI. Released from prison after six years, Grayden Carter hopes to balance his new life with the one he left behind—one of prostitution, crooked cops, smart criminals, and very fast cars.
Creators: Simon Pearce, Paul Dudbridge, Chris Marshfield
Cast: Paul Tonkin, Alicia Ancel, Simon Pearce, Kate Marie Davies, Jason Allen, Kessie Bartlett
UK, 53m, Sci-fi
When a mysterious alien ship appears in the skies over Bristol, England, five friends attempt to flee the city amidst panic, looting, and the threat of military attack. As they battle to stick together, loyalties and relationships will be tested, yet one question remains: who are these mysterious visitors and why are they here?
Creator: Skylar Harrison
Cast: Marie Oldenbourg, Hunter Smit, Cameron Kelly, Chris O'Brien, Matt Miller, Gabi Hankins, Dan Leech, Craig Cranic
Aspiring sportscaster Harper Payne transfers to Southwest University and soon discovers a dark secret about her college’s prized quarterback. Jersey Chasers explores what it’s like to be a strong, intelligent female in the world of sports, while still trying to figure it all out—one mistake at a time— at the very vulnerable age of 20.
Raw & Wild (World Premiere)
Creators: James Capria, Douglas Evilsizor, Jim & John Thomas
Cast: Jim & John Thomas
USA, 24m, Unscripted
Raw & Wild transports you to a glory age when food was clean, found off the land, and naturally nourished your body. Prepare for a unique adventure across the beautiful landscape of New Mexico to rediscover indigenous foods and be inspired by ancient recipes that stretch 500 years into the past. It will leave you hungry for more!
Takers (World Premiere)
Creator: Rachel Carey
Cast: Ian Bell, Nate Dobson, Kelley Gates, Morgan McGuire, Adam Santos-Coy, Alexandra Renzo
When a Wall Street investor steals their best trick and hands it to the competition, a trio of young magicians decide to fund their revenge scheme by turning to con artistry. As it turns out, they’ve saved their best trick for last.
The Picture (World Premiere)
Creator: David Winkler
Cast: Levi Fiehler, Jordan Monaghan, Jackson Davis, Cameron Kelly, Phil Abrams, Michael Rodrick
The Picture follows the journey of Peter Shepherd, a square, wide-eyed law student who leaves behind everything he’s ever known to become a film producer at a tumultuous time in Hollywood—the late 1960s.
Comedy Pilot Competition Screenings & Descriptions
:30 Second Somebodies
Creators: Micah Cohen, Matthew Mullen, Boris Undorf
Cast: Zibby Allen, Kevin Berntson, Micah Cohen, John Forest, Marco Naggar, Ryan Radis
:30 Second Somebodies follows a group of friends in L.A., all successful in a niche they never planned: commercial acting. After he’s replaced in a Super Bowl ad, then dropped by his agent, Kevin Berntson is ready to call it quits...until his friends convince him to stay for one last big audition.
Break: The Musical
Creator: Mary Bonney
Cast: Mary Bonney, Brian Justin Crum, Whitney Avalon, Jeffrey Christopher Todd, Kurt Scholler, Kerry Nash, Kelly Vrooman and Ian Harding
Kate, an optimistic music journalist, receives a promotion and lands the interview of a lifetime with her rock star idol. When Kate's gossip-hungry editor puts a spin on her article, Kate's integrity is put on the line and she is faced with a dilemma that will either make or break her!
Called to Serve
Creator: Michael Van Orden
Cast: Matthew Gallenstein, Jana Winternitz, Cort Carpenter, Sean Burgos, Jenny Leaf, Blair Nichols, Tony Czech
Elder Hadley struggles with his faith in God, yet on the first day of his Mormon mission, he is faced with teaching something he doesn’t believe in. Called to Serve explores the human condition through the juxtaposition of what it’s like to explore one’s faith, or lack of faith, and to still be human.
The Come Up
Creators: Ben Snyder & Ari Issler
Cast: Andre Holland, Greg Keller, Michael K. Williams
The Come Up follows a group of friends as they attempt to navigate adulthood, while avoiding any of the trappings that come with it—career, commitment, compromise. Strictly New York and definitely downtown, The Come Up looks past the velvet rope once the lights have come up and real life begins.
Creators: Luca Stein & Michael Borrmann
Cast: Bob Borrmann, Luca Stein, Jessica Frey, Henry Packer, Zoe Worth, Dana Kaplan-Angle, Robert W. Smith
Bob and Luca are smack in the middle of the most elaborate murder mystery ever…and they couldn’t care less
Creator: Alex Dobrenko
Cast: Ashley Spillers, Alex Dobrenko, Chase Joliet, Ashley Barnhill, Trian Long-Smith, Chris Doubek, Cindi Williams
Distance follows a young couple in love—Sam, a photographer, and Emily, an urban farmer and grad school student—who just happen to live very, very far from one another. Their long distance relationship unfolds from two perspectives: “His” and “Hers.” Distance is a romantic comedy for the millennial age.
Dropping the Soap (World Premiere)
Creators: Paul Witten, Mandy Fabian, Kate Mines
Cast: Paul Witten, Kate Mines, Suzanne Friedline, Jane Lynch, Missi Pyle, Al Sapienza, Michael McKiddy, Jillian Armenante, Tim Wright
Shit’s about to get real for the cast and crew of the long-running (awful) soap-opera “Collided Lives” when new Executive Producer Olivia Vanderstein (played by the always brilliant Emmy Award-winner Jane Lynch) shows up. Bend over, Daytime.
Hart of America
Creators: Arlen Konopaki & Kevin Gillese
Cast: Amber Nash, Matt Horgan, Clint Sowell, Perry Frost, Kevin Gillese
In the backwoods of Georgia, the disparate stories of hard-nosed detective Grace Hart, cranky Grandma Rose, and experimental anthropologist Willow Sage (all played by Archer’s Amber Nash) collide in the most unexpected ways. Throw in an alcoholic Bigfoot and special appearances by comedy legends, this hilarious series will leave you wanting more.
It’s a Hit! (World Premiere)
Creators: Christopher Modoono & Gil Zabarsky
Cast: Abby Elliott, Tim Matheson, Kevin Daniels, Tyler Hilton, Gil Zabarsky, Kathleen Littlefield
Nestled among the office parks of suburban Connecticut are the formidable headquarters of Cobra Mephisto & Leibowitz, the deadliest assassination firm in the Greater Northeast Region. Star assassin Samantha Steele (SNL’s Abby Elliott) re-evaluates her career choice when she realizes that she’s losing her passion for killing people for money.
Life’s a Drag
Creator: Ian Verdun
Cast: Ian Verdun, Santana Dempsey, Amanda Hyde, Ginifer King, Stephen Guarino
Behind the makeup, under the wig, and out of the heels, what lies at the center of every drag queen is a human being—fierce, fabulous...flawed. Life’s a Drag is an extraordinary story about struggle, triumph, and self-discovery.
Creator: David Butler
Cast: David Butler, Ian J. Pollack, Catherine Whattam, Brendan Milove, Jason Perez, David Armstrong
Mark. is an animated comedy about surviving adulthood one rent check at a time. After a series of failed job interviews, Mark is on the verge of being evicted from his apartment. But when his roommate, Tim, makes a last-ditch effort to become a reality TV star, it might just save them both.
Creator: René Ashton
Cast: Missi Pyle, René Ashton, Brian Krause, Texas Battle, Patrick Muldoon, Deena Dill, Dru Mouser
To keep their heads above water, three struggling single moms embrace a new profession: prostitution. But juggling their johns and raising their kids proves to be as difficult as keeping their profession under wraps.
Rack & Ruin
Creator: Angela Dee
Cast: Angela Dee, Markie Post, Kate Armstrong-Ross, Ashley Kuske, Arie Thompson
Fragile, people-pleaser Saffron is desperately in need of a job. In an effort to reignite her passion for fashion she lands a position at Jolie Laide – an absurdly toxic, high-end clothing boutique in NYC that threatens to tear at the delicate fabric of her character.
Creator: Jonathan Williams
Cast: Tahmoh Penikett, Erin Karpluk, Munro Chambers
Canada, 44m, Sci-fi
Stripped of his powers and trapped in downtown Toronto, Alar the Archmage (Battlestar Galactica’s Tahmoh Penikett) teams up with struggling journalist Kim, who aids him on his quest to return home in exchange for the rights to his story. But they soon discover their worlds, and their fates, may be intertwined.
Creators: Tyrus Emory, Sam Jay Gold, Christina Hurtado-Pierson, Chris Ford and Austin Sanders
Cast: Spencer Lott, Frances Lanza, Sam Jay Gold, Kathleen Kim, Nate Begle, David Bizarro, Jamie Agnello
Fair. Balanced. 100% Cotton. The Sox News Network’s flagship evening news broadcast, Touching America with Griffin Toucher, is about to get the axe. Enter Wooliam Wythe, Touching America’s newest producer, biggest fan, and network hatchet-man. Can Wooly turn things around before he’s forced to cancel the show he loves?
Supreme Tweeter (World Premiere)
Creators: Harry Lloyd & Jayne Hong
Cast: Harry Lloyd, Maisie Williams, George R.R. Martin, Tamsin Greig, Tom McKay, Harry Kershaw, Gerard Monaco, Poppy Jamie, Vanessa Hehir, Andy Secombe, Alexander Hong
British actor Harry Lloyd (played by none other than British actor Harry Lloyd) hasn't been in the spotlight since he was killed off in the hit series Game of Thrones. He turns to social media in order to regain his crown, but gets more than he bargained for when he is unexpectedly followed by the Supreme Leader of North Korea.
Truth Slash Fiction (World Premiere)
Creator: Charlie Sohne
Cast: Jordyn DiNatale, Yainis Ynoa, Philippe Arroyo, Sam Varthos, Matt Doyle, Tyler Reid, Magnus Tonning Riise, Troy Iwata, Daniel Quadrino
Sixteen-year-old Emma feels completely alone in the world, with the songs of her favorite boyband, TRUTH, as her only refuge. That is, until she meets a group of fellow super fans who channel their devotion in an unusual way: writing gay erotic fan fiction about the band. Truth Slash Fiction is a coming of age comedy about love, sex, friendship, and the songs that provide a soundtrack to it all.
SeriesFest is an international celebration dedicated to showcasing the best new pilots from established and emerging content creators. At a time when entertainment is expanding and evolving across multiple platforms, the need for a diverse range of programming is greater than ever. As trailblazers in independent content development, we aim to create a global marketplace for episodic storytelling. The annual SeriesFest takes place in Denver, Colorado—the birthplace of cable television—and brings together industry luminaries, emerging artists, and passionate audiences.
SeriesFest is presented in partnership with the Denver Film Society.
For more information, visit www.seriesfest.com and follow @seriesfest on Twitter.