34 official selections screened in competition at the Sie FilmCenter this week and showcased works by emerging and established creators and directors. The pilots featured talent including Brad Leland, Jane Lynch, Tim Matheson, Amber Nash, George R.R. Martin, Tahmoh Penikett, Missi Pyle, Maisie Williams and Michael K. Williams.
“We are overwhelmed at the talent showcased in this year’s Independent Pilot Competition at SeriesFest: Season Two,” said Randi Kleiner, CEO of SeriesFest. “Our jury certainly had their work cut out for them in determining the 2016 award winners, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for all 34 of these remarkable pilots.”
The Independent Pilots in the Drama and Comedy categories were deliberated on by an esteemed group of jurors. The Drama jury included Geneva Wasserman (President, WV Enterprises), Jason Ritter (Actor), and Diana Williams (Lucasfilm Story Group); the Comedy jury included Kim Cattrall (Golden Globe Award-winning Actress), Aaron Yoo (Actor), and Janet Pierson (Head of Film, SXSW).
Virgin Produced, the film and television production arm of Virgin group, bestowed the Virgin Produced Choice Award to Distance, Dropping the Soap, Five Star, It’s a Hit!, Rack & Ruin, Riftworld Chronicles, Supreme Twitter, and Truth Slash Fiction. These winning pilots will receive the opportunity for distribution via the Virgin Produced Channel onboard Virgin America, Virgin Australia, and in Virgin Hotels. This award is the latest in a series of prizes and initiatives aimed to expand the reach and understanding of exceptional episodic works. The Virgin Produced Award will allow a global audience to discover an impressive selection of pilots while traveling worldwide.
“This year’s SeriesFest Independent Pilot Competition showcased an incredible variety of entertaining and emerging content. We are excited to present the Virgin Produced Choice Award to these 8 pilots that will bring fresh voices to audiences around the world via our Virgin Produced platform,” said Virgin Produced Chief Creative Officer Justin Berfield.
SeriesFest and El Rey Network awarded Life’s a Drag with the inaugural El Rey Network Diversity in Storytelling Award. This prize recognizes a deserving pilot that showcases the changing face of America and promotes diversity both in front of and behind the camera. The winning pilot, which will receive a $5,000 cash prize, was voted on by the 2016 SeriesFest Independent TV Pilot Competition jury and El Rey Network’s Vice President of Audience Strategy and Insights, Dawn Holliday-Mack.
"We are so pleased to award Life’s a Drag with the inaugural 'El Rey Network Diversity in Storytelling Award,'" said Dawn Holiday-Mack. “The pilot presented a diverse cast of realistic, authentic and well-rounded characters spanning race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, which contributed to and enriched the storyline.”
The Storytellers Initiative Prize, presented in partnership with YayBig and Parallel Entertainment, was awarded to Claire Epstein’s Amazing Jane. Epstein will receive a development deal with YayBig and Parallel Entertainment. This year’s Storytellers Initiative Live Reading, featuring a cast of professional actors including Game of Thrones’ Harry Lloyd, took place on Saturday, June 25th.
"Parallel Entertainment and YayBig are thrilled to announce the winner of Storytellers Initiative at SeriesFest: Season Two. We had a great pool of submissions this year," said Ben Friedberg, Executive Producer of YayBig Productions. "Each of our writers bring a unique voice and vision to their work. It was a challenge to name a winner, though in the end Claire Epstein's twist on the super hero genre stood out as the winning pilot. We are excited to work with Claire to develop a great scripted half-hour."
“The 2016 Storytellers Initiative finalists represent some of the most exciting and original voices in the comedy writing landscape,” said Kaily Smith Westbrook, CCO of SeriesFest. “We continue to be astounded by the work being created and are proud to have hosted such a strong selection of writers at SeriesFest: Season Two. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Claire Epstein.”
As part of a new program highlighting the ever-expanding storytelling frontier, SeriesFest and Interlude awarded the 48-Hour Interactive Series Jam Prize to The Day Before. Utilizing Interlude's cutting-edge interactive video medium, which enables creators to produce stories that can be actively shaped by the viewer, this two-day hackathon selected 7 groups to participate in a 48-hour creative process to conceptualize and produce a proof-of-concept. The winning team will receive $10,000 in production funds and their interactive series to premiere on Interlude’s entertainment platform Eko. Additionally, Interlude awarded a runner-up award to Misters Perfect, which will receive $5,000 in production funds and also have the series premiere on Eko.
Below is the full list of awards presented by the SeriesFest juries:
Best Pilot in a Drama
The Jury would like to congratulate all of the pilots in competition. The
pilot we would like to recognize is Farr since we were invested in the characters and storyline. We can’t wait to see how it unfolds!
Best Actor in a Drama
Jarod Joseph, CODED
Best Actress in a Drama
Kelley Gates, Takers
Best Director in a Drama
Aidan Largey, Farr
Best Writer in a Drama
Martin Rohé & Jan Galli, Dr. Illegal
Honorable Mention in a Drama
The Donovan of Civilization
The jury wanted to recognize The Donovan of Civilization for
exploring creativity beyond the limits.
Best Pilot in a Comedy
Truth Slash Fiction
As a jury, we decided to recognize work that exists as a true pilot–establishing a mood, conflicts, characters, relationships and an ongoing story that would make a compelling series. With our choices, we wanted to acknowledge and recognize work that surprised us with an authentic and fresh point of view.
Best Actor in a Comedy
Tahmoh Penikett, Riftworld Chronicles
Best Actress in a Comedy
Jordyn DiNatale, Truth Slash Fiction
Best Director in a Comedy
Ben Snyder & Ari Issler, The Come Up
Best Writer in a Comedy
Ben Snyder & Ari Issler, The Come Up
Honorable Mention in a Comedy:
Greg Keller, The Come Up
We chose to award Greg with an honorable mention because he was unpredictably hilarious.”
Virgin Produced Choice Award
Dropping the Soap
It’s a Hit!
Rack & Ruin
Truth Slash Fiction
El Rey Network Diversity in Storytelling Award
Ian Verdun, Life’s a Drag
Storytellers Initiative Award
Claire Epstein, Amazing Jane
48-Hour Interactive “Series Jam” Award
The Day Before
Danny Diaz, Taylor Widman, Nick Bruso
Joey Lopez, Hanna Keller, Dillon Welter, and Matt Parenti
48-Hour Interactive “Series Jam” Award Runner Up Award
Travis Lindner, Justin Terrell, Nate Gust, Evan Sheppard