Logo icon
Back

Meet The SeriesFest: Season 7 Programming Team

March 24, 2021

The SeriesFest Team is gearing up for a phenomenal season of independent content competitions!

Get to know who is watching and reading your submissions for the Independent Pilot, Digital Short Series, Late Night, Pitch-A-Thon, Storytellers Initiative, Smart Phone Series, Next In Queue: Podcast, and Pilots In Progress competitions. 

Alece_Oxendine_Headshot.jpg

Alece Oxendine

IPC Programmer 

New York, NY 

  • What is your all time favorite series and why? I can't just pick one, so I have categories!
    • Comedy
      • Parks & Recreation because it is genuine and hilarious and has representation. For all the shenanigans Leslie Knope & crew got into, her intentions were always pure and rooted in helping others and they accomplished a lot for their little town.
    • Drama
      • The Mandalorian because the music is just amazing, the story is amazing, and it is a great intro into the Star Wars universe for fans and non-fans alike. 
    • Dramedy
      • Ted Lasso for the same reasons as Parks & Rec; it takes a character that you're supposed to dislike, but can't because he's just so damn lovable!
    • Animated
      • Steven Universe because of how it deals with trauma and PTSD in a healthy way through its title character. For kids, but really for adults too. 
    • All time
      • Star Trek the Next Generation because it's just an all around good show with amazing representation and great storytelling. Picard is a great leader and I learned so much from this show about working with a group.
  • What series are you looking forward to seeing in 2021? The Gilded Age on HBOmax because I'm obsessed with this time period in American history, from the late 1800s to the turn of the century. Also, they've introduced a story line with a Black woman character and I am very curious and excited about this! 
  • What excites you or inspires you about independent series? Simply put: the creativity and freedom in storytelling!
  • What's your favorite pastime (outside of watching pilots and reading scripts) ? If I'm being honest, I love TikTok! Talk about creative storytelling?! I learn about different subjects and spend hours laughing at these 60sec vignettes. 

10400499_24248876146_7116_n.jpg

Brian Brooks

Director of Special Projects and Talent

New York, New York 

  • What is your all time favorite series and why? Oh gosh, I Love Lucy and All In The Family are my go-to "comfort watches." As a kid, the shows were on and when I see them on, they take me to that happy place. Even though I have seen all the episodes, I still laugh at the -- very different - antics of Lucille Ball and separately, Carroll O'Connor. A bit closer to this century, I absolutely loved Six Feet Under in the early 2000s. It really impressed on me what magic can happen on the small screen. More recently, I must confess I love The Crown.
  • What series are you looking forward to in 2021? I am looking forward to The Underground Railroad. I've always admired Barry Jenkins as a filmmaker and can't wait to see what he does here. And it's such an important part of our history.
  • What inspires you about independent series? Similarly to independent film, I love the discovery and finding the unexpected. But even the 'expected' can be presented from a subtly different perspective and that produces magic. Festivals create their own chemistry and they're reinvented every year with the vibrant, creative voices that are the foundation of the event. And I love seeing creators connect with their audience. 
  • What's your favorite pastime (outside of watching pilots and reading scripts)? I like to travel (when you could do that) and go to the movies (when you could do that) and taking long walks in the countryside. I also still love exploring New York where I live, even though I've lived here a long time.

Screen Shot 2021-03-22 at 1.07.01 PM.png

Caleb Ward 

Late Night Programmer

Los Angeles, CA

  • What is your all time favorite series and why? The Leftovers, it's the strongest example of an adaptation that can take its material and then expand upon it into a new universe.
  • What series are you looking forward to seeing in 2021?  THEM, Amazon Prime
  • What excited you or inspires you about independent series?  Seeing creators take risks is what keeps me coming back to see more of their creations!
  • What's your favorite pastime (outside of watching pilots and reading scripts) ?  Surfing.  I've been an avid surfer since I was a teenager.

bunny1.jpg

Alexandra "Alex" Mitchell

Programming Manager

Pine Bluff, Arkansas 

  • What is your all time favorite series and why? I have a lot of favorite shows, but for the title of "all-time", my heart is telling me to lock in Eureka (Syfy, 2006-2012). When I think of a lot of my favorite shows, Eureka seems to represent a wonderful nexus. You've got a workplace crime comedy with time travel, alternate realities, and space travel. I also love a show that builds a solid season one framework and draws from it at every turn, all the way until the series finale. Strong Honorable Mention: Happy Endings
  • What series are you looking forward to seeing in 2021? I'm excited for a lot of returning series. The delay caused by the pandemic was tough. On the new side, I thoroughly enjoyed Wandavision and I'm looking forward to Run the World and Birdgirl. For reboots, Wipeout is back!
  • What excites you or inspires you about independent series? There are a lot of series on TV and streaming but there are still plenty of stories still to tell. There is such a vast array of points of view in independent series and so many risks are being taken creatively. The creators have so much passion for their projects that exude through the series.
  • What's your favorite pastime (outside of watching pilots and reading scripts) ? I love playing board games!

IMG_0808.jpg

Breanna Washington

Storytellers Initiative Manager

Denver, CO 

  • What is your all time favorite series and why? Too many good shows to name one! But my three favorite shows from the past 5 years would be Atlanta, The Crown, and Insecure. Atlanta is so smart and high concept with the writing. For those that just want to enjoy the comedy, it's still easy to digest and for those that want to take a deeper approach to the subject matter, there are plenty of opportunities for that too. Hands down one of the most brilliant shows EVER. The Crown does an exceptional job of creating empathy for awful characters. Though it's a fictional show based on real life events and people, it gives an authentic insight into a family that we rarely are able to see outside of tabloid media. Insecure makes me FEEL SEEN. I watched Issa Rae from the beginning of her YouTube days and Insecure finally shows the true beauty of Black women relationships and struggles beyond reality tv drama. 
  •  What series are you looking forward to seeing in 2021? The series finale of Pose is a show I'm looking forward to seeing this year. I was completely devastated to learn it was ending after only three seasons. It deserved WAY MORE love than it actually got. I'm also a huge Marvel fan and after the success of Wanda Vision, I'm excited to see The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
  •  What excites you or inspires you about independent series? I love independent series because we really get to see unconventional content. Many times, big studios want to pick up a show that only serves what they are looking for. They can impose certain requirements and restrictions on creators where the program feels over commercialized. Independent series show authentic and raw ideas that you would never think you could see on tv. Fresh unseen stories get birthed this way and it even motivates and inspires others to stay true to the stories they want to make. 
  • What's your favorite pastime (outside of watching pilots and reading scripts) ?  Outside of tv work, I love the beauty industry! I'm really into makeup and skincare especially. Skincare is a way for me to pamper myself and keep my skin healthy, which contributes to my overall health. I'm also a former makeup artist so I still enjoy doing my family's makeup on occasion to make them feel beautiful. 

undefined

Claire Taylor

Director of Programming

Denver, CO

  • What is your all time favorite series and why? Tie between The Sopranos and Veronica Mars….. very different shows BUT similar in what they’ve taught me about series structure and character development. Veronica Mars uses a procedural formula with a twist of high school drama. And The Sopranos gave audiences some of the greatest characters of all time, there will only ever be one Tony Soprano. 
  • What series are you looking forward to seeing in 2021? There is a lot to look forward to this year! I recently binge watched the Italian crime series Gommora on HBOMax and am obsessed. (I’m 100% certain that my colleagues are sick of me talking about it.) Gommora season 4 and 5 will be out this year and thinking about it literally gives me chills. Also the return of Succession, Peaky Blinders, and Atlanta! I promise I also love comedies and know how to laugh. 
  • What excites you or inspires you about independent series? What inspires me most about independent series are the creators behind the content. I love watching or reading pilots with a clear point of view of why the creator is the right person to tell the story. I’m very lucky to also get to know the creators through the festival circuit and really they (you) are the inspiration for me to find innovative ways to champion your hard work. 
  • What's your favorite pastime (outside of watching pilots and reading scripts) ? I love animals, and have been told if this whole festival thing doesn’t work out I’d make a good vet! ;) Don’t worry I’m not going anywhere. Outside of stalking golden retrievers on the internet, I love going to the Wild Animal Sanctuary outside of Denver. It’s a great way to get outside and support the rehabilitation of abused animals. 

IMG_0026.JPG

Lauren Grimshaw Sloan

Initiatives Producer

Denver, CO 

  • What is your all time favorite series and why? This is a TOUGH one! I'm really all over the place. I love different shows for different reasons. Full House was my first love (I'm a child of the 90s after all) and still love the nostalgia of that show, so I make my kids watch it. The Office is the show I can always put on for a laugh and I can rewatch it again and again. I also have a real soft spot for all things English too - Downton Abbey, Peaky Blinders and Luther!
  • What series are you looking forward to seeing in 2021? Inventing Anna on Netflix. I love all things Shondaland and can't wait to see what they do with it!
  • What excited you or inspires you about independent series? The creators! I love getting to see work from new and fresh voices outside of the traditional studio system. It feels like a privilege to see such incredible work from young creators and play a small part in giving them a platform to further their career. 
  • What's your favorite pastime (outside of watching pilots and reading scripts) ? I've become mildly obsessed with home improvement & decorating during lockdown since I never leave my home. And cuddling up with my kids for weekend movie nights :)

undefined

Randi Kleiner

Co-Founder and CEO 

Denver, CO 

  • What is your all time favorite series and why? I Love Lucy! It's a classic series and I laugh out loud every time I watch an episode, even if i'm watching it for the 100th time. Lucille Ball was a trailblazer for women in the industry as both an entertainer and business woman. She and Desi, even put up their own money to finance the show - I like to think of them as some of the first independent content creators!
  • What series are you looking forward to seeing in 2021? There are lots of things I am excited for, but I truly can't wait for Season 3 of Succession.
  • What excited you or inspires you about independent series? The creators are true visionaries and entrepreneurs and I am always inspired by hearing their stories about getting their projects made. 
  • What's your favorite pastime (outside of watching pilots and reading scripts) ? I am an avid Football Fan - GO MIAMI DOLPHINS! I also love to read. 

92D697C6-5D8A-46F3-91DB-7A41264E6CB5_...

Aden Yaregal

Programming Intern 

Los Angeles, CA

  • What is your all-time favorite series and why? How do I pick one?! Love Supernatural for its binge-ability. The magicians for the writing and its quote-ability. Schitts' Creek because it's amazing and hilarious and perfect. 
  • What series are you looking forward to seeing in 2021? Season 2 of Why Women Kill.
  • What excited you or inspires you about independent series? There are no limits. You can be as creative as you want to be. I also appreciate the level of control creatives can maintain when developing projects. 
  • What's your favorite pastime (outside of watching pilots and reading scripts)? I recently found out I enjoy cooking!

headshot1.png

Liv Janicek

Programming Intern 

Los Angeles, CA 

  • What is your all time favorite series and why? My favorite series of all time is Fleabag. Fleabag felt like therapy to me. In some episodes, I found myself keeling over with laughter. Other episodes, I had my face shoved in a pillow as I struggled to contain my sobs. It’s such an excellent comedy because it doesn’t sacrifice its heart for its wit. It has both. 
  • What series are you looking forward to seeing in 2021? I’m looking forward to seeing Barry Season 3 (if it comes out in 2021). Barry is such a well-crafted comedy drama. I binged the first two seasons in a few days and I’m hungry for some more Bill Hader content! 
  • What excites you or inspires you about independent series? Independent series inspire me to seek fresh, unique perspectives in content. I think the market can quickly become oversaturated with one type of show, yet independent series give voice to everyone, every genre, and every idea. They promote a diversity in the industry that’s well-noted and admirable. It’s also just really fun to see something you haven’t seen before! It’s exciting!
  • What's your favorite pastime (outside of watching pilots and reading scripts) ? My other favorite past-times include walking and going to the grocery store. Quarantine has turned me into a bit of a middle aged mom but I appreciate it. I’m also a writer, so I spend a lot of time editing pilot or feature scripts. I love anything and everything related to storytelling. It’s so much fun to engage in my imagination and create worlds I can invite others into.