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SeriesFest: Indie TV Continues to Rise With Pilot Competition Line-Up (Exclusive)

SeriesFest: Indie TV Continues to Rise With Pilot Competition Line-Up (Exclusive)

The international television and content festival SeriesFest has announced its official selections that will take part in their Independent Pilot Competition. For the festival’s “second season,” 34 titles in competition (full line-up below) will compete for Best Pilot, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Writer in the categories of Drama and Comedy, along with the Audience Award.

SeriesFest runs from Thursday, June 23 to Saturday, June 25 at the Sie FilmCenter in Denver, Colorado. 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, in a statement. “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.”

Today, SeriesFest is also announcing its Jury members. 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” and 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 and Janet Pierson: Head of Film, SXSW. 
 
The primary screening venue will be at the Sie FilmCenter, which is the year-round cinematic home of SeriesFest’s partner organization, the Denver Film Society. 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” at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Wednesday, June 22. Check out the full line-up of pilots below. 

Drama Pilot Competition  

“Aeris” (World Premiere)
Creator: Lukas Huffman
Cast: Lanie McAuley, Elise Gatien, Taylor Godber
USA, 19m
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.
 
“Border Queen”
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.
 
“Camp Abercorn”
Creator: Jeffrey Simon
Cast: Brad Leland, Morgan West, Declan Michael-Laird, Tyler Cook, Zach Louis, Jeff Rosick
USA, 25m
 
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.
 
“CODED”
Creator: Steve Neufeld
Cast: Jarod Joseph
Canada, 49m
 
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 Civilization”
Creator: Gabriel Fleming
Cast: Donovan Keith, Ruth Fowler, Carolyn Richards, Gabriel Fleming
USA, 28m
 
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
USA, 55m
 
“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?
 
“Dr. Illegal”
Creators: Jan Galli & Martin Rohé
Cast: Mehdi Nebbou & August Schmölzer
Germany, 27m
 
When Iranian refugee Dr. Omid Afarid, now living in an asylum seekers hostel 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
UK, 24m
 
When a terrorist organization 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…
 
“Farr”
Creator: Aidan Largey
Cast: Shaun Blaney, Ian Beattie, Stephanie Donaghue, Lynn O’Neil, Patrick Buchanon, Gary Crossan, Patrick Molloy
UK, 24m
 
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
USA, 46m
 
“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.
 
“Horizon”
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?
 
“Jersey Chasers”
Creator: Skylar Harrison
Cast: Marie Oldenbourg, Hunter Smit, Cameron Kelly, Chris O’Brien, Matt Miller, Gabi Hankins, Dan Leech, Craig Cranic
USA, 22m
 
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
USA, 46m
 
When a Wall Street investor steals their best trick and hands it to the competition, a trio of young magicians decides 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
USA, 44m
 
“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 

“:30 Second Somebodies”
Creators: Micah Cohen, Matthew Mullen, Boris Undorf
Cast: Zibby Allen, Kevin Berntson, Micah Cohen, John Forest, Marco Naggar, Ryan Radis
USA, 26m
 
“: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
USA, 30m
 
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
USA, 22m
 
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
USA, 19m
 
“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.
 
“Dead John”
Creators: Luca Stein & Michael Borrmann
Cast: Bob Borrmann, Luca Stein, Jessica Frey, Henry Packer, Zoe Worth, Dana Kaplan-Angle, Robert W. Smith
USA, 26m
 
Bob and Luca are smack in the middle of the most elaborate murder mystery ever…and they couldn’t care less.
 
“Distance”
Creator: Alex Dobrenko
Cast: Ashley Spillers, Alex Dobrenko, Chase Joliet, Ashley Barnhill, Trian Long-Smith, Chris Doubek, Cindi Williams
USA, 22m
 
“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
USA, 22m
 
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
USA, 23m
 
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
USA, 22m
 
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
USA, 24m
 
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.
 
“Mark.”
Creator: David Butler
Cast: David Butler, Ian J. Pollack, Catherine Whattam, Brendan Milove, Jason Perez, David Armstrong
USA, 24m
 
“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 is roommate, Tim, makes a last-ditch effort to become a reality TV star, it might just save them both.
 
“MILF Money”
Creator: René Ashton
Cast: Missi Pyle, René Ashton, Brian Krause, Texas Battle, Patrick Muldoon, Deena Dill, Dru Mouser
USA, 22m
 
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
UK/USA, 22m
 
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.
 
“Riftworld Chronicles”
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.
 
“Sox News”
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
USA, 23m
 
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
UK, 20m
 
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
USA, 22m
 
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.

Tickets for Opening Night at Red Rocks and VIP passes for SeriesFest are now on sale. Single tickets for Sie FilmCenter programs go on sale on Friday, May 27.

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