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New York Television Festival Announces Award Winners And Development Deals

Comedy Central, IFC Comedy Selects, and Seeso were among the networks that signed development deals out of the 12th annual independent TV festival.

Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh won Best Short Form Comedy for “Textbook Adulthood.”


In the golden age of television, the New York Television Festival is quickly becoming the place to find the next crown jewel. Now in its 12th year, the festival continues to grow each year both in scope and prestige, boasting a record number of submissions, artists, and industry participation.

“It’s taken us a couple of years to get to this point, but we’re hitting our stride at a time where there is great creativity in TV and digital,” said NYTVF Founder and Executive Director Terence Gray, surveying the room bustling with pitch meetings on plush couches. “It’s fun, you see these incredibly talented people that are being given a shot to sit down with agents and managers and executives.”

READ MORE: ‘Arrested Development’ Creator Mitch Hurwitz’s Pitching Secret: Make ‘Em Laugh

Grey founded NYTVF twelve years ago, shrewdly filling an opening for a Sundance-like festival for independent television creators. But what sets the festival apart from its film-world counterparts is the unprecedented industry access afforded its creators.  “I haven’t ever been put in front of industry people in the way that I have here,” said filmmaker Kevin Barker, who signed a development deal with IFC Comedy Selects for his animated series “E. Coli Hi.” Barker has directed two features films: “Last Kind Words,” starring Brad Dourif, and “The Family Jams,” a music documentary that followed musicians Devendra Banhardt, Joanna Newsom and Anohni on the road. He enjoyed the creative freedom of a short form series. “The chunks are so much smaller to bite off with episodic, so you can do weirder stuff and be more experimental, because there isn’t as much invested. You can make something that fails, and it’s not the same thing as making a feature that fails,” said Barker.

Industry recognition for NYTVF grows steadily each year, especially since it has shepherded two projects to production: HBO’s “Animals” and Netflix’s “The Jamz.” That’s how Madeline Walter and Paul Walsh, two Los Angeles-based comedians who signed a development deal with Pop TV and won Best Short Form Comedy for their web series, “Textbook Adulthood,” knew of the festival. “In the past three years, I kept hearing about it more and more. Now there are shows on television that came out of this festival, or originally premiered at the festival, that made me pay more attention to it,” said Walter in between meetings.

READ MORE: New York Television Festival Receives Record High Submissions

There are public screenings of the chosen pilots, and industry talks from the likes of Lena Dunham and Mitch Hurwitz, but the meetings facilitated between creators and developers are the heart of the festival, and the reason for its launching pad status. “All of our partners see the material before the festival,” said Grey. “We allow them to watch everything, so before they get here, they know exactly who they want to meet with. And it’s a qualified meeting, because they’ve already watched their pilot. That is, for somebody who doesn’t have an agent or doesn’t have a manager, it’s almost virtually impossible.”

Originally, almost 90 percent of creators at the festival had no industry representation whatsoever, now Grey estimates that number hovers between 40 and 50 percent. That is a signifier that NYTVF’s star, much like its award winning creators’, is on the rise.

Without further ado, the 12th annual New York Television Festival award winners and network deals:

Best Animation

Fired On Mars” created by Nick Vokey and Nate Sherman – Los Angeles, CA

Best Comedy

Poor Todd” created by Liz Astrof (Los Angeles, CA)

Best Drama

According to My Mother” created by Daniel K. Isaac, Cathy Y. Yan, and Devin Landin (Queens, NY)

Best Short-Form Comedy Series

Textbook Adulthood” created by Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh (Los Angeles, CA)

Best Short-Form Drama Series

Her Story” created by Jen Richards and Laura Zak (Los Angeles, CA)

Best Unscripted

Comedy Digs” created by Shelly Gossman and Blythe Haaga (Los Angeles, CA)

Best Actor, Comedy

Keith Powell for “Keith Broke His Leg

Best Actor, Drama

Daniel K. Isaac for “According to My Mother

Best Actress, Comedy

Julia Mattison for “Brooklyn Sound

Best Actress, Drama

Angelica Ross for “Her Story

Best Writing

Adam Weinstock and Andy Jones for “On the Bright Side

Best Directing (Tie)

Sonja O’Hara and Jaspal Binning for “Doomsday” and

D.W. Waterson for “That’s My DJ

Best Editing

Drew Van Steenbergen for “Brooklyn Sound

NYTVF Critics Award

The Worst Husband” created by Steve Dildarian (Los Angeles, CA)

Best of the Fest – Independent Pilot Competition

The Worst Husband” created by Steve Dildarian (Los Angeles, CA)

Best of the Fest – NYTVF Scripts

“Medium Well” written by Christina Brosman (Brooklyn, NY)

Development Deals and Network Award Winners

Bento Box Development Award

Tiffany So and Saba Saghafi for their project “Limited Space” (Los Angeles, CA)

Comedy Central Development Award

Julia Mattison and Noel Carey for their project “Brooklyn Sound” (Brooklyn, NY)

IFC Comedy Selects

Door on the Left” created by Kati Skelton (Brooklyn, NY) and

E. Coli High” created by Kevin Barker and Ben Miller (Brooklyn, NY)

OneX Pitch Deal

Chas Jackson (Los Angeles, CA)

Pop Pitch Deal

Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh (Los Angeles, CA)

Red Arrow Entertainment Development Award

Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman for their project “Yidlife Crisis” (Montreal, Quebec)

Seeso Development Award

Tynan Delong, Ryan Bennett and Ana Fabrega for their project “Jana and Shasta” (Brooklyn, NY)

Super Deluxe Pitch Deal

Meghan O’Neill (Brooklyn, NY)

truTV Greenlight Deal

Shelly Gossman and Blythe Haaga for their project “Comedy Digs” (Los Angeles, CA)

WEtv Pitch Deal

Joseph Gerbino and Erica Hart (West Palm Beach, FL)

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