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New York Television Festival: Independent Pilot Competition among highlights

Now in its 14th year, the festival includes panel discussions featuring writers from New York City-made TV shows and serves as a platform for up-and-coming TV creators.

One TV fest panel culls writers from shows

One TV fest panel culls writers from shows including "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" to talk about working in the industry. Photo Credit: Netflix / Eric Liebowitz

For anyone hoping to break into a career working behind the scenes in TV — or just acutely interested in the business and art of making shows — the New York Television Festival is the city’s premier event.

Now in its 14th year, the annual six-day fest serves as both a platform for up-and-coming independent television makers to screen their projects and as a place where industry insiders deep-dive into the process through panel discussions and other events.

The festival’s main draw is its flagship Independent Pilot Competition, which includes 59 official selections screened in blocks Saturday through Thursday.

The pilots include comedies and dramas, with an impressive number featuring people of color in key creative positions and women directors.

A whopping 45 of the screenings are world premieres, and the subject matters of the pilots vary wildly from moving intimate portraits to fantastical sci-fi futures and surreal absurd comedies.

The festival has a reputation for serving as a launchpad for creatives to enter the industry. Every year some of the television makers leave the festival with deals with various studios. Now, to better accommodate the industry’s current development timeline, the festival has changed from its usual fall schedule to take place in July.

“We’re very excited for our first summer installment and a festival lineup that is truly focused on the core mission of the NYTVF — to showcase, foster and cultivate the best and boldest indie creators and provide a viable marketplace for our industry participants,” said NYTVF founder Terence Gray in a news release.

The pilot screenings and several other events, including an exclusive preview to TruTV’s new anthology series “Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits and Monsters,” are mostly free or $5 for advanced online registration.

However, for those looking to get the most out the experience, a festival pass ($150) also gives attendees access to panels where experts and professionals offer a look into the often opaque world behind the camera. This year’s selection of panels cover subjects such as “Now What: Navigating Your First Job in the Writers’ Room,” a discussion on what a career as a television writer is really like led by scribes from celebrated comedies and talk shows including “High Maintenance,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

There are also “Ask Me Anything”-style panels with various executives and showrunners.

The 14th Annual New York Television Festival runs Saturday through July 19. For the full event schedule visit nytvf.com

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