With The ITV Fest on the Horizon, We Ask: “Is it a Step Forward?”
Gabriel Neil
Jul 24, 2013 (Modified: Aug 14, 2013)681 Views

The Independent TV and Film Awards, founded and run in LA since 2006, is being held in Vermont this year for the first time. It being the first festival with a focus on independently, and largely web, produced programming, we couldn’t help but be interested. Running from the 26th-28th September this year, the Festival seems to take over the small towns of Dover and Wilmington in Vermont, featuring alongside screenings, live bands, street performers and, strangely enough, a car show.

It’s stated goal is to get independent film makers, TV professionals and independent producers in the same room, and so bring exposure, cross-pollination, and presumably mainstream acceptance to the independent film-making community.

Literally bringing the whole circus to town for a film festival seems like a pretty odd thing to do, to be honest. It would appear to be a part of a project to get film festivals in the states to become less stuffy and LA-centric, and more open and approachable.


That being said, the festival appears to still have a limited number of VIP passes, at $299 (£196) a pop, for the chance to go to special “VIP parties”. Added to that, there is the relative remoteness of the location, Vermont is not a very densely populated state and even then it’s pretty isolated so there is still a problematic air of exclusivity about this festival.

However, this isn’t simply some jolly weekend out for posh film hobbyists to have a laugh and… I dunno, wear their jumpers like scarves or whatever it is posh people do. This festival looks like it genuinely cares about independent film making, taking in a number of widely varying films across drama, comedy and documentary, made for both TV and the internet.

Previous series’ screened at the Festival have included the wonderful Jeff Lewis 5-Minute Comedy Hour. One of their more interesting looking comedy selections this year Black Box features Cathryn Mudon from one of my personal favourites I’m Too Fragile for This. They clearly have some taste, despite their selection of the unspeakably awful “comedy” trailer The Men’s Room (seriously, it’s like Two and a Half Men on cocaine, click that link at your peril).

The festival is a non-profit though, so even though it’s pretty expensive the money isn’t just going to line the pockets of useless shareholders or marketers, it’s going straight back into pushing independent film into the limelight.


Worryingly, and probably tellingly, their “success” section lists a number of previous winners, many of whom are deemed to have “succeeded” by having sold pilots to huge monolithic TV companies like FOX, NBC and Comedy Central. I’d be tempted to argue that a festival which celebrates independent film is shooting themselves in the foot somewhat by lauding the absorption of independent talent into the homogenizing world of TV. That, combined with the fact that ITVFest’s biggest backers are, coincidentally the decidedly un-indie Sony, Fox, Comedy Central, SyFy, FX and HBO. The business backing of these monolithic companies puts the “independent” credentials of ITVFest into question. Whether this is a case of TV companies genuinely having an interest in boosting the stock of independent film-makers, or a rather more cynical attempt for them to skim off what they see as the most sellable aspects of independent film is uncertain. The place of traditional media giants in the world of independent web-based film-making is still one that is yet to be settled. Considering that they are usually stuck in an old-fashioned model of top-town, dictatorial entertainment, a level of suspicion whenever they are involved won’t go amiss.

That being said there are few enough awards ceremonies in the world promoting independent film making that it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for what wins and what gets nominated at ITV in the future. We’ll certainly keep you updated once the awards take place this September.


Hi Gabriel,

Thank you for your piece on this year's ITVFest. WIth our heads down working hard everyday to put it together, it's always helpful to see how the festival is being perceived by the "outside world". Your piece seems to have a feeling of uncertainty and mystery about what exactly is happening this year, and there's good reason for that - we haven't released all of the details yet. We're still waiting for the final logistical pieces to fall in to place.

The part of your piece that I found the most interesting was how ITVFest mentions artists that have moved into "the homogenizing world of TV" on our success page. I'm happy you picked up on this point as it's one of the most interesting aspects about building ITVFest.

On the one hand, the artists want to know that ITVFest gives them the freedom to explore their creative limits by not shying away from new, edgy, indie ideas. Yet on the other hand, the artists want to know that ITVFest gives them a pathway to get industry jobs that can pay their rent and feed their families. This tension between the freedom of the "indie" world and the need to pay bills in the "homogenized" world isn't lost on us - in fact, we find it one of the most fascinating pieces about ITVFest.

Furthermore, the success of ITVFest depends largely on the part of the general public showing up to see the artists' work on screen and a large section of the public likes to be reassured that ITVFest has industry backing from networks and people they've heard of before. Again - it's all a balancing act.

Also, you hit the nail on the head with your comment about media giants/web-based filmmaking yet to be settled. That is in fact the central theme of most of our panel discussions this year. We're as fascinated by the transition that's happening on that side of the industry as you are.

There are many other interesting parts about what you wrote (the circus piece, the location, etc.) and I'd be happy to talk about each of them with you. Feel free to reach out anytime. My email is festival@itvfest.com.

Have a good day!

Philip Gilpin, Jr.

Executive Director

ITVFest 2013


I really don't know what to make of The Mens room. I'm usually good at sniffing out satire, and I'm *sort of* getting that vibe from the trailer, but as a piece of satire it doesn't really bring any comedy of its own to the mix. I kept waiting for the laughter track to smother the lines, or the cast to reach some apex of self-awareness, but it never came.

I suppose it's not fair to judge from a trailer (is the trailer the entire product, or an actual trailer for a real show?) but what I've seen felt very much like a horizontal scoop of neopolitan, rather than a vertical one. (Ice Cream analogies are some of my best work)


@ComedyVan I can't say I was getting that vibe from The Men's Room. I think if it was some kind of satire of Two and a Half Men and that kind of dross, it would have a sort of self-awareness built into the trailer, but it just seems to be an extension, rather than a parody of that kind of bro-tastic thing. I didn't get any hint from the trailer that it was anything other than a genuine attempt to emulate generic American TV comedy. As you say it can be a little unfair to judge a show entirely from a trailer, but a trailer is supposed to give people an idea of what the show will be like. From that trailer, I got the impression the show would be like pushing broken glass into my eyes.

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