News, Notes & Commentary on the world of HRTS

Why Make Your Own TV Show

On Tuesday August 10th JHRTS hosted a panel in conjunction with the Independent Television Festival featuring winners from this year’s event discussing why they produced their own pilot. Over fifty attendees watched trailers for four projects covering the gamut of television programming, including comedy, drama, animation and reality. Originally conceived as an opportunity for those outside the television development system to screen their projects for the industry, the festival has expanded in its five years of operation to reflect changes in the short form landscape – that is to say, this year for the first time there were more web series entries than traditional television programming which testifies to the booming interest among aspiring producers to create their own material.

Each panelist explained how their journey led to ITVF. Audience Award winner Mike Friedman explained how his single camera sitcom, THE SUPER MAN, came out of his experience as an apartment superintendant and how creating his own role to play was some of the most fun he’s had as an actor. Animation winner Stephen Leonard revealed he entered animation because it was easier to get people to watch a short film than to read a television script so he taught himself how to animate. Reality/Documentary winner Scott Perlman talked about how after years of close calls in the scripted world he taught himself how to be a one man documentary crew in order to film GOING TO POT. Best Director Bobby Salomon told the audience that the support of one actress friend who happens to have worked on some top dramas led to him working with some recognizable faces as a first time director. Since none of them originally came to Hollywood as a producer or director, all the panelists emphasized the benefits of having a produced reel to showcase their talent instead of a more traditional sample.

Moderated by AJ Tesler, founder and executive director of the festival, audience members heard about the challenges of independent television production as well as the opportunities in the market place. For example, THE SUPER MAN is being shopped around by Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment and Jamie Kennedy has signed on to GOING TO POT as an executive producer. While the scene may not be as crowded as the film version, more and more names are getting into producing material outside the traditional studio network system. Although inspired by the success of IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, the creators acknowledged that success isn’t about getting their show on air so much as making it to the next step in their career whatever that may be. Ultimately, as more and more web series cross over to the traditional box in the living room, independent television is going to be taking its next step soon.

JHRTS Why Make Your Own TV Show panelPhoto from left to right: Mike Friedman, Stephen Leonard, Scott Perlman, Bobby Salomon, AJ Tesler.

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