Wednesday March 6, 2013

DOVER -- A television and film festival is on its way to town.

"It’s a shot of culture that’s needed around here," said Phil Gilpin Jr., who owns Green Mountain Marketing. "The word on the street is everyone’s excited."

The annual Independent Television and Film Festival, or ITVFest or ITVF, previously had been held in Los Angeles, Calif., in all its years of programming. In its eighth year, the festival will be held in Dover the last weekend of September, and its organizers are expecting a few thousand people to attend, including artists as well as television and film executives.

"The premise is to focus on the arts, focus on the independent work of television, web or film," said Gilpin. "And to give the upcoming talented content makers the chance to be seen and meet with the executives. Taking all that out of Hollywood and setting it against the foliage. Giving it a real outdoor Vermont feel."

He said that the historic nature of Dover and the buildings will give the festival a "type of authentic independent feel."

"My friend Adam Tesler founded it in 2006 because there was no place for independent television artists to bring their scripts for television-based programming to get picked up by (major television networks)" said Gilpin. "It took off like a rocket."

In 2010, Tesler and his wife let friends take over the festival. Gilpin said it "went more corporate," focusing on YouTube sensations and pop culture.


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He said that this year, Tesler wanted the festival to be more like a revival of the way it used to be.

Gilpin thought Dover would be a great place to hold the event, partly because of the proximity of New York City and Boston and partly because a lot of tourists and second home owners come through the area.

Also, the town could fit 20,000 people comfortably, the business overview for the festival states.

Telluride Festival and Sundance Film Festival are two film festivals that are held in well-known mountain towns. Gilpin thought this would be a good opportunity for Dover as well as the festival.

Gilpin said he’s been talking to Tesler about bringing the festival to Dover since last September.

"A few months ago, I met with local business owners," he said.

Because there is only one movie theatre in town, Gilpin wanted to set up screening tents on local business properties.

With locations agreed upon, he is now looking for sponsorships and vendors. Gilpin cited maple syrup retailers and clothing manufacturers as some of the businesses he’d like to have set up in vendor tents.

Some of the tents for screening will likely be set up at the Inn at Sawmill Farm Inn, Dover Forge and Cooper Hill. The awards gala scheduled for Saturday night will most likely be held at the Hermitage.

The Thursday and Friday of the festival will have all-day screenings shown at all the tents.

"It will be a screening bonanza, with live music stages set up all along Route 100," said Gilpin.

The Four Seasons Inn is scheduled to hold the music stage.

Gilpin also mentioned art displays and a car show on Friday and Saturday. The art displays and screening tents will be set up along the Dover Trail.

Submissions for the festival are open to the public on March 1. Those who are interested can apply online at itvfest.com.

"In two months, we’ll see what submissions come in," said Gilpin. "Historically, the festival has been very selective. It gets 400 submissions a year of high quality material."

By June, the festival’s directors will know which celebrities are slated to attend and what submissions will be shown.

Gilpin plans to go in front of the Dover Selectboard sometime between March and this summer to ask for possible funding from the Economic Development Committee.

"I haven’t come across anyone in Dover whose not excited," he said.

As Gilpin secures sponsors for the event, tickets will be going on sale.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.