DOVER -- With the submission deadline for the Independent Television and Film Festival coming up on June 30, organizers are planning on expanding the event while also keeping it along a paved portion of the Valley Trail.
"Last year, it was spread around the Deerfield Valley. Now, we're condensing it in the section between the Inn at Sawmill Farm and the movie theater," said ITVFest Executive Director Phil Gilpin Jr. "Just having to drive venue to venue, a lot of people said they missed out on shows because they were caught in traffic."
Between 100 and 115 submissions have already been received to be considered for the festival scheduled for Sept. 26 to 28. A selection committee will go through the submissions in July. There could be up to 250 submissions to go through that process if the anticipated amount of projects come in.
In August, 35 to 40 productions will be announced to appear at the festival.
When the festival first came to the Deerfield Valley last year, Gilpin had pretty much gone through the first round of submissions alone. He picked between 60 and 70, which then went to a committee.
A new Brattleboro-based social entrepreneurship group will have a tent this year. Representatives from this group will partner with ITVFest participants, who are covering related humanitarian issues in their panels or discussions after the screening, to raise awareness.
This year, Gilpin expects approximately 200 people from the entrepreneur side and 1,000 viewers or members of the public to attend. The festival will stay in Dover until 2017. The contract will be renewed as long as there is not two consecutive years of audience decline.
"In theory, we're set up to be here for a decade at least or more," he said.
Financial support continues after the town of Dover agreed in October to sponsor the event again, giving it $20,000 from economic development funds or 1 percent local option tax revenue. The Vermont Department of Tourism also gave $1,500 and a beer and wine distributor based out of Rutland, Farrell Distributing, signed a three-year deal with ITVFest.
Gilpin said the four-year deal to keep the event in Dover has allowed ITVFest to get the distributor on board and People's Bank has become a financial partner of the festival, which helped make it possible for his team to begin promoting and marketing.
"The big difference now is instead of just planning for one event, we're planning for four years," he added. "This is the bigger picture. It's more than just a two-day event."
That means there will be some full-time employees hired. Gilpin believes it will be a new and permanent economic driver for the valley.
He claims to be more relaxed putting together this year's festival as opposed to last year when it first came to Vermont. Altogether, this will be the festival's ninth year in existence. Knowing beforehand that the screens will fit in the tents and having the equipment contracts established, Gilpin has focused his efforts on marketing the event in big cities.
Every last Thursday of the month, mixers are being held in Manhattan, N.Y., with executives, agents and content creators.
"We're growing the ITV community within the artistic world of the city and similarly in Boston," said Gilpin. "That's the advantage this year. We've already been doing six months of marketing outside of the valley."
At Boston College, a course was developed that required its students to attend the festival. Thirty to 40 students are signed up for it. Pre-sale packages were sold there.
As it did last year, ITVFest will kick-off with a short film produced by Dover School students. It will be the only screening on Thursday, Sept. 25. The rest of the productions will be shown throughout the next three days.
The Red Carpet Awards Gala will be held at the Dover Forge on Sept. 28. More industry executives and agents are expected to come this year.
"It's grown leaps and bounds. I think this year, it's going to be more of the presence it had when it was held in L.A.," said Gilpin. "Last year, people had never been here before. They had no idea how the festival was going to look and feel. Everyone knows what to expect now. They know the quality of the projects."
Tickets are available on itvfest.com at a 20 percent discount until Aug. 1. Only three-day passes will be available. Gala passes are limited to first 200 customers.
Currently, organizers are looking for more volunteers and local vendors.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.