WEST DOVER >> The Independent Television and Film Festival is raising the bar yet again this year.
"There's definitely still some growth. But this is a breakout year for it in terms of volume and the people of the industry having acclaim," said Phil Gilpin Jr., executive director of the festival. "It's a really big deal to have this level of talent and industry coming to our tiny little town."
Most of the inns in West Dover are booked up for the festival happening along the paved portion of Valley Trail on Route 100 on Oct. 5 to 9, prompting Gilpin to say the holiday weekend will resemble more of a holiday week for the Deerfield Valley. Content creator badges have already sold out. Last year saw the same thing happen but it did not until the week before the festival.
Passes are still available for the general public at itvfest.com.
"Everyone's welcome," Gilpin said. "The reason we put it on and do so much work is because we want people to see incredible shows and meet people."
"Last minute details" were being addressed by Gilpin this week. Approximately 20 volunteers signed up to assist but about 20 more would still be needed, he said. Free passes are given to volunteers, who can sign up online for a minimum two-day commitment.
"This is the big week when everything happens at once. This when the magic happens, I guess you would say," Gilpin said. "Everyone wants their schedule."
The screening schedules were already posted on the ITVFest website on Monday when Gilpin talked with the Reformer. He was preparing times for panel discussions and scheduling for very important people, also known as VIPs.
Young filmmakers from Center For Digital Art and the Windham Regional Career Center will kick off the festival on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Instructors Joshua Moyse and Michel Moyse helped the local students create their short projects.
Adam Hinckley and Ben Kaufman are showing "Dance Families," which is described as a dark comedy that parodies reality television as two young dangers prepare for the performance of a lifetime.
"The Big 4-0," written and directed by Owen Comstock, Emily Cutts and Sam Turner, is about a single man getting ready for his 40th birthday party. His only friend is a photograph of a woman in a frame.
Colette Anton and Justin Souvanh's "Awake" sees a young couple experiencing love and loss.
"The Twinkietastrophe" by Freesia Capy-Goldfarb and Camille Gunzburg will make the audience laugh as two high school students believe a class assignment might be to blame for a catastrophe.
A panel discussion with industry executives will follow.
"I always like to start the show with local filmmakers," said Gilpin, who previously had elementary school students from Dover involved in the festival.
Another local aspect will have the Southern Vermont Young Professionals turning up at the festival. Jennifer Latham, of Northern Routes Film Collaborative, and Angela Snow, of To the Moon Productions, will join Alex Beck, coordinator of the local young professionals group. They hope to have another panelist.
"We'll be talking about how the quality of life and opportunities to live in Vermont are great for film and TV industry workers," Beck said. "We'll also be talking about how great Vermont is for festivals, writing retreats and creative education resources."
The discussion joins a long list of panels and workshops that make this year's festival an exciting one.
An interactive casting seminar will be hosted by "House of Cards" casting director Erika Arvold.
Alexandra Shapiro, of EVP, Marketing & Digital and NBCUniversal, will deliver a keynote speech about female careers in entertainment. Shapiro is one of the highest ranking female executives in the world, said Gilpin.
Tamara Tunie, an actress on "Law and Order," will give a talk on the trials and tribulations of business for actors. Gilpin said Tunie was swindled by her former manager but still went on to have an amazing career.
A panel on the purpose of storytelling will be hosted by Priyanka Pruthi, who is the "top of the food chain when it comes to choosing video production" for the United Nations, according to Gilpin.
Pruthi "is in constant need of filmmakers to fly around the world on a moment's notice to shoot the latest crisis," said Gilpin.
HBO Vice President of Talent Development Kelly Edwards, Hunter Kinsella of CAA and Bernie Su, an Emmy award winner, are three producers hosting a discussion on how discovering talent is changing in a digital age.
"These three gatekeepers can get someone's career launched with a phone call," Gilpin said. "A month ago, I came across an amazing pilot series, called up Kelly (Edwards). And two days later the filmmaker was sitting in HBO's office pitching the show idea."
A panel on the financing of television will bring Vinca Jarrett and Kirsty Bell to the festival.
"These two women alone are responsible for hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars for film and TV productions," said Gilpin.
"A heavy hitter showrunner" panel will see the executive producers of "24," "Bones," "Monk" and "Hung" getting together to chat.
Another group will include the leading virtual reality producers from Los Angeles, Calif., Gilpin said. New cameras, writing software and other technology will be shown off in a tent.
Bobby Farrelly, famous for the creation of "Something About Mary" and "Dumb Dumber," will be joined by his producing partner Kris Meyer and Dana Kuznetzkoff, of the Producers Guild of America, for a discussion on big budget filmmaking. Kuznetzkoff also produced the HBO show "Boardwalk Empire."
"That's huge to have literally one of the top producers in the entire industry here," Gilpin said of Farrelly. "That's an amazing step, not just for the festival but for independent filmmakers to be recognized by people who have such high acclaim within the industry."
The New York City-based Jacob Krueger Studio will be offering a television pilot writer's retreat. Krueger is a screenwriter who hosts workshops with other professional television writers. The retreat will be held four hours each morning of the festival.
This year saw 75 shows selected to be shown at the festival.
"They're from as far away as Australia and England, and as close as here in Vermont," said Gilpin.
An alumni category was created because "television's unique in that people make seasons of shows," he said. Those projects still had to go through the same review process as others.
"That's why we wanted to shine a little spotlight on them. It's hard enough to get through the process once. To do it two or three times is a special accomplishment," Gilpin said. "It's a very fun group of returners. I think there's 10, all with new episodes and seasons of their shows."
A familiar face to Deerfield Valley residents will be Evelyn Vaccaro. She previously participated in the festival with her company Famous Red Carpets, which provides backdrops for photographs and red carpets for events. And she hosted a show on RSN in Vermont for years.
Vaccaro's television documentary "It's a Potcake Life" was selected for the festival.
"This story takes you on an amazing and heartwarming journey of the plight of the Royal Bahamian Potcake and the team of people dedicated to caring for them," stated a description on itvfest.com. "It's a story of heartbreak, hope and inspiration."
A Montpelier-based group is showing a short film called "Joan in Owl Land," which according to the festival website, "tries to capture how children cope with hardships. Expect no happy ending — some things just can't be fixed."
"K&A," a comedy webseries created by Katie Shannon of Thompson Films, also has local connections. Shannon was one of the recipients of a production grant offered by the town of Dover. Her show had been in the festival before. The group comes from Boston, Mass.
Episodes being shown this year were shot in Dover. The main location, Gilpin said, is a farmhouse on Vogel Road in Dover.
"It looks really great on film," he said. "That's going to be really fun and interesting to see how an Economic Development (Department) grant brought people here to film something and now that show is good enough to be shown at the festival."
Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.