A 'world-class arts event' comes to Deerfield Valley

Monday July 1, 2013

DOVER -- After hitting the $50,000 benchmark, Phil Gilpin Jr., the founder of Green Mountain Vermont, felt ready to take on the rest of organizing the eighth annual Independent Television and Film Festival, or ITVFest.

"It was a relief," he said. "I had been working on the festival for over a year at that point. The entire time there had been the risk that after all the work, it would not come to fruition. It was an exciting relief."

The festival will be held around Dover and Wilmington from Sept. 25 to 28. Tickets are available now.

Gilpin received support from municipalities, business owners and local residents. But now he wants to promote the event itself and make people understand what it can offer to the community for years to come.

The funding received so far will be used for tents, stages and various equipment needed for the event. Now, organizers are looking to expand advertising and marketing.

As long as 1,000 tickets are sold each year, ITVFest will remain in Dover. According to a press release from Green Mountain Vermont, the original contract was capped at three years, but since the initial support has been so strong, the contract has been renegotiated without the cap.

Basically, if there is enough continued support for the event, it will stay in the valley.

"ITVFest is a world class arts event that can be an economic game changer for the region dependent upon how much support it receives from the community," Gilpin said. "This could be a tent pole economic event in southern Vermont for the next decade as long as we are able to keep the ticket sales."

One of Gilpin's biggest concerns is making sure local residents feel included. He urges people to take the festival on as if it were their own.

In the past, ITVFest was held in Los Angeles. Gilpin thought that having it in the Deerfield Valley could breathe new life into the festival.

In addition to gaining support from local businesses and organizations, Gilpin also received financial support from the Dover Economic Development Department as well as the Wilmington Selectboard.

"That was probably the most positive element of the festival so far," said Gilpin. "That it was able to bring both towns into supporting it, so that we can work together in making the valley the permanent home for this festival for as far as the eye can see."

The annual Wine and Harvest Festival is a week before ITVFest. Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce is promoting both events together as a festival week.

A $60 dual pass is available, which will get people into both events. The regular rates are $15 for the Wine and Harvest Festival and $79 for the ITVFest.

A VIP pass is available that will grant ticket holders access to all the screenings, music stages, the red carpet award gala on Saturday night and two VIP parties. Only 150 VIP passes will be sold to the public.

"It's very, very limited. It's meant to be an intimate gathering for the industry professionals and people that want to meet and greet," he said.

The confirmed guest list as of June 26 included the social media editor from ABC News and the head of production from Jash.com, which is Sarah Silverman and Michael Cera's online comedy channel.

For musical performances, Gilpin said there will be acts from Brattleboro, western Massachusetts and Boston as well as some acoustic performers from New York City. There will be up to 20 different musical acts.

A month before, the tent providers will need to know what size the tents should be before delivery.

"If we've only sold 1,000 tickets a week before, then 2,000 people from Brattleboro want to show up, they're going to miss out," said Gilpin. "More importantly, since we're moving it across the country, we need to spend as much time and money advertising to the New York and Boston markets as early as possible. That's where the money from the ticket sales are going to go."

There is only one other premiere television festival in the United States, Gilpin added. It is called the New York Television Festival.

There are still openings for about 200 volunteers who can assist with setting up for the festival, starting a week before.

Organizers are still looking for people in the television and film industry who want to participate in panel discussions or judge the content.

For more information, visit ITVFest.com.

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


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