At ITVFest, emerging artists and big producers find common ground


WEST DOVER — At the Independent Television and Film Festival, up-and-coming artists and industry professionals came to see the other.

"Do what you can do to get your movie released," advised Bobby Farrelly, who produced and wrote hit movies such as "Dumb and Dumber," "Kingpin" and "There's Something About Mary."

In a tent on the Dover Forge property on Saturday night, he told a story about how he and his brother met the now-deceased Prince at a party. The pop star claimed to be a big fan and asked how the brothers Farrelly came up with the crazy stories they did.

If they were stuck in the script-writing process, Farrelly said they would get in a car and take a long road trip. At the time of the conversation with Prince, they were planning one. Prince said he would go with them but backed out by the end of the party.

"We're here (at ITVFest) because we're fairly new to the digital world. So we came here to educate ourselves and meet everyone in the game," said Kris Meyer, a producer and longtime assistant to Farrelly. "You guys are at the forefront and you're the underdogs."

ITVFest was held in tents along Route 100 in West Dover from Wednesday to Sunday. The event moved to town from Los Angeles in 2013.

Randy Zisk, producer of shows like "Bones" and Monk," said every show has "such a different formula."

"It is very difficult, and some showrunners, some show creators, like to have their fingers in everything," said Michael Rosenberg, a producer on the show "Hell on Wheels." "For me, I'm just anywhere they're not — not hiding, but being there to help them."

Sundance Film Festival had created a place for young filmmakers to show their projects, he said.

"A festival like this," Rosenberg said, referring to ITVFest, "There has not been a platform for television executives to see talent in this medium. There is now, on YouTube and a lot of digital places. I mean, this is creating a whole new level of potential access and I think it's important to people."

"I'm always looking for new people and reaching out," added Loren Weeks, a production designer who has worked on the TV show "Gossip Girl" and the movie "Daredevil," during a panel on showrunning.

At least one attendee was inspired by other artists and the feedback he received from a Los Angeles-based producer.

"It's just been completely overwhelming but in a great way. I feel like I'm definitely going to get my show on TV but I have a lot of work to do," said Seth Bisen-Hersh, who did not screen his show "Every Day A Little Seth" at the festival but participated in a workshop called "Network Notes." "It's just nice meeting so many other artists. But I wish Vermont had more streetlights."

Just before ITVFest came to town, new streetlights went up along an extended portion of the Valley Trail on Route 100. But Bisen-Hersh was speaking of lights throughout the Deerfield Valley. Like many others at the festival, he had never been to Vermont.

When he returns to New York City, he plans on finding a manager. His show, compared to "Seinfeld," focuses on three best friends navigating the city in their mid-30s.

The festival also brought attention to social issues.

The short film "Colors of Love" featured a main character who falls in love with a woman with Autism.

A short television drama called "Coded" is loosely based on real life experiences in the education world. Shae teaches five 10th grade students with "severe behavioral issues," according to the show's description. Each episode follows a different student.

"These are kids coming in that have really difficult home lives and are struggling with a lot of different things," said Joely Collins, an award-winning producer and actress from Canada, during a question-and-answer session following the screening of her show. "It was too easy to make them be monsters. It was really important that we brought the human element to them."

Scenarios USA is a nonprofit that turns scripts written by students into short films. Altogether, the group has completed 27 projects and two more are on the way.

"House Not Home" was screened at ITVFest. The film — written by Skyler Edge, a student living in Cleveland, Ohio. — is a fictional account of a transgender 16-year-old facing difficulties at home, school and on the internet.

"Sklyer (Edge) is a very special individual. His voice came at a particular time in our nation, before trans was a hot topic," said Gloria Daniel, associate director at Scenarios. "It just happened to land when Caitlyn (Jenner) became Caityln. Skyler's story was already written and was out in the world. So, that's what I think Scenarios does. It gives youth a voice and that voice just happens to be, sometimes, right before where it becomes mainstream. And imagine what that could do for a young person."

Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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