The Independent Pilot Competition (IPC) is the NYTVF’s flagship, annual initiative, accepting independently-produced, original television pilots and web series from around the globe. Official Selections from the IPC will screen in competition during the annual New York Television Festival each fall and are eligible for category and individual achievement awards as well as guaranteed development deals from Festival Development Partners


The following is a list of questions most commonly asked by pilot-makers who are submitting to the Independent Pilot Competition. For a full list of rules and guidelines, please visit the main IPC Page.


If you have any further questions, please contact us directly at ASK NYTVF.


click on the questions below to read the answers.


FAQs


IPC 101

Q: Are international submissions accepted?

A: The NYTVF accepts submissions to the IPC from anywhere in the world. In fact, we have been privileged to receive submissions from over 25 countries and all seven continents. However, please note that submission fees are payable in U.S. dollars.  Foreign-language submissions need to include an English-language menu and English subtitles (or dubbed).


Q: Will my pilot screen at the Festival?

A: If your pilot is named an IPC Official Selection, it will screen at the New York Television Festival. If you submit multiple episodes (see below), the NYTVF reserves the rights to screen any number of episodes of the submitted for consideration.


Q: Does the NYTVF offer feedback on pilot submissions?

A: Due to the volume of submissions received, the NYTVF, in accordance with our Screening Committee, does not offer feedback on pilot submissions. 


Q: Can I submit the same project to the IPC that I submitted to a sponsored initiative?

A: If your project is not under contract or in an exclusive option period, you are eligible to submit to the IPC. 


Q: Can I submit more than one pilot to the IPC?

A: Yes, absolutely. 


Q: Can I send in a rough cut of my pilot?

A: You can, but every submission is given to our Screening Committee without notes, and your pilot will be treated as a ‘final version’ edit. You may not have the opportunity to submit an updated final version later. 


Submissions and Runtimes

Q: Why does the NYTVF require pilot runtimes for the Independent Pilot Competition to be between 4 and 60 minutes?

A: This time window allows producers more creative freedom to create and submit projects that reflect traditional television and online platforms. The NYTVF accepts independently-produced, original television pilots, short films, and short-form web series from around the globe. If your project is episodic in nature and is meant to be consumed in multiple chapters over time, then it's TV.


Q: Do you accept short-form web series and/or short films?

A: Absolutely. If it's episodic in nature and fits within the runtime eligbility requirements, we consider it television.


Q: Does the NYTVF accept pilots for completed, limited-episode series?

A: As long as you have the rights to your project and it was independently financed, you can absolutely submit your pilot (or multiple episodes that fit within the allowed runtime). This includes multiple episodes of a web series and multiple episodes of a limited series. If you have specific questions about your project, we encourage you to email us at ask@nytvf.com


Q: What length should my pilot be? What's the ideal runtime?

A: There isn't an ideal runtime for your pilot. If you have a terrific idea for a new show that would work well in shorter episodes, the NYTVF wants to give you the opportunity to showcase it for the entire industry. Your pilot should be exactly the length it needs to be to properly introduce and convey your idea for your series. If you envision your series as being aimed at traditional television, you should produce it with the length, pacing, and structure of a television pilot in mind. If you envision it as an online show, you should produce it accordingly. Or, throw out all conventions and produce something completely original and innovative. Ultimately, a broader time limit gives the artist more flexibility. 


Q: I have a short-form web series, but my pilot episode is under 4 minutes in length. Is it eligible for the competition?

A: In cases such as these, the Festival permits you to submit the pilot along with as many additional episodes as it will require to meet a minimum running time of 4 minutes. We will not display just the pilot, because we want to be able to show executives that your idea can be sustained for at least 4 minutes of content.


Q: My pilot runs over 60 minutes. Is it eligible for consideration?

A: In the occasion that pilots run long, the screening committee reserves the right to watch the first 60 minutes alone and make evaluations based on the content included therein. It may also return to the creator and ask that the program be edited to fit the time restrictions in order for it to be named an Official Selection.


Q: What if I have more than one episode of my show?

A: You may include as many episodes of your series as you wish, provided that the total time fits within the 4-60 minute time window. If chosen as an Official Selection, the NYTVF reserves the rights to screen any number of episodes of those submitted for consideration.


Q: Can I submit a teaser tape for my unscripted show/documentary, in lieu of a full-length pilot?

A: Yes, you may submit an unscripted sizzle reel and/or teaser tape, as long as it complies with all other rules regarding submissions, including runtime. Even if you submit a full-length, unscripted pilot, we recommend that you also include a sizzle reel for reference. The NYTVF reserves the right to screen or judge teaser tapes in the manner it deems best.


Q: How much does production value contribute to the selection process?

A: Obviously, a polished pilot is more impressive than one with low production values, but the New York Television Festival supports the idea that talent will be the determining factor in what entries are selected as finalists. The Festival organizers and the industry figures attending understand that an independent producer putting together a pilot does not have the same budget as a studio, so an innovative idea bolstered by strong writing and good performances will be far more important than an expensive-looking pilot. The budget for "Criss-Cross", an unscripted comedy pilot that sold to A&E in 2005, was reportedly in the hundreds of dollars.


Entry Packet requirement materials:

Q: Is a Trailer required with my submission?

A: Yes, a Trailer is required for entry. If chosen as an Official Selection, the NYTVF uses your trailer to get the word out about your project.


Q: What type of photos are required in the Entry Packet?

A: We are looking for digital stills showing a screen shot from the show itself. These photos will be used to promote your pilot in official literature, so please no head shots, posters, or behind-the-scene photos. These photos should be in digital format.


Intellectual property, copyright, and broadcast standards:

Q: What prevents the NYTVF, or any attendees, from stealing my ideas?

A: Anyone who has ever pitched an idea in the entertainment business is mindful of having ideas stolen. The NYTVF offers unique protection for independent television makers attempting to promote their ideas by providing an open marketplace in which to showcase their pilot. At the Festival, thousands of industry figures will see your name attached to your project, and this degree of visibility offers far more protection of your idea than you would have in conventional channels such as a pitch meeting.


Q: Does an independent producer or production company retain the rights to the show after submitting?

A: Yes. At any time, you are free to make a deal with a network or production company to sell the concept or any other part of your show. The NYTVF retains no ownership rights over the show that you are trying to sell but does retain the right to promote your work by broadcasting the pilot submission on the air or over the Internet. If you are successful in selling your show, the NYTVF will voluntarily relinquish its rights to further publicize your pilot if that is your wish.


Q: How will the NYTVF use my pilot, in regards to the Exclusive Broadcast Rights?

A: The Exclusive Broadcast Rights applies only to pilots in competition, and the NYTVF retains this right in the interests of promoting pilots after the Festival has concluded. We regard this arrangement as beneficial for all sides, as you and your pilot will continue to enjoy valuable industry exposure through these promotional opportunities.


Q: Should I be concerned with clearances and copyright when shooting my pilot?

A: Yes. The NYTVF will not be able to accept as Official Selections any pilots that contain music, images, or other materials that can be interpreted as infringing on another's copyright. We ask that pilot-makers take great care to prevent any copyrighted material from appearing in their projects unless they have secured clearances for Festival and online use of that material.

Copyright infringement is a subjective matter, and the easiest way to avoid a situation in which the Festival screening committees must make a judgment on the use of copyrighted material in your pilot is to avoid this material altogether. If you are concerned about the use of copyrighted material in your pilot, this link leads to a helpful primer on the fair use of copyrighted materials in online video: link.


Q: Are there any language or other broadcast standards I must stick to when making my pilot?

A: You are free to include content in your pilot that would be acceptable on a show airing on a premium cable network. From a rating standpoint, this is roughly equivalent to a TV-MA or an R-rating in film and all ratings below. That being said, the majority of development and programming people who watch your pilot work for networks and companies that are restricted by broadcast standards, and the inclusion of adult content might affect their impressions of your show. If you choose to feature adult content, bear in mind that you are also potentially narrowing the number of buyers who would be able to air your program as well as our ability to promote it.


Q: Can I submit my pilot to other festivals?

A: The NYTVF does not restrict your ability to submit your pilot to other Festivals. One caveat: in determining what pilots represent the Festival as Official Selections, preference is sometimes given to fresh pilots that have not yet been seen by the industry. This is only a rule of thumb and by no means a hard-and-fast rule.


Q: Can I resubmit a pilot I have submitted to the competition in previous years or to another NYTVF contest?

A: Certainly. Development trends often change from year-to-year, and it is possible that those trends have caught up with your pilot idea. Pilots that were submitted for previous contests, such as the XBox Live Originals contest, are also acceptable, since material that may not have been perfectly aligned with what the screening committees were looking for specifically in that contest might be much better suited for the Independent Pilot Competition.


The New York Television Festival was founded in 2005 as the industry’s first creative festival for television artists. A pioneer of the “independent television” movement, the Festival strives to construct new and innovative paths of development and talent identification, while simultaneously complementing the traditional television development model.