Since launching in 2005, the NYTVF has served as the premiere platform for independent television, bringing the work of writers, producers and directors to the attention of the industry's decision-makers. Never before in the history of television has there been a greater demand for original, quality content and the NYTVF is dedicated to continue providing the opportunity to meet that demand.
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 download the NYTVF Independent Pilot Competition Official Entry Rules.
Please note: if you have questions regarding another NYTVF initiative, please download the Official Rules that are specific to that contest. If you have any further questions, please contact us directly at ASK NYTVF.
click on the qestions below to read the answers.
Submissions and Runtimes
A: This time window allows producers more creative freedom to create and submit pilots for shows that reflect not only the traditional half-hour television format, but also digital platforms, such as web series and mobile content.
A: We disagree. In this new era of television programming, more and more opportunities are opening up for producers on new media platforms, which are equally as hungry for new voices and content as the networks. The line has already started to blur between content made for television and for emerging digital platforms, and this trend will only continue in the future. We feel it is our responsibility to give our artists the opportunity to explore these new programming frontiers by submitting pilots that are more adaptable to new media.
A: No, it simply means that 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 as long as it needs to be to properly introduce and convey your idea for your series. If you envision your series as being primarily aimed at 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.
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.
A: In the occasion that pilots run long, the screening committee reserves the right to watch the first 22 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.
A: If the show has episodes running longer than 4 minutes, the NYTVF asks that you select one episode that you feel best represents your program to submit to the competition. If your show features multiple episodes that run under 4 minutes in length, you may include more than one episode to meet a total running time that exceeds 4 minutes. The NYTVF wants to be able to show executives that you are capable of sustaining you idea for a minimum of 4 minutes. While you may submit multiple episodes, the NYTVF reserves the right to choose whether to accept more than one.
A: Yes, you may submit a nonscripted teaser tape, as long as it complies with all other rules regarding submissions. The timeframe must be between 4 to 22 minutes in length. The NYTVF reserves the right to screen or judge teaser tapes in the manner it deems best.
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", a comedy pilot that sold to A&E in 2005, was reportedly in the hundreds of dollars.
Entry Packet requirement materials:
A: Yes, both the Trailer and the Artist Commentary are required for entry. The Artist Commentary is your opportunity to discuss the process of independent television production with us and with peers. You should feel free to introduce some or all of the principal participants in your pilot, or just have it be an intimate conversation between the show’s creator and the camera. There is no one correct format.
Ideally, the commentary will share interesting development and production anecdotes that will give a fuller appreciation of your pilot to viewers. Please bear in mind that it will in no way be used to evaluate your pilot nor will it have any impact whatsoever on whether your pilot is named an Official Selection.
A: The Festival is looking for information about the pilot and about the creators, cast and crew, including a list of principal actors and the roles they play. Brief biographical info about the creators and any relevant production notes or anecdotes which can be used to promote your pilot in official literature is also very helpful.
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 or behind-the-scene photos. These photos should be in digital format, such as on a CD or DVD.
Intellectual property, copyright, and broadcast standards:
A: Anyone who has ever pitched an idea in the entertainment business is mindful of having ideas stolen. The New York Television Festival 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.
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 New York Television Festival 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.
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.
A: Yes. The Festival 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
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.
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.
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.
A: No one does more than the NYTVF to help up-and-coming television producers connect with the decision-makers in the television industry and get their work seen. For more information on the complete NYTVF Artist Experience, click here
A: Since 2008, The NYTVF has partnered with the FOX Broadcasting Company to offer the annual FOX Comedy Script Contest. In 2009 the NYTVF partnered with ION for Act I:The ION Television Movie Contest. Please continue to check our Web site for additional opportunities to submit scripts or other written material as part of future initiatives.