TV Insights, Observations and Obsessions from the NYTVF
Check out our Q&A series with Fest Founder Terence Gray (and others), designed to provide submitting artists and TV fans with insight to the current development landscape. If you're thinking about submitting to the NYTVF, this is for you.
With the announcement of truTV as a returning development partner in 2016, NYTVF Founder/Exec Director Terence Gray sat down with truTV’s SVP of Development and Original Programming, Marissa Ronca. The pair discussed truTV’s stellar brand of talent-driven formats, how the TV landscape is changing, and the best way for creators to make sure their work stands out:
Marissa, what is truTV’s core identity? How is it demonstrated in your current programming?
Innovative (Adam Ruins Everything), clever (Hack My Life), and fun (The Carbonaro Effect) or funny (Impractical Jokers and Billy on the Street). Each one of our series is grounded with a strong comedic talent and a unique POV at the center of the storytelling. It’s the talent that truly builds loyal fans that go beyond traditional TV viewers.
What is your target demographic? How is this reflected in your programming?
We have a dual audience of men and women with a median age of 33. More than anything else this is reflected in the talent, tone, and sensibility of the shows and how we’re curating content for that specific audience.
Obviously truTV has carved out a strong niche in the realm of unscripted comedy formats. What genres/formats are most popular with your network and why?
Talent-driven comedic formats work well for us, because they project a specific POV that directly appeals to fans. These projects are hard to find but they’re worth the trouble because when they work they’re almost impossible to copy. I mean, there is just no way to copy the originality of Billy Eichner or Adam Conover or the chemistry between Murr, Sal, Q & Joe.
Lately, truTV is getting into the scripted program business, with the newly debuted and already renewed series Those Who Can’t being the network’s first original scripted comedy. Is this part of an overall development strategy?
Absolutely! There’s definitely room for some high quality scripted content in the portfolio of programming we’re providing our audience, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine Jokers fans enjoying Those Who Can’t as well. They’re very different shows but they share some core attributes… namely, they’re built around talent who have worked together for years and have developed a hilarious natural chemistry that translates through the screen. It’s very hard to fake that and audiences can tell.
How do you see independent content development fitting into your network’s development process?
Great ideas can come from anywhere, and, lately, I’d say that unexpected sources tend to bring us the most surprising concepts. We’re looking for innovative storytellers on and off screen and are happy to do deals with them directly to incubate their projects and provide support.
What are some common mistakes made by producers when creating ideas for your network? How can these mistakes be avoided?
The biggest mistake is not knowing what’s on our air. If you’re familiar with our current shows it gives you a roadmap for other projects that might be a fit. Do your homework before you pitch…this goes for every network not just truTV!
What advice do you have for independent artists looking to develop new projects?
A few years ago I would have said to partner up with more experienced producers, but now there are lots of ways for good content to get discovered, so I guess my advice now would be to think progressively about how to get your project off the ground. For example, there are several digital platforms that can provide a showcase for your work and attract attention from agents, producers, and networks.
What are you actively looking for in new content (format/genre/demographic)?
More talent driven ‘brain candy’ formats like Adam Ruins Everything that are smart, clever, and visually distinct. It’s a rare and exciting series for us but I’d love a few more if they’re out there.
Check out previous downloads here:
NYTVF Best Comedy Animals Heads to HBO | Q&A with the Jamz | Alumni Q&A (Richard Keith and Erin Cardillo) - 5/29/15 | Alumni Q&A (Damian Lanigan) - 5/29/15 | Chicago Comedy Panel - 5/18/15 | Big Laughs at Just For Laughs - 5/5/15 | Alumni Q&A (Whatever Linda) - 3/27/15 | Insights from the intern bullpen - 8/27/14 | Insights from the intern bullpen - 8/19/14 | Insights from the intern bullpen - 8/6/14 | Insights from the intern bullpen - 7/30/14 | Insights from the intern bullpen - 7/24/14 | Rory Covey of My Damn Channel's Honchos - 4/10/14 | Drama advice from Siobhan Byrne O'Connor - 4/3/14 | NYTVF Alum Danny Abrahms - 3/21/14 | Drama Advice - 3/13/14 | Advice from Chicago - 3/10/14 | Unscripted LA Panel - 2/25/14 | Drama Development - 2/20/14 | MSN Development - 2/12/14 | Casting - 2/5/14 | The Network Development Process - 1/29/14 | History Development - 1/15/14 | Comedy Formats - 3/18/13 | A&E Pipeline - 4/3/13| Fox Script Contest - 4/10/13 | From Film to TV - 5/17/13 | Lifetime Unscripted - 9/4/13