March 16, 2016 at 11:39AM

Which outlets and what's the future for independently produced tv drama?

Hello there,
this is my first post and it's coming after years of reading this great magazine and a very personal struggle in dealing with social media, websites, exc...
Time has come to defeat this social web anxiety and I thought to share with you my experience in the filmmaking world.

I'll make the story as short as I can. Three years ago I embarked with a few other filmmakers on a crazy idea, making an independently produced tv pilot in UK, Border Queen. An urban fantasy, VFX packed story about creatures living in a parallel world that can be reached through lucid dreaming.
You can check out the trailer here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoXSBQNYy0U

I was one of the directors and story writers, I personally invested more than 10k on the actual film and everything turned out to be real good during production.
Great acting, visuals but an exhausting postproduction and an even more exhausting post production fund raising campaign.
Anyway we made it and then... not much happened.

We talked with every broadcasters on Earth and beyond and, after hearing how much they liked the idea (or not liked it, fair enough) nothing happened on that front.
This is something we were actually expecting. What was a really hard to digest was the complete absence of festival outlets for tv pilots.
All UK festivals didn't even consider us because our pilot ends on a cliffhanger and it's technically not a short film. (Shame on UK really.)
There are just a handful of festivals with a tv pilot category (in the whole world!) and most of them are in US.
Basically, they divide in two categories: complete rip-offs with ridicolous organization (some of them even announce the winners before the festival takes place!) or extremely high profile ones. They are almost impossible to enter given the competitors' production value and the cast the pilots feature.
One festival (ITV Fest2015, where we've won Best VFX) accepted us and I had long conversations with each and every filmmaker about how difficult it is to get pilots into any festival around the globe. Especially for drama pilots, they are right now too expensive for broadcasters or production houses to trust indie filmmakers.
Although the screenings we had over there had enthusiastic reviews and audience response that's been the only time we have been able to expose the film to people.
After we got the award, I thought that it could have at least opened a few doors to get the ball rolling for future projects or gather an audience interested in seeing more of my creations (and therefore support eventual crowdfunding campaigns). But it hasn't been that easy unfortunately.

We also tried to look into any genre based film festivals: Border Queen could easily fit the bill of a sci-fi/fantasy based film festival but none of these genre based festival accepts pilots.
It seems almost like there's a complete lack of outlets for pilots if not rip-off festivals or too high-end ones.
After an online release that's been quite unsuccesfull I really don't know what else to do.
I strongly believed in the project as everyone else did and I am pretty sure it has a very defined audience but it's just extremely difficult to get it out there.
Also, as a filmmaker, I now find myself with a new project I've written but a lack of audience from my previous project.
What do you think?
Did you have the same experience?
Do you think that more festivals should open tv pilots categories?

4 Comments

I'm surprised SyFy didn't eat this up. It looks like something they'd jump on.

It's personally not something I'd watch myself but I know my da would be mad into it. Have you tried going to 'Cons' and pimping it around?

March 19, 2016 at 10:33AM, Edited March 19, 10:33AM

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Andy O'Neill
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
2228

Hi Stefano-

It’s clear you and team put a lot of time and care into this. Cool idea and I like your VFX. My first thought is that your film’s length of 35 min. may be effecting the response you’re getting, as it’s “in between” typical U.S. short and feature length. Second thought is that your title didn't give me any hint of your film's genre.

Also, your message sounds like you’re only looking at festivals. There are other venues that provide access to producers of some level, such as Stage 32. And I think you may be at the point where you need to "cast a bigger net" to get interest: pitch your film to TV/cable producers and get it in front of any other “eyes” that have money and position in your genre.

Merely some thoughts. Best of luck and don't give up!

March 19, 2016 at 1:40PM, Edited March 19, 1:40PM

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Kevin Jones
Screenwriter
88

Hello there guys,
yes we have tried every single broadcaster.
We actually where quite surprised that SyFy didn't consider it as that was our target audienced. Unfortunately they definitely do not accept unsolicited material and casting the wider and bigger net has proved to be much more difficult than what we planned. Stage32 is definitely a good idea and we'll give it a ty, thanks!
Regarding length I hear you Kevin but actually the mean obstacle we've found in terms of festivals is the fact that is not a self-standing product and it's a pilot.
I think the main struggle lies between recognition of the production itself and recognition as filmmaker (read: interest in future/alternative projects).
I suppose that although festivals have their agenda and reasons it's frustrating having a quality product and not managing to get it in fron of people as audience.

March 21, 2016 at 9:16AM

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STEFANO NURRA
DIRECTOR
1

Hi Stefano,

Loving the concept and the VFX. Quite impressed with the quality! Can I ask who your artists are?
If you're looking for post-production help, in any of your projects, you should have a look at http://www.nerdeo.net/. We focus on VFX and helping projects get made by linking great projects to recent grads from best VFX universities and schools. you should check out some of the projects we've got on there. Like Troll Bridge:
http://www.nerdeo.net/project/5621a4a77db0c2bf7da73b8b

Hope it all works out for you.

September 16, 2016 at 11:42AM

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Caroline Pires
VFX Supervisor / CEO of Nerdeo
15

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