Network will develop festival submissions

NBC Universal is going indie, inking a first-look deal with Slamdance Media Group and Orly Adelson Prods.

Under the agreement, SMG’s Robert Schwartz and Adelson (“Playmakers”) will jointly develop series and longform projects based on submissions to the Slamdance Film Festival. Peacock’s studio arm will produce, with an eye on creating content for broadcast, cable and the Internet.

Slamdance Media Group was formed three years ago as a for-profit company dedicated to finding new life for the thousands of works that are submitted to the film fest — but don’t actually make the cut. Company also manages filmmakers and has relationships with talent outside of the fest.

Schwartz, CEO of SMG, said the first-look deal stemmed from discussions he had with NBC U west coast topper Marc Graboff about the idea of an alliance between the two companies.

“At a time when all the networks are saying they’re looking for fresh voices, I said to him that it might be interesting for NBC to take a look at the material we get at Slamdance,” Schwartz said.

Deal with NBC follows the expiration of a similar pact SMG and Adelson inked with Touchstone Television (now ABC Television Studio) back in 2005.

As with that deal, agreement with NBC U calls on Schwartz and Adelson, along with Adelson production exec Jonathan Eskenas, to jointly look for material to pitch and then produce the projects that result.

Adelson said continuing her relationship with SMG makes sense because of its access to so much raw material.

“It’s cutting-edge filmmaking, and that gives us content (to pitch) that is unique and interesting, that has real ideas behind it,” she said, adding that signing with NBC U will give her and Schwartz “multiple platforms for the content.”

Schwartz said he and Adelson are “sitting on 15 shorts we think are viable” to pitch as projects to NBC U. Early discussions about some ideas have already taken place, with more intense pitching expected after next month’s network upfronts.

Slamdance’s past TV experience includes the Bravo skein “Significant Others,” which originated from the festival’s digital production initiative. Festival has also given a number of noted helmers their start, including Christopher Nolan (“Memento”) and Jared Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite”).

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