You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Listen: How YouTube and Indie Spirit Launched New York Television Festival

Terence Gray got his start in the TV event business by staging sitcom readings on stage in New York with writer and producer friends.

Next week, he will preside over the 14th edition of the New York Television Festival, a weeklong affair designed to connect emerging talents with the executives and talent agents that can advance their careers.

On the latest episode of “Strictly Business,” Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment, Gray spoke with Cynthia Littleton, Variety‘s managing editor of television, about the evolution of the festival, which runs July 14-20 at various venues.

Listen to the full interview:

Gray cites the mid-2000s moment of YouTube’s arrival and the meritocracy it created, coupled with the availability of low-cost digital production tools, for inspiring the idea of a festival revolving around a competition for independent produced pilots. The NYTVF was also ahead of the curve in providing a forum for super fans to celebrate their favorite shows. The number of TV-specific fests have multiplied in recent years.

The advent of YouTube was an enormous for a migration of people who had primarily been doing independent film to trying out the medium of TV or episodic programming,” said Gray, who is founder and CEO of NYTVF. At the same time Gray saw many friends and colleagues starting to make their own content. The early viral phenomenon of the Andy Samberg “Lazy Sunday” short from “Saturday Night Live” crystallized the opportunity for Gray.

“We saw that you could use a digital camera and some basic editing software to start to put together your own pilots,” Gray said. At that point he engaged his agent, WME’s Jon Rosen, to help launch the festival. The NYTVF now receives hundreds of submissions from around the world for its pilot competition program, and hundreds of scripts for a separate script contest.

Gray cites former A+E Networks chief Nancy Dubuc (now CEO of Vice) and then Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly (now TNT/TBS chief) as early supporters of the fest’s vision of offering its competition winners not cash but development deals and access to top executives.

“That experience and the chance to get feedback and work with a (network) executive try a show forward — whether or not it actually happens — that experience is going to leave a person much better prepared in terms of their next creative idea and how to frame it,” Gray says. 

Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Listen to the podcast below for the full interview, or check out previous “Strictly Business” episodes featuring HBO’s Richard PleplerGroup 9’s Ben Lerer, Bankable Production’s Tyra Banks, Keshet International’s Alon Shtruzman, among others. A new episode debuts each Tuesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

More Biz

  • Kevin Hart

    Why Kevin Hart's Mea Culpa Was Too Little, Too Late (Opinion)

    Forgive me if this sounds trite or preachy, but the importance of owning up to our mistakes cannot be overstated. Denials, silence, cover-ups, repudiation — all are unacceptable. Media outlets around the globe, including ours, wrote about how Kevin Hart initially took no responsibility for having posted disgusting homophobic tweets years ago that resurfaced when [...]

  • Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Industry Execs

    Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Industry Execs Sign Anti-Brexit Letter

    Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, Paloma Faith, Ed Sheeran manager Stuart Camp and Grammy/Emmy award-winning film composer David Arnold and several leading UK music industry bodies are among the signees of a letter drafted by the new organization Music4EU, stating that Brexit “represents a significant threat to the UK’s music industry” and [...]

  • Kevin Hart Oscars Gay Tweet Controversy

    What Public Figures Should Learn From the Kevin Hart Oscars Debacle

    When social media erupted over Kevin Hart’s anti-gay tweets from years ago, many in the media and the entertainment industry believed he would immediately apologize, LGBTQ people would critique but ultimately accept his mea culpa, and the comedian would go on to host the Academy Awards. If offenders make a commitment to do better, their [...]

  • Bob Bakish Variety Cover Story

    Inside Bob Bakish's Aggressive Turnaround Plan for Viacom

    Bob Bakish was days into his job as CEO of Viacom in late 2016 when he began convening meetings with senior executives to execute a triage effort to save the once-mighty media giant. Paramount Pictures had just posted a $445 million annual loss. Viacom’s cable networks were in danger of being dropped by major distributors [...]

  • Craig Hunegs WB

    Craig Hunegs to Exit Warner Bros. TV Group and Digital Networks (EXCLUSIVE)

    After nearly 25 years in the Warner Bros. family, Craig Hunegs is exiting his post as head of business for Warner Bros. TV Group and president of the studio’s digital networks wing. Hunegs said he has been discussing his exit with Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Kevin Tsujihara for the past several months. At a time of [...]

  • 'Walking Dead' Profits Dispute Heading to

    'Walking Dead' Profits Dispute Heading to Trial

    The long-running legal battle between Frank Darabont and AMC over profits from “The Walking Dead” will run a bit longer, as a judge ruled Monday that the case must go to trial. Darabont and CAA sued the network back in 2013, arguing he was deprived of $280 million in profit participation because AMC did not [...]

  • Steven Wilson Ron Hofmann Hayley Antonian

    PR Vets Steven Wilson, Ron Hofmann, Hayley Antonian Leave BWR to Form New Agency

    BWR’s Steven Wilson, Ron Hofmann, and Hayley Antonian have announced the formation of a new communications company, Scenario, headquartered in Los Angeles and New York. Together, Wilson, Hofmann, and Antonian will serve as co-presidents while providing integrated communication strategies for clients across the entertainment, lifestyle, and technology industries. Entrepreneur and business strategist Brian Lee will work alongside [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content