“The goal is to refocus on art and the simplicity of content,” said Gilpin. “New York is too spastic and unfocused a place to hold something like this, while this valley gives the exclusive backdrop to it, as if it was Sundance or Telluride, and this festival’s comparison is that it’s the Sundance of TV.”
Founded by AJ Tesler in 2006, ITV Fest is one of only two television festivals in the country. It has been held annually in Los Angeles. The goal of the festival is to showcase independently produced TV pilots, web series, and other multimedia, and focus on creators of new content. The festival prides itself on being a place where filmmakers, scriptwriters, and actors alike can jumpstart their careers from anywhere around the world.
ITV Fest also gives films a chance to be seen by television executives. NBC, Comedy Central, and Sony are among the channels and companies that have picked up pilot scripts from festival entries.
The festival receives 300-400 submissions of original content each year from around the world and 40-50 of the best submissions are featured at the festival. Attendance at its peak in 2009 reached 6,000, as well as a three-million-strong viewership online.
Gilpin says bringing the festival to Dover and Wilmington will make it more accessible to the New York City television industry, where Gilpin, who used to work for HBO, says the majority of the television industry is. “The scope of this for our purposes is very much like the Dew Tour, but off the mountain,” said Gilpin. “Imagine taking the Dew Tour or the US Open and sticking it in downtown Dover and Wilmington. That’s the crowd size, that’s the vibe, that’s the energy of this event.”
While Tesler is president of ITV Fest, it is a 501(c)(3) company and uses outside companies to market and advertise. When the contract they signed with a company in Los Angeles ran out, Tesler was looking for a new direction to go in, and that’s where Gilpin came in. Green Mountain Vermont was open for business and Gilpin, jumping at the chance to fill the marketing void, convinced his friend Tesler to have the festival here.
But Gilpin says in order for the first year of ITV Fest in Dover to be a success, the community needs to get involved. “This is a really unique opportunity for all of us,” said Gilpin. “I don’t know how often a festival of this type of industry is going to be able to come here. The size and scope will depend on how active the community gets in it.”
So far, many businesses in the community have gotten involved with places like Cooper Hill, the Sawmill Inn, the Dover Forge, and The Hermitage Club providing locations for the large screening tents, and restaurants like The Last Chair offering to host VIP parties.
The festival will include 20x20-foot vendor tents for local businesses, live music, and a German/English BMW Car Show. Gilpin says another focus is to include local events such as the Best Dam Walk in the festival, and find ways to integrate as many charities as possible.
“What I’m trying to avoid is it being so spread out,” said Gilpin. “The main focus of location is downtown Wilmington and the Dover track, and we’d like to see 2,000 people roaming around each downtown. What this festival really should be, and is capable of being, is a full valleywide economic blowout event for a week. That’s what I want it to be, and that’s what I hope you all want it to be too.
“I don’t want this to come here and have everyone scatter into the woods because there’s a bunch of out-of-towners here. I want them to experience what we are, and what Vermont is. We need this.”
To purchase tickets, download a vendor contract, see an itinerary of events or for other information go to ITVfest.com.