This year’s festival, to be held September 26–28, has already attracted more submissions that last year – 288 television and film pieces were submitted this year as compared to 150 last year. Gilpin says the increase in submissions is a good indication of the interest artists have taken in the festival, which moved from Los Angeles to Dover last year. “The number of submissions is on par or greater than some of the years in LA,” Gilpin said. “When you nearly double the number of submissions from the previous year, it’s a positive sign.”
Of those 288 submissions, 57 were selected to be part of the festival. Trailers for most of the 57 selections are available for viewing at www.itvfest.com. In September, Gilpin plans to host special previews of some selections.
This year the location of the festival has been consolidated along the Valley Trail, or “Festival Mile,” the result of lessons learned last year, according to Gilpin. Last year the festival screenings were held in multiple locations, including the Hermitage Inn and Wilmington Village. “One of the things we learned last year was that a lot of the audience members didn’t get to see everything they wanted to see because of the travel time between venues,” Gilpin said. “This year, everything is going to be withing walking distance of the Valley Trail.”
Like last year, the southern end of the festival will be at the Sawmill, and the northern end will be the theater at Mountain Park Plaza. In between, there will be festival tents at Dover Forge and Layla’s Riverside Inn. Despite the consolidation, the tents will be larger and there will be more seating. Gilpin says the more compact layout will heighten the sense of excitement around the festival. “Not just for the attendees,” Gilpin says, “but it’s also going to give the overall energy of the festival a huge boost.”
Although last year’s attendance numbers were below initial projections, the reaction from attendees was particularly positive. So far this year, ticket sales appear poised to show a 30% to 40% increase, perhaps a partial result of the positive buzz about the festival.
But Gilpin has also been reaching out to artists in Boston and New York City with monthly mixers promoting the event. ITVFest already had well-established contacts with artists in New York City, and Gilpin began developing contacts in Boston, starting at his alma mater, Boston College. This year the college is holding a lecture series on independent television that will culminate in a trip to ITVFest. When students return to classes after the festival, they’ll write a paper based on their experience.
Gilpin says he also reached out to comedians at Boston’s comedy clubs. As a result, not only were there more comedic submissions, festival attendees will have the opportunity to see some of Boston’s best comedians at the West Dover Inn during the festival.
Gilpin has also attracted attention from some of the most influential industry groups. Backstage Magazine has signed on as a sponsor, and the New England chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is also a supporter – the organization is better known for their annual entertainment awards, the Emmys. And Gilpin says the Boston-based chapter has invited members of the national organization to attend the ITVFestival. “You can be a filmmaker from Marlboro, take your film to Dover, and get it seen by people who are members of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. You could be off and running in your film career.”
Gilpin has also partnered with a group of “social entrepreneurs,” people who run nonprofit organizations and NGOs who will also be holding an event at the ITVFest called “Scaling Change.” The object is to match the organizations with the filmmakers who can tell their story. Scaling Change will include talks on how to promote and grow charities and NGOs from keynote speakers with experience. “There aren’t a lot of film festivals that do anything like this,” Gilpin says. “When it comes to digital web presentation, we’re the only ones trying to put these pieces together. It has really caught the attention of a lot of people.”
For more information, or to purchase passes for the festival, visit www.itvfest.com. Locals can purchase discounted passes by entering the code “local” when prompted.