First,welcome to a brand new section for all you Page Five/Hollywood Examiner readers. Today I will unwrap the first off hopefully many profile/feature stories on people in Hollywood. Who better to launch this with then Actor AJ Tesler who is the Executive Director of The Independent Television Festival that will be kicking off in Hollywood by the time you’re reading this piece.
AJ is more then just the founder and executive director of the ITVFest (the acronym for his creation the Independent Television Festival) that he launched in 2006. After graduating from Northwestern University as a theatre major, AJ stayed in Chicago where he got the Hollywood “bug” and launched a small production company called Goldingeye Productions. This was an early effort into web entertainment which occured the same year that the youtube video show lonelygirl15 got the attention of the world.
Some people may be happy with that, but not AJ, who would move to New York City where he got a job as a New Media Analysr with d2 Capital, a hedge fund that focused most of its efforts on technology companies. In 2004 he started producting television pilots.
When I conducted the interview with AJ, I asked him about his acting resume and he said “A long time ago, yes, I had some success in television by doing a few episodes of “The Gilmore Girls” as well as a few commercials” When I told him that I was a fan of the show he added “It would be really amazing if you remembered my role on Girlmore Girls.” According to IMDB, he played Rob for six episodes on the show.
He ended up doing a lot of writing and afterwards,he wrote a few television shows and pilots but did not know what to do with them. Should he get them screened or get an agent? So, he decided to shoot them and added that it’s a lot easier to get someone to watch a DVD then it is for someone to sit down and read a script. He said that he shot the pilot and realized there was nowhere to show it. He started brainstorming with others but stressed he had no idea what he were doing! He realized there must be other people around the world that did the exact same thing and had the same dilemma. His big break and popularity would come in 2005 when he created ITVFest.
The first festival was sponsored by Budweiser and Comcast was their presenting sponsor. Using Brightcove, fx, final draft, crunch fitness, was a great was to launch this venture. Our understanding of Television has grown to new heights which makes this years festival a whole new animal. ITVFest is a non profit, public benefit corporation dedicated to giving independent producers of original tv pilots a shot at making it in the shark infested waters that we all know as Hollywood.
AJ does not just run the festival, he was hired by Fox Studios in 2007 to produce a web pilot and was also hired by UK production company Lion TV to be its new Manager of Development. Thank you AJ for mentioning all of this in our quick little interview!
In 2007, they started a web series competition and it was exclusively aired online. They then did it live and now television and Web are squaring off against each other in a fierce competition to see which works better.
One of the things to see at the show, which will occur from July 31- August 6th ,will be Web TV day where you will get screeners and panels devoted exclusively to web. The best part will probably be the parties related to Web TV.
Hollywood Unwrapped will have full coverage of the festival available on Hollywoodunwrapped.com. AJ explains “ITVF will allow people who previously had little or no access to televisions decision makers the forum for which they have tirelessly strived.” ITVF is an opportunity for the dreamers to take time off from their day-jobs, stop waiting for the phone to ring, and take their careers into their own hands. ITVF is simply put, your ticket to TV.
Some important stuff to know about the festival-The Independent Television Festival is a festival for independently produced, original and innovative television pilots and webseries.
The only festival for independently produced television pilots in Los Angeles, ITVFest prides itself on being for and about the pilotmakers.
In July 2006 ITVFest opened for business with the mission of altering the way the industry views television production by exploring the creativity that goes into independent production. In the inaugural year, the festival welcomed almost five thousand interested industry audience members, giving them the opportunity to experience the finest in independent television.
With the support of institutions like Budweiser, Current TV, Showbiz Software and Studio System and the talent of pilotmakers from all over the world, ITVFest proved that the world of successful independent production is not merely limited to the silver screen. ITVFest, in fact, quickly became a viable platform in which directors, writers and producers can showcase their original visions for the small screen.
At ITVFest, creative people can not only showcase their work, but also gain notoriety and opportunity through their independent television efforts. Pilotmakers showcased at ITVFest have gone on to get script deals with NBC, web deals with atomfilms.com, development deals at Leverage and Starz!, representation from UTA, 3 Arts and others and much more. Check out here
to see some of the success stories that come from the festival. Winners of the third ITVFest also walked home with $5,000 in production support each.
Now in its fourth year, ITVFest stands poised to once again serve as catalyst for change in the ever-evolving television industry. Creativity is paramount at ITVFest, and being based in Los Angeles, the hub of television production, the festival provides the people who need to see your work the opportunity to do so.