An unusual category for a short film festival, this category featured a bunch of short pilots for television shows not yet being made. Mostly set as comedies, these shows are brief glimpses into what could be the next generation of television shows, and for the most part, that is a bright future, based on what was shown here.
Shoot Me Nicely
This short pilot focuses on a down-on-his-luck photographer who was left by his supermodel girlfriend and is losing his focus on his work and almost out of money. Sean Wheeler is almost out of hope. But soon, he learns a secret: A wealthy and well-known conservative talk show host has an illegitimate daughter, and Sean has the inside track to bringing her identity to the light. Despite that, his plans don’t exactly go as he’d hoped, causing further complications in his already difficult life. It was an interesting premise that could translate really well to a sitcom-style show, with good performances and a couple of well-known faces in Linda Hamilton and William Sadler.
Running a retirement community isn’t exactly an easy job. That is especially true when the department of Health and Human Services comes for their inspection, and the deal you had with the previous agent is suddenly not available. Kayle, the perky HHS agent, is thrilled to get this assignment, mostly because of its stellar record. But it seems everything isn’t what it appears, and Kayla is introduced to some odd characters, both patients and employees alike. It’s a really fun premise that has a ton of potential as a comedy series.
Break the Will
One of the few shows in this block that is by no means comedic, Break the Will focuses on a family living in the Pennsylvania Dutch community. Growing up in this meager lifestyle is tough for the youngest member of the family, especially as his mind and body develop, bringing forth other potential issues that could be problematic in this devoted religious community. This was a tough one to watch, mostly because a strict upbringing such as this can be really shocking to see. The show is wonderfully done and could gain some traction as an hour-long drama on a smaller network. The entire cast is incredible, especially Deitrich Gray who plays the father.
Shows like Ballers have come into popularity, bringing really interesting takes into the lives of athletes and those who are within their realm. Companion takes a bit of a diversion from the decadence of that lifestyle, but it feels like it hits a similar tone. Starring Ray Stoney and Michael Marc Feldman, this short focuses on a basketball player whose career has kind of flamed out a bit, and because of his abuse of alcohol and drugs early on, he now employs a sober companion, a man whose sole job description is to make sure that he stays clean and sober. This is a bit more complex than he initially thinks, as the depravity is plenty when you’re rich and famous, but this show proves that this style of comedy is still alive and well. This was a fantastic piece of television, and, hopefully, if there are plans for it, this can find a home somewhere in the near future.
Oddball sketch shows are becoming more and more popular, with the emergence of shows like Key & Peele and Portlandia. Van Diaries is another such show, and with stars Tamara Garfield and Chris Joynt, the show runs with the idea of being a bit quirky. Garfield, who has done a ton of work in the animated world, brings her sketch-writing chops forward as she and Joynt explore the life of an old Dodge minivan as it moves through the stories of the previous owners. It’s interesting, a bit weird, and not totally clicking for me, but there is a lot there as a series that could work very well.