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SeriesFest pilot winners revealed

Currency was created by Scott Gabriel and Sofi Marshall

A drama that imagines what would happen if bank accounts across the US were frozen has been named among the winners of this year’s international pilot competition at Denver-based SeriesFest.

Currency claimed both the best pilot award and the audience award at the event, triumphing over 52 other shows. The show takes place in a small town after all banking, credit, and electronic monetary records disappear, leaving a Cuban immigrant family that runs the town’s gas station among its most wealthy.

Created by director/editor team Scott Gabriel and Sofi Marshall, the project was praised by the SeriesFest jury for its “ability to effectively demonstrate strength of story as well as the intimacy and depth of character that is indicative of all great television, all with very little resources.”

Elsewhere, the comedy award was won by Brooklyn Moving Company, created by Ryan Harrington and Isaac Himmelman. The musical comedy follows a group of furniture movers who take it upon themselves to transform the turbulent lives of their unsuspecting clientele through the power of song.

In the late-night category, sketch comedy Kwaczala was triumphant. The show features up-and-coming comedian Joe Kwaczala, who made the pilot with Daniel J. Clark, Liz Maupin and Caroline Clark.

Meanwhile, the unscripted award was won by Her Turf, created by Shantel Hansen and Dean Blandino. The docuseries follows women who have taken male-dominated roles in the sports arena, with the pilot telling the story of three female football officials among 3,000 male officials in collegiate football.

Actor, writer and director Ruthie Marantz, whose comedy pilot Rainbow Ruthie follows a former teen star of Manhattan Public Access TV and is based on her own life, was acknowledged in the multi-hyphenate category.

Other winners this year include Human Interest, from Matthew-Lee Erlbach and Mallory Portnoy; The Gary Gold Story, from Greg Ash; and Barrett Schuler’s Bands, which won in SeriesFest’s digital shorts, Fullscreen Select Award and Pitch-a-thon categories, respectively.

Co-founded by filmmakers Randi Kleiner and Kaily Smith-Westbrook, the six-day event is into its fifth year. It aims to showcase the best emerging voices in TV and features panels, screenings and workshops.

SeriesFest has been the launching pad for more than a dozen independent projects that later secured mainstream distribution. Most recently, the winner of four awards at SeriesFest 2017, Up North, was greenlit for eight episodes by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios.

Creator Emil Pinnock also signed a blind script deal with Blumhouse Television and has been tapped to pen an untitled project about US businessman Daymond John.

This year, the Storytellers Initiative, created to discover original episodic writers, was awarded to Amanda Dreschler and Michael Livingston for their pilot Forgive Us Father.

The pair have received an exclusive first-look development deal with Elysium Bandini Studios and a professionally produced pilot presentation valued at US$60,000. They were flown to Denver to participate in a Storytellers Initiative live read on Tuesday evening.

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