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INTERVIEW: North Fork TV Festival Founder Noah Doyle Dishes On The 2017 Festival

Nicole Barylski

Chris Noth with the inaugural Canopy Award. (Courtesy Photo)

This September, the North Fork TV Festival is bringing captivating independent TV as well as television pioneers right here to the East End. From Thursday, September 7 through Saturday, September 9, you can be among the first to see four new pilots, hear from some of the leading names in television, celebrate "the art of content" and more.

In addition to the World Premiere of Greenport, and the New York premieres of Shoot Me Nicely, Death Lives, and Up North, this year's Festival will feature a free screening of National Geographic Documentary Films' From the Ashes with a Q+A with Alan Eyres, a Producers Panel with Christina Wayne (I'm Dying Up Here Producer), Sarah Treem (The Affair Showrunner), and Janine Sherman Barrois (Claws Showrunner), A Conversation with ... Difficult People creator, writer, star and executive producer Julie Klausner, and Chris McDonald will present Chris Noth with the inaugural Canopy Award. NBC's Cat Greenleaf will host the Friday night Oyster Season Kick-off Party Supporting the Billion Oyster Project at Castello di Borghese Winery.

We caught up with Festival Founder Noah Doyle to learn more:

Why did you feel like the North Fork was the right location for the Festival?

ND: I have a place in Greenport. I grew up in Commack and as a child my grandparents lived in Rhode Island. For every school vacation we used to drive through the North Fork, jump on the Cross Sound Ferry and spend the school vacations with my grandparents. At an early age I feel in love with the area - pre wine country - when it was really just farms. There was blueberry and pumpkin picking and we used to do it every fall. It was a lot of fun.

My wife and I have a place in the City and our careers are in the City. As we had a second child and were looking for a place out east, I helped her fall in love with the town of Greenport. With regards to the Festival, I've been going to film festivals my whole life. I love going to Sundance and I think the town of Greenport has a lot of the same small town feel as Park City. The Independent Theater on Main Street is gorgeous. There's this wonderful picture when you walk in that was maybe shot in the 1930s or 40s, and I don't even know how they did it with the aerial, but it just has this feel of Saturday night at the movies. When I saw that picture I was just like, "Wow, let's do a festival here." If I could recreate a 2017 version of that picture, I know that we've succeeded.

What led to the Festival's founding?

ND: I go back to the fact that what me and my wife and my friends love to do, starting early on with HBO, is on Sunday night - The Sopranos, Entourage, Sex in the City, - just falling in love with these shows and binge watching instead of going to the movies. Habits have changed. If it wasn't for the work that film festivals do, there would be a lot of great movies that never would have been brought to life. In a certain way, if an independent TV festival would bring an episodic series to life because some creator or write was like, "I'm just going to ask mom and dad and uncle and aunt for money. I'm going to make this television pilot and then it's going to be shown in Greenport." If that's how the series gets ordered, wow, we would have added something that's important to culture. Just like cinema is important to culture, TV is one form of episodic storytelling and the media our age.

Are there any changes from last year's Festival?

ND: This is really our first year. Last year, what basically occurred is I had been going around for months and hitting the pavement saying, "I've got an idea for an independent TV pilot festival." What would happen is the minute after I had met with those people is they would write me an email saying, "Hey, Noah. Thanks for telling me about your film festival." There came to a point where if we're going to tell people they should make independent TV pilots, we just have to go out and do it. We had no sponsors last year, put together the program in four weeks and if it wasn't for the work of Lee, Marian, and PMK to get us the Newsday article, there's no way we would be where we are today. What happened last year was that Newsday announced to the world that we're doing a TV festival and the incoming calls started. From Bloomberg Philanthropies to JetBlue to Hampton Jitney to all the restaurants and hotels - we have 45 in kind hotel rooms for the Festival because we're bringing out all of these creators - Chris Noth, Chris McDonald, Cat Greenleaf, Julie Klausner, and more actors and actresses we're going to announce as the Festival is closer… It's just night and day. I couldn't have even imagined that it would grow this much and I hope that excitement builds and we add an additional day next year and eventually it's a full week like many of these festivals are.

A Conversation with ... will featureDifficult People creator, writer, star and executive producer Julie Klausner. (Courtesy Photo)

What went into the curation of this year's Festival?

ND: We have an artistic director, Jerry Foley, so we really divide and concur. Jerry's an Emmy-nominated director. We also have an advisory board of 20 plus people who have been advising Jerry and I. They have all been involved with both the programming and curation of the entire project. The program wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for the larger group that's supporting Jerry, some of which are Hamptons residents.

What's your hope for the Festival's future?

ND: There are four independent TV pilots. My hope is that all four of them get series orders so that in two years from now, if we're lucky enough that you joined the Festival, you can be like, "You know what? I saw that pilot in Greenport." The same way that you go to these film festivals and you know eight, nine months before that that movie is really good. XZY was a buzz at Sundance, I want to go see it and tell my friends. I just hope that A: The studio media community uses this as a way to find some really good next series. There's a lot of new players that are coming into this world, from Apple to these other technology companies and they're going to need content. We want them to come. We want them to come see it. The reason we kept it to only four pilots is as small as we are, Jerry would not sign off on anything if it didn't have the same level of professionalism that he's directed and had with his 20 plus years at CBS with Letterman.

What does it mean for you guys to be able to give directors and filmmakers an opportunity like this?

ND: I think what's really exciting is the fact that we can connect them with emerging talent. I think in a lot of roles, we see festivals as mentorship and discovery platforms. I feel good that we're bringing these people to the Greenport community, both for them to see Greenport and how awesome the North Fork is, so hopefully they come back again and want to join the community. I'm excited to introduce them to the artists - we would only pick artists that are good people and great to work with. Hopefully that gets them credit within the industry, these are the types of things that when they're not working on set, they make time for. It's important for culture and teaching and all these other important aspects of the industry.

For more information, visit www.northfork.tv.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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