Fifty students and recent graduates from colleges across New York State were invited to 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City on Nov. 7-8 for the fourth installment of PITCHNY℠, a two-day career development workshop that connects aspiring content creators with entertainment experts to hone their storytelling skills and learn how to break into the Film and Television industry. Hosted by the Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development with NBCUniversal and new partner Tribeca Film Institute, PITCHNY℠ is focused on promoting diversity in the entertainment industry both by highlighting diverse content and increasing opportunity for aspiring young filmmakers, producers, directors and writers from diverse backgrounds.
The participants submitted applications which pitched several creative concepts highlighting themes of diversity. The 50 participants, from around New York State, received a stipend to attend the event and represented both public and private universities, including:
Barnard College, Brooklyn College, City College of New York, The College of Saint Rose, Columbia University, CUNY Baruch College, Fashion Institute of Technology, Fordham University, Hofstra University, Hunter College, Ithaca College, LaGuardia Community College, Long Island University Brooklyn, Marist College, The New School, New York University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Sarah Lawrence College, Schenectady County Community College, St. John’s University, SUNY Buffalo State, SUNY Empire State College, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Purchase, University at Buffalo and Syracuse University.
The first day of PITCHNY℠ included an educational presentation and pitch practicing workshop led by Tribeca Film Institute, inside Saturday Night Live’s legendary Studio 8H home at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and studio tours lead by NBC pages. Participants were then joined by industry professionals, past participants of the event, and representatives from the Governor’s Office, NBCUniversal and Tribeca Film Institute for an evening welcome reception.
Day two featured informational panels, roundtable discussions and a one-on-one “speed dating” pitch session with entertainment experts. The morning kicked off with a panel on “The Changing Media Landscape” featuring new media industry trends with experts from YouTube Space New York, Jax Media and NBC Entertainment, who provided students with insight into the innovative and evolving content creation and distribution structure. A “Get Your Story Heard” panel featured award-winning Actor/Producer/Writer/Directors Otoja Abit and Melissa Haizlip, who provided advice and personal anecdotes to teach students how to advance their stories and break into the industry.
Participants were then paired with producers, writers, directors, developers and executives from Universal Content Productions, Tangerine Entertainment, America’s Rainbow Film Festival, Warner Horizon TV, DeFina Film Productions, Tribeca Film Festival, Topic Studios, Stockade Works, CBS Corporation, Edgeworx Studios, WBTV, HBO, Berlanti Productions, Int'l Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival, Red Crown Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Bushwick Film Festival.
In these one-on-one sessions, students practiced their story pitches and received feedback and constructive criticism from industry leaders. The industry representatives simulated real-life pitching situations and gave students an opportunity to share their stories and enhance their storytelling skills. These “speed dating” pitch sessions also connected entertainment industry leaders with a rising generation of diverse content creators.
Speakers featured during the two-day event included: Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler, Tribeca Enterprises CEO & Co-Founder Jane Rosenthal, NBCUniversal General Counsel & Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation Kimberley D. Harris and NBCUniversal Vice President Diversity & Inclusion Salvador Mendoza. Actor/Writer/Producer/Director Arturo Castro, known for his work in Comedy Central’s Alternatino and Broad City and Netflix’s hit series Narcos, joined the event to share his personal story and offer advice on how to entertain across all platforms. Actress Ebonée Noel, who plays analyst Kristen Chazal on CBS’s FBI, also joined to deliver remarks highlighting the importance of diverse content creators in the industry.
New York State continues to lead the nation in the fight for social justice and embracing diversity by passing legislation to ensure LGBTQ rights and marriage equality, welcoming the immigrant community, launching a women’s equality agenda and fighting workplace discrimination. PITCHNY℠ builds on Governor Cuomo’s legacy of expanding opportunity, increasing diversity, promoting inclusion and standing up for all minority groups in New York State.
Photos are available here.