Roy Ashton, Partner at the prestigious The Gersh Agency, is taking an active role in the North Fork TV Festival’s inaugural “Pitch Forum” this August.
When asked how he came to know North Fork TV Festival Founder Noah Doyle, he explained, “A very interesting guy who put together a Broadway show, who I knew through a friend, called me up and said, ‘I have this great project for you. Will you take a meeting with myself and a guy named Noah Doyle? The meeting also had Dick Gephardt, the former Speaker of the House, Bob Walker, a former congressman from Pennsylvannia and Ron Dellums, a former congressman from California. Of course I took the meeting and loved it right away. That was my introduction to Noah Doyle. He is someone I have grown to know a lot better, now call a friend, and really like and respect, along with being someone I admire – because I don’t really know how he is able to do all that he does. I don’t quite frankly know how he manages the time to do everything he does.”
Ashton went on to explain how his friendship with Doyle manifested into his active role in this year’s North Fork TV Festival’s inaugural “Pitch Forum,” taking place in Greenport. He said, “As it always is, one thing lead to another and Noah tells me about this festival that we are talking about. At first, I didn’t think anything about it because lots of people do festivals, and then he told me he was putting it together. I said, ‘Sounds great. Let me know how I can help.’ Of course, since he is a very capable person, he was able to put together a festival that I think is terrific. Right from the get-go I asked my agency [The Gersh Agency] to sponsor, and they said yes.”
With offices in Beverly Hills and New York, The Gersh Agency maintains 12 full-service departments: Talent, Literary, Film Finance, Books, Comedy, Theater, Production, Alternative, Digital, Branding, Commercial Production and Commercial Endorsements. The agency has an amazing roster of clients that includes award-winning actors, writers, producers, directors and production talent in film, television, new media, branded content, and stage. For over 70 years, it has remained one of the most recognizable names in the entertainment industry. So, getting The Gersh Agency on board for the North Fork TV Festival was a big deal.
Ashton’s influence has enabled the festival to land some high-level entertainment talent to participate each year. He said, “We know it’s a good place for clients to get good exposure, but it is also a really good place to find emerging talent and we have signed several people from the festival, one in particular was within six months of the festival. We got him two significant working jobs.”
On what’s happening at this inaugural “Pitch Forum,” Ashton shared, “What’s going to happen hopefully is the pandemic will be more of a memory, and people will come there to show what they have done and have been able to either produce or ideas to pitch. We will all be convening. I know I am on a ‘pitch panel,’ which is where people talk about their ideas to agents who know the market better than anyone, because we sell shows and we deal with all the buyers. We will be hearing pitches. We will be watching the content that people have produced. We will be there with our clients doing panels and moderating. I have moderated panels in the past, which have been great. I think we have produced important content and the audiences have always been fantastic and we love doing that because it gets people into the seats and those same people may come to see the star that we get to the festival, but they see the wonderful work that all the folks in the festival have done.”
When asked how sitcom and TV show writing has evolved over the years, Ashton answered, “This is a giant question, you could have a panel on this all to itself. 22 years ago I joined Creative Artist Agency. I was an assistant there and for the first summer there everybody was saying with concern, ‘The model is broken, the old TV model is broken. What do we do?’ Obviously, Netflix hadn’t been invented yet, nor Amazon or Apple. What they thought then was an old model has been completely reinvented and TV is better than ever. There are more show than ever, with over 500 shows now. There are more writers working than ever before. The business couldn’t be any better for scripted television. There are more buyers than ever. In a nutshell, the business has evolved and has grown and has continued to support great storytelling and continues to support the livelihood of the people who need to do it. They don’t get paid for everything, but when they do get paid, they get paid well. That’s a shout out to the Writers Guild, which makes sure of that, which is a pretty great guild. All the guilds are great, but there are more people working today, writers, actors, directors, than ever before. Supporting this festival is one of the things that I am most proud of over my 22-year career.”
The inaugural “Pitch Forum” and the sixth annual Independent TV Pilot Competition is now officially open via FilmFreeway (https://filmfreeway.com/NFTV). Submissions for both will remain open through Thursday, May 27th.
The 2021 North Fork TV Festival will take place Wednesday, August 4 through Friday, August 6.
For more information, visit www.northfork.tv.