Pilot Light TV Festival: Season 1 May 5th - 8th 2016 


Season 1 Line Up:

Pilot Light TV Festival Opening Night: HOFF THE RECORD S2 Premiere + Q&A

May 04, 2016

HOME, Manchester.


We opened Season 1 of Pilot Light TV Festival with the exclusive S2 premiere of UKTV's Hoff the Record.


This critically acclaimed British comedy follows 80's icon David Hasselhoff playing a parody of himself as The Hoff, down on his luck, relocating to England to look for new career opportunities. He is backed up by his beautifully British UK team, a morally bankrupt, sweary and inept gallery of characters akin to the slightly useless rabble in The Thick of it.  Hasselhoff's self ridiculing performance in the show has been compared to that of Alan Partridge and Steven Toast.


We were joined by actors Mark Quartley & Fergus Craig plus showrunners Krishnendu Majumdar & Richard Yee for a post-screening Q&A.

Deadtown Q&A + Brains

May 05, 2016

University of Salford MediaCity Campus


John eats mayonnaise for a living. At least he did until his boss turned into a zombie then tried to eat him. Now all he wants to do is find his daughter Emily and keep her safe. But in zombie infested Runcorn, even simple tasks like crossing the street or finding batteries for your vintage Sony Walkman have become a matter of life or death. Armed with a mayonnaise stirring paddle and porno mags for armour; John, along with his retro best friend, 80s Dave and his apocalypse obsessed brother, Butty begin the search for his daughter.


Dead Town is a new web based 'sick-com', mixing comedy with gore, following the adventures of John and co as they search for his missing daughter Emily, on the mean streets of zombie infested Runcorn! We screened episodes 1 & 2 of Dead Town followed by a Q&A with the shows cast & crew.


Screening before Dead Town was the first episode of the post zombie apolcalypse vlog-style comedy 'Brains'. Created by Bri Castellini this show follows Alison Sumner is a neuropsychology student with a zombie (Carl Markham) as a best friend, who spends her time doing research about the zombie plague and crushing on a fellow student (Damian Phillips). Alison "vlogs" her quest to seduce her crush as an independent study art project, but as the series goes on, it becomes much more an account of her life post-apocalypse and, eventually, a murder-mystery.


In Praise of: Homicide: Life on The Street

May 05, 2016

University of Salford MediaCity Campus


Part of the remit of PLTV fest is to celebrate the  best  work from the small screen, past present & future, but also to shine the spotlight on work that we feel doesn't get the recognition it deserves. The police drama has always been fertile ground for TV, from’ The Detectives’ of the 1950’s to the likes of The Killing & Luther we see today. The Wire, with its sprawling dissection of the layers of infrastructure of a failing city,  took the format to new levels, and is rightfully hailed as a cornerstone of contemporary visual storytelling.


But, before The Wire  there was an American show that changed everything in the 1990’s.


Homicide: Life On The Street was no ordinary cop show. It’s starting point was a seminal book by the, then Baltimore journalist David Simon (The Wire, Treme), recounting his time shadowing the city’s Homicide department. The meticulous, investigatory nature of the source text, met with a rough around the edges visual style implemented by creators Barry Levinson (Oscar winning director of Rain Man), Paul  Attanasio (writer of Quiz Show/Donnie Brasco) & Tom Fontana (producer of landmark dramas St Elsewhere & Oz), gave the show a unique and unpredictable flavour. Unlike its predecessors, following an established formula,  this wasn't about tying everything neatly into an hour run time, it was about the daily lives of this disparate group of  Baltimore detectives as they juggle cases with ordinary problems. And more importantly, it was about the police work. The creators had no interest in the morbid trend  for sensationalising & depicting crime on screen. With an approach that was unsentimental, journalistic, Homicide was a revelatory examination of the procedures, relationships, politics & social factors that impacted on this  work. 

The results were always gripping, insightful & often profound, backed up with humour & social commentary.


It also boasts arguably the greatest acting ensemble ever seen on US TV. Yaphet Kotto (Alien), Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine),  Ned Beatty (Deliverance), Oscar winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) and Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) were all regulars, while the roll call of guest stars included Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Elijah Wood, JK Simmons and even a young Jake Gyllenhaal. All as you've never seen them before.


Long before ‘on-demand’ services and set-top recording, erratic broadcasting in the UK meant that only the most dedicated admirers got to see this astonishing, landmark TV drama. We will  be spoke about our favourite aspects of Homicide and its legacy, from the bold, daring  and sometimes experimental form, it's relationship to David Simon’s key text  ‘A Year On The Killing Streets’, THAT theme music and the small matter of the ‘Lemmy Caution’ of TV,  Detective John Munch…


The panel was chaired by One.Two.One Cinema's James Laycock and featured Dr Andy Willis (University of Salford) and Omar Ahmed (University of Manchester).

Indie TV Comedy Showcase

May 05, 2016

HOME, Manchester


In the modern Television climate, web series are becoming a much more common platform for the next generation of talent to get their projects off the ground and produced by major networks. Some of the US's most critically acclaimed comedies such as Broad City, Animals, Drunk History and  Children's Hospital have been picked up by producers such as Amy Poehler, The Duplass Brothers and Seth Rogen for the likes of HBO, Comedy Central and NBC based on the discovery of their humble web series roots. 


From the very first call for entries of Pilot Light TV Festival we selected and presented a small selection of episodes from two outstanding contemporary comedy web series that represent and scream 'the next big thing' in indie TV comedy. 


This programme features: 


Concrete Jungle/ Creator: Steven Cartoccio/ USA / 48 mins (Plus Q&A with creator Steven Cartoccio)

This animated show falls somewhere between the sardonic humour of Netflix's human/animal mash up Bojack Horseman and the New York tales in The Duplass Brother's HBO hit Animals. The show features the vocal talents of John Dimaggio (Adventure Time), Hannibal Buress (30 Rock), Krystyna Hutchinson (Saturday Night Live) and Hip Hop artist Open Mike Eagle who star in a New York city where humans and animals coexist, but their struggles are all the same. 


Transplanting/ Creators: Lea McLellan & Andrew Vasco / USA / 40 mins (Plus Exclusive Video Intro from the shows cast and creators)


This show came from the success of a very strong Broad City spec script by its co-creator Lea McLellan. In very much the same mumblecore spirit of humour, Transplanting is an indie comedy that follows 20-something Maeve as she escapes the chaos of New York life to try and live the small town life in Ashville, North Carolina. Broke and jobless, she does her best to stay positive and make it work.

Nathan Barley Screening + Discussion Panel

May 05, 2016

HOME, Manchester.


Nathan Barley is Chris Morris & Charlie Brooker's under-appreciated, scarily prophetic satire comedy which only aired for one 6 episode run on Channel 4 in 2005. The show follows an idiotic, pretentious vlogging media figure living in East London called Nathan Barley (Nicolas Burns); He is the very type of person that Sugar Ape magazine writer Dan Ashcroft (Julian Barratt) depicts in his article 'The Rise of the Idiots' that leads him to ironically becoming an icon for the idiots, questioning himself if he is indeed, one of the idiots too.


Released 10 years ago ago, Nathan Barley is on point with its unintentional predictions on modern music, fashion, journalism and the internet. Charlie Brooker & Chris Morris gave us an hilarious satire that resonates with todays click-bait, hipster, web based culture all performed by an all-star cast at the start of their careers including Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Whishaw, Noel Fielding, Richard Ayoade and more. 


We screened all 6 episodes followed a Q&A with actor Charlie Condu (Jonatton Yeah?) chaired by Andrew Harrison from The Guardian, writer of Totally Mexico! How the Nathan Barley nightmare came true. 

Unfiltered Screening

May 06, 2016

University of Salford - Digital Performance Lab


This half-hour dramedy is about a dysfunctional family that owns the nation’s largest tobacco company. The pilot from Jeffrey Hirschberg has a fantastic cast featuring Ned Luke (GTA 5), Caprice Benedetti (Sex and The City), Todd Litzinger (Limitless) and more...

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT meets EMPIRE. Unfiltered is the saga of a deceitful family's dreams, truths, and lies.

Adelphi & Union + Q&A's

May 06, 2016

University of Salford - Digital Performance Lab


We at Pilot Light were very proud to present two outstanding pilot TV episodes produced by student writers, producers and directors. Whilst student films are something more closely associated with universities, increasingly higher education is serving as the perfect breeding ground for the next generation of TV talent to find their inspirations and voice whilst developing their skills with university resources.


In this slot we presented two fantastic TV pilots that showcase some great future talents that achieve what any great pilot does: leaves us desperate for episode 2. We also had the creators behind the pilots in attendance for a Q&A with Dr Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs around the inception and production of their shows!


Union - Pilot


Union is a pilot about a student union struggling to make it through the year, which was produced by Kieron Moore and Tom Woffenden in 2014. A hilarious cross between The Thick of It & Fresh Meat, it explores the world of student politics and just how difficult it is to make a real difference when the whole university is against you.


Adelphi – Pilot 'Doing Fame'


David Ambrosia, Simon Steinson, Gregg and Arron Smalls are four selfish, misanthropes with no ambition who live together in a run-down flat. To while away their time they torment each other with horrible games of cruelty. The show, produced by University of Salford students aims to satirise popular culture by theming episodes around hard-hitting topics such as: War, Religion, Politics, Fame and not eating quite as many fried breakfasts. If the infamous shoe string budget 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' pilot was produced in Salford, this is what we imagine the result would be!


In this pilot, Doing Fame, the lads try to work out what it means to be famous whilst aiming to 'make it' themselves, however twisted or ludicrous their ideas might appear.

Her Story Screening + Discussion Panel

May 06, 2016

HOME, Manchester


Her Story is the critically acclaimed web series telling the story of two trans women in Los Angeles who have given up on love, when suddenly chance encounters give them hope. Violet is drawn to Allie, a reporter who approaches her for an interview, while career-driven Paige meets James, the first man she’s considered opening up to in years. Will they risk letting what they are stand in the way of being loved for who they are?


Trans women in the media have long been punchlines, killers, indications of urban grit, pathetic tragedies, and dangerous sirens. Rarely have they been complex characters who laugh, struggle, and grow, who share strength in sisterhood, who seek and find love. Her Story is endorsed by the likes of Laverne Cox (Orange is the new Black) & Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues) and depicts the unique, complicated, and very human women we see in queer communities, and explores how these women navigate the intersections of label identity and love.


This screening will began with a Pilot Light exclusive filmed introduction from creator Jen Richards and was followed by a panel discussion surrounding Trans representation in contemporary TV.

The War Game + Q&A

May 06, 2016

HOME, Manchester.

Peter Watkins is one of the great, unsung master filmmakers. Through an uncompromising, singular body of work, he has forged a reputation as one of British cinema’s most vital & provocative voices.  50 years on from its initial cinema release, his landmark 1965 film The War Game remains one of the most challenging & unsettling works ever produced for British TV.


For this fictional story of a nuclear attack on Kent, Watkins met the subject with a stark, documentary realism. So real in fact,  that it was deemed unsuitable for broadcast and would be banned for 20 years, despite being nominated and winning the Oscar for ‘Best Documentary’ in 1967. 


Due to it's groundbreaking collision of fiction & documentary and truly unforgettable imagery, its not surprising that The War Game is now recognised as one of the most important and influential pieces of Television of the period. 


We were pleased to welcome Michael Bradsell, editor on The War Game, as well as countless other British classics including The Devils, Local Hero & Women In Love, for a post screening Q&A to discuss his groundbreaking work with Peter Watkins & distinguished career. 

Snuff Box 10th Anniversary Screening + Q&A

May 07, 2016

HOME, Manchester


In the early 00's a fine-art graduate from Bedford met a law principal from Chicago. Together the started producing one of the most stunning, best-kept secrets in British comedy. Matt Berry (The IT Crowd) and Rich Fulcher (The Mighty Boosh) star as two hangmen. The pair spend their days hanging condemned souls for cash, chasing women and sitting in their gentleman's club sipping whiskey.


Snuff Box was only shown once, in early 2006 on BBC and couldn't air until 11pm because of the nature of the material. In spite of this, word spread and the cult was born making huge fans out of people such as Simon Pegg and Paul Rudd. 


This event was opened with a special video intro from Co-Creator and start Rich Fulcher. After the screening we were joined by Snuff Box Co-Creator and star Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, Toast of London), Director Michael Cumming (Brass Eye, Toast of London) and producer Charlie Hanson (Extras, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace) for a Q&A.

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Festival Trailer

Festival Photos

Season 1 Special Events

The Flim Night Binge Watches Game of Thrones - 21/4/16

Season 1 Friends themed launch night - 6/11/15

Friends themed Pilot Light TV Festival Launch Night  - 6/11/15