Download: SCAD TVfest Kicks Off with New Shows, Emmy Hopefuls, & Icon Award Recipient Sarah Michelle Gellar
Awards Daily’s Megan McLachlan heads to Atlanta to cover SCAD TVfest, which highlights some of the best in television, including docuseries like NatGeo’s Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller, new shows like Paramount+’s Wolf Pack, and Emmy hopefuls like Hulu on FX’s Reservation Dogs.
After a two-year hiatus and move to virtual programming, SCAD TVfest, the leading TV festival in higher education, returned to in-person screenings this year. The last time I was here was in 2019, and so much has changed in four years, including new shows, new streaming networks, and of course, new ways we look at television in a post-COVID world.
The festival kicked off this year with a screening of a new episode from Season 3 of National Geographic’s Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller, and after the episode, I was fortunate enough to moderate a discussion with van Zeller about the powerful episode, which tackles black market surrogacy. We discussed how van Zeller balances working on multiple intense topics at once (that take her all over the globe), how being a woman gets people to open up to her, and whether she keeps in touch with some of the people she talks to.
Entertainment Marketing: Breaking In and Thriving Within
After Trafficked, I headed over to a panel on entertainment marketing, which included the creatives behind TV promos for shows like NatGeo’s The Incredible Dr. Pol, Sharkfest, and CNN’s The People vs. The Klan.
“It’s the first touchstone that people have to the content,” said Daniela Delgado, writer and producer at National Geographic. “If you’re at a movie theater and you see a trailer, you want people to get excited about the work. In some ways, we set the tone.”
During the Q&A at the end of the session, one student asked about the future of TV marketing and what the shift from traditional commercials to streaming ads looks like.
“The tectonic plates are shifting as we speak,” said Nicole Strong, creative director at National Geographic. “Our team talks about it all the time. Everybody in this room is more likely to see one of our trailers on a social feed than in a linear break. Top of mind for us these days is what gets the first two seconds of attention for someone going through their Instagram feed, and also we’ve been discussing, is it just a matter of time before we start creating marketing just for streaming?”
Emmy Hopefuls and New Shows on the Block
Speaking of streaming, since the last time I was here, there are a slew of new streaming networks, including Paramount+, home of the new show Wolf Pack featuring SCAD TVfest Icon Award recipient, Sarah Michelle Gellar. I asked Gellar what it’s like having been on a show like Buffy, which had such a cult following, and watching how shows like it are now more readily embraced.
“We definitely had a lot to make up for,” said Gellar. “We were a mid-season replacement on a network people didn’t really know, based on a movie that wasn’t that successful. I feel like we had a lot more to prove. I feel like now there’s a general excitement level for shows like that. I think it opened up those doors so the climb wasn’t as hard.”
I also had a chance to speak with Reservation Dogs showrunner Sterlin Harjo about what it’s been like seeing such positive reception for his show.
“You start out hoping just to get an audience,” said Harjo. “Season 2 was like No. 1 on all the major publications. No. 5 would have been cool, but No. 1 is even better. You make the show and you hope people like it, and if they do, that’s really gratifying.”
While Harjo stayed mum on Reservation Dogs Season 3, he did mention that fans can expect a “darker” season when it returns, and that while Season 2 culminated in the Rez Dogs making it to California, that the group is going to get home “very fast” from the West Coast.
Stay tuned for more SCAD TVfest coverage!