North Fork TV Festival Director Embraces the Future at Oct. 22 Gala

"Succession" star J. Smith-Cameron will attend the North Fork TV Festival
“Succession” star J. Smith-Cameron will attend the North Fork TV Festival
Stephanie Diani

Don’t touch that dial — the North Fork TV Festival returns with a special Greenport event this Saturday, October 22 to once again celebrate the innovative minds of present and future television. Now in its eighth year, the North Fork TV Festival is welcoming the community to join in its kickoff to a reimagined festival led by its inaugural executive director, Monica Halpert.

The 2022 North Fork TV Festival is unlike the festivals of years past, which had multiple days of screenings at Greenport Theatre. This year, the North Fork TV Festival takes the shape of a one-night intimate gala for locals, friends and supporters of the annual festival.

Taking place at Claudio’s on Greenport’s Main Street, the event begins with a VIP reception for patrons and host ticket holders at 6 p.m. Then at 7 p.m., all ticket holders will enjoy a cocktail hour and raw bar before the dinner, program and Canopy Award presentation begins.

The night culminates in an after party and TV karaoke at 10 p.m.

Each year, the Canopy Award — which honors a New York television community member whose persistence, integrity, independence and collaboration stoke the creative ambitions of storytellers — and other awards are presented to distinguished industry leaders such as Christopher Jackson, Patina Miller, Kelsey Grammer, Constance Wu, Aasif Mandvi, Jeremy Sisto and Bridget Moynihan.

North Fork TV Festival director Monica Halpert
North Fork TV Festival director Monica HalpertLuis Mora

What’s Coming at North Fork TV Festival 2022

This year, the Canopy Award will honor Emmy- and Tony-nominated star of screen and stage J. Smith-Cameron.

Best known for her starring role as Gerri Kellman in HBO’s Succession, she’s also appeared on television in Rectify, True Blood and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd; in film in Christina Choe’s Nancy and B.J. Novak’s July 2022 thriller Vengeance; and on the stage in Seán O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock and Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good.

The unique nature of the North Fork TV Festival gala on October 22 is to serve as a pivot and launch party of sorts, Halpert explains — a chance to share her vision for a “super vibrant, revitalized festival” in 2023, which she hopes to begin planning as early as October 23.

“This is really a kickoff moment to introduce myself, introduce the vision for 2023 and beyond, and really think about taking the founders’ original vision, which is still absolutely relevant and intact, and how we’re going to involve that and transform it to make the North Fork TV Festival relevant for this moment,” she says. “Over the course of seven years, the original mission hasn’t changed.”

That mission is to celebrate “the future of independent scripted television, gathering buyers and sellers in a global marketplace and providing a platform for emerging creators” and to champion “the evolution of television and the independent spirit of the North Fork, while convening the innovative minds of executives and emerging creators, directors, writers and actors.”

Halpert expands on that mission statement:

“The original idea, and it still is, is to really curate and showcase the most exciting and new emerging voices and artists in independent television — creators who don’t have access, don’t have resources, don’t have the connections but are incredibly talented — and to give them a platform and a place to bring them together with industry executives, mentors, legends of the field who can do anything from provide super productive feedback to actually changing their lives.”

One of Halpert’s biggest goals for the festival is to become a true “catalyst to really evolve the model from just showing (TV pilots) to actually closing the loop for them and figuring out ways to help them take their work and get it out to the world.”

She adds, “I think we have this perfect storm of a rabid audience, creators who have stories to tell, an industry that’s looking for new and novel breakthrough ideas, and we bring that all together.”

A North Fork resident for over 23 years, having previously served as the CMO of Sundance Institute and Amy’s Kitchen, and as a strategic advisor to the Toronto International Film Festival and Stanford School, Halpert considers the North Fork an exceptional place full of creators with stories to tell and the talent to do so if given the opportunity.

“There are creators everywhere out here, and I’m hoping that next year we can really showcase and celebrate the homegrown talent we have in our backyard,” she says of the North Fork community, adding that she’s excited to direct “something that I believe so strongly in and that can have a tremendous impact on artists and bring their stories to life in a place that is so dear to me.”

Halpert’s sights are set on returning to the Greenport Theatre for a reimagined 2023 festival and possibly expanding to additional venues next year or in the future. Ticket holders for the 2022 gala will learn more about her vision for a revitalized North Fork TV Festival and how they can support the nonprofit organization and its exciting annual festival.

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