Two writers from Fremont County are among those named as Official Artists for the 2018 New York Television Festival. The duo have a television series pilot they have written called “Ticker.”
“Ticker,” by Connie O’Donahue and Jeremy Nielsen, is among 21 scripts selected for the New York Television Festival’s third annual NYTVF Scripts Competition. The scripts will be showcased for industry executives before and during the 14th Annual New York Television Festival, July 14-20 in Manhattan.
Nielsen is a professor of film at Central Wyoming College. O’Donahue met Nielsen when she was a film student at CWC. “Ticker” is not their first venture. In 2016 they collaborated on a pilot script for a television series that was featured at the Sundance Institute’s Episodic Story Lab.
In the script, which is set in the near future, people sell years off the end of their lives for money. A rule-following paramedic and his impulsive partner struggle to save society by overthrowing the system.
“Before we wrote it,” said Connie, “we started asking people if they’d be willing to sell a few years off the end of their lives and we didn’t meet anyone who said they absolutely wouldn’t. Then our idea didn’t seem so ridiculous. It’s like a reverse mortgage but on your heart.”
With the exception of one writer in Boise, Idaho, all the other scripts at the festival are from writers based in New York and California. “It was like that at Sundance, too,” said Jeremy. “Out of everyone there at least half were already professionals working in the industry. Three were from New York and everyone else was from LA, and then there was us.” Connie jokes, “We wondered if they picked us on purpose or if it was a clerical error.”
It was no mistake. Both have been honing their craft for years. In addition to teaching film, Nielsen is a filmmaker who has worked on numerous projects. O’Donahue participated in ABC’s Daytime Writers Development Program, a six-month program that she was hired for after winning her first script competition in 2005 for Film in Arizona. She also received an award at the Austin Film Festival.
All of the competing writers at NYTVF will have a chance to receive a development deal from networks and studios that have partnered with the festival and guaranteed they will offer at least one deal to independent artists this year. These independent artists will also have opportunities to meet, network and pitch some of the top network and studio executives in the business.
Nielson is currently working on a documentary film with his wife while O’Donahue is working on a film project independently. The pair are also planning a pilot or web series that will be filmed in Fremont County. “I don’t think we’ve ever taken a break since we started,” said O’Donahue. “I think we’ll always have something going.”