New-to-Duluth event rebrands as 'Catalyst Content Festival'

A festival focusing on independent storytelling that moved to Duluth this year is rebranding to keep up with changing attitudes about how entertainment is consumed.

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A festival focusing on independent storytelling that moved to Duluth this year is rebranding to keep up with changing attitudes about how entertainment is consumed.

The Catalyst Content Festival is the new name for the Independent Television Festival, scheduled for Oct. 9-13 in Duluth. The festival is an opportunity for writers to show off independently produced work to executives, directors and producers.

The festival, in its 14th year, could draw as many as 1,500 people. It was first held in Los Angeles before moving to Manchester, Vt., in 2013.

The festival is just one component to the vision put forth by the new Catalyst Stories organization, festival director Philip Gilpin Jr. said.

"Catalyst Stories has two parts to it," Gilpin said. "The Catalyst Content Festival, which is the five-day event (in October), and then Story Road, which is the year-round educational training and professional development program."


Story Road, which launches in 2020, first helps storytellers take an idea and turn it into a pitch for entertainment distributors, Gilpin said. Second, the program helps content creators with scriptwriting. Third, the program has an on-set director and producer training program.

The festival itself is the fourth component, where creators can share their work and test it before a live audience before shopping it out to distributors.

Story Road will be based in Duluth, Gilpin said, but will include regional programs across the country.

So, why the rebranding?

"It's just kind of a natural evolution to where the industry is taking us," Gilpin said.

First, the word "television" is becoming less relevant to modern storytelling.

"A lot of people, we discovered, under the age of 30, don't even use the word 'TV' in their daily lexicon anymore," Gilpin said.

"Content" is a more appropriate umbrella term, he said. Along with visual media, the festival itself is adding a podcast category this year, for instance.


In addition, the word "independent" conjured among entertainment professionals an idea of lesser quality, he said.

Finally, "festival" no longer fully described the group's efforts.

"Because of the word 'festival' and our name, everybody just thought we were like a four-day concert," Gilpin said.

The name "Catalyst" also calls to the organization's primary goal, he said.

"We lower the barriers between creators, audiences and the industry so that they can all discover each other," Gilpin said. "And scientifically, chemically, that's what a catalyst does — it quickens a reaction."

Adelie (Her name rhymes with "Natalie") is a former News Tribune reporter who continues to write the Northlandia column on a freelance basis. She's also an artist, photographer and fine-art model. She's a girl of the North with a love for Scandinavia, the Northern Lights, quirky films and anything mid-century.
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