Catalyst is a 501c3 nonprofit and welcomes all donations to support our mission!

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Have a series, script, or pitch to submit? Make sure you do so prior to June 1st.


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Catalyst is five days of the latest independent series screenings, panels, & so much more.


If instead of making a film, you've created a story that is episodic or narrative in structure (aka, a TV show, webseries or podcast) and you want to showcase it to industry executives, agents, and producers you have limited options. There are thousands of film festivals but they do not accept shows.


So, you take it to Catalyst: a 501c3 nonprofit community of creators, executives, agents and fans discovering the best new programming created on independent (aka, non-network) budgets.



Everyone! Catalyst is an open public organization. It is not just for entertainment industry folks. Attendees include patrons of the arts, general public, first time creators, major executives & Emmy winners.


Los Angeles, CA


The festival was founded in 2006 by television Producers AJ & Jenny Tesler.


Websites such as YouTube were just beginning to launch and streaming video was not seen as a valid competitor to traditional television networks. 

Access to the industry was very tightly guarded by a few gatekeepers who kept it closed off to new voices & creators, especially in new formats such as short series and small budget projects.

During the festival's 7 years in Los Angeles, it began to break down the barriers between the existing industry and a new generation of creators who were independently producing their own narrative content for the first time.


Many discussions at the festival focused on the future of the industry and how the internet and TV would soon be the same thing...



By 2012, it was clear that streaming content would become a serious economic challenger to the existing TV network & studio system.

With the fundamentals of the industry quickly undergoing radical changes, the festival needed to adapt its approach as well.


Philip Gilpin, Jr. took over as the organization's Executive Director in late 2012 and moved the festival from Los Angeles to Vermont.

Vermont's extremely rural foliage setting allowed creators and executives to escape the busy city lights, relax, and create working relationships focused around storytelling.

As the industry was opening up to new voices creating their own series, deals began to happen and a core community of thousands of creatives, executives, and industry talent began to work together...

Duluth, MN


As the festival's global community of creators & executives continues to grow while the industry accelerates its shift away from traditional TV, our organization needs to adapt again - this time relocating to a permanent home with the infrastructure and resources to support not just the annual festival event but also year round productions and educational programming.

Duluth strikes the perfect balance with both a rural small town vibe and a thriving young arts scene that has the energy & support to grow.


Incredible theatres, historical venues, hotels, restaurants, universities, the support of the state of Minnesota - plus a generational renaissance of arts & culture such as the ballet, symphony orchestra, and film/TV productions make Duluth the perfect year round creative hub for the festival and its worldwide creative community to thrive in for the decades ahead. 


Our Team

Board of Directors​


AJ Tesler ~ President

Jenny Tesler ~ Secretary

Steve Basilone ~ Treasurer

Riki McManus ~ Board Member

Executive Director

Philip Gilpin, Jr.

Before beginning as Executive Director in 2012, Philip was a Business Affairs Analyst at HBO in Los Angeles where he worked with the financial and contract components of titles such as “The Sopranos”, “Sex and the City”, Six Feet Under”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Wire”.

Philip currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Boston/New England Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (aka, the Emmys). He is Boston born and raised, with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics from Boston College.


Jim Verzino

VP of Programming

Panels & Workshops

Tiffany Gray, Esq.

VP of Programming

Content & Shows

Eden Perry

Senior Programmer

Kimberly Browning


Cirina Catania

Lee Mitchell

Minnesota Industry

Melodie Bahan ~ MNFilmTV

Riki McManus

Jade Orth

Dan Dillon

Brand Outreach & Management

Kevin Herrera ~ TheMachine

Travel & Logistics

Andrew Thompson ~ Experient

Cathy Cuizon ~ Experient

Joseph Donahue ~ Experient

Michael Hicks


Adam Fratto

Kimberly Browning

Rosemond Purdue

Sal Tassone

Sandra Lehner

Timothy Egan

Minnesota Community

Mayor Emily Larson

Anna Tanski ~ VisitDuluth

Ben Phelps

Katie Strand

Katrina Pierson

Keely Gelineau

Kim Kervina ~ VisitDuluth

Maarja Hewitt ~ VisitDuluth

Peter Sellwood

Richard Hansen

Robert Watkins






Elaine Rogers ~ Sennott, Williams & Rogers

Suzanne Turcotte

Public Affairs

Cristine Almeida

Gary Cerk

Jeff Anderson


The Festival


Sept 30-Oct 4, 2020






Social Events

Travel & Lodging

Direct booking link coming soon for special hotel & flight deals to Duluth, MN!


NorShor Theatre




The Depot



View our IRS form 990s online here (2017 and earlier) and here (2018).




Contact us:

(218) 208-0140

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1

Duluth, MN 55801

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