AFM 2008 - American Film Market 101

The Market of Moving Pictures

So you think you wanna make movies? Maybe you actually made a film and you’re thinking, so now what? You’re not in the studio system, so there is no marketing and publicity departments doing the job of selling your film for you. Nope, the world of Indie film is a world whose engine runs on the power of sheer will. And that is where the American Film Market comes in.

In a nutshell, the AFM is the major artery of the Independent Film world. AFM is the invention of the Independent Film and Television Alliance, an international organization dedicated to the providing independent producers with resources and representation in the large film and television industry. Everything and anything you may need to start, produce, sell or distribute your film is presented in this unique accessible environment for the Average Joe filmmaker, giving him/her a more level playing field with the “Big Boys”.

So where does one begin in this marketplace of media executives and producers, sales agents and Film commissioners, financiers and distributors? I guess it depends on what stage of the game you are starting from. But let’s hit the highlights.

Attendance for AFM has spread since 1981 to surpass 8,000 representing film and television professionals from over 70 different countries. The hub for deal making in the independent feature world, it is estimated that business dealings upwards of $800 million will occur in just the eight days of the marketplace, but the professional relationships and connection cultivated at this event is the stuff upon which careers are built.

Lobby of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel

Knowledge is Power

One of the most popular aspects of AFM is the diverse and comprehensive collection of seminars and conferences. Seminars are designed to explore and discuss the entire array of issues in the filmmaking process as it relates to independent filmmakers. Just a few of these events are:

The AFM Finance Conference plays out to a maximum capacity crowd virtually every year. One of the most popular seminars, the yearly AFM Finance Conference brings together CEOs, financiers, and filmmakers in two back-to-back sessions where you will learn about the future of independent film financing. These high-powered panels discuss emerging trends and financing options.

The Independent Film & Television Alliance has two seminars programmed that would be useful to filmmakers in all tiers of the industry. “Pitch Me!” features a dozen working industry professionals who provide intense sessions in the art of pitching your ideas and projects to agents, executives and producers. “Location Expo” seminar will have film commissioners from around the world discussion the incentives and opportunities when exploring potential locations around the world; both the obvious and the not so obvious. Guerilla filmmakers should probably check out “DIY: Lessons Producers Can Learn from Those Who’ve Successfully Done it Themselves” (programmed by Dreamscape) and “Getting Your Film Seen” sponsored by Film Independent.

Cost of seminars no included in your pass range from $35-95. Some seminars require pre-registration due to limited space.

A Smart partner in AFI Fest

The American Film Institute has a pretty big event it it’s own and it overlaps with the American Film Market by five days. AFI Fest features scores of screenings of features and shorts, littered with World, North American and US Premieres. Where AFI Fest is all about sharing and exposing your work as a filmmaker, AFM is all about finding just the right outlet or industry partner to marketed and distributed your work.

Sprinkled through all locations are screening rooms great and small from state of the art digital wide screens of Santa Monica Promenade to small private rooms through the various floors of the Loews and Le Merigot. AFM participants may view more than 900 screenings of approximately 500 films - 31 new films every two hours – many available for viewed simply upon request. Many of the screening are making their world premieres or U.S. premieres. From event features to low budget art and genre films, there is too much to choose from but definitely something for every taste.

AFM provides The Film Catalogue which lists all the screenings happening on around AFM.

Le Merigot Hotel of Santa Monica

Mixing Business with Luxury

Once again, Santa Monica has risen to the occasion to be the perfect host for AFM. Le Merigot Hotel of Santa Monica and The Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel are the heart of the marketplace. Seminars and Conferences series for 2008 AFM will take place at Fairmont Miramar Hotel. Getting from one to another is made even more convenient with a free shuttle between the locations. All there hotel locations are beach side and offer a spectacular pool area or comfy yet luxurious sunrooms.

Yes, Virginia, there are Employment Ops too!

I would never have thought of this, but just like any other “traveling business” AFM is a temporary event that requires temporary workers. Displayed prominently on the AFM website is a link where jobseekers may be apply for various clerical and administrative positions. And again, the thing about this business is knowing the right people, finding the “in”. Looking at employment through AFM is perhaps a great way to line up an annual gig and put your self in a position where you could create an opportunity for yourself.

The Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

Know Your Audience

The smartest way to approach the opportunities that AFM presents is to do your research. Narrow down the companies that seem most likely to be interested in your project. Look for synchronicity in your creative philosophies. AFM provides a directory of exhibitors and attendees that you should study to best prepare yourself for the event. AFM provides more tips of the How to Work AFM on the website.


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