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Insiders ViewPoints At AFM mid-budget productions fill void left by fewer studio projects Film News And Views - Insiders ViewPoints - At AFM mid-budget productions fill void left by fewer studio projects Insiders ViewPoints,,At AFM mid-budget productions fill void left by fewer studio projects,recommendation,shopping,advice,simple,movies,films,film news and views,news and views,film industy,movie reviews,film news,film,news,views,television,made for tv movies,interactive entertainment,hollywood,hollywood news,celebrity news,insiders perspective,film reviewer,watch film,film trailer,new releases,new release,new release movie,new release film,movie reviewer,opinion,viewpoint,forum,discussion
At AFM mid-budget productions fill void left by fewer studio projects

by Erik Sean McGiven on Nov 29, 2011

With a fragile DVD business declining, more buyers and investors at this year's market are seeking films that can open theatrically.  Thus there is a move to finance mid-budget films with established stars and commercial stories, ones that can fill the void left by fewer studio projects.   A successful theatrical opening assures down the road sales such VOD and television rights as well as home entertainment sales.  It also projects a profitable return on investment. In addition, the buzz generated by theatrical runs help promote Internet streaming offers, now an ever increasing source of revenue.

AFM is a marketplace where production and distribution deals are made.  The eight-day event is held at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and the Le Merigot Beach Hotel located next door.  Films are screened at movie theatres and hotels in the Santa Monica area and attendance is restricted to AFM pass holders.  Conferences are also part of the market and this year's conferences included ones on finance, production, marketing, distribution, and pitching.  The finance conference was sold out prior to the market's start.  These conferences drew a good number of non-buyers/sellers and this category jumped 21% this year.

A great deal of the meetings take place in the hotel lobbies as well as at nearby restaurants.   Having a well-planned pitch along with supporting materials is a must during these encounters.  This year I saw a number of people promoting their wares on small laptops.  A two-minute trailer can be a persuasive tool in pitching a project and it can lead to a sit-down meeting.

Sponsored parties are held every night and these too allow attendees to mingle and promote their wares and talents.  These parties also create awareness about the sponsor's products and services.  It's a two-way street with mutually beneficial results.  Most of these parties are by invitation and being in the good graces of the companies sponsoring them can lead to productive networking.

AFM's own figures reveal that about 75% of all movies released in U.S. theaters last year were independently financed.  This is up from less than half of all such movies 6 years ago.  Financing for these films comes from a variety of sources ranging from minute crowd funding to big-budget hedge fund backing.   Incentives and discounts are also factored into these deals.  For most filmmakers at the market, the primary objective is to obtain presale funding in exchange for international rights.  With international territories now accounting for 60% of the total boxoffice it pays to cultivate relationships with sales agents.  This entails engaging agents long before the market opens and creating a buzz for your particular film.   An online presence plus a huge social network following will help get you in the door and becomes instrumental in negotiating a better deal.

Another factor in obtaining a lucrative distribution deal is the film's potential to earn award nominations as well as critical praise.  Actors, writers, and directors who have been nominated before add traction to the film's marketing appeal.   Nominations can influence how distributors promote their acquisitions and the amount of money they are willing to spend on prints and ads.   Thus films with proven award winning talent have added value a facet that should definitely be exploited at film markets.

415 completed films were shown at AFM this year with some 8,000 film professional attending.  The main objective for many was and still remains is to obtain a production and exhibition agreements.  Deals are sometimes struck months after being presented.  Some projects may be only an idea with an attached star or director.  Most projects come in with much more.  These might include screenplay copies or treatments.  Brochures, posters, and trailers are also used to drum up interest.  A completed film remains the best pick up vehicle.  With international buys, bigger-budget films with recognizable stars hold the most interest.  Genre films, high-concept stories, and to some extent exotic locations can also generate consideration.

While the struggling economy has reduced investor interest, new markets have made financing a little easier.  Japan has come on stronger, Russian foreign prices are now more attractive to sellers, and the Chinese and Brazilian market have become more significant.   These changes will likely prompt producers to package their products and take advantage these emerging markets.  Likewise, co-production arrangements become more attractive and assure collecting boxoffice receipts from these territories.

How productive is the American Film Market.   This year there were 718 buying companies, up 8% from last year.  During the 8-day event, it's projected that in excess of 800 million dollars in deals will be finalize on completed films along with projects in various stages of development and production.  Being one of the pick-ups is cause to celebrate and a beautiful addition to one's industry pedigree.

 

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  July 16, 2019

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