Insiders ViewPoints,,The AFM is the Worlds largest motion picture trade event.,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
Insiders ViewPoints Section
Visit Film News And Views
GoTo Section:
Home Current News Press Releases Film Reviews Film Trailers Film Festivals Insiders ViewPoints Film Viewers Commentary
Top Links:
FNAV Video Clips Interviews Featured Film Festival Industry Resources List of
Film Schools
free screen writing course
Section Home > AFM-2008
 In This Section
 Section Home
 News
 Search
 Table Of Contents
$sitealttxt
 On This Website
 Home Page
 Current News
 Resources

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


Insiders ViewPoints The AFM is the Worlds largest motion picture trade event. Film News And Views - Insiders ViewPoints - The AFM is the Worlds largest motion picture trade event. Insiders ViewPoints,,The AFM is the Worlds largest motion picture trade event.,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
The AFM is the Worlds largest motion picture trade event.

by Erik Sean McGiven on Dec 08, 2008

 

With the economy in free fall, this year's American Film Market might have been projected a bust, but such was not the case.  While first day's attendance was down, in the succeeding days it picked up and the market became alive with sellers, buyers, and promoters bartering for placement in distributor's catalogs.  With attendance around 8,000 AFM is the World's largest motion picture trade event.  Itís a marketplace where producers and sales companies license film to distributors and in this years tally there were 1527 buyers, 3,971 exhibitors, and on 23 screens 527 films screened at the market.

The immense size of AFM may seem overwhelming to first timers, but it's more a community with established relationships that date back years.   Rapport and trust have been built up over time and while the products may evolve the people stay pretty much the same.  It's also a market of niches where buyers must evaluate which products will have value in their home markets.  Buyers face another challenge, in addition to assessing potential value and the whims of filmgoers six month to a year hence, they must also judge how present economic woes will affect the entertainment marketplace.  In previous downturns movies have played the escapist role but that was before entertainment became so fragmented.  Now there are considerably more choices and younger audiences find that the Internet, I-pods, and video games better fit their needs and budgets. 

Yet, whatever the state of the economy there will always be a need for product.  Theatres, television, cable, satellite, and now the Internet all look for viable programming.  Multiplex screens and television schedules eat up a vast number of titles.   And with the major studios cutting back and concentrating on blockbuster entries there are product voids to be filled and independent filmmakers stand ready to fill them.  What's more, as the ongoing credit crisis limits the number of movies released those that do obtain financing will find foreign distribution easier to acquire.  

What types of films enter AFM?  AFM is more genre driven than other markets and at this Santa Monica event genre films receive the most attention.  In fact, in the film catalogue there are some 25 genres listed with dramas, thrillers, comedies, and action/adventure films being at the top of the list. The AFM conference on financing spoke about genres and that selectively, comedies, action, horror, and thrillers are easier to finance.  These were among the top entries at the market.  They also pointed out that dramas require the involvement of a major star and that the desired themes tend to be more up beat.  In years past AFM has been a video/DVD-driven market.  With that element collapsing, companies are finding it difficult to justify marginal sales.  As such the number of acquisitions and pricing have become a key issues.

For the low budget independent filmmakers, especially on a shoestring, working this market requires considerable preparation. The AFM Pitching seminar stressed the importance of having a succinct coherent presentation whether it's a project in development, a completed film, or a proposed script.    One must remember that buyers, sales agents, and distributors receive countless pitches and to avoid getting lost in the shuffle, you and your project must be memorable.   Long before the market opens this process should begin by contacting your prospects and giving them a preview of what you will be presenting.  This can be done via mail, email or by phone. 

Jonathan Wolf, AFM Managing Director, reiterates the importance of obtaining assistance in areas in which you are weak.  Being able to pull together the expertise and good judgement of others is an essential part of being a successful producer.  This may require attaching to your project a producer who is more familiar with the creative aspects or one who is capable at securing financing, or a line producer who is able to manage the nuts and bolts of the production itself.   If the film is near completion a producer's rep may be of help in obtaining festival exposure as well as securing a distribution deal.  A publicist may also be required to create the desired pre-market buzz.  One should also consider adding a sales agent in order to secure licensing right within various foreign territories. 

One obstacle for first timers is identifying likely prospects and obtaining their contact information.  Last year's AFM show directory and film catalogue will provide some help, as will the special editions of Screen, Cineuropa, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter.  These items are available through the Academy Library and for Film Independent members through their reference library.   Also check their online sites.  Trade and Professional Associations like UniFrance, UK Film Council, and Film New Europe Association offers additional resources.  Company web sites will also provide contact information through not always email addresses.  Identifying the proper department head is another crucial factor.  For the most part it will likely be the head of acquisitions or programming while some companies will have a story department for scripts and literary works. 

International sales agents are more difficult to locate as this listing is only available to those screening a film in the market--a highly expensive endeavor.  But many of the sales agents are part of companies exhibiting at the market and can be found by cross-referencing listings on www.kftv.com with the listings in the AFM Show Directory or with AFM's online Exhibitor's Directory.    There are about 85 sales agents on the kftv.com list and these don't include internal sales agents at specialty studios like Focus Films and Vantage.   HCD directories offer additional contacts in their distributor directory. (See sales agents tabulated under international distribution in the index.)

Short phone calls can help establish a rapport with targeted personnel.  Because international calls can be expensive I would suggest using a calling card like www.globalpapa.com to lower the cost.  Calls to Europe can be as low as 2.4 cents a minute, which is cheaper than stateside long distance rates.  Simply place your call-in number, then your PIN number on your speed dial to streamline this connection process.

Because your prospect will not likely have the final say, your pitch and accompanying materials should provide strong sales arguments that can be taken up the corporate ladder.  Up front it should state your objectives, i.e., seeking international sales agent, seeking co-production financing, seeking acquisition of completed script, etc.  While your presentation may be convincing, it's competing with numerous others and having statements and figures to back up your arguments is essential. 

There is a long list of evidentiary materials and here is some of the more prominent ones: Comparisons to other films--their critical and box office success, log line, elevator synopsis, full synopsis, script coverage, named actors, named director, named DP, projected budget, festival awards, reviews, test screenings, audience ratings, trailer, DVD screener, poster art work, press book materials, production stills, production stories, music tie-ins, unique locations, EPK, film web site, and film blogs.  All of these items should be labeled with contact information and be packaged in a clear plastic bag so they are not mixed up with materials submitted by others.  Availability of negative master and release prints can also be factors.  Your pitch should be condensed into a leave-behind that summarizes the pertinent arguments and includes objectives along with all vital contact information.

While one quest in presenting a film at the market is to obtain a sale; another is to generate a buzz for your movie.  Post cards, DVD handouts, one sheets and walking billboard characters are some of the methods used at this year's event.  A film's talk-ability energy is a key factor in gaining distribution or representation by an international sales agent.  In fact a small number of this year's foreign language Oscar contenders are using AFM to maximize award season exposure.   Additional buzz can be obtained from reviews in brief posted in The Hollywood Reporter. 

During the later half of the market when Industry Half-Market Badges are $295, exhibitors have more time to meet with you and will be more receptive to hearing your pitch.  To best utilize your time, map out your prospects and their locations in the hotels.  Be aware that exhibitors are on numerous floors and that some share space.  And scheduling appointments will help lend more credibility to your project. While the Half-Market Badge is good for four days the final day is a get away day and most exhibitors are packed up and closed by noon. 

It may take some time for buyers to get back to you so it's a good idea to follow up reinforcing your pitch and document the arguments supporting your project.  It also helps to add new developments that make the project more appealing.  Follow up first with an email and later with a phone call.  These are busy people so try; as best you can, to focus on the answers and feedback you really need.   While you may be looking for a deal memo, you should also be looking for ways to strengthen the relationship.  An appreciative thank you card can be helpful in this regard especially when it specifies useful advice or feedback.

AFM seminars can educate, enlighten, and also connect people. This year there were thirteen conferences and seminars ranging from international financing to DIY producing.  The Hong Kong Trade Development Council sponsored a most interesting seminar on incentives, tax rebates and co-production advantages.  While the focus was mainly on the Asian markets it did give an overview of this entire subject.  The consensus of the panel was that one should compare and plug in the numbers to see which location has the best deal not only in price but also creative considerations, distribution advantages, and delay time in receiving rebates.  One should also consider the time period that incentives are available as some may expire before certification process is complete. 

There are numerous networking opportunities at the Market such as the hotel lobbies, the filmmakers lodge, various seminars plus numerous screenings.  There are also special receptions, parties and red carpet premieres, and most require being on the invitation list.   Itís a relaxed atmosphere where spiels and business cards fly about at will.  And it's a good idea to have as much information as possible on your card.  Some attendees apply a sticker to the back with pertinent information about their project and/or company.  When you exchange hundreds of cards one can be easily forgot, so make notes on the back of those you receive. 

And lastly, mingle effectively.  Introduce yourself by tagging your name with a profession, company affiliation, and info about your project.   Listen, ask questions, and work the entire room with meaningful productive dialogue. For when it comes to mingling with the international side of the business, AFM is at the top of the class, a marketplace where chance encounters can easily evolve into lucrative deals -- even on a shoestring.

#          #          #

 

 

  March 18, 2019

Insiders ViewPoints,,The AFM is the Worlds largest motion picture trade event.,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