American Film Market is Amazing!

November 11, 2019

I’m here at the week-long American Film Market event in Santa Monica, California.  This is a huge event and marketplace where hundreds of films, TV shows, and digital products are bought, sold, planned and created.  It’s kind of like speed dating for film buyers and sellers. It runs Nov. 6 through the 13, so if you are at all involved in the entertainment industry, I would definitely check it out.

AFM is vastly different than a film festival.  Most festival’s films are carefully curated for quality and cultural import.  For AFM, the business of film is the order of the day.  What the market, and what audiences to watch is the ruling criteria.  You see a lot of what I call “popcorn movies” here that are the slasher/spy/adventure/horror genre type of films.  People do want to watch them in droves, otherwise, we would be here talking about different types of entertainment and artistic films.

I arrived on Wednesday morning, Nov. 6, and was delighted with the accommodations and facilities provided to the press.  We were welcome to attend most any event and I was free to walk the halls, pop my head into any of the sales offices that line them, and generally explore to my heart’s content.  I saw my friends from ITN Distribution here, and made a few new ones.  But overall, unlike the more freewheeling vibe of a film festival, the air here is serious, focused, and quite business oriented.

The event is held in upscale hotels that line the oceanfront area of Santa Monica, and they are elegant and comfortable.  For the Loews Hotel, AFM’s main location, all 352 rooms were cleared of all beds and turned into offices for visiting sales reps, film companies, distributors, and the like.  You could spend hours just visiting the endless rooms on several floors of film offices.

They also offer a number of very informative workshops and talks.  The first one I attended Wednesday,  was a speech by the very knowledgeable Johnathan Wolf, who is also Managing Director of AFM.  He made some excellent points that are likely very helpful to filmmakers in all levels of experience.  He gave some invaluable tips on how to professionally pitch a film, how to find the right distributor for your project, and many other useful pieces of advice.  Perhaps his best tip was in closing.  He said the next time you see a really crappy film up in the theatre with your friends on a Saturday night, look up all the producers’ names and find out how they managed to get such a lousy film made and theatrically released!

At AFM there are literally hundreds of filmmakers, writers, producers, directors, and distributors. One such filmmaker is Jacqueline Murphy, who I met on Wednesday. She is a director, producer and star of The Admired a multiple award-winning short film.  She is here to try and get interest in making the short film into a feature, or possibly television or digital platform series.   She lives both here in Los Angeles and New York City, and started her acting career playing a nurse on a soap opera, as she is actually a nurse in real life.  She’s a delightful, multi-talented lady, and I wish her much luck with her project.  Her website is theadmired.com.

There are also plenty of screenings and parties at AFM.  I went to one party last night at the Fairmont Hotel Bungalow.  Super fun, and I met some very nice folks there.

For more information about AFM, visit americanfilmmarket.com.  For more photos I took, visit flickr.com/joybennett.  AFM runs through next week, and tickets are still available if you are interested in attending.  Bring your business cards, and dress for success!

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