November 14, 2019
The Bungalow at Fairmont Hotel, site of AFM party, Santa Monica, CA

The American Film Market is ending and I can’t say enough about how much I learned and absorbed through this event.  The workshops there cover all aspects of filmmaking and television production, from conception, to screenwriting techniques, to funding, to fine-tuning your elevator pitch, to finding your cast, crew and location, to marketing and sales and distribution.  They had discussions about all the various platforms you can stream or view on these days, and the number of outlets is truly astounding.  Still, the overall theme remains that quality stands out; and also the importance of soft skills.  Building trust, communication skills, people skills, being organized and not an over-inflated egoist.  One speaker said memorably, he does three things for someone before he ever asks for one favor in return. 
I met a number of industry contacts, made some new friends, enjoyed the numerous parties and events, and even got to see a real live princess at the Thai Film Commission event.  She was elegance and poise personified. 
I also attended a marketing for filmmakers seminar put on by Russell Schwartz and Katherine MacDonald.  They have a new book out, The Marketing Edge for Filmmakers.  Filled with tips and advice about marketing smaller budget films, the same advice can also be applied to many other fields. 

Another distribution conference session I attended was called The Rise of AVOD (ad-based video on demand).  Julian Franco, Senior Director, AVOD at Vudu said:  “Most people go for free over paid…if you offer 10,000 movies available for free, chances are that most people just want to watch something to relax and unwind with.” He added,  “People go for the free stuff, but a lot of our partners like Disney and Warner Bros. do a great job of creating demand for big blockbuster tent poles as well as independent films. They’re still really smart about how they release them so they will day-and-date them on TVOD sometimes and we will come in and license an AVOD window exclusively so we’ll take it on day 91 after the Home Entertainment window. This is the first year that we’ve seen that more people are engaging with free over a transaction, but the transaction is still a much larger piece of the overall revenue.”

I would certainly recommend AFM to anyone interested in any kind of filmmaking, directing, cinematography, film distributing or producing.  The information and contacts there can really change your career and life.  They also have some great parties, too.  Now go out there and dream up your next project! 
For more information about AFM, visit americanfilmmarket.com.  For more photos I took, visit my Flickr page here:  flickr.com/joybennett.​

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