Apart from the opportunity for an awesome holiday what does the AFM really mean?
In film there are really no sure fire ways to do anything. You have to make your own decisions based upon the information you have – and your gut. This is true of the AFM as well. There are those that argue that going is a waste of time – its a market for finished films only, its a market for Americans, its only for genre films, its a dying market and no one really goes anymore. All that is well and good but in my opinion if you can’t afford to go to Cannes you still have to go where the people are. You never know who you’ll meet there and being there is everything.
So I made the decision to go – why? This year for me would be one of the strongest years to go since I have three projects I can take with me – one film in post and two in development. This will allow me to make the most of the market experience from a number of different angles.
The first time I attended AFM it was all about a learning experience. Sure I had a finished film under my wing but had no real expectation it would get anywhere (The Richmond Family Massacre will be going again, but it won’t be the focus of the trip). If you haven’t been to a market and you want to be a film maker, you should considering going to one. There is no real way to describe it unless you’ve seen it, believe me I read enough on them and still was not prepared when I arrived.
So what is a market? In its simplest definition its a place the business of film is done. Films are brought and sold by sales agents, distributors, producers – people make deals behind closed doors, and if your lucky you will see a star. The AFM is based in two hotels with each suite belonging to a sales agency or the like selling their wares. Posters of films such as ‘Sharktopus’ adorn the walls and buyers walk around seeing if there is anything they like. Apart from the hotel suite thing, its not that different from a marketplace.
The best thing I found is that just standing outside you can end up striking up a conversation with the producer of ‘The Princess Bride’ (squeal) for no other reason then you were wearing a hat. Priceless.
Of course that is not to be beaten by being invited to a cocktail party where you had to pretend to be someone else (at least I didn’t have to hide the accent), but this is seemingly quite normal over there (the emails the next day – when I’m not representing ____ my name is actually… – all got responses).
Of course this time the trip has a bit more focus. We have a better idea of what to prepare, and am really looking forward to the conference series as well (pitching, financing, distribution, micro-budget filmmaking & marketing – ½ sessions each).
Unfortunately that means I actually have to get started…. The countdown to LA has begun.