The End of the AFM

The last half of the AFM gets crazy as an influx of filmmakers with half market passes sweeps into the hotel. This means that my haven, the filmmakers lounge, once empty is now filled with people and gaining access to a computer can be a hard task.

Many of the companies are happier to deal with walk-ins in the second half of the market, as the first half of the market is mainly for them to talk to buyers. This means filmmakers can approach the sales agencies directly with their products.
The conferences are also in full swing in the second half of the market. The micro budget conference was a good laugh as Lloyd Kaufman from Troma humorously delves into the filmmaking world centered around eating cheese sandwiches and making awesome trash cinema. Although there were some interesting tid-bits in the conference sessions I feel they would benefit from detailing who they are aimed at as most of the sessions dealt with $25million dollar films – and I don’t feel many of the people in the audience were at that level yet.

There was a strong emphasis in the introduction to AFM seminar placed on presales and the AFM being a good place to get them. I didn’t talk to anyone who had made any traction in the pre-sale game there, although I also didn’t talk to anyone who had a fully packaged screenplay – with cast, director etc attached that would attract pre-sale commitments.

As a market for attaching a sales agent to a finished film though I think the AFM can be truly valuable. I disagree with most peoples opinions that you can just get a half market pass. Personally the full market pass seems like the way to go, as some places are still receptive to walk-ins early on in the market. Also some sales agents are actually roaming the halls in the first half of the market looking for filmmakers, and it is always a good boost to your confidence when a sales agent approaches you instead of you walking hesitantly into an office.

The AFM is also great for simply networking. Being there is everything. I met more people at the networking drinks, and around Santa Monica during the market than I did in the main hotel.

In terms of what I have learnt and what to prepare next time my main thoughts are:

– A finished film puts you in the strongest position at the market. People are not that interested in a film in post simply because they cannot be sure when the film will be completed.

– Although most people will tell you sales agents and distributors want to see scenes, really they want to see a trailer initially, then possibly scenes – but definitely a screener also. They want screeners on DVD and if you can give them over at the market you could close a deal by the end of it.

– Having a team to sell a film seemed to be a successful way of tackling the market place. Sales agents like listening to a passionate director talking about the film.

– Slick one sheets are always impressive. They are even better if you have a catchy title and tagline.

All in all the market was awesome, but it is also exhausting. Next time I would definitely want to prepared well in advance so that I could get more sleep leading up to the market.

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