A Report from The American Film Market

By Jane Applegate

What’s not to love about attending the American Film Market? The weather and location is perfect: AFM is held in early November at several beachfront hotels in Santa Monica. So, if no one likes your films or the frenetic energy and hubbub inside the Loew’s hotel is too intense, you just step outside for a hit of sunshine and a sea breeze.

This year, I opted for a one-day pass ($250). It was perfect, especially since I’m focusing more on production consulting and only had one quirky film to sell. With a badge, you can make appointments in advance, or just wander up and down the halls to get a quick overview of what distributors are buying.

No surprise that horror films sales are stronger than ever. Anyone can make a great scary film on a low budget if you have a good script and a decent cast. Family friendly and kids’ films were also popular at the market this year.

The best part of AFM is meeting people from all over the world. The young and enthusiastic team from BarrLipp, based in Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia, shared their impressive slate of films over coffee on the deck of Le Merigot Hotel.

They have several films in production and were looking to meet more American filmmakers and distributors.

I attended a cool session where French book publishers pitched their books for film adaptations.

Always looking for great locations, I met with the lovely guys from the Malta Film Commission. Who knew Malta was so easy to get to, has fabulous and diverse locations and offers generous film incentives?

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Trade had a booth set up in the Location Expo area. Various film commissions in the UK are promoting production and post-production services to filmmakers from around the world. I also met with the Japanese film commission reps to learn about shooting in Japan.

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A project from Blender (www.blender.org)

In the filmmakers’ lounge, I met a variety of people, including JT Nelson, a software developer who promotes Blender, an open source animation and VFX platform. He explained why Blender was kicking ass because big software companies were not responding to users requests for upgrades and improvements.

Roberto Capriotti, a first time attendee, had flown out from NYC to find backers for a feature film he’s making about competing biscotti bakers in Queens. His company, Brain Oven Entertainment, has a name that few will forget.

After learning about how to make a good biscotti from Roberto, I ended up at the evening cocktail party where I met Merja Ritola, the Finnish producer of the new documentary, War Peace, about the Weather Underground.

The film, produced by her Greenlit Productions, had just screened in New York City. She graciously shared a link so I could watch it. It is an important and thought-provoking film, especially in these unsettling times.

At the end of the day, I had no luck selling the film I came to peddle, but the contacts I made opened new doors and connected me with people I’m sure to keep in touch with.

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