Indies Get Down to Serious Business
Beachside mart makes changes as the attendees anticipate healthy dealmaking
Last year’s American Film Market boasted a 6% increase in attendance and an 18% boost in exhibitor participation over 2016, despite widespread concern from exhibitors about projects being swept off the table in worldwide pickups from Netflix, more year-round deals made outside the market and emptier hallways seen at the Loews Santa Monica. In response to what they can control, AFM’S producers at the Independent Film & Television Alliance are adapting the event to keep buyers and sellers as happy as possible.
AFM managing director Jonathan Wolf says those empty floors were a byproduct of too many badge checks due to overcrowding from the public.
“For the last 36 years, anyone could come into the lobby,” he says. “But beginning this year, all of the hotel will be AFM space and credentials will be checked before entering it. Now our most valued participants, the buyers, will be able to freely walk through the hotel without being asked to flash their badge every minute. We think it’ll make the experi- ence much more enjoyable and professional for the participants.”
And much as the pool was restricted to AFM guests a few years ago, this new policy will create even more areas for them to network and do business. It’s something one of Europe’s biggest producers and distributors, Constantin Film CEO Martin Moszkowicz, says keeps AFM essential despite industry changes.
“We’re moving from the traditional presale model for our own movies” — the longtime focus of AFM — going “from pre- selling a couple of markets for our higher-budgeted/over-$50 million movies into equity-based financing, sometimes with partners, sometimes by ourselves,” he says. “A lot of midsize market movies that were also our bread and butter have pretty much disappeared over the last couple of years. The very few interesting projects, of course, everyone jumps on them and there’s a good chance that you’ll have to overpay to actually get them because there is so much competition for those.”
He adds that that “there aren’t that many buyers anymore, and especially when it comes to higher-budgeted movies, there’s a lot of fear out there. We can’t really sell an expensive movie as easily as we used to, or at all. And if you can’t, then you’re losing a lot of the upside, because the one advantage of the presale model was that you