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.
I’m here at the week-long American Film Market event in Santa Monica, California. This is a huge event and marketplace where hundreds of films, TV shows, and digital products are bought, sold, planned and created. It’s kind of like speed dating for film buyers and sellers. It runs November 6 though 13, 2019, so if you are at all involved in the entertainment industry, I would definitely check it out.
AFM is vastly different than a film festival. Most festival’s films are carefully curated for quality and cultural import. For AFM, the business of film is the order of the day. What the market, and what audiences demand to watch is the ruling criteria. You see a lot of what I call “popcorn movies” here that are the slasher/spy/adventure/horror genre type of films. People do want to watch them in droves, otherwise we would be here talking about different types of entertainment and artistic films.
I arrived Wednesday morning, November 6th, and was delighted with the accommodations and facilities provided to the press. We were welcome to attend most any event and I was free to walk the halls, pop my head into any of the sales offices that line them, and generally explore to my heart’s content. I saw my friends from ITN Distribution here, and made a few new ones. But overall, unlike the more freewheeling vibe of a film festival, the air here is serious, focused, and quite business oriented.
The event is held in upscale hotels that line the oceanfront area of Santa Monica, and they are elegant and comfortable. For the Loews Hotel, AFM’s main location, all 352 rooms were cleared of all beds and turned into offices for visiting sales reps, film companies, distributors, and the like. You could spend hours just visiting the endless rooms on several floors of film offices.
They also offer a number of very informative workshops and talks. The first one I attended Wednesday, was a speech by the very knowledgeable Johnathan Wolf, who is also Managing Director of AFM. He made some excellent points that are likely very helpful to filmmakers in all levels of experience. He gave some invaluable tips on how to professionally pitch a film, how to find the right distributor for your project, and many other useful pieces of advice. Perhaps his best tip was in closing. He said the next time you see a really crappy film up in the theatre with your friends on a Saturday night, look up all the producers’ names and find out how they managed to get such a lousy film made and theatrically released!
At AFM there are literally hundreds of filmmakers, writers, producers, directors, and distributors.
One such filmmaker is Jacqueline Murphy, who I met Wednesday. She is a director, producer and star of
The Admired a multiple award-winning short film. She is here to try and get interest in making the
short film into a feature, or possibly television or digital platform series. She lives both here in Los
Angeles and New York City, and started her acting career playing a nurse on a soap opera, as she is
actually a nurse in real life. She’s a delightful, multi-talented lady, and I wish her much luck with her
project. Her website is theadmired.com.
There are also plenty of screenings and parties at AFM. I went to one party last night at the Fairmont Hotel Bungalow. Super fun, and I met some very nice folks there.
For more information about AFM, visit americanfilmmarket.com. For more photos I took, visit flickr.com/joybennett. AFM runs through next week, and tickets are still available if you are interested in attending. Bring your business cards, and dress for success!
If you are looking to find a cool new shared workspace, I couldn’t recommend a better spot than Cross Campus. I joined the one in Santa Monica a few months back, and am extremely glad I did. For either a small daily rate, or a reasonable office rental fee, you get access to a really comfortable and attractive office space, and lots of friendly but work-focused fellow members. They also have a food area with coffee, beer, and other snacks and drinks available, printers, other amenities, conference room space availability, and all the time you need. The one in Santa Monica where I go is open 24/7 as are the other locations. So if you get some ideas at 3 am you can zip on over to work things out! They have locations all over Southern California and even one in Scottsdale, Arizona.
They also have very friendly staff members, beautiful surroundings, and a very cool but focused vibe to help you do your best work. They have offices all over, and once you join one, you can also use any other location. Here’s a photo of the Santa Monica location. If you should see me there at 6 am slogging out a final draft, stop by and say aloha!
They charge a small initiation fee (which they waived for me just for asking), and a monthly rate of $75/month for use for 2 days. After that you pay for additional days at very reasonable rates. There are other various membership plans all outlined on their website crosscamp.us.
They also have a lot of workshops, events, get togethers, and opportunities to meet other likeminded, hard-working folks. They also have meditation rooms, beer on tap, cold brew coffee, and lots of fun events to break the ice with other members.
The membership allows you to use any other location; and you will find their offices beautifully designed with comfortable amenities and great high-speed WiFi.
I have found it a great place to really dig in and get some focused work done, away from the distractions of a home office or public WiFi spot. The energy there is upbeat, positive, but very serious on succeeding in whatever endeavor you may wish to pursue. I like that very much, especially when it’s 3 am and I’m under the gun of a tight deadline. For more information and rates, visit crosscamp.us. Tell them Joy sent you!
Just some quick comments on various things from recent months. While I was up in Seattle over the summer, I very much enjoyed the spectacular Museum of Pop Culture, pictured above. So many delicious things to enjoy, including an entire store filled with all kinds of T shirts and memorabilia from your favorite rock and pop bands. Take a few hours or a day to enjoy this wonderful museum if you're ever in the beautiful downtown Seattle area. Website mopop.org.
Next, while I was in Seattle near the Space Needle there was a wonderful artist Susan Roberts who did my portrait. She's very talented, super friendly, and her unique creations make wonderful gifts. She can draw a portrait from a photograph even if you're not there in person. These would make a wonderful, unique Christmas or Birthday gift for someone special, or even treat yourself! Her website is www.susanrobertsartist.com.
Also, recently I happened to screen a wonderful French film which is light, diverting and most amusing called A Faithful Man. It was playing in theaters and is now available for rent on Amazon, iTunes, etc. Also stars Lily-Rose Depp, a beautiful, natural actress who is most fetching.
Lastly, be sure to keep an eye on my personal Twitter page twitter.com/joy_bennett for quick reviews, recommendations, and comments about life in general. I often put something on there when I see or experience something great but don't have time to do a full blog review.
I am thrilled to announce that I will be covering the huge American Film Market conference from November 6th to 13th in Santa Monica, CA. This event is best described by their website, below:
"The American Film Market is the most efficient film acquisition, development and networking event in the world. Unlike a festival, AFM is a marketplace where production and distribution deals are closed. More than US$1 billion in deals are sealed every year — on both completed films and those in every stage of development and production.
Over 7,000 industry professionals from more than 70 countries converge in Santa Monica every November. They include acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, the world’s press and all those who provide services to the motion picture industry."
Today they just released their list of speakers for the conference, including executives from Disney, Neon, Wattpad, Picturestart, Intel, United Talent Agency, Cornerstone Films, Cold Iron PIctures, Paramount -- the list goes on and on. I'm going to have to clone myself so I can be three places at once!
I will be reporting here often about the conference and trying hard not to get lost in the shuffle. It's huge, it's important, and it's sure to be a very exciting week.
For more information about AFM, visit americanfilmmarket.com. Can't wait!