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In addition to the learning that the Presale Market is Alive and Well at AFM and observing 4 industry trends from AFM 2014, I gained some practical knowledge that all producers should know. While there’s plenty more you will need to know to attend your first AFM, here are some things that really popped out this year.
1. While more filmmakers are exhibiting at the show, Sales Agents are still important partners.
This year AFM opened lower cost booths on the third floor to producers to have a base of operations to plan from while selling their products. The price was 3900 and included 3 badges. It really wasn’t all that different than a three person team attending the market on full week badges. Many of these filmmakers also screened their projects on Monday, in hope of attaching a sales agent and US Distributor.
According to Jonathan Wolf, The purpose of these booths was not for the producers to sell the film directly themselves. most filmmakers don’t understand the intricacies of international sales or what each film really should sell for internationally. While more filmmakers are becoming exhibitors, the intent is different than the sales agents who pay for the suites.
2. In order to Succeed at AFM, you’ve got to come back every year.
In a press release, the AFM noted that 90% of the buying companies attending AFM were returning to the market. You can’t build a new network or a new chain of theaters in only a year, so the numbers of buyers doesn’t change dramatically. It’s generally the same people who come out year after year. Getting traditional, non-DIY distribution is heavily relationship based. If you want to go that route, then AFM is a good place to start establishing those relationships.
Speaking from personal experience, if you can establish a relationship with reputable sales agents and distributors then getting your films out there will become far easier. If sales agents and distributors like you, then not only are they more likely to take a risk on a project, but even if your current project isn’t for them then most of them won’t mind you bringing them future work. Having those relationships is really make or break in this business.
3. The pool is now open only to Badge Holders, and it’s going to stay that way.
This was the first year the pool was open exclusively to badge holders.
According to Mr. Wolf, this is going to be a permanent change. “The feedback we got was 99% positive.” Adding that many people would to come down to the pool and just stay there for hours, making it quite difficult for exhibitors and buyers to get a table for a meeting.
He later added that, “The only complaint we’ve really had is that some local people come to the show for meetings and don’t get badges, and thus have no place to meet.” Luckily, IndyOh! Opened across the street from the Loews, and could rise to fill that gap if it’s as accessible next year as it was this year.
From personal experience, it was nice to not have the same level of competition to grab a table for a poolside meeting. I made several valuable connections while sitting at the tables, and the connections made seemed more valuable than they have been in years past. It also drastically cut down on the number of disreputable characters and shady dealings by the pool.
If you want more practical tips on how to do establish those relationships, you should check out my book!
Ben is the Author of The Guerrilla Rep: American Film Market Distribution Success on No Budget, Founder and CEO of Guerrilla Rep Media, and Founder of Producer Foundry. Formerly, Ben was the Chapter Leader for the Institute for Ineternational Film Finance for San Francisco, Vancouver, New York, and Los Angeles and screened business plans for the Film Angels. Follow Ben on Twitter at @TheGuerrillaRep.
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Despite the growing trend towards self-distribution, AFM is still a hugely important event in the industry, and something to which we should all pay attention. I spoke with AFM’s Managing Director Jonathan Wolf on Wednesday about his opinions about the show and the general state of the industry. Here’s what you need to know as a producer
1. Asia’s importance as a territory is growing.
This should come as a surprise to precisely no one; at least no one who has been paying attention to industry trends. However by the numbers, buyers from Asia represented 30.7% of total buyers, and 28.3% of total buyer companies attending AFM. [...]
Surprising, right? Everything you read is that presales are a dying business, but according to Jonathan Wolf, AFM’s Managing Director, about 60% of the business done at this year’s AFM was in presales. This means more than half a billion USD in presales alone.
According to Mr. Wolf, the market for foreign presales came back by 2010 or 2011. [...]
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