Event Preview for AFM 2016


SANTA MONICA: Once again, this year, the American Film Market (AFM) will gather some 8,000 attendees from the independent film industry in Santa Monica from November 2 through 9.

The AFM attracts distributors and buyers as well as producers, writers, directors, film commissioners, festival directors, agents, attorneys and bankers and offers screenings, conferences, roundtable discussions, networking opportunities and parties.

Among the AFM’s Conferences and Roundtables, there will be a two-part conference on China. “Our China approach is a bit different than most,” explains Jonathan Wolf, the managing director of AFM. “We feel there has been too much spent on the concept of co-production, which really ends up being a story about how West can get money out of East, and people in the audience are just trying to figure out how to adapt their film to get money out of China, which never tends to work. So our conferences are very different. They are focused on how to do business and operate in Mainland China. Most of our speakers, if not all, will be from mainland China and it is really about East informing West.” One session will be all about producing and will include topics such as customs and labor and moving around the country; the other will focus on marketing and distribution and how marketing is different in China. “These are sessions for people who believe that China may be part of their professional future,” adds Wolf.

There will also be a two-part Finance Conference as well as sessions on production and distribution. Among the Roundtables, there will be one entitled “Making an Impact: How Telling LGBT Stories Can Pay Off” and another that focuses on SVOD and TVOD in Asia.

“The goal of all of our sessions, whether they are Roundtables or Conferences, is that the audience walks away with actionable information that they can use in the short and intermediate term,” explains Wolf, “with one exception, the opening session of our Finance Conference, which is very macro and big picture. Everything else is about tangible information that can be used today.”

This year, the AFM will continue with the cocktail sessions on the Santa Monica pier that began last year, which offer a networking and social venue for market participants.

And speaking of participants, Wolf is once again expecting a truly international crowd. “Buyers are about 85 percent non-U.S.,” he says. “Sellers are about 55 percent non-U.S. and about 60 percent of our general attendees are from outside the U.S.”

As Wolf explains, what makes the AFM such a must-attend event is that it not only gathers the most important independent film distributors and buyers, it also offers all members of the industry a one-stop venue to reach decision-makers. “For them, the relevance and the value of the show is being able to walk into hundreds and hundreds of offices that could take them a year traveling around the world to reach. Here they walk into an open door, not a shut one.”