The Market

AFM LogoI have just returned for AFM, the American Film Market. It was quite an experience! It was located in Santa Monica, California.

AFM is where movie buyers and sellers get together to do business. The Santa Monica Leow’s hotel is converted to a big business exchange. All of the rooms are converted to viewing offices where distribution companies setup shop. As you walk through the hotel hallways, each room now has movie posters, television sets playing the movies and office chairs to invite you in.

Here’s what I learned about the Movie Market:

• There’s a lot of new movies out there. 590 films were screened, a record number for AFM.
• The majority of those films were horror genre.
• Name talent is key for securing profitable distribution.
• The production value for most of the films was remarkably good.
• AFM is focused more on foreign distribution, not domestic.
• Story is king.

I spent most of my time at AFM bouncing around from screening to screening. I wanted to see what kinds of movies were being sold into the foreign markets. Amazingly, horror was very popular, and here’s why:

• Fear communicates across most cultural differences. Romance, for example, does not.
• You don’t need name talent for horror movies. Everyone dies off anyway.
• Horror budgets are considerably cheaper.

Because horror is popular for foreign distribution, most countries outside of the US perceive that it what most Americans watch on television and at the movies. And sadly, that’s becoming more and more true. For example Saw III and Hostel (both graphic torture movies) were box office hits.

I walked away from AFM with the following:

• I have a renewed sense of purpose for our project. I want to make films that make a difference, not just to entertain.
• Horror is a flooded market. Everyone is doing it, but good storytelling is ripe for the pickin’. Our movie will be ripe for the pickin’.
• Production value is very important
• Distribution will be very interesting

Besides AFM, I spent many days in meetings and discussions with those in the industry. I met with:

• A producer
• A diretor of photography
• A director
• A composer and sound guy
• A casting agent

All in all, it was a great trip and very productive. Thanks to Rand and his family for putting me up and feeding me well, and for letting me use their car to trek around the LA area. Thanks!

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 9th, 2006 at 11:34 am and is filed under general.
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