I’ve been going to the American Film Market® for 9 years now, and I’ve been chronicling what’s going on with the market in many ways from podcasts to blogs and even a book or two. So given that AFM® 2018 wrapped up yesterday, I thought I would do something of a post mortem. While I’ll outline my feelings on the whole thing in this blog, the long and short of it is that the state of the American Film Market is mixed
But before I dive into it too deeply, I’d like to say this. My vantage point on this is purely my own, and subject the flaws that one would expect from experiences of someone only attending the market for a few days this year. I went on an industry badge because I simply needed to take a few meetings to check in on things I’ve already placed with Sales Agents, as well as shop a couple of my newer projects to the people I prefer to do business with.
I considered exhibiting this year, but decided against it after hearing how slow Cannes was in May, as well as the massive drop in buyers AFM Experienced last year. We’ll see how that changes next year. One last note, I wrote this blog in traffic in LA, while my wife drove. I normally don't publish first drafts, but it's time sensitive, so apologies for any typs.
So without Further Adieu, let’s get into the post-game.
1. Buyer numbers appear to be up, and they’re buying
Word in the corridors last year was that AFM went from around 1800 buyers in 2017 to around 1200 buyers in 2017. After talking to a few sales agents who shall remain nameless, it appears that the total buyer count at this year’s AFM is somewhere in the vicinity of 1325. While walking the corridors I definitely say a lot more green badges than last year.
Not only were there more buyers there. It appears that they’re actually buying films. I heard several sales agents remarking that they had closed multiple sales at the market, and the buyers were sticking around much longer than they have in years previous. Overall, this is good for the market, especially given that for many years almost all of the business was done in follow-up not actually during the market, especially for smaller budget films.
2. Exhibitor numbers appeared to be down
In previous years, both the second and third floors of AFM were packed with smaller sales agencies, This year, only the third floor was booked and even then it seemed as though fewer offices were booked. Also, it appeared that many of the offices on the 8th floor seemed to be vacant.
After talking with a few exhibitors, it appears likely that this trend is going to continue next year. Several I talked to were unsure of whether or not they would continue to exhibit at AFM. Although we’ll see if new names come up to take their places.
3. The Entirety of the Loews required a badge to access
Word on the street is that many of the regular exhibitors on the 5th floor were not too happy with it, especially for the first few days. Although I’ll keep my sources on that anonymous. One notably missing 5th floor exhibitor was Cinando. It’s possible they moved, but the spot that they normally occupied was vacant. This could be due in part to the growing prominence of MyAFM.
In some ways it was nice, though. It was never too hard to find a seat, and once you got into the building there was no additional security checks. Not sure if that makes up for the drawbacks though. I know I would be hesitant to get a booth for ProductionNext somewhere that would require badge access.
4. The Location Expo on the 5th floor was fantastically useful, but under attended
AFM opened one of the Loews Hotel Ballrooms for use by film commissions and specialty service providers starting on Saturday. It was really useful to be able to talk to various commissions and compare incentives. However, there very few times I saw more than a handful of people there, and I dropped by at least 8 or 9 times because of various sorts of business I had to do with some of the vendors in the rooms. (More soon)
Overall I hope to see it again, but I can’t help but think it would be more useful to all involved if it were in an area that did not require a badge to check out.
5. Early Stage Money exists there (For the Right Projects
I was surprised to see how much traction my team got for an early stage project, despite the fact it has a first time feature director. Admittedly, we came in with a good amount of money already in place, and it’s a good genre for this sort of thing but the fact that there might be a decent amount to come out and report in blogs early next year.
Thanks so much for reading! If you haven’t already, check out the first book on film markets, written by yours truly. Also, join my mailing list for free film market resources so you’re ready for future film markets.
AFM and the American Film Market are registered trademarks of the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) This article has not in any way beed endorsed by the IFTA, AFM, or any of its affiliates.
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My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of PRoducer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.
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