AFM this year will be interesting. Here’s the current state form someone who’s been going for 10 years, and has been a Practicing Producer’s rep for 6 years. Two quick things before we get started. First, You should definitely go to AFM at least once. It’s eye opening, and if I hadn’t done it I probably wouldn’t have a career.
Second: These opinions are mine alone, and have not been approved, endorsed, or otherwise condoned by the International Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) owner of the American Film Market. (AFM is also a Registered Trademark of the IFTA.)
And with that, we’re on to the less optimistic (or legal) parts of the current state of AFM and Film Markets.
Film Markets could be in trouble.
All Film markets might be in trouble. I’ve spoken with many buyers, and they’re pretty much ready to pack up shop. There’s nowhere near as much money in it as there used to be, and it’s difficult to contuse to turn profit in this changing landscape. They’re not going away in the next year or so, but they are likely to recede over time.
AFM Becoming much more filmmaker focused in marketing, which means less involvement from Buyers and Sales agents.
AFM Themselves have been shifting focus to their filmmaker services and somewhat away from their buyer and exhibitor services.
That's not necessarily a bad thing in general. It's what I tend to do with content like this, but I go for a very different customer set than AFM has historically.
Buyer numbers have been on the decline for a few years, and if they continue to decline it will be difficult to attract the higher priced exhibitors, and the culture of AFM and all markets is likely to change. The Image below should help illustrate my point.
The current system prone to collapse in a down economy
2008 was Terrible for AFM. I’ve been expecting a recession to happen at any point since around this time last year. While the time that I was expecting it to happen seems to have passed, I’m still convinced of an impending recession, but willing to admit I might have missed the timing and the immediacy.
In any case, when the recession happened in 2008, the market dried up and it still hasn’t fully recovered. If we were to see another recession, it might spell the nail in the coffin for AFM and potentially the entire market scene. What would replace it has yet to be seen, as after Distribber’s recent collapse it will be very interesting to see how filmmakers can get their films out there.
Buyers have been on the decline for a few years.
I mentioned this above, but total buyer attendance have been on the decline for the past 2 years. It’s difficult to tell whether the size and number of deals has been increased, but given that the number of tickets sold on the top 100 box office films have remained largely stationary despite the box office revenue going up as well as a few other metrics and general sentiment of my contacts on the sales agency side I’d be inclined to doubt it.
Agian, if buyers dry up, sales agents won’t keep coming. When I’ve talked to sales agents about this over drinks, there’s a feeling of extreme pessimism bordering on depression about the current state.
AVOD and SVOD buyers likely to be the biggest players this year.
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.