Monday Prescriptions – What don’t you know about AFM?

Hello Film Doctor friends.

With only 2 days left until the American Film Market (AFM) , the Film Doctor team dedicates this new Monday Prescription to preparing for this key film industry event.

We have previously covered the difference between film festivals and film markets – and which one should you go for, depending on your project’s stage and overall personal/professional goal. We have also discussed attending big industry happenings like Cannes Film Festival & Market.


American Film Market

So, you might find this ‘Prescription’ familiar but you’d be surprised how many emerging filmmakers ignore the AFM – it is often ‘overshadowed’ by the Berlin and Cannes festival frenzies, and only those ‘in the know’ save November in their industry diaries.

Here is why:

  • It is for serious industry players – Unlike Cannes, AFM focuses totally on the business side – selling films, securing distribution, etc. It can really sift through the filmmakers serious about taking their projects to realisation – the AFM is not about people watching and drinking at receptions (in fairness the actual market in Cannes isn’t either!) It’s about locking deals.
  • It is a chance to spend time in LA and get extra close to Hollywood – As the only film market in Hollywood, the AFM is also your chance to get in with some LA-based execs / studios / agents, outside of the AFM, that you might not otherwise be able to meet.
  • It is large scale – attending the AFM give access to over 400 companies at once.

So, if you’re set to test the AFM – this week or next year – here are a few points you should consider:

  • Everyone is here to close a deal – So should you. The AFM is not about glitz and glamour – it’s about film business and the business of film. Attendees come with attractive packages for presentation and sales, films ready for distribution.  Of course, no one is to stop you from going to the market with just a story premise or a concept for a film. Just bear in mind that in this case you might be likely to set out for a very expensive networking experience.
  • Don’t leave it until last minute – Booking flights & accommodation, buying market passes or setting-up meetings – with the AFM you cannot afford to leave any of those to the very last minute. Some of the reasons behind this are purely financial – AFM accreditation is more expensive than, e.g., Marche du Cannes, and you won’t find bargain easyJet flights to LA. So don’t shoot yourself in the foot, thinking you can just “drop by” at any point. In addition, if you’re really serious about meeting some of the bigger exhibitors, requesting some time with them in advance is a must – “the big players” will be extremely popular and impossible to get to on the spot, so you really need to plan your AFM itinerary in advance. Furthermore, registering on time, gets you enough head-start on working the MyAFM, online portal/profile to AFM attendees. Much like your popular social media, e.g. Twitter, MyAFM is for building a network of new contacts, interacting with interesting AFM participants and securing meetings ahead of your actual visit to the market. Leaving it until the last minute will rob you of the chance to utilise this platform.
  • First the world, then the locals – Insiders have said it’s best to meet LA-based companies outside the actual AFM dates. Firstly, these producers/buyers/distributors, etc. are already in town, so you don’t risk having them disappear the minute the market closes doors. Secondly, you’d find a myriad of execs and reps from all around the world, who will leave, as soon as the last trading day is over. So save “the Angelenos” for last, aiming to meet other US-based companies first, e.g. New Yorkers,  as well as other foreign parties. If you are looking for co-production partners, AFM is your chance to scout for those, too. Finally, arranging a meeting with British exhibitors could be also worth-while – execs are more likely to meet with you in the context of the AFM, rather than any other day in London. Just make sure you are not only targeting British companies.
  • Evaluate your project – Make sure that your project is actually at the right stage, to be presented at the AFM. Do you have a package in place? Here is a brief checklist of things you should be able to take with you to the market:

Script and visuals – final draft of the screenplay;

– Business plan / business strategy – remember the aforementioned points about it being a trade/business event? You should be able to show that you have thought through a strategy for your film as a business proposal – how much would it cost to make, what are the potential returns on investment, strong marketing points, etc.

– Killer pitch


‘Monday Prescription’ No. 85 – If you go to the AFM, or any other key film industry market/festival/conference for that matter, make sure to be prepared according all the intricacies of the event.

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Any questions/thoughts/experiences of your own??? Leave a comment below!
Have a great week!


The Film Doctor Team
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