DAY EIGHT November 10, 2005
Around the World in 80 Minutes, or: A Trip to the American Film Market
by Chris Davison
The American Film Market is the world's largest motion picture trade event, a global marketplace where more than $500 million in production and distribution deals are closed annually. Beginning in 2004, the AFM moved to November and established a strategic alliance with AFI FEST, creating the only Festival/market combination in North America.
As a representative of AFI FEST 2005 presented by Audi, I recently had a chance to travel around the AFM, meeting a diverse array of folks in order to get a feel for the event, to let AFI FEST attendees know about the AFM and vice versa.
I began my world travels with a stop by the Canadian Producers Group sales office. Office director Danielle Belanger relayed that Telefilm Canada has 45 producers from across Canada in attendance, as well as nine sales companies, four of which have participated in past markets.
After Canada, I heard from Germany, specifically from Thorsten Schaumann of Bavaria Film International. Thorsten and his group are presenting four official entries for an Academy Award nomination, and he reports that their meeting schedule is heavily booked so it looks like they will be able to close some good deals.
Having gone north to Canada and east to Germany, I headed west to Hong Kong and spoke with Teresa Hung of Filmart. Filmart is a market similar to AFM and is the biggest regional market in Asia. Run by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Filmart offers opportunities for sales and distribution across Asia and around the world.
Having traveled the world in a short span of time, I decided to come back to LA. Somehow, though, I ended up in "the other LA"--none other than the great state of Louisiana. I spoke with several folks from the Capital Area of Louisiana and learned that if you are looking for very favorable tax incentives to shoot a film, then Louisiana is the place to be. I also heard that Louisiana isn't "coming back," because, in fact, it never left. Although the recent hurricanes definitely had an impact, the state continues to offer diverse shooting locations, excellent community support and a wealth of talented artists.
Having spent all of my time at the Loews Hotel, I walked next door to Le Merigot and strolled into the office of Blue Star Movies, where rep Gregg Millard told me that business has been very good this year. Millard thinks that the AFI/AFM alliance has huge potential, that one day the festival/market structure could reach the level of Cannes. He suggests that one step along that path would be to create a Cannes-style promenade for AFM attendees, a glamorous after-hours concentration of things to do and see for those staying in the Santa Monica area.
I ended my journeys by sailing into cyberspace where I encountered the innovative souls of stimTV, a brand new broadband service that currently has an indie music channel and will be premiering a cinema channel in the first quarter of 2006. The folks of stimTV are really enjoying this year's AFM, saying that they've found everyone to be very open and welcoming.
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