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AFM 2017: Day 1 Recap and Introduction

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Setting: Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
Time: 8:15am
Mood: High energy and frantic
Smell: Cash, lots and lots of it

Truth be told, I first came to the Loews Hotel yesterday to pick up my press badge and help the Epic Pictures Group (Booth #747) people help set up stuff in their rooms. Turns out I’m really good at hanging up curtain rods, y’all! However, since everyone was in “setup” mode, there wasn’t much of a reason to go meandering around to meet up with anyone. After all, why would they want to chat when they don’t feel like they’re putting on their A game? That’d piss them off and leave them feeling flustered and we can’t have that, now can we? So let’s consider Halloween as American Film Market Day -1 and today, November 1st, AFM Day 1, alright?

After coming into the hotel and setting up shop at Epic’s booth (this is my home base and will be for the rest of the fest), it’s time to make my way around the hotel, where it feels like literally every single room has been converted for AFM purposes. That means that all beds have been taken out (the headboards are still up against the wall) and each room has been converted to allow for standing displays, easels, tables for meetings, additional chairs, and so on and so forth. I can’t imagine what kind of logistical nightmare the staff had to go through to make this happen, but bless ’em for all their hard work.

Now, some of you might be wondering what the purpose of AFM is, and that’s a totally legitimate question. Simply put, it’s a place where ungodly amounts of deals are made in the entertainment industry. In fact, the average amount of money spent on deals at this Market is around $1 billion dollars. Yes, that’s a “b” and not an “m.” People bring films from around the world, and as a result, buyers come from the far reaches of the globe to get their hands on titles that they think are good for their markets.

So who comes to AFM? The answer to that question can be broken down into three specific groups (with a great amount of generalization, admittedly):

Buyers: These are the people who are looking for films to add to their library. They buy films for specific markets, which are regions across the globe. If you want to know how specific this gets, it can be as focused as free TV rights in Germany or subscription VOD rights in Bulgaria. They’re here to spend money.

Sellers: These are the people who have films and want to sell them to buyers in regions and markets across the globe. They’re here to make money.

Creators: These are the directors, producers, etc. They’re in a rather interesting place because they are looking for both buyers AND sellers. They are often seeking sales agents who will take care of the negotiating and selling of their property to buyers, who want the films for certain markets.

There’s a fourth group of people, and that’s press, who are people like me. Ergo, no one important.

What happens throughout the day is buyers go to the rooms of sellers during predetermined meetings to do some research, check out trailers/promos/sizzle reels/behind-the-scenes videos of available titles, do some negotiating, and see if a deal can be made. If yes, great! If not, on to the next room. As for the creators, they’re around… somewhere.

As for myself, I’m out making the rounds going to various rooms to chat with the distributors to establish relationships and do some networking so that I can get information about films that I think will interest you, the readers. I also get to watch the same trailers/promos/sizzle reels/behind-the-scenes videos that I previously mentioned so that I can keep certain films in mind for when the press circus begins and we get to publicly talk about movies that I think deserve serious recognition.

One example is when I stopped by Bank Side Films’ display and watched their trailers for Possum and The Hole in the Ground. The former is an arthouse film that stars Sean Harris (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) and is about a man who returns home and stays with his cruel stepfather, all while dealing with a bothersome (and frankly terrifying looking) puppet. The latter is best described as an Irish The Babadook. That alone should be enough to get some of your ears twitching, so I’ll simply leave it at that.

Other rooms that I stopped by include Full Moon Empire (seeing all those Puppet Master 1:1 scale figures is just awesome, I assure you), Raven Banner, High Octane Pictures, Octane Entertainment, The Asylum, and a lot more. I hit my FitBit step goal by midday, so I’m not terribly concerned about those In-N-Out burgers that I had for lunch.

Each room that has relevant titles is quite fascinating as you can see the range of genre fare being offered. From B-horror schlock to serious, intense scares, the Market offers options for every kind of moviegoer imaginable.

Since AFM goes through November 8th, you’ll definitely be seeing additional information come out, including photos, exclusives, and more. For now, it’s past midnight LA time (which is past 3am ET in my home state of Michigan), so I’m going to leave you with these photos from the hallways and the official poster.

If there is anything you want me to check out or grab photos of, hit me up on Twitter and let me know!

More to come soon, I promise!

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