AFM – Santa Monica
With the American Film Market wrapping things up this week, the word from most special guest speakers at just about every roundtable and conference seemed to be in support of the very exciting new ‘Golden Era’ in the film and new media business – Low budget films and projects are very much alive and thriving!
During a standing room only Film Finance conference and reacting to a comment made speculating that smaller films are not doing well, Senior VP Ben Stillman of Black Bear Pictures squashed out the rumor and set things straight. “That’s ridiculous. Look at what Jason Blum (@BlumProductions) and his team is doing, they are paving the way in that space.”
With speakers recognizing the radically shifting landscape within the world of Indie Film financing, guest moderator RB BOTTO, CEO of Stage 32, strategically pinned down his panelists during one of the biggest attendances – The Film Finance conference II – with a solid line of questioning that ignited confidence in the crowd.
“Films under $2M are not going to see theatrical. Audiences today are watching smaller films on streaming platforms”, said CEO and Co-Founder Russell Levine of Route One Entertainment. “It’s actually the studios who are failing the independent film industry, not Netflix.”
With studios laser focused on their bread and butter tent pole productions, the growing band of films financed in these lower budget ranges (Under $10M) now seem to be emerging again in this new golden era of filmmaking with explosive opportunities existing and succeeding in the digital space.
This years AFM attendance exceeded 2016 on multiple fronts.
Overall, 7,415 participants visited the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica, increasing total attendance 6% from last year. The film market drew 1,476 buyers from 71 countries with China and Taiwan each seeing growth of 35% more buyers.
Exhibitor participation was up 18% with 445 registered exhibiting companies, with the largest number of exhibitors arriving from the United Kingdom, France, South Korea, and China, after the USA.
Launching it’s first year at the AFM, the LocationEXPO’s featured 61 film commissions and agencies from around the world including Panama, Mexico, Chile, Spain, Norway, New Zealand, Thailand and Russia. Combined, the organizations presented more than US$1 billion in production incentives.
The AFM Conferences brought in global attendees exceeding 700 audience members each day while taking in industry knowledge and insights from some of the industry leading luminaries in film fiance, distribution, union guilds and leading production companies in the IndieFilm space.
Women In Film lead many of the conversations and topics at The AFM Roundtables that featured Founder Geena Davis who recently partnered with Goolge in developing the first ever technology to level the playing field in the realm of gender equlity in Hollywood. Also moderating The Future is FEmale roundtable, Wendy Calhoun (Writer/Producer) on the popular ‘The Future is Female.” Roundtables focusing on Documentaries, Faith & Family films and LGBTQ representation in cinema included Anna Godas (Dogwoof), Ian Bricke (Netflix) and Clare Crean (The Works International).
The newly introduced Writer’s Workshop also proved to be a highly popular addition to the AFM experience with instructors from USC and UCLA teaching audiences of 400.