Just one month away from the 38th American Film Market, to be held at the Loews Beach Hotel in Santa Monica from November 1-8, the exhibition spaces are fully booked. LocationEXPO will be returning to the market after many years with more than fifty film commissions already registered from all over the world: an excellent result according to the market’s Managing Director Jonathan Wolf, considering the very close launch times (the announcement was made last March) and the concomitance of the tenth anniversary of Filming Europe, the association of European Film Commissions which scheduled a major event in Brussels at the same time as the AFM.
“We have had multiple conversations with the European Film Commissions which will not be able to participate, they’re already planning for next year and we have provided some information for their budgeting,” said Wolf. “So we expect to see a big change in 2018, with many of them coming in this direction. And since the space for film commissions is already sold out, we are planning to extend the exhibition space for next year.”
Europe is, in any case, present with Film in Iceland, Film in Georgia, the Malta Film Commission, Shooting in Spain, the Valencia Film Office and with the Romanian Film Centre (Double 4 Studios that will hold a conversation about all aspects of shooting and/or co-producing in Romania together with the Romanian Filmmakers Association – UCIN).
The trend is up also for other AFM figures: over 7000 attendees are expected, more than 300 distributors, and the market will host in excess of 500 screenings. And there is important news concerning the screenings: the AFM will be organizing Screenings on Demand for the first time, online screenings available for every company that has a space at the AFM, starting October 23rd, one week ahead of the market.
“There are different reasons why we did this”, explains Wolf.
“First of all, the budgets for films are getting bigger, but they are also getting smaller. Many successful films are made now with lower and lower budgets and the cost of two hours’ screening at one market sometimes doesn’t make sense for them, there are 28 screenings at the same time, the buyers might have other priorities… So the on demand screenings are firstly targeted at modest budgeted films that want to be sure that buyers see their film sooner or later.
Then there are people who want to screen in the cinema and they will get an audience, but they won’t get everybody they want so they might be interested in creating catch-up screenings for buyers who missed the film.
On the other hand since these screenings will open one week before the AFM, some films might be viewed before the market starts so the buyers could be able to make an offer as soon as they come in.
And finally, there is a number of companies who have recent titles, let’s say from 6 up to 2 years old, which maybe they have sold to 80% of the world and it doesn’t make sense to have a screening only for the countries that they have not sold to”.
The AFM On Demand screenings will stay open from October 23rd to March 31st, through the Berlinale and after the end of the Hong Kong FILMART:
“This is really an opportunity for sales companies to have their film up for quite a while. We will see different companies using the platform in different ways”, continues Wolf, concluding “another unique aspect of the screenings on demand is that the sellers can choose which group they would like their film to be seen by. They can also add buyers who are not at the AFM since we have a very researched list of buyers around the world and we know that every buyer doesn’t attend every market every year. In some countries economies are small so you have to choose which market to go to: now you have an opportunity to watch the films without travelling. I expect at least 50 films on the platform this year, but it will grow and as long as the users are satisfied this is not about numbers, it’s about making sure that a company that wants to sell a film has all the best options to do it.”