I had the pleasure of attending this year’s AFM (The American Film Market). This was my first time actually walking the entire market. I met a ton of people, made great connections and really got the inside look at how films are sold internationally.
In this episode, I discuss the major takes away from AFM, what an indie distribution pipeline looks like, and why EVERY filmmaker in the world that ever wants to sell an indie film needs to attend. Enjoy!
Alex Ferrari 1:19
So today my indie film hustlers we are going to talk about AFM, the American Film Market, I had the pleasure of getting an all access pass to AFM and I walked this hallways I spoke to people had meetings, and I'm returning back with the booty, if you will, all the information that I found, and all the experience of what AFM is and how it can affect you guys as filmmakers, and what, what takeaways I got from it, and hopefully it will help you as well. And I want to thank all the tribe members who came up to me while I was walking around the halls and said hi and told me their stories. And it was just an absolute pleasure to meet more of the tribe and and find out what I could do more to help you guys along your journey. So big thank you and shout out to all of the tribe members I spoke to at AFM. Now what's the one main takeaway I got from AFM? You know, I've been to AFM before, but I never had a pass I was one of those guys, I was just hanging around the lobby hoping to, you know, either take some meetings, which I did but never really got into the meat of what AFM had to offer. And by finally getting a pass to go up into the rafters Allah Bruce Lee and Game of Death, I was able to go up level by level and really see how the machine works. Walking those halls and seeing company by company after company distributor after distributor film after film. I took one thing and I noticed just one big thing that at AFM. They do not care about your craft. They do not care about your personal film. They don't care about the art. They don't care about any of that. They care about a product. Can they sell this product? Your film is a product at AFM. There's no art, there's no celebration of the art, or how good the movie is. It's about what what genre is it? Who is in it. And those and what actors are they? And then can those actors sell territories? And what can I sell this movie for? That is all they care about. And it was in full effect because some of the movies take that to the nth degree when you have Steven Seagal versus Mike Tyson. Yes, that is a movie coming out. That movie is going to do gangbusters. You know that movie alone will probably make about 15 $20 million worldwide if not more purely because of the power and the concept of Mike Tyson versus Steven Seagal. It's insane. But that's what this business. That's what the business is at AFM. Sure, you'll see some indie movies like this is mag was there and we were selling through our distributor internationally there. And there are people looking for that kind of product, you know, romantic comedies or small Indies. There are there is a marketplace for that. But it is not what most of the distributors and most of the buyers are looking for. They're looking for genre. They're looking for action, some horror, but not a lot. I didn't see a lot of horror out there. This time. It was more family Action, Thriller, animation, though and documentary. Those are the ones that I saw everywhere. Those are the big things. big the big genres that were selling and selling well. Action, of course, is always going to sell well because it travels well. Not a lot of dialogue. Action is action no matter what country you're in. And that's why whores historically do so well. But there's just such a gluttony of horror films out there right now that the price has gone way, way down. If you can even get a distributed even buy it, or even try to sell it, there's just too many lets you have big stars and things like that on it. But it reaffirmed a lot being at AFM reaffirmed a lot of the things I already knew. But But seeing it in action is is so impressive. The one thing I'm going to say that everybody listening to this podcast do, if you are a filmmaker, and you hope to sell a movie one day, or make a movie and sell that movie one day, you need to go to AFM, you need to at least get a day pass and walk around, talk to people make some appointments with distributors and see how independent movies are sold. This is the real, you know in the trenches kind of buying and selling this is what makes the industry go round, not the Sundance deals you hear about not the lottery tickets of you know someone coming in and being a half a million million $2 million for movie, those are great. They're wonderful for press. But that is not the day in day out business of entertainment of of this of the film industry. It's this kind of marketplace. selling and buying films is where you need to be to see how it's really done. So many filmmakers will make their movie and have no idea of where they're going to sell it, how they're going to sell it, and even even how to even do it in the first place. It's mind boggling, but I'll be talking about that. And another episode coming up soon. Now I know a lot of you know that I've self distributed This is Meg through distribuir, where I got it on all the TV platform transactional plant via transactional video on demand platforms, as well as in Hulu and getting a distributed there. But I also have an international distributor, someone who's going to handle my international sales. That's something that self distribution is not as good at right now. Because they don't have the reach yet. Yes, sure, you could put it on iTunes or all around the world. Yes, you could put on an Amazon around the world. But that's not the same as selling it to different territories. That's where you're going to be making a bulk of your money selling it to those different territories. And the only place you're going to have access to this kind of stuff is at AFM. So just let me break it down really simply for everybody in the audience who doesn't have a basic understanding of how distribution and distributors work. If I have an independent film, I made this as mag for example. And I'm not just self distributing, and I'm just going to go to a distributor, you you sign a deal with the distributor, chances are you're probably not going to get any money up front. Those deals are rare nowadays. But it happens. But more than likely, you're not going to get any money up front. Unless you have big stars or something like that attached, or a lot of heat on your project. You go to a distributor and the distributor goes, Okay, we're going to take it on and want to put it in our category in our catalog. Usually, generally, you're going to do a five to seven year agreement means that they own the distribution rights for those year for that for those years, and you're going to get a certain percentage back generally 25% is you know what a distributors take is now there's going to be multiple different costs involved. Every time a distributor goes to a major market like AFM or Cannes or Berlin, they're going to charge the filmmaker per film. So in that's, that's from this case by case basis, depending on what distributor you go with, but there's going to be a cost involved with that. So make sure you cap make sure that distributor that distribution Do you have a cap on PNA advertising costs, you have to just cap the cost because if you sign a deal with no caps on cost, you will never see a dime. So let's say they get there. Once you get that the distributor gets their movie, they go to AFM. Let's say they go to AFM, they open up a booth there, which is basically a hotel room. And then once you're once they're in there, they're going to have to sell or they're going to make meetings with buyers, all throughout the AFM. And these buyers are going to come in make deals and like hey, I'm looking for comedies, I'm looking for romantic comedies, I'm looking for actions. And then the distributor will look in their catalogue of their movies that are up for sale right now in the current brand new stuff and they'll pitch it to them. They'll pitch it to them just like you know face to face. Like here's the trailer. Here's the movie. Sometimes deals are made on the spot rarely but on the spot sometimes. Generally what happens is everyone exchanges cards, everyone exchanges information. And then a few weeks later, they they follow up and then deals are made. So this is mega sold in China and Africa, South Africa. And we have other pending deals currently and a lot of those deals were waiting now I'll see what happens at AFM because AFM is more of a US kind of based market where a film like this is made will probably do better because there's a lot more us buyers hands because it's here in the US. And when we were a can, it's a lot more European buyers. So us movies do well but you know it's not as good as you could do here at AFM and then there's lots more that goes on after Your words, but that's the general idea of what happens to the lifecycle of a film once it gets into the distributors hands and the process at AFM and what they're doing. Another thing I learned and I wanted to pass on to you guys is you really should go to AFM to find out what your movie is worth. Because you might think it's worth something, that one number and the marketplace will tell you no, it's not worth that it's worth this. If anything, if you have a movie, a movie idea, a script, a package of some sort prior to shooting, and if you can make a go to AFM, take some meetings, talk to distributors and see, hey, you know, I'm thinking about doing this movie, and then packaging it this way. Is this really is this actually worth anything in the marketplace. Perfect example is I did a movie once with Eric Roberts in it. And the Director Producer, hired Eric Roberts, specifically not only for his talent, but because of his name and what he thought his name would bring in the international sales. Well, what he found out the Rude Awakening was that Eric Roberts that year had did like 20 movies, he had just non stop. So he diluted his value, and it was worthless to him. At this point, he literally had distributors saying I can't take your movie, as nice as it might be, because I have three other Eric Roberts movies, so I can't sell another one. And this happened again and again and again until he finally found someone, but it was much less than he thought he would get for the movie without question. So be aware of that. And these are the kinds of things you find out at AFM. You go there, you talk to people, you make connections, and you make connections to distributors, where when your movie is done, you have a list of distributors that you've already had a contact with a one way shape, or form. And then you can stay in contact while you're doing production stuff. Because get I trust me, distributors are looking for content. distributors are looking for films to distribute without them. They don't have a business. So they're very interested and very, you know, I mentioned it in passing to a few distributors about some of the stuff I'm doing in the future. And they were all very well what are you casting? Who's going to be in it? How are you doing this? They're very interested in what you're doing. So that is one another reason why heading over to AFM might be well worth your time. Another big thing at AFM that I think is super valuable for filmmakers is the conferences and the pitch fest. The pitch fest is legendary at this point where you actually see people pitching in front of a live studio audience where you can actually take notes at how they're pitching and take notes at their critiques and learn how to actually pitch a movie. There's also other conferences and panels where you listen to distribution experts, industry experts screenwriters, everybody is there trying to help you the next generation coming up? So the conferences alone is well worth the price of admission. And the last thing I think you should take away from AFM is contacts. You have no idea how many contacts I made, just in the two days that I happen to go. And I didn't have any meetings lined up really. I just kind of showed up and found a few people that I knew and one thing led to another night found this person in the hall and, and all of a sudden my day was gone. And I was getting cards and meeting people. It's amazing. I know a couple of indie film hustle tribe members that came out from New York, just to make contact Sal and Joe from heckler cane creations, came out specifically for contacts. And I met up with them right before they got on the plane back to New York on the red eye. And they showed me a stack of cards that they had gotten and all the contacts they made just by walking around and meeting people left and right. It is invaluable. I can't express express to you how many contacts you can make there. Another tip By the way, another slight Insider's tip. AFM is over at the at the Loews hotel on Santa Monica. And it is packed it is. It's just crazy packed all the time. A lot of the big players that really are doing business business where you don't need a pass as you go over to Casa Del Mar, which is down the street. So many. So many different players and guys in the business are taking meetings there. The bar there is a lot more open, you can make a lot of contacts there as well. It was a great surprise when I went in there and saw just I mean it was wall to wall meetings and people just sitting down talking and just you could see everyone jumping from meeting to meeting all in the main lobby. It was really, really entertaining but the vibe there is much more chilled than the craziness that is AFM so I hope you guys learned a little bit about the inside world of AFM. It is it really is invaluable for you guys to go. I can't wait to go next year and hopefully have some new patients To try to sell at next year's AFM and if you want to get more details about AFM, I highly recommend you listen to my interview with Jonathan wolf, the managing director of AFM, which is Episode 192 at the indie film hustle.com. forward slash 192 is the Definitive Guide to selling your movie at AFM, and another insider episode I did, which was with Ben Yeti, Episode 15. So that's indie film hustle.com forward slash 015. And Ben wrote, literally wrote the book on how to sell your independent film at the American Film market. So I'll leave those both in the show notes. And of course, the Show Notes for this episode are at indie film hustle.com for slash 198. Now on a side note, guys, I've got some huge news coming up in December, I can't wait to share it with you guys. All I got to tell you is 2018 is going to be sick, I have got so much planned for 2018. Specifically January, what we're doing at Sundance this year, I am going to be speaking again is the first time I've not met announced this that I will be speaking again at slam dance, talking about my love for black magic and black magic cameras, and the resolve. And I'm going to be talking a two hour discussion about how I did my post on the Hulu show dimension 404. As well as the show I shot for Legendary Pictures using the Ursa mini called the space program, we're gonna go through all of that. And also talk a little bit of this is Meg. And so we're to be talking lighting, editing, the whole ball of wax is going to be a lot of fun, we're going to be there, January 20. I don't know what the times are. But as the dates get as we get closer to it, I'll give you the exact dates and time. But I will be at Sundance and I really want to organize some sort of meetup for indie film hustle tribe members at Sundance. So if you guys are going to Sundance this year, please reach out I love to meet you we're going to get we get if there's enough of us, we could kind of set up a little thing where we could all sit down and talk for a while. If you're going to Sundance, please reach out to me at [email protected]. Let me know that you're going and we're going to kind of set up some sort of meetup while we're there. So let's see. See how many tribe members are going to be going to Sundance this year, but regardless, it's going to be an insane 2018 for everybody, especially for the tribe. And episode um, two away from Episode Number 200. And I have I have some plans for Episode 200. So definitely check it out. I might be putting it out this week. I might put it out next week don't know. But we got at least one more episode this week. Possibly two, cuz I'm getting a little nutty. Last week. I had four episodes in the history of it of the podcast. I've never put out four episodes in one week. But I love you guys. I love doing this. I got so much stuff I want to give you guys so much information. I want to give you guys to help you on your journey is it's insane. I'm just I'm a maniac Please someone stopped me. Alright guys, so as always keep that also going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.
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- Attending AFM
- How to Work with AFM
- ASK ALEX Show – Submit Your Questions – Email: ifhsubmissions (at) Gmail (dot) com
- The Guerilla Rep: AFM Distribution Success on No Budget
- Marché du Film (associated with Cannes International Film Festival)
- European Film Market (EFM, associated with the Berlin International Film Festival)
- Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FILMART)
- Hot Docs (For Documentaries)
- Independent Film Week / Project Forum (formerly known as IFP Market)
- TIFFCOM (Content Market at the Tokyo International Film Festival)
- Producer’s Foundry Film Marketing Workshops