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Why go to AFM?

articles tips Oct 19, 2022

We just finished up a class on working the markets and many were unclear IF they should go to AFM and WHY they should go. If you are contemplating the same things and considering going to AFM, we want to share some thoughts to help you get clarity.  

Here are 5 reasons to go to AFM.

1-Sell your completed film. This is the most popular reason why filmmakers go to AFM. The truth is you are not going to "sell" your film but you want to find a Sales Agent that will represent your film and make sales both domestically and internationally on your behalf. In this case, you still own your film and they broker it. Here you can find 100's of distributors specializing in every genre and budget range you can imagine. Do your research so you can focus your time on trying to get meetings with companies who are the best fit for your project. Sometimes you can set-up meetings in advance and other times you just have to go and try to get meetings once you are there.

2- Pitching a film or slate. This can also be done at AFM but it is important you understand the landscape.  Most Sales Agents are there to sell the films they already have on their slate for the first part of the market and then the second half, they look at films that they can pick up to sell at the next market.  In most cases, their focus is not picking up films that have not been made UNLESS the filmmaker has a strong track record or relationship with the company. That does not mean you can't work AFM with sales agents for this reason, but it does mean you should look at Research and Networking ( 4 & 5 below) as potentially better focuses if this is your intent.  In these cases, you would not lead with pitching your films but with collecting information and meeting them for future asks.

3- Finding finishing funds. I do know filmmakers who have found success with this at AFM.  Why? You have already shot the film. Therefore, you can show the quality, cast, etc. and if a sales agent has interest in distributing the film, they may be willing to either finance, or offer you an MG that can cover the final expenses. Be honest with yourself regarding the quality of your film and the bankability of your actors when deciding who to approach.  There are also financiers who roam the halls of AFM or are grabbing a drink so the focus shouldn't just be agents.

4- Research- Starting with the end in mind. If you don't have a film yet, don't try to sell a sales agent on something that is not done (they are focused on final products). Instead, use AFM as a fact-finding mission. Get familiar with the layout so when you have a film, you get how it works, meet the players and build relationships before you are asking for something (they can put a face to your name). You also want to get advice and insight into what actors have value, what is selling and what you can do to best set your film up for success. This is where I have found AFM the most helpful and ultimately a career game changer. I went to AFM the first time without a film or a dime in financing. What was most valuable, was meeting the sales agents I would later send the finished film to, learning what the market is like for my genre and what things I could do before shooting to help set it up for success. The gold I learned at my first AFM was put a dog on the poster to sell a family film. More on my AFM experience HERE.

5- Networking. It is rare you have so many industry professionals and decision makers in one area at the same time. Go to meet other filmmakers, attend the conference sessions to learn more from execs. and grab coffee or a drink where you never know just who may be sitting next to you!  Our industry at the end of the day is built on relationships and networking so be patient and know that this time is sometimes the most valuable time.

~Keep Living Life Out Loud~  With Love, Sara Elizabeth

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