Youtuber Jennifer Murphy @AFM: Selling A Dream by Nina Ameri

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Youtuber Jennifer Murphy @AFM: Selling A Dream by Nina Ameri

A single street away from the Santa Monica beach and its iconic pier, for just one week out of the year, exists one of the biggest film markets in the world, The American Film Market (AFM).

This year, AFM was hosted at the Le Meridien Delfina hotel, with screenings and events along the many cinemas, hotels, and restaurants along the coast. As an entertainment, film & TV Reporter I attend AFM to watch for market trends, meet new people, and report on independent filmmakers’ new projects. Between the many meetings scheduled throughout the six day event, I had the pleasure of attending the exhibitor market and many of the speaking events. In our feature photo is Nina and Youtuber Jennifer Murphy:  As someone who spends much of their time in South Orange County, I was eager to report on trends and new films at AFM- so I would schedule my personal meetings at some of the unique ocean-front establishments in Santa Monica. The Terrazza Lounge at the Hotel Casa Del Mar was one of my favorite spots, with delicious food and drinks and a sunny patio overlooking the Pacific. When I wanted a more laid-back atmosphere, I hopped over to Cora’s Coffee Shoppe for some espresso and shade in their cute vine covered patio. There are plenty more places to visit, but those two stood out and earned repeat visits. The exhibitors attending AFM are varied and many, with representatives from foreign film commissions, domestic film commissions, and even entertainment studios like A24 and Lionsgate. The exhibitor market is fantastic for independent filmmakers at every level. Whether you are a producer who is searching for financing, locations to shoot, or a markets to distribute to, there is a reason to be at AFM. Each film commission has detailed information on their tax incentives, the demographics they cater to, and what their market is looking for. For independent filmmakers out there, AFM is well worth the entry fee to meet and discuss your projects at the exhibitor market.

The panels and speaking events at AFM are also top notch. One of my personal favorites was listening to producer Milan Popelka of FilmNation Entertainment. His credits include Arrival, The Outfit, and the Courier. But his talk about the industry’s need to balance creative and business was well worth listening to. As Popelka commented, “In one way or another [the business] will fail if the creative is not the thing propelling it. That is not to say you don’t think about the business… there’s a balancing act. You can’t guarantee success, but you can really increase the odds…”  : Of course, one cannot talk about this year’s AFM without speaking about the combined SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, which brought much of the industry to a halt. Interestingly, this created an opportunity for non-union, independent filmmakers to capitalize on. Without the continued production from studios and major filmmakers, locations, equipment, and non-union workers could be picked up much more easily and allow for many more films to be produced in the window the strikes provide. Whether or not these indie filmmakers will have used this opportunity wisely will be discovered in a year or two when the gaps in release dates will allow indie films to capture more of the market. Perhaps at the 2024 AFM I will be sitting in on a panel discussing this very issue.

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