Should You Attend The American Film Market?

Oct 15, 2022

Read time: 3 mins | YT Video

In today's issue, I'm going to break down whether it's worth attending the American Film Market.

Each year there are many film markets on the circuit. And it's tempting to want to attend some, or all, particularly when you're starting out. This issue will help you understand the inner workings of a film market. That way you can decide whether it's worth your time and money.

Now, let's dive in.

Who are you trying to meet?

If you are looking for private investors, don't attend a film market.

This is because film markets exist for two core reasons:

  1. Sales agents to sell films to buyers (distributors); and

  2. Producers to sell films to sales agents.

Attaching one or both of these will likely result in 10-20% of your total finance. They are your minority partners.

If you understand this it becomes clear why you would attend a film market. Which leads me to...

Be clear on your goal

Your goal is to pitch and close a sales agent or distributor.

Networking is not a goal. If you want to network, you can do it much easier (and cheaper) online. Your job at a market is to pitch your film and leave with a deal in place for the distribution rights to your film.

When to go

Film markets are a great way to gain traction on your film.

There are certain scenarios when it makes sense to attend a film market:

  1. You have a project to pitch to sales agents and distributors; and

  2. All your assets (script, pitch deck, finance plan) are ready; OR

  3. You have a finished film.

If your film is in the financing stage, the more finance you have in place the better. This is because your project will appear more 'real' than others.

Sales agents are looking for new films to enter their slate in the next 12 months. If you have the finance ready and you need their money to close, your project will move up the priority list.

When to avoid

No one likes wasting money.

These are the scenarios when it doesn't make sense to attend:

  1. You’re looking for private equity.

  2. You’re still in development.

  3. You can’t book enough meetings to make it worthwhile.

I recall attending one AFM with only a handful of meetings. I spent most of the time on my laptop in the foyer. It was embarrassing. There are much better ways to spend your time than in the foyer of a film market, trust me!

Best practices

So you've decided to go...

Here are some of my tips and tricks:

  1. Organise your meetings for the second half of a market. This is because sales agents focus on selling existing product in the first half. By the halfway mark, they're ready to meet producers.

  2. Try to get introductions through a mutual friend/colleague. This will help you book more meetings and increase the show-up rate.

  3. Use the platform Cinando to see which companies are attending the market.

  4. Try to book flights and accomodation that you can refund. If you can’t book enough meetings ahead of time, reconsider.

  5. Take notes and follow up. The market is often the entree, the real work takes place after the market to close your deals.

Remember...have fun!

OK, that's it for today. 

I hope you enjoyed it.

See you again next week.

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