American Film Market (AFM) November 4-11, 2009

The AFM in Santa Monica, CA is an inaugural fixture in film business calendar. This year, it will screen 445 films and 73 world premieres. In terms of the state of play, well… things aren’t getting worse. There is movement at the station and a few glimmers of hope. The US is officially out of recession so the time for the slow, painful upturn has begun. Although we writers function at the other end of the filmmaking spectrum, try and attend at least one film market to get an insider’s view of industry trends. After all, a successful writer is an informed one.

Variety Magazine has reported the following positive trends so far:

  • More buyers – including substantially more producers and non theatrical buyers. This suggests further fragmentation of the exhibition market, but like all good businesses, we must evolve and innovate.
  • Higher prices – after price depression over the last few years, it’s nice to see filmmakers not being offered as many low end “take it or leave it” deals.
  • More foreign films – the number of English language films sold has dropped from around three quarters to two thirds. It’s refreshing to see diversity enter the marketplace. Since we are all storytellers from around the globe and beyond, we know that people have similar needs everywhere. Therefore we can confidently enter the market with the motto “local flavour, global favour”.

The number of buyers has stabilized, while the number of exhibitors has fallen. So don’t drink all the champagne yet. It’ll probably need to last until next year. At least we have cause to pop the cork.


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