American Film Market: Head West, To the Super Gala of Filmmakers

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The article was originally posted on Parallax Films with 496 views.
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/x8gNPSWQwzQ4Mvz7IRO_aA
Written by Jiexiao Vivian Ying 2018.11.02
Translate by Jialin Tu, Xu Mu 2019.06.15

When winter comes to the East Coast, it is still warm in the Santa-Monica on the west. The largest film market, American Film Market (AFM), will be held in this city that is an-hour away from Los Angeles.

东海岸的纽约秋寒初至,气温降到个位数,西海岸的圣莫尼卡城市还吹着温柔和煦的海风。这个离洛杉矶市中心一小时车程的城市,将举办全球最大的电影交易市场——美国电影市场展(American Film Market,简称AFM)

AFM announced it as the largest film market in the world, not one of the largest. The confidence comes from its huge attendance number. According to AFM’s official report in 2017, there were 7415 participants from the US, UK, France, Korea, China, etc. The film buyers, international sales, lawyers, directors, distributors, film festival programmers, investors, producers, scriptwriters and media from over 80 countries gathered together, made transactions worth more than hundreds of million dollars in only 8 days, which is definitely a miracle.

AFM称自己是最大的影视市场展,不加之一,竟然毫不心虚。的确,这种底气来自庞大的参展人数。根据2017年AFM的官方报告,参与者共7415人,美国、英国、法国、韩国和中国是参与者的中坚力量。来自80多个国家的电影采购部、国际销售、律师、导演、发行、电影节主席、投资人、制片人、编剧、媒体将齐聚一堂,在短短8日达成数十亿人民币的交易额,绝对是一个快速配对的奇迹。

AFM seems to be a party for wealthy large studios, while the organizer is actually Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), an alliance of film professionals who are out of Universal, Paramount, Colombia, Warner Bros., Disney, and 20th Century Fox. As a non-profit organization, IFTA is committed to providing high-quality market services and promoting independent global film and television production. Its members include more than 140 producers, sales, distributors and investors from 21 countries. Past over 30 years, 22 of the IFTA members’ films have won the Academy Award for Best Picture, including Spotlight, 12 Years a Slave, The Artist, The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire and so on. People mistakenly think that these popular films are made by large studios, which is because many excellent works are produced by independent studios but often picked up and distributed by large studios.

AFM看似阵仗甚大,财大气粗,似大制片厂作风,举办方其实是“独立电影电视联盟(Independent Film & Television Alliance,简称IFTA)”,即环球、派拉蒙、哥伦比亚、华纳兄弟、迪士尼、20世纪福克斯之外的联盟。IFTA作为非营利机构,以提供高质量市场服务,推动全球独立电影电视制作为己任,成员包括来自21个国家制片、销售、发行、投资等140余人。30多年来,IFTA成员的电影有22部摘得“奥斯卡最佳影片奖”,近期项目包括《聚焦》、《为奴十二年》、《艺术家》、《国王的演讲》、《贫民窟的百万富翁》等。人们误以为这些脍炙人口的影片出自大制片厂之手,那是因为许多优秀作品虽然是独立制片,但常在后期被大制片厂pick代理发行业务。

This year, AFM is held from October 31st to November 7th. In this meanwhile, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel will again become the trade base of filmmakers from the world. Usually, outside every room hangs eye-catching movie posters, while inside every room are more than 400 global sales representatives, distributors, and producers, waiting for buyers. Buyers are the party queens in AFM, especially those “accredited buyers” who bought more than 3 movies from IFTA. Stephen, a film industry expert, once wrote on Blog that buyers’ number is the barometer of the film industry. He said, for instance, 2009 was a low demand year of films. Buyers’ number from AFM dropped, implying that supplies surpassed the demand. Too many movies are made in the millennials and made them harder to sell. On the other hand, the buyer number’s increase also shows the rise of a country’s movie industry. In recent years, buyers from China grow more than 35% from 2016 to 2017, undoubtedly showing a huge influence in the market.

今年AFM的举办日期是10月31日至11月7日。在此期间,洛依斯圣莫尼卡海滩酒店(Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel)将再次变身世界影人的交易基地。通常,每个房间外部张挂着醒目海报,内部驻扎着400多个国际销售代表、发行商和制片公司,等候买家的光临。买家是电影市场的Party Queen,其中购买过IFTA成员3部影片以上的“认证买家”更是炽手可热。业界大神史蒂芬(Stephen)曾撰写博客,告诉我们买家人数是电影市场健康的晴雨表,例如2009年是个电影小年,AFM的买家人数下跌,说明电影供多于求,千禧年初期产出了过多的电影,导致电影销售力不从心。当然,买家人数的上涨也体现了一国的影业的活力。近些年来,中国买家毫无悬念地成为市场中的一股重要势力,人数持续增长,仅16年至17年涨幅超过35%。

In the past, there were many participants without pass wandering around the hotel lobby at AFM, selling their own scripts and telling their acting dreams. In this way, they can save a lot of money for exhibiting tickets. The cheapest One Day Pass of AFM costs $275, which only includes hotel lobby access, highlights,  and a cocktail reception. The Four Day Industry Pass costs $445, including lobby access, cocktail reception, plus streaming entertainment, Cinando subscriptions, online forums,  and other online benefits. If you add a conference, a scriptwriter workshop, and a roundtable discussion, the Industry Plus Pass will cost $645. The Seven Day Executive Pass is worth $895, another upgraded version is $1,095. And there is a $1,495 Platinum Pass for all the benefits above plus intensive networking. These above are the price of online pass purchase before October 26. If you purchase on site, you also need to pay another 20 to 100 dollars. But this year, AFM is determined to control the lobby entrance to ensure the benefits of participants with the pass. In the past, exhibitors were afraid  that they would be surrounded by a large number of unidentified projects from the unaccredited participants. They could only rush to meeting rooms in the 8-story hotel rather than discussing in thelobby. It’s a good thing for the exhibitors, but unaccredited participants who want to get a free ride may feel disappointed.

以往,AFM现场有许多“非官方”参与者在酒店大堂晃悠,抛出自己的剧本,诉说自己的演员梦。如此一来,可以省下好一笔参展入场券的钱,毕竟AFM的pass价格可不低。即便是最便宜的一日游(One-Day),只包含酒店大堂准入,高光活动和一次酒会,也需要275美元。四日产业通票(Industry)含大堂准入、酒会邀请,再加上流媒体观影、Cinando订阅、网络论坛等线上福利,需要445美元。若加上会议、编剧工作坊、圆桌讨论的“四日产业通票升级版(Industry Plus)”要价645美元。七日高管票(Executive)价值895美元,升级版1095美元,还有包含全部福利附加超强关系网络的至尊“铂金通票(Platinum)”1495美元。以上还是10月26日前网上购票的价格,若现场购买还需要加价20至100美元不等。因此,今年AFM痛下决心,要保证重金买入场券的参展者利益,严格控制大堂的入口。从前,参展人担心被大量来路不明的项目包围,只能辛苦地在酒店的8层大楼上下穿梭,不敢集中在大堂讨论。这回想抓住机会搭便车的人们有些不甘心,可是对参展人来说还是一件好事。

Buying and selling are the core business of AFM. Almost all the activities on the 8th are battlefields of trading. If rushing up and down the hotel floors is a guerrilla, the “Conference” section is a Blitzkrieg. The Pitch in the Conference is the most intense part, which is hosted by Pilar Alessandra, the scriptwriter trainer of Disney and DreamWorks. Producer Tobin Armbrust and Cassian Elwes are the judges, pointing out the project and the problems presented. According to AFM’s pitch conference manual, you need to submit a 2-minute video pitch before October 26. 2018, which should summarize the story passionately, showing the pathos of the story. On November 3rd, selected producers first introduced their projects for 2 minutes, judges then questioned and evaluated the performance for 3 minutes. This scene will be witnessed by more than 600 people. Although there are many challenges, it is an excellent opportunity to increase the influence of the project. Other sections of the conference included global perspective, block-chain, investment, production and distribution, all participated by industry experts.

简单明了,“买卖”是AFM的核心,8日的一切活动几乎都是交易的战场。如果在酒店楼层之前的穿梭是游击,那么“影视会议”(Conference)就是轮番上阵的闪电战。会议中的Pitch专场火药味最浓,由迪斯尼、梦工厂的编剧训练师Pilar Alessandra主持,制片人Tobin Armbrust和Cassian Elwes担任毒舌评委,一针见血指出项目和呈现的问题。据AFM的pitch会议手册介绍,如果想被批评一番,需要在18年10月26日前递交2分钟的视频pitch,不仅简明扼要地说出故事梗概,还要充满激情与能量,渲染故事的气氛。11月3日,被选中的推荐者上台介绍2分钟,评委们提问并评价表现3分钟,这一幕将被600多人见证,虽然挑战多,倒也是扩大项目影响力的绝佳机会。会议的其他环节还包括全球视角、区块链、投资、制片和发行,均由业界资深人士参与讨论。

In addition to the conference section, AFM also has subdivided “Roundtables” to reflect and lead the future the film market. From gender reflection, global strategy to type-based practice, the theme spans a wide range this year, such as “using Intellectual Property to boost the visibility of LGBTQ Characters”, “International Awakening: Investing in Gender Diversity for Expanding Audiences around the Globe”, “Distributing & Monetizing Feature Documentaries” “, “Boosting Your Micro-Budget”, “Respecting The Genre: Why Do Some Horror Films Work While Others Don’t?” and so on.

除了会议板块,AFM还有主题更细分的”圆桌论坛”(Roundtables),对电影市场进行反思和展望。今年从性别思考、全球战略到类型片实践,主题跨度很广,比如“利用IP来增强LGBTQ群体的可见度”,“国际觉醒:突出性别多元性来扩大国际观众”,“纪录片发行和赚钱的秘密”,“小成本,高水准”,“尊重类型片:为什么有些恐怖片能成?”等等。

Spotlight Events highlighted the role of Chinese movies and invited Jonathan Lee of the  Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) to discuss the current Hong Kong New Wave and market trends. The session of Producing Successful Content for A Global Market gathered cross-cultural business experts, including Feng Wei – Asia-Pacific Vice President and Greater China President of UCFTI Expo, Sarah Platt – Head of International Business development of Wanda Film, Miao Xiaotian – General Manager of China Film Co-Production Corporation, Bennett Pozil – Executive Vice President of East West Bank and Randy Greenberg – producer of The Meg. In general, the Chinese market gathered the highest attention. Chinese and American filmmakers need to work together to explore the way to open the Chinese market.

“高光系列”(Spotlight Events)突出了华语电影的角色,邀请了香港亚洲电影投资会(HAF)的Jonathan Lee,谈论当下香港新浪潮和市场走向。“面向全球市场的内容研发”专题聚集了跨文化商务行家,包括美中影视产业博览会(UCFTI Expo)亚太区副总裁、大中华区总裁冯伟,万达影业国际商务拓展负责人Sarah Platt,中国电影合作制片公司总经理苗晓天,华美银行执行副总裁Bennett Pozil,《巨齿鲨》制片人Randy Greenberg。说到底,全球市场里最关注的就是中国市场,中美影人需要合力探索中国市场的打开方式。

In the topic of “Understanding Distribution in China”, AFM invited Weida Li, founder and CEO of Leeding Media (based in Beijing and Los Angeles), William Pfeiffer, co-founder of Globalgate Entertainment and Bill Sondheim, founder of Cinedigm Entertainment Group. It is worth mentioning that Cinedigm Entertainment Group has a strong OTT business (Over-The-Top, which means bypassing traditional platforms such as telecommunications and television, providing streaming media directly to the audience via Internet), deep cooperation with iTunes, Amazon and Netflix, and is currently negotiating with iQiyi, Youku and other Chinese companies, planning to launch a Chinese channel of high-quality Chinese film and television drama for young American audience in 2019.

在“理解中国市场的发行规律”专题,AFM邀请了基于北京和洛杉矶的李鼎传媒(Leeding Media)创始人和首席执行官李威达,Globalgate Entertainment公司联合创始人William Pfeiffer,以及美国赛点数字集团(Cinedigm Entertainment Group)创始人Bill Sondheim。值得一提的是,赛点公司有强大的OTT业务(Over-the-Top,指绕过远程通信、电视等传统平台,通过互联网直接向观众提供流媒体视频的形式,可简单理解为流媒体播放),与iTunes、亚马逊、网飞都有深入合作,目前与爱奇艺、优酷等公司洽谈,计划于2019年推出面向美国年轻观众的中国频道,播放高质量的中国影视剧。

In addition to providing a platform for commercial trading, AFM begins to focus on content and opens two Writers Workshops. Taking advantage of the proximity of Los Angeles colleges and universities, AFM opened two three-hour workshops, inviting teachers from the University of California, Los Angeles. They invite romantic comedy screenwriter Billy Mernit to introduce tactics to shape the characters, screenwriter veteran Steven Wolfson to explain the story’s transition and provide an opportunity for professional filmmakers outside the school to re-enter the classroom and replenish knowledge.

除了提供商业买卖的平台,AFM也开始聚焦内容,开辟了编剧工作坊(Writers Workshops)。利用邻近洛杉矶高校的地理优势,AFM开设了2个时长各3小时的工作坊,邀请来自加利福尼亚大学洛杉矶分校(University of California, Los Angeles)的老师授课,例如浪漫喜剧编剧大牛Billy Mernit介绍人物塑造技巧,编剧老手Steven Wolfson讲解故事的起承转合,为校外的专业影人提供一个重新进入课堂、补充能量的机会。

However, AFM is not perfect. The other two significant international film markets, including Marché du Film in France in March and the European Film Market in Berlin in February, are closely related to the screenings of world-class film festivals. In comparison, the AFM screening in the United States is weak. Although in 2017, 337 films with more than 500 sessions were screened, including high-budget productions produced by large studios and micro-budget arthouse films and genre films recognized by the International Film Festival Circle, the quality of the film selection is generally not guaranteed. AFM is followed by the “AFI Fest”, but this is not comparable to the three major European film festivals, and the cooperation between these two is lacking. However, AFM may not care about this. After all, the number of participants is its confidence, and trading is its core.

不过,AFM也并非没有软肋。其他两个重量级世界电影市场包括法国5月的戛纳市场(Marché du Film)以及柏林2月的欧洲电影市场(European Film Market),都与世界级电影节的放映有密切的联系。相比而言,美国AFM的放映较弱,尽管2017年展映了337部影片,500多个场次,号称其中有被大制片公司相中的高成本大制作,也有国际电影节圈子认可的低成本艺术电影和类型片,但是选片质量总体上参差不齐。AFM之后紧接着“美国电影学会电影节(AFI Fest)”,但是这无法与欧洲三大电影节比肩,而且两者的合作并不紧密。话说回来,AFM对此或许不太在意,毕竟参与人数是它的底气,交易是它的核心。

Now, we have previewed the entire structure of AFM and marked the highlights. At the end of this article, I would like to share with you some related information: On October 30 this year, there will be the 9th China-US Entertainment Industry Summit held by The Asia Society Southern California’s. Los Angeles Chinese Film Festival (LACFF) from November 1st to 4th will play Walking Past the Future”, “Girls Always Happy”, “I’ve Got a Little Problem”, “People’s Republic of Desire” and other excellent Chinese feature, documentary, and experimental films. If you want to join the early autumn film industry fest, see the filmmakers, talk about projects, watch movies, get a global vision, and focus on Sino-US cooperation, then welcome to Los Angeles in November!

现在,我们预习了AFM的整个活动架构,标出了华彩 的亮点,文末还想和大家分享几则相关消息:今年10月30日还有亚洲协会南加州分会举办的“第九届中美文娱产业峰会”,11月1日-4日期间又正值洛杉矶华语电影节(LACFF),放映《路过未来》《柔情史》《我有一个忧郁的,小问题》《虚你人生》等当代优秀的华语剧情片、纪录片、实验电影。如果你也想加入初秋影视业的盛会,见影人、谈项目、看电影,获得世界眼光,聚焦中美合作,那么11月初来洛杉矶吧。应该不亏。

References:

Blog Stephen Follows: https://stephenfollows.com/people-attending-american-film-market/

Variety, American Film Market Tightens Security at Loews Hotel (EXCLUSIVE):
American Film Market Tightens Security at Loews Hotel (EXCLUSIVE)

IFTA brief info:
http://www.ifta-online.org/what-ifta

2017 American Film Market Wraps with an Increase in Attendance:

2017 American Film Market Wraps With an Increase in Attendance

AFM Badges and Prices:

Badges & Prices

AFM Pitch Conference Guide:

Click to access AFM2018_Pitch_Guide_Abridged-2018-WEBSITE.pdf

China-US Entertainment Industry Summit:
https://asiasociety.org/us-china-entertainment-summit/zhongmeiwenyuchanyefenghui

LA Chinese Film Festival:
https://www.lacff.org/

 

 

 

 

 

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