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THE MOVIES: The American Film Market, and its navigation over the years for continual global reach

The American Film Market (AFM) has been a cornerstone of the entertainment industry since 1981. It has always been the place to be for a cacophony of filmmakers, distributors, and industry professionals from around the world coming together to make deals.

Held in Santa Monica, Calif., the annual event has not only evolved but thrived and is now a key platform for the buying and selling of film rights, production financing, and networking opportunities within the global film community.

AFM, as an idea, was the brainchild of Jonas Rosenfield and Mark Valinsky, who saw the potential for a dedicated marketplace to facilitate international film trade. They deemed this market the place to be for independent filmmakers and distributors to come together, meet and negotiate film distribution rights. 

Over time, the AFM has seen many changes that go hand-in-hand with the ever-evolving film industry landscape. What was once a small gathering in a few hotels, is now much more, in fact it is the largest film market event globally, welcoming thousands of attendees from over 80 countries each year.

One of the most significant shifts in recent years has been the incorporation of digital platforms and technology, making it easier for filmmakers and distributors to connect and negotiate deals remotely. The AFM has an incredible online presence and digital screenings alongside the traditional in-person marketplace.

And the American Film Market still serves several crucial functions within the film industry even with its online presence an option.

For example, regarding distribution and sales the market is a hub for securing distribution rights for films. Filmmakers and producers can display their projects to a global audience of buyers, leading to distribution deals that can move a film to the international stage.

Financing is also part of AFM offering filmmakers a chance to attract investors and secure financing for their projects. Production companies, financiers, and banks regularly attend AFM with the goal of identifying promising film projects to fund.

Networking is valuable at the market and the best place for industry professionals to meet, plan collaborations, and explore co-production opportunities. 

Participants are also able to gain insights into emerging market trends, from popular genres to distribution strategies. This information is invaluable in shaping future film projects and business decisions.

Overall, for filmmakers attending the market this is an excellent place to generate buzz and interest in a film through screenings, presentations, and promotional materials. 

As AFM enters its 43rd year, it remains a testament to the enduring significance of film in our culture and commerce uniting visionaries, creators, and dealmakers to continue innovation, collaboration, and opportunity as the entertainment industry evolves and AFM continues to evolve too.


Miljenko Matijevic, Entertainment Editor for The Insider Mag, is a special contributor to The Ellis County Press.

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