AFM2022 Recap: The Pulse Of Indie Production & Distribution

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The FilmTrack team enjoyed catching up with clients and friends at AFM® 2022, which finished up its first in-person event since 2019 last weekend. Produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), the American Film Market brings together independent film and TV producers and distributors, who no doubt had lots to talk about this year considering the shifting viewer behaviors and industry changes that have occurred over the past 3 years. 

Back in Person at AFM  

1667581208742We were thrilled to get together with movers and shakers in our industry at AFM, including Clay Epstein, CEO of Film Mode Entertainment and Vinca Jarrett, Attorney and President of FilmPro Finance, who recently penned our exciting new ebook Complex Film & TV Rights Management: History, Current Tracking, and 21st Century Solutions.

Our COO, Michael McGuire shares his perspective on the event:

"It was an active market and good to see attendance coming back. We saw numerous clients and overall, the industry is getting back to normal, content distribution is more relevant than ever, and the markets are a leading indicator that life is returning to normal."

 

afm eventOur CEO, Jason Kassin also weighs in with his experience at this year's AFM:

"I found AFM to be particularly lively this year.  In conversations with many clients, I heard that the market was robust – given the recent lack of in-person sessions during the COVID years.  Many clients told me that library titles were selling well and that although prices were a bit lower for new content to streamers, the appetite was there for content."

 

AFM Education

There were some sensational sessions at AFM this year, with many tips for the current market. One such session, An Actionable Approach to Indie Financing: Navigating the Current SVoD, AVoD, CoVID Landscape of Independent Film Financing, had some terrific takeaways as captured on LinkedIn:

afm 2022_linkedin_tips

Moving On Post-Pandemic

IFTA kept things moving virtually the last few years, however, the lack of in-person connections and deals was a hindrance. 

Jean Prewitt, IFTA President/CEO, explains 

"In terms of the AFM, we missed it. There was a lot of excitement around the online events, but what they didn’t have was the personal contacts. And, for most of us, that’s the whole point."  

And now that everyone is back together, there is much to figure out. Production has encountered its share of issues, theatrical audiences are not anywhere near pre-COVID numbers, and new competitive distribution models are taking off like wildfire.

Prewitt adds:

"It wasn’t just the pandemic and people being ill, it has been three years where it was really hard to get projects put together. And people continue to be a little uncertain about whether or not they’re reading the market properly. For two years, a lot of companies were essentially selling libraries to online services, now they’re back in a bigger world where other things are possible." 

Jason Kassin also comments:

"Overall, I found the level of rigor and maturity improved from AFM’s of years past. In prior years, there was an over-index on filmmakers and producers looking for distribution for low-end content. By limiting Loews lobby access to those who’ve paid for a pass, there was at least some barrier to entry for those looking for a free ride. 

It was also interesting to see the changing of the guard as new entrants rise and old players recede.  Normally this is a gradual process like grass growing, but as we had an interruption of COVID, these changes appeared accelerated."

Social Media AFM Chatter

There were a lot of social media speculations and comments such as the one below regarding who was buying what at AFM.

afm 2022_linkedin

Ongoing Challenges for Independent Film

The tangled web of streaming services impacts indies in a myriad of ways. Prewitt addresses these challenges saying:

"I think the biggest one...I started to hear in Cannes...is that the independents are really experiencing what I would call supply chain problems. It is very, very hard to get talent released. It’s very hard to get crew because there’s been so much production from the online services, which is kind of eating up crew in any given location, sometimes putting them on contract for three or four extra weeks just to sit and wait till a project is ready. I think we’ll hear quite a lot about how difficult it is to get packages together, how difficult it is to time those packages." 

FilmTrack President Stephen Kassin responds to the ongoing difficulties, but notes there are also opportunities:

"There are still challenges in the independent film world–as there always were–regarding theatrical, insurance costs, and pricing pressures. As you can see in the trades, the rise of AVOD and FAST, free, and ad-supported streaming is creating alternative avenues for our client base to monetize content."


Let's Connect

1667487378133If you didn't get a chance to meet with us in Santa Monica at AFM, don't worry! You can contact us to set up a meeting and request a demo anytime. We are more than happy to demonstrate how we help media companies, big or small, streamline how they track rights, royalties, availabilities, contracts, and licensing. 

We'd love to help!

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