American Film Market invades Santa Monica

Hundreds of sharp looking “suits” with dark sun glasses scurry around the lobby, looking busy, talking on their cell phones, dropping names left and right, and having a drink at the pool, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Onlookers and tourists wonders what is going on in Santa Monica, as they catch a glimpse on colorful badges, most individuals seem to have upon entering and leaving the site.

The luxurious Santa Monica Loews Beach Hotel resembles a Hollywood movie set this week as the American Film Market, better known as the AFM is in town.

Here, over 8,000 professionals from 70 countries send their buyers and sellers to nail down movie rights and make deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars, deciding what the public will see on their television sets and movie theaters in the coming year.

Hollywood power-players and up-and-coming filmmakers alike network and mingle every November for eight days of deal making, hoping to find the next big project in the industry.

Filmmaker Gilbert Khoury is a first-time attendant from Canada with two feature films under his belt, and four more scripts ready to be put on screen.

He managed to achieve what many aspiring filmmakers are trying to do this week; 24 hours upon arrival, Khoury had found a distributor and was offered a contract for his work.

Buzz Remde, President of R Squared Films, offered Khoury the business deal.”We saw the kind of images that are sellable and in our business, where we are not on the creative side of things, we look at what a director can do on a small budget. What he is able to do on his own,” says Remde.

Khoury, who produced both of his films with a low budget of $500,000 each, was excited when looking for an attorney to go over his contracts.

“Basically, I just want to make it,” says Khoury laughingly. “I emailed hundreds of producers, and booked eight meetings up front. Yesterday was my first meeting and they want to buy my feature film and help me produce my four scripts.”

Sitting in hotel suites transformed into offices for the AFM, meetings are held around the clock and attendees get a chance to make business deals with people all over the world, allowing their projects to be seen in a foreign market.

Executives from many countries are running to the 400 screenings held at movie theaters on Third Street Promenade and surrounding communities, which the AFM takes over for the event.

Conferences held at the nearby Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica, help attendees better their chances of succeeding in the industry with panel discussions inviting top-notch industry professionals.

This year’s AFM ends Nov. 9 and is produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance, a trade association representing the world's producers and distributors of independent motion pictures and television programs.