Your Guide to Crushing AFM

by AWD Member Angie Comer

AFM is a dynamic, must-attend event for filmmakers and writers.

It is to your benefit as a creator to not simply attend AFM — you need to work it! It’s essential to have your AFM game plan before the actual event starts, so that you can walk in informed and leave with knowledge.

I attended in 2014 and 2015 AFM armed with a new short film and a promo I recently shot of my rom com The Way You Are. I knew that I wanted to meet decision makers and execs on the prowl for a comedic voice like mine.

Nestled in the Loews Hotel, just a stroll from Santa Monica beach, it is the perfect deal making atmosphere for AFM–where every distributor, sales agents, acquisitions rep, and producer take up residence for 8 days, revamping hotel suites into temporary production offices.

And just like filmmaking, how much prep work you do will either make or break your experience.

Tips on how to get the most out of AFM:

  1. Register for the AFM Newsletter.
  2. Manage your time with the wealth of opportunities being offered to you — Panels, Workshops, Screenings and most importantly, Networking with like-minded individuals over cocktails.
  3. Learn the Market.
  4. Create a target list of companies that are a match for you and your film. I chose to develop an excel worksheet with columns of the Company, Contact Names, Genre, Budget Criteria and their location at Loews.
  5. The AFM Film Catalog will list the company profile, credits and staff; reach out and request a meeting. Don’t get discouraged if no one returns your call. You can always try again or simply show up and request that meeting in person.
  6. If you’re a screenwriter looking to sell your script—the best AFM days are Saturday thru Tuesday. I committed to those during both visits and found it very productive.
  7. Have a completed feature film? Wednesday thru Friday are the most effective days for you and your film.
  8. Refine your pitch — practice it out loud — your 30-second, 60-second, and two-minute version until it flows naturally.
  9. Have a one-sheet with the poster image on one side and logline on the other close by. And executives don’t have the luxury of time to watch your entire film. Create a sizzle reel or trailer; something under five minutes that showcases the story and production value. Remember: Never extend your welcome.  
  10. Two words—Business Cards.

Be informed and staying informed will be your greatest asset. Remember, you’re not just looking to sell your film or script; you’re looking for partnerships.

My friend Art found a new writing partner from NYC and they recently completed a new draft of their dramatic feature. As for me, I learned so many things during my time, including that I don’t have to rush the acclaimed directors and exec’s after a panel—I could send them a thank you card later and standout from that crowd hungry artists, yelling to be seen. I also got over my shyness double quick and ended up meeting someone who become one of my dearest and funniest friends while standing in line outside of one of the suites waiting to pitch.

Moreover, I learned that if I can ride out the AFM wave, knocking on doors, pitching to one exec after another….then I really am in it to win it! 

About Alliance of Women Directors

Alliance of Women Directors fosters a community of professionals to advance the art, craft and visibility of women directors in film, television, & new media.

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