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Old August 31st, 2011, 09:52 AM   #1
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Anyone sold a doco at AFM?

I'm pondering attending this years American Film Market in Santa Monica; has anyone any experience at selling anything there, perhaps just through networking rather than renting a suite? I have a couple of low profile documentaries (one is a "making of" docu, the other about a female bodybuilder) and wondering whether it's worth the time/money/effort.
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Old September 4th, 2011, 10:12 AM   #2
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Re: Anyone sold a doco at AFM?

I'm interested in this subject too! My doc is about the world's largest and longest running fairy festival - the kind with the wings and pointy ears. It is good family entertainment with a positive message.

I was wondering if filmmakers ever go together and hire a good pitchman to take a bunch of films to AFM and pitch them and then cut them in for a percentage if they can get a good deal.

I hear so many horror stories of crappy deals that end up tying up someone's film for years causing the filmmaker lots of trouble and sometimes costing lots of money to gain control of it again.
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Old September 12th, 2011, 08:14 AM   #3
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Re: Anyone sold a doco at AFM?

I guess nobody here sells anything : )

Last week I started contacting distributors and film reps. I sent inquiries to four that I had seen people recommend on the withoutabox forums. Two replied and asked for screeners - one had watched it by Friday and sent me an email with his ideas for distribution. That "wowed" me.

I am sending it to some other distributors who I feel might be interested in my film. btw this is a niche documentary - it will not have mass appeal.

I thinking direct contact with distributors is the way to go. It takes some research but some have very good submission processes that leads one to believe that they want to consider new material.

Or maybe I'm just naive... Won't be the first time!
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Old September 22nd, 2011, 03:53 PM   #4
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Re: Anyone sold a doco at AFM?

Thanks Kevin; I may try the same route...
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Old September 23rd, 2011, 05:21 PM   #5
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Re: Anyone sold a doco at AFM?

Haven't sold anything at AFM, but did attend last year.

As Kevin has said, contacting distributors personally is the best opportunity to sell your film. An ideal scenario, if you are going to be at AFM, and your subject matter is particularly interesting, is instead of just sending out screeners try and manage a time to screen your film where you can get the potential distributors in a room so they can watch it at the same time.

This creates an environment where, assuming your film is good and not just potential filler in their package, they will know that another interested party is right there, so they may need to make an offer sooner rather than later to pick it up.

That's really the only advantage of AFM for you I think, physically being able to set up an auction type environment for your project, because potential buyers are there anyway.

Outside of that, all networking, introductions etc must be done well in advance of AFM, it's almost impossible to get meetings of any value once the conference is started, people generally go in with a strong idea of what's going to be there and often people are only attending to ink deals and maybe get a look at something they are unsure of.

Sending out a screener is a good way to get people to look at your film, but potentially a bad way to get the best price for it.

But, if your film is a niche subject matter, and you are approaching a distributor who you know can sell to the niche audience who will like that film, it can be much cheaper and more effective to do the direct approach - but without other fish in the water as it were, it's much harder to leverage your position into a good sale price.

Really, it's kind of link selling a house - do you go to Auction, or do you do viewings with a real estate agent (getting a sales agent in this case), or do you attempt a private sale.

All are viable options, but for any given house, one option will be more effective than the others. You have to figure out the same thing for your film.
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Old September 26th, 2011, 04:20 PM   #6
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Re: Anyone sold a doco at AFM?

Thanks Craig, really appreciate the detailed analysis. I'll need to decide whether it's worth the effort and money to attend.
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Old September 26th, 2011, 06:01 PM   #7
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Re: Anyone sold a doco at AFM?

Greg, I hope you will keep us updated if you go!
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