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AFM Goes All-In For Online In 2020

Original publish date: October 19, 2020

The American Film Market will be 100% dot-com in November, giving new access to filmmakers and buyers from around the world.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still a threat to major gatherings, American Film Market organizers made the smart early call to shelve the in-person portion of the event for 2020. In place of the packed film finance conferences, busy marketplace and filmmaker networking events that normally take over Santa Monica each autumn, the entire production will live in cyberspace from November 9-13.

But don’t expect that to slow down the slate of screenings and educational content for the independent filmmaker set and their potential suitors. In fact, the AFM will host dozens of panels, conferences and presentations across the five days of the event this year, in addition to on-demand screenings available from early November to late March 2021.

Media Services returns as AFM sponsor in a unique format

As a proud continuing sponsor of the AFM, Media Services was eager to once again participate in the popular Film Finance session, as well as curating our own panel this year. U.S. Incentives: From Application to Audit, featuring Media Services incentives consultant Ryan Broussard and Cast & Crew finance expert David Benavente, will stream live on Thursday, November 12 at 9:30am Pacific.

Though AFM had developed its online presence over the years, partnering with streaming technology platforms for some networking and screening functionality, switching to an all-online event is a heavy lift for any film event organizer.

AFM 2020 Online virtual campus with Media Services Payroll as sponsor
The virtual campus of AFM 2020 Online

“Our biggest challenge has been sourcing and creating the right online platforms for AFM’s diverse participants who come from more than 70 countries,” says AFM Executive Vice President & Managing Director Jonathan Wolf. “They include sales and production companies, territorial buyers, financiers, producers, writers, film commissions, production facilities and those who want to learn where the industry is headed. Each has a different mission and needs different services. We have to make sure they all have a unique, valuable and memorable experience.”

AFM finds the upside of online

In rising to meet this challenge, however, the organizers found hidden opportunity in a year that saw many live events sidelined. Already a global draw for filmmakers and distributors from around the world, the all-online AFM will open up access – not only for attendees, but also for guests and panelists who will provide insights into the current state of the global production industry.

“We’ll have speakers from South Africa, Spain, New Zealand, United Kingdom and many other countries,” said Wolf. “And territorial buyers from small countries do not find it economically beneficial to travel to every market every year, so they can’t always attend AFM. With everyone participating online, these buyers aren’t missing out.”

Every ticket becomes VIP

Another benefit for filmmaker attendees of the 2020 online incarnation of the film market is that every ticket will be all-access. Rather than selecting from different day badges, conferences and networking events, AFM 2020 Online attendees can take full advantage of all the content (including screenings) for one inclusive price.

AFM’s online format will also feature a virtual campus, video networking opportunities and a number of “booths” where attendees can get information on vendors serving the filmmaking community. And now that the infrastructure is built out, it may not ever completely go away – even after AFM returns to Santa Monica as an in-person event.

“Our goal in the future will be to maintain a service for those who can’t regularly travel to the market and conferences, and keep them involved in the AFM,” added Wolf. “After we wrap AFM 2020, our focus will be on how AFM 2021 can serve both the participants in Santa Monica and those who aren’t traveling.”

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