American Film Market Builds Bridges With Festivals

Why is the American Film Market jumping into the festival business?

“We’re not doing the Festival Conference because we’re trying to encourage producers to submit to fests — in some ways, to the contrary,” says AFM chief Jonathan Wolf. “(The conference) isn’t saying that you shouldn’t go to festivals, but it also isn’t selling them as the pearly white staircase that will take you to heaven. It’s about people understanding if a specific festival is right to use as a tool in their particular circumstance.”

FilmNation CEO Basner says the way his production/finance/sales shingle utilizes festivals has evolved. “In years past, we would use a festival premiere to secure distribution internationally — i.e., for sales,” Basner says. “Given that (overseas) territories now tend to release films closer to (the) U.S. (date) and other major territory release dates” — often within two to three months — “and that our business is predominantly pre-sales, our festival strategy now focuses more on launching a film into distribution.”

Analyzing the global marketing impact of fall festival and awards season was a big factor in how Basner sold the drama “Room,” pictured, after A24 nabbed U.S. rights from UTA and set an October release date. “We knew that if we pre-sold it from a promo reel in Cannes, we’d be able to secure the right overseas release dates and benefit from all the press we were going to get from the fall festivals and U.S. release,” he says. “Waiting ultimately would have hindered the international release.”…

Read the rest of this article from Variety.