By Audrey Rock
Santa Monica, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/3/18–American Film Market, the world’s largest motion picture business event, opened Wednesday at its Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel headquarters. In spite of costumed pedestrians regularly passing by, and blazing summer-esque weather, it was business as usual inside, with a busy press office (in a new location), and its signature banners, both exterior and interior, announcing its return. The event’s campus encompasses Loews, the Fairmont Miramar, and Le Merigot—JW Marriott, as well as theaters including AMC Santa Monica, the Arclight, Broadway Cineplex, and Laemmle Monica Film Center.
By Saturday, several of the event’s keynote panels had already taken place. On Friday MPAA chairman Charles Rivkin and IFTA president Jean Prewitt presented a 45-minute discussion on the continuing glut of piracy in the entertainment business, at the Fairmont, entitled “Global Perspective.” The crowd reached to over 500 attendees, indicated the seriousness of, and interest in, the issue. Prewitt said the problem is much bigger than simply stolen intellectual property. It can slow things down before they’ve even begun.
“For piracy, there are a lot more solutions for larger companies than small ones,” said Prewitt. “One of the issues with independents is the lack of capital to delegate to legislation and court, which is a reflection of how independent film financing happens. If an independent financier had to stop and go back to a previous film to fight piracy or try to recover money lost, they would lose their place in the marketplace and lose investors for the next project. What is the next solution? Can you stop piracy pre-release, push a button and get a response without having to go through a court process? Piracy can stop independent movies before they can start, slowing down the financing.”
“Something has to change,” said Rivkin. “The MPAA self-regulated as an industry 50 years ago by rating our own movies, to avoid that regulation going through the government. Before we rated our own films sayings like “hold your hat” could not be used in film, women could not show displeasure during child birth as it would look like they did not want to start a family, and if there was a kiss one foot had to remain on the floor. We needed to self-regulate and we did.”
An equally popular Friday panel, also packed with over 500 guests, also took place. “Producer and Financier Perspective” at the Fairmont was moderated by Variety’s Asia editor, Patrick Frater. The general message was that focus on storytelling remains the imperative.
Other events that have already concluded include: “The South African Success Factor: Briefing on the New South African Rebate”; “Content, Funding and Talents: The New International Dynamics in Hong Kong”; “Korea CG/VFX Pitching Showcase”; “Engage: 21st Century Creatives and Storytelling—Strategies for Success”; and “Understanding Distribution in China”.
Earlier this morning, there was a Pitch Conference Panel. Panelists included Tobin Armbrust, President of Worldwide Productions and Acquisitions for Virgin Produced, and independent producer Cassian Elwes, with moderator Pilar Alessandra of On the Page. “If you think about it, this whole business is a series of pitches, frankly,” said Elwes, in perhaps one of the most profound, and obvious statements of the market so far.
“Ultimately, the final pitch isn’t the studio that is making the movie, it’s them pitching the poster and the trailer which is essentially a pitch to the audience to come and see the movie. So, pitch goes all the way up from the very bottom to the very top.”
The market continues through the weekend, with screenings lined up at all theaters, and ongoing panels and discussions.