WHO IS THIS FOR?

This post is for filmmakers who:

  • Have a completed film 
  • Would like to know how to find distributors who are looking to buy films

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

In this post, you will learn:

  • The best event to pitch your film
  • How to find the contact info for distributors that will be in attendance
  • How to book a meeting

Getting Started

If you are new to the business side of film-making you may not know this little secret (or not so Secret) trick for meeting acquisition reps. These representatives are not hiding nor is there some secret handshake that you have to know in order to get a meeting. 

The acquisition reps job is to find films to buy simple and plain. Every year these representatives from distribution companies from across the world attend this event looking for the next film to add to their catalog.

Unlike a film festival, the only goal of this event is to buy and sell films. Sure a couple of films may get purchased at one of the larger film festivals every now and then but for the most part, no one is really there to buy films. They are mostly there to admire the creativity of the films at the festival, not the marketability or sellability of the project. 

Most of the films bought and sold (at the event I am speaking of) are what we would call in the old day’s “straight-to-DVD” movies. Even if you don’t have let’s say a start as big as Denzel Washington you can still sell and license your project.

This event is called the American Film Market.  

Every year a hotel in Los Angeles is converted into this event. All of the furniture in each room is taken out and replaced with office furniture. Each room is turned into a make-shift office for each of the 300+ distribution companies that attend every year to purchase and sell films.

Everyone from distributors large/small to airlines who need to license content for their flight passengers to watch. If you have a finished film this event is a must-attend.

HOW DO I BOOK MEETINGS AT THE AFM?


You will lay the groundwork for your AFM experience in the weeks leading up to it. If you visit the American Film Market’s website americanfilmmarket.com you will see a list of all the distribution companies who will be attending that particular year.  Their contact information will also be supplied on the website.

This is where a little research on your end will come in quite handy. First search through the list for companies who have already worked with films similar to yours.

It will look very unprofessional to contact a company that doesn’t even deal with your genre or type of film you want to pitch. It also shows that you did not even take the time to research the company you are reaching out to. It’s the equivalent of submitting hip hop song to a country music radio station.

Once you have a list of all the companies that deal with films similar to yours it’s time to reach out and schedule a 10 or 15-minute meeting with one of their reps. Since this is half of the reason these companies attend the AFM (the other reason is to sell what they already have) they will be happy to set up a date and time.

A thing to remember is that in the first 3 or 4 days exhibitors will be trying to sell films they already have in their catalog.
It might be smart to avoid setting a meeting in the initial days of the event. If you are on a budget (most independent filmmakers don’t money to just throw away)  then I would advise skipping the first 3 days altogether (Unless you want to do some networking in the initial days).

You can save a lot of money by only buying a ticket for the last couple of days of the event.  

If done right you should be able to schedule about 5 or 6 meetings a day while you are in attendance. It’s that simple.

Also, acquisition reps are very busy, so you should start by asking for a short 10 or 15-minute meeting to start. If they are interested in your project they will ask to continue with a follow-up meeting. If you have piqued enough interest up to that point you should be able to get them to watch your screener. With your foot in the door, you can just go from there.

If you follow these instructions I can’t promise that they will pick your film to add to their catalog, but I can guarantee that you will get the chance to pitch it to them one on one. From that point, everything depends on your sales and negotiation skills.