AFM Moving to Las Vegas After More Than 40 Years in Los Angeles Area

After a chaotic run in its longtime home in Santa Monica, Calif. last fall, the American Film Market is moving to Las Vegas.

The Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) on March 8 announced that its flagship event, considered one of the biggest film markets in the country, will relocate to the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas for its 45th edition, which is scheduled to run Nov. 5-10, 2024.

The decision to move AFM to Las Vegas after more than four decades in L.A. comes after the event was relocated to a new hotel, the Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica, after some 30 years at the Loews Hotel, which was shuttered in preparation for a lengthy renovation. The venue change necessitated splitting the conference program from the hotel suites. Sessions were held at the Hilton Santa Monica Hotel & Suites, nearly a mile away. On top of that, the host hotel was being picketed by striking hotel workers who crowded the sidewalk while loudly chanting, banging drums and tooting horns.

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IFTA says in a news release that the decision to set up shop in Las Vegas came after a multi-city search.

“After extensive research, discussions with the board and invaluable feedback from stakeholders, this move underscores our determination to evolving AFM to meet today’s industry needs,” said Clay Epstein, IFTA chairperson and president of Film Mode Entertainment. “The strength of the AFM lies in its ability to create community and present a sophisticated platform for all our participants’ activities in one convenient location. The Palms enables us to do all of that and beyond.”

Palms Casino Resort has newly renovated rooms and suites for exhibitor office space and guest rooms, a 14-screen multiplex, and more than 170,000 square feet of dedicated conference, meeting, and event space. 

Major production, finance, sales and distribution companies — including Arclight Films, Blue Fox Entertainment, Blacktop International, Cinema Management Group, Cornerstone, The Exchange, Film Mode Entertainment, FilmNation Entertainment, Film Seekers, HanWay Films, A Higher Standard, Lakeshore Entertainment, Millennium Media, Myriad Pictures, NEON, Protagonist Pictures, The Asylum, The Solution Entertainment Group, Vision Films, WME Independent and XYZ Films — have already committed to participating in AFM24 in the new Las Vegas Palms locale.

“AFM was created by the Independents and remains the independents’ market,” said IFTA president and CEO Jean Prewitt. “The industry has called for a fresh look at how the market can better serve a rapidly changing business.  The board has made a monumental decision that allows us to better serve these needs.”

American Film Market

The American Film Market is a film acquisition, development and networking event. Unlike a festival, AFM is a marketplace where production and distribution deals are closed. More than U.S. $1 billion in deals are sealed every year — on both completed films and those in every stage of development and production, according to organizers.

Thousands of industry professionals from more than 80 countries converge in Santa Monica every November. They include acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, the world’s press and all those who provide services to the motion picture industry.

At AFM, participants can discover the entire global catalog of available films and projects, attend 30-plus conferences and panels, and connect with the independent film community’s decision makers.

AFM Nov. 1-6 Has Attracted More Than 225 Exhibitors

With the 43rd edition of the American Film Market (AFM) set to open live in just under two months, the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) has announced initial details as well as two key hires for the 2022 show.

AFM will commence in Santa Monica, Calif., at the Loews Beach Hotel and theaters throughout the city Nov. 1 and run for six days through Nov. 6.  

So far, 225 companies have registered as exhibitors for the sales market, including sales, production and distribution companies, as well as international trade organizations, film commissions and production service companies. Confirmed exhibiting companies include A24, Altitude Film Entertainment, Charades, CJ ENM, Contents Panda, Emperor Motion Pictures, Film Mode Entertainment, FilmNation, Gaumont, Gaumont, Global Screen GmbH, Hanway Films, Lakeshore, Lionsgate, Magnolia Pictures, MGM Studios, Millennium Media, Pathé Films, Protagonist Pictures, Screen Media, Sierra/Affinity, Studiocanal, Toei Company, Ltd., TrustNordisk, Unifrance, Voltage, WME Independent and XYZ Films.

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“The early commitments and excitement by companies around the world to be in Santa Monica, along with the projects coming together, say that the industry is back to business,” IFTA’s president and CEO Jean Prewitt, said in a statement. “While business models have clearly shifted, independent film will forever be built on discovery, collaboration, innovation and serendipity, making the need for annual face-to-face gatherings like AFM essential to our industry.” 

Alongside the sales activity, the AFM offers conferences and opportunities to network.  The AFM Sessions’ opening Finance Conference — “The Risk Takers” — will bring leading independent financiers, producers and executives Jason Cloth (founder and CEO, Creative Wealth Media), Milan Popelka (COO, FilmNation), Laura Lewis (founder, Rebelle Media), and Basil Iwanyk (founder, Thunder Road Pictures) to the stage the morning of Nov. 2. The AFM Sessions presented by Cast & Crew and Spcine will feature more than 100 speakers across two stages inside the Loews Hotel.  The current schedule and speakers can be viewed here

In addition, the IFTA  announced new executive additions to its AFM team. Matthew Thompson and Catherine Girard-Cobb have been appointed to the newly created roles of co-managing directors of AFM, reporting to Prewitt. They join long-time IFTA VPs Jennifer Garnick and Robin Burt to develop and support the overall vision, operations and production of the AFM.  

Thompson, who brings 25 years of event management and production experience, will oversee the AFM attendee segment and is responsible for registration, hotels, transportation, conference production and the networking platform MyAFM.  He previously served as an event director and consultant for clients including Adweek, the Tribeca Film Festival, Nespresso and the Skirball Cultural Center.              

Girard-Cobb, who will manage the AFM exhibitor experience, including registration, film screenings, and furniture and equipment, is a 20-year event veteran. She has successfully managed large-scale trade shows and live and virtual events most of her career, most recently for London-based Clarion Events, Quartz North America and Bobit Business Media’s 20 annual market-specific events.  

“Matthew and Catherine bring a wealth of combined event experience in line with the AFM,” Prewitt said in a statement. “Their skills and insights complement our established and talented team and strengthen our ability to meet the changing needs of our industry as we look to our in-person return this year and the future.”

IFTA and AFM Exec Jonathan Wolf to Step Down

The Independent Film & Television Alliance announced that Jonathan Wolf, managing director of its American Film Market and EVP of the trade association, will step down when his current term ends on June 30.  

Jonathan Wolf

Wolf, who has led the AFM for 24 years, will continue on as an advisor through the 2022 AFM, which is set to make its in-person return to Santa Monica for the 43rd edition Nov. 1-6. 

Under Wolf’s leadership, the AFM transformed from its import-export roots to an event that serves and includes the entire independent film production and distribution community.

During his tenure, Wolf enhanced the market’s tools for buyers and sellers. He launched, a leading industry resource with information on thousands of projects and films available from global producers, distributors and sales companies, and its companion “TFC Weekly Update” email. He also introduced networking and education programs, including multi-stage conferences and panels, and the MyAFM online platform. 

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“Jonathan has been central to the success of the association’s growth and transitions,” IFTA’s president and CEO Jean Prewitt said in a statement. “He consistently has focused on making the AFM the best place for the industry to do business and has built an outstanding and long-established AFM team who share his commitment to excellence. We are grateful that Jonathan will be available to advise through the 2022 market.”

“It’s been a privilege to lead the AFM and work with passionate volunteer board members for more than 20 years,” Wolf said in a statement. “I was supported by a terrific team that worked tirelessly to produce a world class event; we achieved much together.  I’m excited to see what the future holds — for the AFM, IFTA and me.” 

With the IFTA, Wolf spearheaded the launch of IFTA Collections, the industry’s first centralized service for the collection and distribution of royalties and levies from secondary audio-visual rights for films and television programming.  To date, IFTA has collected more than $150 million for its clients and continues to distribute more than $5 million annually.   

Wolf’s connection to the IFTA began as an elected board member and vice chairman, finance, while CFO at IFTA Member New World International. He joined the association as SVP in 1993 and was appointed to lead the AFM as managing director in 1998.

AFM to Make In-Person Return to Santa Monica Nov. 1-6

The American Film Market will return to Santa Monica for its 43rd edition, taking place in person Nov. 1 to 6, the Independent Film & Television Alliance announced.

The market, which planned its shift to a six-day run in 2020, will take place at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and theaters throughout the city.

Registration will open May 9 for exhibitors.  Accredited Buyers and Industry Attendees may register beginning July 5.

The Loews Hotel will be home to sales and production companies, LocationEXPO, and, new for 2022, all conferences and panels.

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“There is more excitement about the future than I’ve seen in two years and in-person markets are more vital than ever,” Clay Epstein, chairperson, IFTA and president of Film Mode Entertainment, said in a statement. “The desire to return to Santa Monica for AFM is at an all-time high and we are eager to reunite the global industry in November.”

AFM 2021 Moves Entirely Online

The American Film Market (AFM) will move its 2021 edition entirely online, the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) announced.

AFM 2021 Online will be held Nov. 1-5, shifting one day earlier than its original dates. Registration for the five-day online event is now open.

AFM 2021 Online will feature Industry Offices, Screenings, Conferences, Panels and Workshops, the Networking Pavilion, LocationEXPO and more. Event updates will be announced regularly via email, social media and the AFM Website.

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“We wish we could welcome the global industry back to Santa Monica but travel regulations, increased concerns about coronavirus variants around the world, and government restrictions on the ground prevent us from moving forward,” Michael Ryan, chairperson of IFTA and partner at GFM Films, said in a statement. “However, IFTA is thrilled to host the market the industry expects — where no one will be excluded and all of our stakeholders can immerse themselves for five days dedicated to deal making, discovery, education, and reconnecting.”

AFM 2020 Moves Online

The American Film Market (AFM) will bring its 2020 edition online, the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) announced.

AFM 2020 Online will run over five days from Nov. 9 to 13, shifting one week later than originally scheduled, so as not to overlap with Election Day in the United States. This year will be the 41st market.

“By making this announcement four months in advance, AFM’s stakeholders can move forward and plan with certainty,” said Michael Ryan, chairman, IFTA, and partner, GFM Films. “AFM 2020 Online will give the global film community the opportunities that are always critical to our success — to meet, share knowledge, collaborate, and discover tomorrow’s films as they do every year in Santa Monica.”

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The full program and participation details will be unveiled later this summer.

AFM is a film acquisition, development and networking event where more than 7,000 attending professionals from more than 70 countries access the global catalog of available films and projects, attend conferences and connect with decisionmakers. The AFM is produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance, a global trade association for independent film and television production, finance, distribution and sales companies. The organization represents the independent sector before governments and international bodies and provides entertainment industry services to more than 135 member companies from 23 countries.