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AFM 09 announces seminars and conferences

The 2009 American Film Market today announced its schedule of seminars and conferences to be held between Nov. 4 and 11. Celebrating its 30th year, the AFM will showcase panels on film financing opportunities, local and international distribution trends, marketing strategies and digital technologies. The sessions will include film executives, producers, writers, directors, distributors, financiers and attorneys.

This year’s seminars and conferences will include the annual “AFM Finance Conference” on Friday, Nov. 6; “Pitch Me!” on Saturday, Nov. 7; “No Direction Home - Changing Indie Distribution Strategies” on Sunday, Nov. 8; “Writing for the Genre World” on Monday, Nov. 9; “Case Study: How to Package and Finance Your Independent Project Overseas” on Monday, Nov. 9; and “The New Hollywood Movie Studio, New Media and Social Networking” on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Programming the seminars and conferences will be the American Society of Cinematographers, British Academy of Film & Television Arts/Los Angeles, Directors Guild of America, Film Independent, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Independent Film & Television Alliance, International Documentary Association, Producers Guild of America, SAGIndie, Women in Film and Writers Guild of America, West.

For additional information about the seminar and conferences, schedules, prices and venues, visit The following is a complete list of this year’s conferences:


9:00am – 12:30pm
AFM Finance Conference

The yearly AFM Finance Conference brings together CEOs, financiers and filmmakers in two back-to-back sessions where you will learn about the future of independent film financing. These high-powered panels discuss emerging trends and financing options.

First Session: Current State of the Independent Film Business

P. John Burke, Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Ryan Kavanaugh, Founder & CEO, Relativity Media
Morgan Rector, President, Entertainment Group, Comerica Bank
Modi Wiczyk, Co - Chief Executive Officer, Media Rights Capital

Second Session: Foreign Investment: A Growing Source of Film Financing

Benson R. Berro, Managing Director, KPMG LLP

Panelists: TBA

4:00pm – 5:30pm
Hong Kong: Your Ideal Co-Production Partner and Gateway to the China Market
Programmed by: Hong Kong Trade Development Council

The Hong Kong FILMART seminar at AFM presents a panel of veterans who will share their views on how Hong Kong plays an effective role in the making of successful co-production models. Additionally, the panel will identify opportunities in the most lucrative and promising region in the world, that is Asia and, particularly, China.

Panelists: TBA


9:00am – 12:30pm
Pitch Me!
Programmed by: Independent Film & Television Alliance

Whether you have a meeting with a studio head or you bump into an actor in an elevator, you need to be able to pitch your film well. Learn the art of the pitch in this intensive session where a dozen filmmakers pitch their project to a panel of industry experts - agents, producers, and production execs - who will give their unvarnished feedback on each pitch, saying what worked, what didn't and why. Space is limited - advance registration is recommended.

Peggy Rajski, Executive Producer, Bee Season; Producer, Home for the Holidays, Little Man Tate; Director, ER (TV Series)

Caroline Baron, Producer, Capote, Centre Stage; Associate Producer, The Wonder Years
Ron Yerxa, Producer, Big Eyes; Little Miss Sunshine

2:00pm – 5:30pm
Produce & Sell Your Film with Dov S-S Simens
Presented by: Dov S-S Simens

In simple terms, sought after and respected film instructor Dov S-S Simens demystifies the process of producing, distributing and profiting in today's global marketplace. Topics include: Theatrical Deal Memo Points, 7 Major Revenue Sources, Profit Participation Scenarios, Cable/TV/DVD Licenses, Publicity & Festivals, On-Demand vs. PPV, Global Revenues, Foreign Sales, Private Placements, Investor Offerings, Gross vs. Net, Split Rights & 50-50 Deals, Production-Distribution Agreements, etc. Bonus: Producer's Workbook/Directory.


11:00am – 12:30pm
No Direction Home - Changing Indie Distribution Strategies
Programmed by: British Academy of Film & Television Arts, Los Angeles

These are confusing times for indie filmmakers. Just as revolutionary production choices are opening up, traditional distribution models are collapsing. How cost-effective is U.S. theatrical release? Does it still impact foreign sales? What kind of income streams can be generated from such new sources as on-demand, internet download and direct website DVD sales? Our panel of experts may not have all the answers, but will attempt to provide producers with a compass to navigate the rocky shoals of a challenging and still-evolving marketplace.

John Alan Simon, Writer-Director, Radio Free Albemuth; Producer, The Getaway; Former Staff Writer, New Orleans Times Picayune; Member, BAFTA/LA Education and Outreach Committee

Chris Hyams, Founder and CEO, B-Side Entertainment
Ted Mundorff, CEO, Landmark Theatres
Jon Reiss, Director/Producer, Bomb It; Author, Think Outside the Box (Office) - The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era
David Shultz, Founder and President, Vitagraph Films
Leslie Urdang, President, Olympus Pictures; Producer, Adam, Rabbit Hole

2:00pm – 3:30pm
The DIY Distribution Playbook - What's Working Now, and What's Coming Next
Programmed by: International Documentary Association

As the models for traditional distribution continue to crumble, more and more filmmakers are choosing to take control of their films' distribution, marketing and outreach responsibilities, and to plunge themselves into the perils and rewards of a DIY release.

Documentary filmmakers in particular are setting an example for the industry, connecting with niche audiences and creating buzz and sales, often on a tiny fraction of a typical studio P&A budget.

Where are filmmakers finding success with DIY distribution? How are conventional distributors adapting to the new dynamics of media consumption? How are emerging distribution models changing the way films are produced, bought and sold?

Adam Chapnick - CEO,

Sacha Gervasi - Director, Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Jon Reiss - producer/director Bomb It; author, Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Lisa Smithline - producer; marketing strategist, Trouble The Water, Crips & Bloods, Dirt!
Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital
Matt Tyrnauer - Director, Valentino: The Last Emperor

4:00pm – 5:30pm
Screen Actors Guild: A Filmmaker's Resource
Programmed by: SAGIndie

This panel will highlight the many different departments and resources offered by Screen Actors Guild and SAGIndie for the independent filmmaker. From contracts to casting to exhibiting your film, Screen Actors Guild has something to help every independent filmmaker achieve his/her goal.

Darrien Michele Gipson, National Director, SAGIndie

Simon Abou-Fadel, LifeRaft/Roll Film Program Director, SAG Foundation
Mark Friedlander, National Director, New Media
William Marshall, Coordinator, iActor


11:00am – 12:30pm
Writing for the Genre World
Programmed by: Writers Guild of America, West

Screenwriters are often asked to enlist elements from past films, while embracing originality. No easy feat. How can creativity truly set a genre film apart (or can it)? And where does marketing takeover to reach those built-in audiences?

Mick Garris, Writer/Director/Producer, Riding the Bullet; Writer, Fear Itself; Co-Writer, The Fly II and Critters 2; Co-Writer/Co-Executive Producer, Hocus Pocus; Creator/Writer/Director/Producer, Masters of Horror

Larry Cohen, Writer, Phone Booth, Guilty As Sin, I The Jury; Co-Writer, Cellular; Writer/Director, It's Alive, Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover, Black Caesar, The Ambulance
Howard A. Rodman, Writer, Joe Gould's Secret, Savage Grace, August; Co-Writer, Takedown
Juliet Snowden & Stiles White, Co-Writers, Boogeyman, Knowing
Stephen Susco, Writer, The Grudge 1 & 2; Writer/Co-Producer, Red

2:00pm – 3:30pm
Walking the Digital Plank: How to Out-Swashbuckle Online Pirates
Programmed by: Directors Guild of America

As the battle continues against online piracy, panelists will discuss their weapons of choice. From cutting edge computer technology to reevaluating international distribution windows, panelists will outline high and low-tech solutions that not only attempt to block piracy but reduce its profitability.

Jonathan Dayton, Director, DGA Independent Directors Committee West member (Co-Director: Little Miss Sunshine)

Darcy Antonellis, President, Warner Bros. Technical Operations, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
Brad Beutlich, Sales Director, DtecNet
Alann McNeil, Vice President, Content Protection Services, Deluxe's Web Watch
Barbara Mudge, Director, IFTA and Owner, Worldwide Film Entertainment LLC

4:00pm – 5:30pm
Case Study: How to Package and Finance Your Independent Project Overseas
Programmed by: Producers Guild of America

This seminar promises to be an insider’s look at what it takes to attract talent, strategic partners and financing for independent films with an international setting. Using an actual screenplay budgeted at $10 million as a starting point for discussion, our moderator and panelists will take you through the various steps a producer needs to consider when packaging a project overseas. Moderated by a seasoned Producer with international production and sales experience, our panelists will include packaging agents, international buyers, and foreign sales and distribution experts.

William Stuart, President/CEO, Aurora Productions

Tim O'Hair, Packaging Agent, Paradigm Talent Agency


11:00am – 12:30pm
The New Rules of Indie Marketing
Programmed by: Film Independent

The old rules of distributing & marketing films no longer apply—as the print media loses its power and the theater moves into the living room, new outlets and tools at a filmmaker's disposal make for exciting times. How do you create a distribution plan and marketing campaign in the Twitter age? Whom should you have on your team to create the right buzz? Come and hear from filmmakers and indie experts who have created unique distribution strategies & marketing campaigns that dispense with the old models, and prove that you don’t need to be a studio to reach your audience.

Michael Donaldson, Partner, Donaldon & Callif

Sacha Gervasi, Director, Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Susan Jackson, Co-President, Freestyle Releasing
Dennis Rice, Founder, Vision Entertainment
Russell Schwartz, President, Pandemic Marketing

2:00pm – 3:30pm
The New Hollywood Movie Studio: New Power for the Independent Filmmaker Found in the World of New Media & Social Networking
Programmed by: Women in Film/L.A. International Committee

The seminar will identify and analyze the resources available to independent filmmakers in the new media and social networking platforms. We will discuss how these resources can pinpoint trends to inspire stories, help secure financing and create targeted marketing/public relation campaigns that include innovative branding strategies.

Peter Broderick, President, Paradigm Consulting

Thomas Mai, CEO, Festival Darlings
Marianna Palka, Filmmaker/Co-President, Morning Knight Productions
Nonny del la Pena, Filmmaker/President, Pyedog Productions

4:00pm – 5:30pm
Film or Digital...That's the Question
Beautiful Images on a Shoestring Budget
Programmed by: American Society of Cinematographers

A Panel of Cinematographers hand picked from the ranks of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) will share their knowledge and expertise with Filmmakers in a Q & A session.

George Spiro Dibie, ASC

Richard Crudo, ASC, Federal Hill, American Buffalo
David Darby, ASC, Far Sighted, True Rights
George Spiro Dibie, ASC, Multi-Emmy-Award-winning Cinematographer
Johnny Jensen, ASC, Lost In Yonkers, An American Story
Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC Uprising, The Vintner’s Luck
Isidore Mankofsky, ASC, Love, Lies and Murder, Better Off Dead
Donald M. Morgan, ASC, Murder in Mississippi, Geronimo
Michael Negrin, ASC, Time Loves a Hero, The Attic Expeditions
Daryn Okada, ASC, Baby Mama, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Antony Palmieri, ASC, ER, Monk
Robert Primes, ASC, MDs, Bird on a Wire
Roberto Schaefer, ASC, Stranger Than Fiction, For Your Consideration
Nancy Schreiber, ASC, The Celluloid Closet, November

The AFM is produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), the trade association representing the world’s producers and distributors of independent motion pictures and television programs. For more information, please visit

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