The announcement was made that the 2020 AFM (American Film Market), will be a “Virtual Market.” Cannes 2020 was the first market to go virtual, and it set the groundwork for how these virtual markets will run. While this has thrown many industry pros into a tizzy, I believe there’s opportunity here. You just need to know how to navigate this new world.
This may not be a temporary situation. After Virtual Cannes, many companies realized that it was cheaper and easier in this digital age to do Zoom meetings. They were able to spend very little and still benefit without meeting face-to-face. And that is actually good news if you’re willing to embrace the paradigm shift. This means learning the ins-and-outs is important, not only for this year, but for the future.
Navigate the American Film Market Online
All of what I’m about to tell you comes from experience dealing with Virtual Cannes. The disclaimer here is that things could change, technology-wise, as we learn and move forward. The key for filmmakers is to treat Virtual AFM just like you would have treated regular AFM. There are three main benefits to filmmakers:
1) Networking: This is the one aspect that may change as new technology enters the fray. I recently talked with one of the coordinators of NATPE (a TV market). They showed me their virtual layout where there’s a graphical representation of a hotel lobby. You can click on “networking lounge,” and go inside and interact with people.
I’m not exactly sure how tech will play a part, but this is 100% a benefit for shy people. When it’s not face to face, people get more bold as far as reaching out and saying hello! You might be able to make some fantastic contacts here.
2) Panels/Conferences: Let’s talk about the AFM Panels/Conferences. This is the section where it really won’t be that much different! Normally, when you enter a panel discussion, you’re just sitting in the audience, listening. Well, the same thing applies except you’re watching on Zoom perhaps (or some other tech), and you are still just sitting and listening!
You can also ask questions… another area where someone who’s shy and fears speaking up in a live conference would have no problem typing out a question!
3) Meetings with Sales Agents/Distributors: Okay, this is where you need to have focus and be diligent. AFM meetings are set by reaching out beforehand, or walking around to the rooms and either trying to get a “walk-in” or set a future meeting up during the week. You’ll be doing the same thing. I’d say it’s most beneficial to set your meetings up beforehand. AFM will provide the list, and you should reach out to everyone that you want to meet. Then follow up as much as you can!
If you can get a Zoom meeting set, then it’s really just the same as a face to face, except it’s a video face to face. You still need to know how to pitch your project, and you should be able to share links to your trailer or sizzle reel.
Embrace AFM or Be Left Behind!
The future is uncertain, but you can benefit by embracing it! During Virtual Cannes, we took 30 minute meetings back to back every day. (one day we did 21 in a row!). Make this virtual world work fo you, and you’ll be kicking but at Virtual AFM.
For more information on how to navigate the traditional AFM (The techniques apply to the Virtual market as well), check out this detailed video training I put together on how to navigate the American Film Market.