AFM panels run the gamut

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The American Film Market, which kicks off today in Santa Monica, is not just about buying and selling and noshing and networking. Event organizers also have carved out plenty of time for serious talk.

The lineup of conferences and seminars, held at Le Merigot Hotel and the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, will cover topics ranging from film financing to distribution (both theatrical and online) to the latest in broadband video offerings.

At the annual AFM Finance Conference, scheduled for Friday morning, participants will take a look at the big picture.

The 9 a.m. panel, moderated by P. John Burke of the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, will offer a look at the year in review on the film financing front. Panelists include Comerica Bank's Morgan Rector, Summit Entertainment's Bob Hayward, Screen Capital's David Molner and Salter Group's Roy Salter.

The 11 a.m. follow up, moderated by KPMG's Benson Berro, will look ahead to emerging trends in film financing. The panel lineup consists of Axium International's Jeff Begun, Nu Image's Trevor Short and JP Morgan Securities' Chista Thomas.

Friday at 4 p.m., the conference will shine its spotlight on Hong Kong. Such panelists as producer Peggy Chiao of Arc Light Films, Yu Dong of Beijing Polybona Film Distribution and Nansun Shi of Film Workshop will discuss opportunities for Asian co-productions.

On Thursday, at 11 a.m., the full lineup of seminars will kick off with a look at U.S. theatrical distribution, programd by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Scheduled panelists include William Morris Independent's Phil Alberstat, Lionsgate's Peter Block, marketing and distribution consultant Seth Willenson and Gearhead Pictures' Daniel Myrick.

The filmmakers behind the new indie feature "Palo Alto" will be on hand Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. for a case study in do-it-yourself filmmaking offered by SAGIndie, which encourages filmmakers to use SAG's low-budget agreements.

And the American Society of Cinematographers has programd a 4 p.m. panel called "Artful Movies on a Limited Budget," that promises an all-star lineup of cinematographers.

Saturday morning, an IFTA program dedicated to the art of the pitch will see a dozen filmmakers pitch their latest project to a panel of industry experts.

That afternoon will be devoted to a location expo that will include two panels: one drawing on the expertise of film commissioners from around the world, and a second focusing on North America.

Sunday morning, the issue of fair use -- a critical issue in indie documentary filmmaking -- will be examined at a panel programd by Film Independent. An afternoon panel, organized by Axium International, will offer a survey of production incentives.

Topics on tap for Monday include a WGA West panel on how writers should be part of the production process, a DGA panel on do-it-yourself distribution in the digital age, and a Women in Film/L.A.-programd panel on the business and art of film adapatations.

Tuesday will be devoted to the iHollywoodForum's iHollywood Mobile Conference. Panels have been earmarked to discuss mobile and wireless opportunities for the film industry, the digital content revolution, new digital technologies and the broadband video revolution.
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