AFM target: $800 million in deals

New tech challenge for dealmakers

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The American Film Market opened its doors Wednesday with organizers predicting that the next eight days should see deals worth $800 million spanning more than 1,000 projects.

Independent Film & Television Alliance president and CEO Jean Prewitt, whose organization produces the AFM, said the emergence of new technologies is one area of dealmaking dominating thoughts.

Prewitt said that, though new technology is providing "virtually no revenue" for sales companies looking to license product for mobile or the Internet, it is an area in which indie sellers are looking for guidance.

"At this stage, there really isn't an advanced value put on new technology in terms of advanced guarantees or income," Prewitt said. "If the sellers are doing deals they are trying to do revenue sharing deals."

Prewitt also said that there are more and more companies attending AFM selling anti-piracy solutions geared toward sellers and buyers looking to protect their projects.

IFTA has produced a new media guide for members trying to strike deals in this area, which it has had to update since its previous attempt before the Festival de Cannes.

AFM managing director and IFTA exec vp Jonathan Wolf said the AFM will host more than 900 screenings of 537 films with 34 languages spoken.

Wolf said one of the strengths of the AFM is that it is "a shopping center with no gatekeepers" because it is driven by the desires of IFTA membership.

He noted that there are more buyers from the U.S. than any other single territory, with Japanese acquisition reps following behind. "That's representative of the size of each of those markets," Wolf said.

Newly appointed IFTA chairman Lloyd Kaufman, who has spent 35 years at the helm of Troma Entertainment, the home of the Toxic Avenger, said he was looking to learn from the members in his new role.

Kaufman said the AFM summed up what makes America great, with "entrepreneurial skills" at the heart of everything in the indie film biz.

Organizers also said that for the fourth consecutive year, AFM has reached full capacity, selling out all exhibition space at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Le Merigot Beach Hotel.

A total of 430 production and distribution companies from 30 countries are exhibiting at this year's AFM. Attendance is expected to beat last year's attendance of 8,208.

World premieres of market titles include "Carnera," starring F. Murray Abraham and Paul Sorvino; "Flick," with Faye Dunaway; "Sanjuro," based on the script by the late Akira Kurosawa; and "Smart People," with Thomas Hayden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker and Dennis Quaid.