From Sony to Endeavor, Film Execs Annually Gather for a Game of Soccer

AFM - Santa Monica High - H 2019

Courtesy of AFM

"For 90 minutes, you aren’t thinking of meetings or deals, you’re in the game," said L.A.-based film consultant Peter Wetherell, who leads the World United Squad.

Competition is fierce in the indie film world. At least it is on the soccer pitch. On Sunday night, film execs from around the globe — representing the likes of Sony Pictures Classics, Endeavor Content, AGC Studios and Protagonist Pictures — will take to the turf at Santa Monica High to battle it out for 90 minutes of the beautiful game.

The match — in which a World United Squad led by L.A.-based film consultant Peter Wetherell takes on a team of Europe-based execs — has been a fixture at AFM since 1996.

"I’ve been playing in it for 15 years," said Ivan Diaz, head of international at Spanish sales group Filmax. "I try to prepare by working as little as possible during AFM."

Diaz, who used to play league ball in his native Spain, says the AFM match "is pretty high level" and often extreme. A few years back, a nasty tackle left him with a broken hand. "But I can still play the piano," he quipped.

This being the film business, in-game trash talk has a different flavor. "You’ll be taking a free kick," said Diaz, "and the guy in front of you will start yelling, 'The movie you sold me was shit!'"

But the main goal of the match is to escape the industry.

"For 90 minutes, you aren’t thinking of meetings or deals, you’re in the game," said Wetherall.

The other goal is to have drinks afterward.

This year’s post-match reception — at Ye Olde Kings Head pub in Santa Monica — will be sponsored by digital cinema locations firm EIKON Group.

"We’re happy to have them, because that’s the main expense associated with the event," said Wetherell, adding, "We drink a lot."

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Nov. 10 daily issue at the American Film Market.