My First AFM

Posted in Diary of a Directrix
November 6th, 2009 by Devi Snively (The Directrix)

afm troma roomsmIf a day like yesterday doesn’t cure insomnia, what does?  Sigh.  Nonetheless, the long waking hours were certainly rewarding.  First, I met with the Cleveland Film Commisioner Ivan Schwarz at the fabulous Urth Caffe in WeHo.  I got there early and received some nice praise on my outfit from the darling WeHo boys that surrounded me.  I just love that part of town! The meeting went well.  Ivan was full of good advice and contacts to look into possibilities of making our next feature out there.  He’s good at what he does.  I’m so ready to go shoot a film in Cleveland.

afmpressconfsmThen I headed out to the AFMLloyd Kaufman, a dear friend and a tireless supporter of independent filmmakers,  had graciously offered me a guest pass to check it out.  I arrived in time for the Tromadance press conference which was every bit the colorful, lively event one would expect.  Scantily clad Tromettes, Count Smokula and his fabulous accordion, and an audience made up of Troma alums, fans, and a few other higher profile supporters including Darren Lynn Bousman, Mark Harris and Brian Taylor, whom Lloyd periodically acknowledged during the event.  So, imagine my surprise (and extreme embarrassment), when after acknowledging Oscar winners and more established filmmakers to hear him exclaim that a “respected Notre Dame professor and director of new feature film trippin’was also in the room and would I please stand up.  People dutifully applauded as my pallor pinkened.  Ah, Lloyd – how did I not see that coming?   But you gotta give the man credit.  He is truly democratic and generous to a fault when it comes to supporting other filmmakers.  As always, Mr. K, thanks for turning my face red in public.  I hope to return the favor one day…

Actually, I sort of got my chance.  After he made my presence known, a reporter doing a story on Lloyd sought me out to get my academic perspective on Lloyd. During the interview, I exposed Lloyd for the intelligent, sensitive guy that he truly is.  Right back at you, Babe, so there!

charlesbandThe rest of the afternoon turned out to be a fabulous education. First I spent some time in the Troma room.  The AFM is held in the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica and all the rooms are converted into offices for the hundreds of distribution companies present.  Most companies maintain a quiet, unassuming empty hotel room save for a desk and movie poster or two.  The Troma den, however, is plastered with colorful posters, half-naked women, and all manner of other quirky characters creating a festival atmosphere that was not unlike a scene in a Fellini film.  You never knew who was going to enter next -  reporters at NPR to Charlie Band and every walk of life in between seemed to pass though at one point or another.

gagbigLloyd graciously included me on a business lunch with composer Dennis Dreith and director Scott Mckinlay who work with the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund. We dined and sang the praises of hand sanitizer amid a very informative discussion about music and indie film, in addition to distribution.  Scott, another Troma alum,  has released his first feature Gag, which  has already had an interesting (and profitable!) journey.

After lunch, Lloyd took me around to check out some of the other distributors’ rooms.  It was a bit like visiting a ghost town frankly.  Everybody lamented the lack of buyers.  New at all of this, I hadn’t realized that the distribution companies go to the AFM not to seek new films to purchase, but to sell the ones they already represent to other companies and territories. Makes sense though.  Filmmakers with films are a dime a dozen and already come to them.  Companies willing to spend actual money on films are far fewer.

I learned so much about the market how it functions (and doesn’t) and what’s to be expected when looking for distribution in the current climate.  Self-distribution’s sounding better all the time frankly – certainly more profitable.  Still, it was nice not being one of the few sad filmmakers eagerly visiting each room trying to pawn their wares.  I shudder to think of the $600 fee they’ve paid for a pass to do so.

BobDylan63-12ATH2373775498_6814c41165The rest of the night was a fun mix of mingling with the myriad of characters in the Troma den – Count Smokula shared stories of jamming with Bob Dylan, I met multiple filmmakers working on a variety of interesting projects and even got to chat in Spanish with one of the film fest programmers from San Sebastian.  A pink-haired tromette, Alexia Anastasio, is currently shooting a documentary on Bill Plympton, whom I mention in a previous blog.  Can’t wait to check that one out.

The evening ended with a cocktail party, running into a WeHo boy I’d met at the Urth Caffe tumblr_kowmicfPuQ1qzuweoo1_400earlier – small world! and a late dinner at a super fun Mexican place (after some minor mishaps of losing my car and nearly blowing up a gas station – Man, I need some sleep.)  As I stumbled back into my apartment in the wee hours I was sure slumber would take over, but no such luck.  Sigh.  Yawn.  Another sigh.  Hopefully today will be enough to wear me out.  I finally have a few moments to work on our new trailer and later I’ve got my first official story meeting on the Zombie project with my buddy Joe (who will soon be featured in our friends of trippin’ section, so stay tuned.)

One Response to “My First AFM”

  1. [...] Cannes catalogue. Then we wandered about the Palais Royale which was like a sleeker version of the AFM. It was not very happening as of yet, assuming it will be at all.  As I learned at last fall’s [...]

Leave a Reply