Monday, November 17, 2014

10 Things I Learned from American Film Market

Screenwriter and producer Ed Fletcher delivers his pitch for "Pink" at the 2014 American Film Market as pitch expert and forum moderator Stephanie Palmer looks on.

By Ed Fletcher

Armed with a stack of business cards, some new pink ties and a four-day pass ($500), I recently attended American Film Market in Santa Monica, one of the world’s largest film markets, to develop or sell my screenplay Pink. For more information on Pink, a sexy dramatic comedy based on Sacramento’s 1969 bottomless stripper trial, read my blog or find us on Facebook. What follows is a rundown of things I learned or reconfirmed from attending American Film Market for the first time and as someone new to film.

  1. Hollywood is not about openness or inclusion. It’s a meritocracy based on your ability to make them money. That’s not an indictment, just real talk.
  2. In the film world there are creative types and business types. AFM is more for the business types. It ain’t called a market for nothing.
  3. There is little demand for comedies, dramas, sports movies or urban movies overseas. As a result, there are an exorbitant number of low budget thrillers, action movies and beast/zombie movies being made and marketed. 
  4. Getting on stage at the Pitch Conference can make you interesting to all the other filmmakers in the room, but since heavy hitters were in the their temporary sales offices blocks away, you’re still a nobody to them. 
  5. Just because somebody retweets you doesn’t mean you’re somebody to them.  
  6. Having a good pitch is one thing, but have it packaged (name director or talent signed on) and you’re cookin’. I wasn’t cooking.
  7. Wearing a Pink tie everyday was a great idea. Who forgets the Black guy, wearing a pink tie, and talking about a screenplay named Pink?  
  8. Cell phones are a security blanket for people afraid to be alone. It’s hard to spark up a conversation when people are checking their security blanket.
  9. The Producer Forums are popular: Get there early. Disregard this if you have a confirmed “producers” credit and can skip the line. 
  10. Despite the new ways to network through social media, nothing beats spending time in the lobby bar in terms of making connections.

The event offers a bevy of high level forums on the film business.
The rooms of two Santa Monica hotels are turned into temporary film offices.
Ed Fletcher posing for a picture at American Film Market 2014.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Time to Say "Geronimo" and Take Film Leap

When I was a little kid and even into adolescence, I loved to take risks.
In those days of perfect knees, I jumped from roofs, moving trucks and once from one moving speed boat to another. I thought nothing of taking a ski jump within weeks of learning to ski.
Like most people, as the years moved along I found myself taking fewer risks.
I ski with the goal of not falling. I keep the cruise control set at 75 mph as to not get a ticket. And I’ve sought comfort in my work environment.
On one hand, comfort and safety is a beautiful thing in this troubled economic climate. But on the other hand, it can be constricting and confining when your heart wants to soar.
Illustration by Val Mina
The instability of the journalism industry pushed me to do something I should have been doing all along: taking risks.
A three years, ago I started screenwriting and performing improv. Two days before my 40th birthday I hosted a comedy show and performed stand up.
Now I’m on my way to Santa Monica for the American Film Market conference in hopes of selling my screenplay or packaging it as an independent film.
Here's the logline for those new to this blog: A free-speech loving exotic dancer battles a small-town sheriff and bares it all to prove her "bottomless" dance is art worthy of protection in this sexy dramatic comedy based on a real 1969 case.
I’m characterizing it as a risk, but is it really?
Based on my submitted video pitch, I’ll already by pitching the script during the pitch session, so at worst I bomb the pitch, but salvage the weekend by taking notes at some very valuable forums and meeting a distributor interested in the film once its a completed.
But how likely is that? I’ve been a rally commissioner, scout camp leader, improv performer, television host, stand up comedian, and “the Voice” at Burning Man.
The upside: I nail the pitch, meet Jennifer Lawrence’s agent Jeremy Plager in the lobby bar, we get hammered, end up back at her place, she challenges to a beer chugging contest, loses and agrees to star in my film.
Here is to taking risks that arn’t too risky.

Like Pink Film on Facebook and follow @edfletcher on twitter for reports from the road. Hell I might even Instagram some famous people if my battery survives.