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AFM-Doc Producers Dominate

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Given the troublesome state of international relations, it came as no surprise that the 27th annual American Film Market in Santa Monica in November witnessed a proliferation of socially relevant documentaries and reality-based films—a trend that presents new opportunities to filmmakers with little financing coming from the below-the-line community.Docs can be the least expensive indie films because they usually require no elaborate sets, special effects or sky-high talent fees. And their producers usually have a passion for the subject matter and will stop at nothing to get their projects completed—even at ridiculously low budgets.Also contributing to career-changing opportunities for filmmakers with a point of view: the advent of consumer-priced digital cameras and software-based editing. Plus, with the proliferation of cable and satellite networks, the internet, and mobile video, the demand for content has never been greater. Docs are perfectly positioned to meet a global audience’s demand for specialized programming.And that applies to material that looks less than perfect. “Audiences for documentaries are more forgiving of imperfect production values because the subject matter comes first,” says Page Ostrow, who represents producers through her Ostrow & Company.Over 300 documentaries, historical reenactments, docudramas and films shot in cinema verite style were available at AFM. Subject matter as diverse as The Sugar Curtain (about Cubans born after that country’s revolution, from Wide Management), The Refugee All Stars (where a band of musicians in an African refugee camp keeps hope alive, from 3DD Entertainment), and Miracles (a take on 9/11, from Echelon Day).Writer/director Egidio Coccimiglio, whose script for the sci-fi thriller The Collective was optioned by UK-based Silent Fiction Films, said, “reality-based concepts that explore issues of globalization, technology, and civil war will always have resonance because they can no longer be ignored.”A case in point is Mohamed Hassan’s Death in Darfur, The Truth, a feature-length documentary about one man’s journey to find the real cause of the violent conflict in his native Sudan.AFM is the world’s largest gathering of buyers and sellers of independent feature films. This year it hosted over 7,000 industry attendees, representing over 70 countries, who consummated over $700 million in deals at the week-long event.

Written by Christine Roget

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