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AFM market

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By Cristiane Roget
At the 24th annual American Film Market, which took place last month in Santa Monica, there was good news for the below-the-line community. This year the market transformed itself into a springboard of expanded employment and production opportunities. There was a great deal of buzz concerning the announcement that the AFM will in future be aligned with the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival in its next outing in November 2004.
According to AFMA President and CEO Jean Prewitt, “Aligning the AFM with the AFI , with its respective cultural and commercial activities, will provide a broad and rich experience for all participants.”
“It can only translate into an increase in available jobs,” said Russ Walker, director of production and post at Panasonic. “The way has been paved for the below-the-line production aspirant seeking his or her next position on the crew. With increased demand comes expanded employment opportunities.”
Observers note that the filmmaking process is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, where boundaries between above and below the line are becoming increasingly transparent. A case in point: Bess Wiley’s Raising Genuis, a black comedy starring Ed Begley Jr., Shirley Jones and Tippi Hedren. Wiley’s background is in post effects as well as camera, on such films as Lethal Weapon and Everybody’s All American. Raising Genius is her first outing as producer/director.
One AFMA seminar probed the impact of piracy on the job market. Piracy directly damages future film production, said Prewitt. When a country is riddled with pirated films, distributors struggle to pay competitive license fees for legitimate product. “This leaves a gap in any production budget that depends on pre-sales contracts for financing, as do most independent films,” ultimately preventing the film from being made, she said.
By the same token, a high-budget film whose revenue expectations in international DVD or video are defeated by piracy in key markets will not be green-lit in the first place. “Piracy is a worldwide problem that harms the entire crew and all who depend on the industry for employment,” said Prewitt.

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