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Programs & Events



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AFM Conferences give attendees knowledge, insight, access, value and a rare opportunity to hear from the industry’s global thought leaders, decision makers and experts who all converge annually at the AFM.

Finance Conference I: The Big Picture

Friday, November 3     |     9:15am – 12:45pm     |     Starlight Ballroom, Fairmont Hotel

The Future of Global Film Finance
Leading CEOs, filmmakers, financiers and studio executives explore the future of independent film financing, emerging trends and the impact of new platforms on global film finance.

Joe Chianese, EVP, EP Financial Solutions

Spotlight Sessions

One-on-one discussions with industry visionaries.


Pitch Conference

Saturday, November 4    |     9:15am – 12:45pm     |     Starlight Ballroom, Fairmont Hotel

Pitching Essentials
A good pitch can get a bad film made while a bad pitch can leave a terrific project languishing on the shelf. Pitching is part art (it’s creative), part science (it needs to follow a tight script) and part sales (you have to wow them). Conference attendees will learn the essential rules and tools of pitching from the experts.


The 2-Minute Pitches
Volunteers selected in advance will pitch to our expert panel. They will give unvarnished feedback on each pitch – explaining what worked, what didn’t – and why.

Pilar Alessandra, Instructor/Consultant, On The Page

Tobin Armbrust, President, Worldwide Production & Acquisitions, Virgin Produced
Cassian Elwes, Independent Producer/Agent


To be considered to pitch on stage, you will need to submit a 2-minute video pitch. For details on how to submit your pitch, read AFM Pitch Conference Guide To Creating An Effective Video Pitch.


Finance Conference II: Funding Films Today

Sunday, November 5     |     9:15am – 12:45pm     |     Starlight Ballroom, Fairmont Hotel


Producing Studio Films with Independent Budgets
Production quality and talent are more crucial than ever. Producers need to be strategic with their budgets – talent, locations, special effects, crew, everything! Seasoned producers and experts share their advice on how to stretch budgets and get every dollar, euro, pound, yen or franc “on the screen.”

Richard Botto, Founder & CEO, Stage 32

The Film Finance Matrix: From Script to Screen

Our panel of experts will be presented with five film packages – each with partial or limited funding. They will explore and disclose how each film could be fully financed. Five case studies; five solutions.

Joe Chianese, EVP, EP Financial Solutions


Production Conference

Monday, November 6     |     9:15am – 12:45pm     |     Starlight Ballroom, Fairmont Hotel


Producing for the Pre-Sales Marketplace

Pre-Selling to territorial Buyers is key to financing most independent films. What are they looking for? Which genres and talent? How do you set a budget that will reflect the marketplace? Discover which projects are most likely to sell globally before they are made.

Paul Hertzberg, President & CEO, CineTel Films, Inc.

What They Want: Inside the Major Studios & Online Platforms

The major studios and online platforms are always in search of the next great script. But what do they really want and need? Development executives give insight into what their studio is seeking and the key elements they look for in any script or pitch.


Distribution Conference

Tuesday, November 7     |     9:15am – 12:45pm     |     Starlight Ballroom, Fairmont Hotel


Working with Sales Agents

To reach the global audience, an independent producer’s best ally is their international Sales Agent. Our panel of experts will discuss how to find and work with the right Sales Agent.

Clay Epstein, President, Film Mode Entertainment

The Future of Video On Demand

VOD is now the largest source of revenue for many films. Are we heading towards a future where all films will be available worldwide and where every film will be discoverable by its audience? Producers, distributors and platforms will disclose who is making money, how they are doing it, and what the future holds – separating fact from fiction.

Bruce Eisen, President, Digital Advisors


Additional Information

Doors & Will Call open at 8:00am.

For Speaking Opportunities contact Janina Fischer.

Writers Workshops


Learn how to shape your screenplay into a compelling narrative that will resonate with studios, investors and a global audience.


Writers Workshop I

Sunday, November 5     |     2:30pm – 5:30pm     |     Starlight Ballroom, Fairmont Hotel


You Had Me At Page One
Make the reader love you on the first page! Learn writing techniques that help your script hit the ground running. Through examples from your favorite scripts, we take a hard look at word choice, scene direction, dialogue approach, and the nuances of the page.

Instructor: Pilar Alessandra, Instructor/Consultant, On the Page

The Art of Cinematic Storytelling: Transforming Your Premise Into An Engaging Screenplay

The greatest challenge facing all screenwriters, whether novice or professional, is the process of transforming a premise into a compelling, sustainable story. This workshop focuses solely on the art of the story, with an emphasis on such fundamentals as character development, super-objective, rising conflict, scene work, and three-act structure. Participants learn how to spot critical mistakes often made in the initial development of a screenplay’s narrative. The final goal of the workshop is a greater understanding of what makes a story work and a series of tools that participants can immediately apply to their current screenplay.

Instructor: Steven Wolfson, UCLA


Writers Workshop II

Monday, November 6     |     2:30pm – 5:30pm     |     Starlight Ballroom, Fairmont Hotel


ReVision: Seeing Your Script With New Eyes
If writing is rewriting, how can you best approach the task? This workshop lays out a pragmatic rewrite strategy, as well as identifying the larger questions a writer should ask when revising a script. It concludes with a hands-on exercise, in which participants examine a scene from a film script which has been intentionally sullied, and then attempt to rewrite it into sterling condition.

Instructor: Ken LaZebnik, Instructor, USC; Director, Stephens College MFA in Screenwriting

Writing Compelling Characters

No matter what genre you’re working in, getting your reader to empathize with and root for your story’s protagonist is one of the most important goals – if not THE most important goal – for a screenwriter to achieve. Using film clips, screenplay pages, and brief exercises, this workshop explores how to create powerful, memorable characters, and the most effective techniques for bringing them to life on the page.

Instructor: Billy Mernit, UCLA Instructor & Universal Studio Story Analyst



AFM Roundtables are open-ended discussions that explore specialized topics and timely issues in an intimate setting.

Shoot the Book! LA: French Publishers Present Original Literary Works with Film Adaptation Potential

Friday, November 3     |     3:00pm – 4:30pm     |     AFM Studio, Loews Hotel


Five Paris publishing houses – Au Diable Vauvert, Dupuis, Gallimard, Glenat and Plon – will pitch titles selected by a jury of professionals composed of Jacqueline Lyanga, AFI Fest’s Director, Dana Spector, Literary Agent from Paradigm, Andrea McCall, from Amblin Partners, Bob Bookman, manager of Bob Bookman Management, and Mike Medavoy, from Phoenix Pictures. The roundtable will be followed by a wine reception, where audiovisual rights licensors and producers can discuss the day’s events and future contacts.


Building A Future For LGBTQ Film

Saturday, November 4     |     5:00pm – 6:30pm     |     AFM Studio, Loews Hotel


A discussion of the independent film landscape, using case studies of specific financing models, in order to identify a sustainable way forward for LGBTQ representation in cinema.

Presented in partnership with Outfest.
Lucy Mukerjee-Brown, Director of Programming, Outfest


The Passion of the Film: Reaching the Faith Community

Sunday, November 5     |     10:00am – 12:00pm     |     AFM Studio, Loews Hotel

Producers and distributors of recent faith and family hits have found success with new narratives and new marking tools. Filmmakers and marketers reveal the essential elements of story, ministry and outreach that will optimize exposure to reach and serve their audience.
10:00am – 10:30am Networking and refreshments
10:30am – 12:00pm Roundtable

Barabara Mudge, President & Founder, Worldwide Film Entertainment


The Future is Female

Sunday, November 5     |     5:00pm – 6:30pm     |     AFM Studio, Loews Hotel


It is no surprise that Wonder Women is the highest grossing action movie in 15 years. Women make up over half of the world’s population, and are a driving force in theatrical box office as well as television, cable and digital viewing. This Roundtable will highlight how female driven stories can expand your audience and profitability. Our panel will explore the benefits of developing strong female leads and hiring women directors, producers and writers for your next mega-hit.

Presented in partnership with the Alliance of Women Directors.
Wendy Calhoun, Writer/Producer, EMPIRE, NASHVILLE, JUSTIFIED


How to Get the Best Music For Your Project and Save Time & Money

Monday, November 6     |     2:30pm – 4:00pm     |     AFM Studio, Loews Hotel


Original film score or licensed music? From hiring a Composer or Music Supervisor to clearing your music and music-related residuals… we will answer real world questions and explain how to stick to your critically important post-production budget.
Presented in partnership with Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund.
Dennis Dreith, Perseverance Records Recording Artist; Owner, Magic Closet Music


Distributing & Monetizing Feature Documentaries

Monday, November 6     |     5:00pm – 6:30pm     |     AFM Studio, Loews Hotel

The Documentary marketplace is quickly transforming. New platforms and alliances – creative, geographic and financial – are providing opportunities for stories that can support a long-form treatment. This session will examine the diverse sources of revenue and reveal which co-production models can achieve success.
Presented in partnership with IDA.


Working with the U.S. Guilds

Tuesday, November 7     |     3:00pm – 4:30pm     |     AFM Studio, Loews Hotel


SAGindie, DGA and WGAW representatives explain how to secure talent agreements for actors, directors and writers and make your project signatory to the guilds’ agreements.
Darrien Michele Gipson, National Director, SAGindie
Cynthia Tollett, Assistant Executive Director, Directors Guild of America, Inc
Kay S. Wolf, Senior Representative/Member Organizing Department, Writers Guild of America West


AFM Orientation


The AFM is a great place to pitch your project or film – if you have a plan. Learn how the market works and the best way to connect with the AFM’s 400+ production/distribution companies.


Orientation I

Wednesday, November 1     |     3:00pm – 4:30pm     |     Arclight Cinemas, Screen 1

Jonathan Wolf, Managing Director, American Film Market


Orientation II

Saturday, November 4     |     3:00pm – 4:30pm     |     Arclight Cinemas, Screen 1

Jonathan Wolf, Managing Director, American Film Market


Additional Information
We recommend that producers read How to Work the AFM in advance.

Carousel Cocktails


AFM hosts the world’s producers and decision makers to four networking receptions at the historic Merry-Go-Round on the Santa Monica Pier. The AFM’s Carousel Cocktails provide a unique and memorable experience as participants connect and relax at the beach.


Qualified Attendee badge holders are invited to attend one Carousel Cocktail, which will take place Friday – Monday,  November 3, 4, 5 & 6, from 5:00 to 7:30. The selection is made when your badge is purchased.


Carousel Cocktails