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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

Adrian Alperovich, COO, OddLot Entertainment
Tom Ara, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Alexis Garcia, Partner, Endeavor Content
John Penotti, President, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

Spotlight Sessions

One-on-one discussions with industry visionaries.
Cassian Elwes, Independent Producer/Agent
Interviewed by: Wayne Marc Godfrey, President/COO, The Fyzz Facility

Jesse Sisgold, President & CEO, Skydance Media
Interviewed by: Nelson Granados, Associate Professor & Director for Media, Entertainment, & Culture, Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business; Contributor, Forbes

MCLE Credit: One hour of MCLE credit is available for attorneys for the first session.
CE Credit: Three hours of CE credit is available for CPAs for the full Finance I Conference.


Pitch Conference sponsored by Creative Industries Hawaii

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

Rebecca Cammarata, Director of Development, Stay Gold Features
Paul Hanson, CEO, Covert Media
Russell Levine, CEO, Route One Films
Ben Stillman, SVP, Black Bear Pictures

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

Shirley Davis, Executive Vice President, Physical Production, Alcon Entertainment, LLC
Stefan Lütje, Partner/Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Brian O’Shea, CEO, The Exchange
Adrian Ward, SVP & Manager, Entertainment Industries Division, Pacific Mercantile Bank

MCLE Credit: One hour of MCLE credit is available for attorneys for the second session.
CE Credit: Three hours of CE credit is available for CPAs for the full Finance II Conference.


Production Conference sponsored by IndieCo

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.

Paul Bales, Partner, The Asylum
Mark Damon, CEO & Chairman, Foresight Unlimited
Alison Thompson, Co-President, Cornerstone Films

What They Want: Inside the Studios

The studios are always in search of the next great script or acquisitions. But what do they really want and need? Producers and agents share their experiences and advice, and discuss the key elements that the studios look for in scripts and pitches.

Kevin Iwashina, Endeavor Content

Sam Brown, Head of Production, STXfilms
Gerren Crochet, Packaging Agent, Film Finance and Distribution, The Gersh Agency
Anjay Nagpal, SVP Production & Distribution, Bron Studios


Distribution Conference sponsored by MPS Labo

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

Martin Katz, Founder and President, Prospero Pictures
Dana Lustig, Principal, Dana Lustig Productions
Lisa Wilson, Partner, The Solution Entertainment Group

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

Andy Bohn, Co-Founder & Partner, The Film Arcade
Thomas Hughes, EVP, Worldwide Digital Distribution, Lionsgate
Tania Jones, VP of Marketing & Customer Service, Shift72
Hanny Patel, VP, Video Marketing, AT&T Entertainment Group


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 Pictures Story Analyst



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

The Changing Hong Kong Movie Scene: What is New, How and Why?

Thursday, November 2     |     3:00pm – 4:30pm     |     AFM Studio, Loews Hotel


Hong Kong films have been well recognized in the international film industry over the years and now exciting young talent are on the rise. Hong Kong’s young directors and producers are winning international awards with their debut productions which are known for their distinct local flavour and relatively low budgets. They are regarded as a fresh “Hong Kong New Wave Cinema”, one comparable to the generation in the 1970s. Two iconic directors will explore what is happening now in the Hong Kong movie scene.
Patrick Frater, Asia Bureau Chief, Variety
Steve Chan Chi-Fat, Director, Weeds on Fire
Felix Tsang, Sales and Acquisitions Manager, Golden Scene Company Limited
Vicky Wong, Director, Trivisa


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, Director of Programming, Outfest & Newfest
Christine D’Souza Gelb, Agent, Endeavor Content
Ian Bricke, Director, Content Acquisition, Netflix
Rebecca Arzoian, VP Production, Focus Features
Valerie Stadler, Producer


The Passion of the Film: Reaching the Faith Community

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


Producers and distributors are serving the faithful and finding their audience in the increasingly digital world. 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

Barbara Mudge, President & Founder, Worldwide Film Entertainment
DeVon Franklin, Producer & CEO, Franklin Entertainment
Kevin Downes, Producer & President, Kevin Downes Production & South West Film Group
David Austin, EVP, Bridgestone Multimedia
Rick Bonn, Head of Development & Acquisitions, Pure Flix Entertainment


The Future is Female

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


It is no surprise that Wonder Woman 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
Jen McGowan, Director
Geena Davis, Academy Award-Winning Actor, Founder, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Jim Whitaker, Producer, A Wrinkle in Time
Catherine Hand, Producer, A Wrinkle in Time


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.
Kevin Iwashina, Endeavor Content
Anna Godas, CEO, Dogwoof
Clare Crean, Head of Sales, The Works International
Laurens Grant, Director & Producer


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
Kay S. Wolf, Senior Representative/Member Organizing Department, Writers Guild of America West


Special Events


AFM Special Events are unique opportunities to connect and learn.

NIFS Finance Summit
Sponsored by PWC Nigeria and Silverbird Distribution

Friday, November 3     |     2:00pm – 6:00pm     |     AFM Gallery, Loews Hotel


Keynote Address
Nigeria’s Commitment Towards An Enabling Environment For Investment Into The Nigerian Film Business Ecosystem.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, Nigeria

Keynote Address

The Opportunities, Possibilities and Challenges of the Film Business in Nigeria: The Past, the Present and the Future.

Senator Ben Murray Bruce, Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatization; Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs; Founder, Silverbird Group


Moses Babatope
Kene Okwuosa
Carl Dickerson
Uche Nwuka
Chijoke Uwaegbute
Akin Salami
Opeyemi Ajayi

Engage: Navigating Hollywood’s Shifting Landscape

Friday, November 3     |     2:30pm – 5:45pm     |     Starlight Ballroom, Fairmont Hotel


Engage is the Pepperdine Alumni Affairs and Pepperdine’s Institute for Entertainment, Media, and Culture (iEMC) signature diversity and inclusion event where creative entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to learn from high profile industry professionals.

This half-day event features provocative panel discussions and invaluable insider information about the film, television, and new media landscape from a diverse group of notable creative producers and executives in the entertainment industry.
Further details can be found here.
Edward Allen, COO, Pantilleon
Effie Brown, Film and Television Producer; Project Greenlight
Deborah Calla, Principal, Calla Productions
Joi Carr, Scholar/Author, Actor/Singer-Songwriter, Pepperdine University
Keith Clinkscales, Founder and CEO, The Shadow League
Madeline di Nonno, CEO, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Jason George, Actor, Grey’s Anatomy
James Lopez, Producer, Head of Motion Pictures, Will Packer Productions
Courtney McCarthy, Lead Strategist and Producer, Google
William Nix, Chairman, Creative Projects Group
Haylen Van Koppen, Chief, Human Resources, Legendary Entertainment
Lisa Vidal, Actor, Being Mary Jane, Event Host
Dondre Whitfield, Actor, Queen Sugar
Marlon Young, Actor, Survivor’s Remorse


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 French 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 reception, where audiovisual rights licensors and producers can discuss the day’s events and future contacts. This event is organized by the French Cultural Services in Los Angeles and supported by the Institut Français.
Steven Gaydos, Vice President & Executive Editor, Variety
Etienne Bonnin, Rights & Licensing Director, Glénat
Marie-Pacifique Zeltner, Rights Manager, Au Diable Vauvert
Frédérique Massart, Film and Theatre Rights Director, Gallimard
Laurent Duvault, Director of Audiovisual Development, Mediatoon
Nathalie Carpentier, Audiovisual Rights Manager, CAL France


NIFS Distribution Summit
Sponsored by FilmHouse Cinemas and Filmone Distribution

Saturday, November 4     |     2:00pm – 6:00pm     |     AFM Gallery, Loews Hotel


Box Office in Nigeria: A Case Study

Kene Mparu, Managing Director, Film House Cinema

Bridging the gap for International Distribution of Nollywood Films

Nollywood Versus Hollywood in Nigeria


Moses Babatope
Craig Shurn
Francis Nebot
Ijeoma Onah
Joy Efe Odiete
Kene Mparu
Opeyemi Ajayi

NIFS Production Summit and Talent Spotlight
Sponsored by ASCEND Talent Agency and Jambo Play

Sunday, November 5     |     2:00pm – 6:00pm     |     AFM Gallery, Loews Hotel


Production Summit

Broad discussions covering new dimensions in production; the importance of casting; international production/co-production as the next frontiers for Nigeria producers; budgets, timelines and the benefits of the quick turn-around; and Nigeria as a viable production location.

Moses Babatope
Derek Baum
Emem Isong-Misodi
Kevin Nwankwor
Omoni Oboli
Jared Murray-Bruce
Shirley Frimpong-Manso
Mildred Okwo

Ascend Talent Spotlight


The Other Side of Russia. Myths and Reality of Filming in Russia

Sunday, November 5   |   2:30pm – 4:00pm   |   AFM Studio, Loews Hotel


Very often foreign productions use Eastern Europe to stand in for the scenes that require Russian locations. That tendency is gradually changing, as Russia attracts more and more filmmakers from all over the world. Still, it remains mostly undiscovered, leaving many stereotypes about the Russian film industry alive. We are going to discuss the key features and advantages of shooting foreign films in Russia, share the opinions of the local and international filmmakers on the subject and break some myths.


Join us at the AFM Studio to learn how to get access to the most stunning locations in world and save up to 66% of the budget.
Hosted by Russian Office of Film Commissions

Val Kupeev, Film Commissioner, Russian Office of Film Commissions


Romania Welcomes Hollywood

Monday, November 6     |     11:30am – 1:00pm     |     AFM Studio, Loews Hotel


30%-35% savings over Prague, 50% savings or more over London, up to 80% savings over U.S. prices, landscape galore, experienced crews by US standards and great actors, internationally acclaimed local producers now ready for co-productions with the U.S., and an EU mandatory quota of local content for both broadcast and streaming – are these strong enough arguments to think “Romania” for your next project?

We’ll have an open conversation about all aspects of shooting and/or co-producing in Romania. Brought to you by Double 4 Studios and Romanian Filmmakers Association (UCIN). Reception to follow under the auspices of The Consulate General of Romania in Los Angeles.

Andrei Zinca, Director/Producer; Owner, Double 4 Studios US
Robert Bernacchi, Producer/VP of Production, Skydance Media US
Andrei Boncea, Producer/Co-Owner, Frame Film Romania & Former VP of Content, CME
Mihai Fulger, Member of the Board, Romanian National Film Centre & Director, National Film Archives
Bogdan Moncea, Producer, Castel Film Studios Romania
Ada Solomon, Producer/Owner, Hi Film Productions Romania


Only in Louisiana

Monday, November 6   |   2:00pm – 6:00pm   |   AFM Gallery, Loews Hotel


For over 15 years, Louisiana has set the standard for motion picture production incentives throughout the world. With a competitive film production incentive; tax credits for full time, permanent jobs; and funds for investment in education and workforce development – the Louisiana Advantage is clear. Recent enhancements to the tax credit program in Louisiana are guaranteed to set the bar even higher. Join officials from the state of Louisiana, regional representatives, trade organizations, and Louisiana businesses as they discuss recent changes to Louisiana’s incentive program.


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

Monday, November 6     |     3:00pm – 4:15pm     |     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
Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, Executive Director, Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund
Stefanie Taub, National Director, Music, SAG-AFTRA
Paul Broucek, President, Music, Warner Bros. Pictures
Reggie Wilson, Owner/President, Guardian Music Services


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.



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

Jonathan Wolf, Managing Director, American Film Market



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 Cocktail


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. Evening receptions will take place Friday – Monday,  November 3, 4, 5 & 6, from 5:00 to 7:30.

Make your selection when you purchase your badge. Space is limited, first-come first-served until full.


Carousel Cocktails