The American Film Market returns to Santa Monica this week for its first in-person gathering since the pandemic. The AFM is the largest film marketplace in the world, with over $1 billion in deals signed each year for completed films and films in development. Oklahoma is represented on the AFM by Prairie Surf Media and the Cherokee Nation Film Office.
Founded in 1981, the American Film Market is a market for the film industry, where production and distribution agreements are at the center of participants’ concerns. AFM is produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), the trade association representing the world’s producers and distributors of independent film and television programming.
Each year, AFM attracts more than 7,000 industry professionals representing 80 countries. Attendees include acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film curators, producers, writers, the entertainment press and those who provide services to the film industry. There are no red carpets or celebrity sightings, just tons of meetings and networking events.
Since 1991, the AFM has been held at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Each of the hotel rooms are rented for thousands of dollars and converted into offices for the duration of the deal. During the market, sales companies and studios stay in their rooms while buyers go from room to room meeting with companies to discuss, negotiate and make deals for projects.
AFM also rents 29 movie screens on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade and in the surrounding community to accommodate 700 screenings of more than 400 films. Featured films are those seeking theatrical and television release. Typically, only distributors attend screenings while everyone else works in the market.
Prairie Surf Media and co-CEO of Oklahoma City Rachel Canon and Matt Payne are on the ground at the AFM for the first time this year. Prairie Surf announced online that they were meeting with senior executives from major studios and production companies to establish and develop professional relationships. Prairie Surf has partnered with Bluebell Events and Oklahoma Shirt Company to create a booth and merchandise that will entice companies from around the world to bring their productions to Oklahoma.
The Cherokee Nation Film Office also participates in the AFM as an exhibitor and attracts a large press. John PrewittCEO of IFTA, specifically mentioned them in his interview with Scott Roxborough this week in the Hollywood journalist:
“I have been truly amazed over the past six months, at how many of our members are going to places like…Oklahoma. One of the exhibitors at AFM will be the Cherokee Nation of Tahlequah Oklahoma, who have put in place put an incentive to bring film production to tribal lands.And of course now that travel is opening up you will see more and more changes in the world to try to take advantage of almost all forms of savings.
The relaunch of the in-person AFM is great news for the film industry. We need traditional film markets to thrive so that independent films made here in Oklahoma have more opportunities for distribution. It is also essential that Oklahoma be strongly represented at these international film events. Fortunately, Prairie Surf Media and the Cherokee Nation Film Office are wonderful representatives of Oklahoma’s film industry.