PUBLICIST:Indie-film companies put on quite a production at the AFM

The American Film Market (AFM) held in Santa Monica each year is very much the UN of the film business. Scattered over four floors of the Loew's Hotel are "industry types" from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and, of course, Hollywood. The common language is, naturally, money. The AFM functions as an open-market bazaar, where the makers and sellers of independent films (movies without studio financing or distribution) try to hook up with buyers and financiers of independent films. It's a complex scenario in today's marketplace - a single film can be financed by a half-dozen different sources, from as many different countries. It can be sold for theatrical or TV exhibition to one country or regional territory at a time, like pieces of a puzzle. "Hey, great news! We just sold Cold Bullets to Mauritania - and Latvia's also interested!"

The American Film Market (AFM) held in Santa Monica each year is very much the UN of the film business. Scattered over four floors of the Loew's Hotel are "industry types" from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and, of course, Hollywood. The common language is, naturally, money. The AFM functions as an open-market bazaar, where the makers and sellers of independent films (movies without studio financing or distribution) try to hook up with buyers and financiers of independent films. It's a complex scenario in today's marketplace - a single film can be financed by a half-dozen different sources, from as many different countries. It can be sold for theatrical or TV exhibition to one country or regional territory at a time, like pieces of a puzzle. "Hey, great news! We just sold Cold Bullets to Mauritania - and Latvia's also interested!"

The American Film Market (AFM) held in Santa Monica each year is very much the UN of the film business. Scattered over four floors of the Loew's Hotel are "industry types" from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and, of course, Hollywood. The common language is, naturally, money. The AFM functions as an open-market bazaar, where the makers and sellers of independent films (movies without studio financing or distribution) try to hook up with buyers and financiers of independent films. It's a complex scenario in today's marketplace - a single film can be financed by a half-dozen different sources, from as many different countries. It can be sold for theatrical or TV exhibition to one country or regional territory at a time, like pieces of a puzzle. "Hey, great news! We just sold Cold Bullets to Mauritania - and Latvia's also interested!" Paul Nichols of The Lippin Group, which handles PR for the event, gave me a quick market overview and a guide to ground zero - the hotel's main lobby, which had been turned into a carnival of display booths, giant posters, A/V presentations, product samples, and glossy handouts. Away from the lobby, which is open to the general public, the various film companies set up shop in individual suites that require a press badge for entry. After flashing the proper credential and whispering the secret code ("wet flamethrower"), I wandered into the suites to overlook this year's board of fare. Many of the films are of the action/adventure ilk that global audiences apparently still crave. Titles like Mercenary, Submerged, and Death Fight. You know the story: superhero conquers the bad guys while winning the pretty girl's heart and the small helpless child's adoration. Not exactly my cup of tea, but as Abe Lincoln used to say, "Those who like this sort of thing will find this to be the sort of thing they like." Not all offerings are of the schlock variety, mind you. Some very good indie films surface at the AFM that go on to win critical and box-office acclaim. Sometimes Oscars. Most of the companies that attend each year are legit players, while others are neophyte outfits that may not be around by summer's end. Usually, the newer the company, the flashier the suite. "Let everyone know we're here," seems to be the PR motto. Well, for now, anyway. Better hope Cold Bullets plays well in Slovakia. Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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