Organizers of the American Film Market are limiting access at the headquarters Loews Hotel to the official AFM participants, Variety has leaned.
When the 39th AFM starts on Oct. 31, admittance to the Loews will be strictly limited to those with credentials. In the past, attendees coming into the hotel lobby in Santa Monica, Calif., have been forced to deal with a wide variety of unsolicited pitches from unofficial sources.
In earlier years of the film market, sales agents and producers having business meetings in the lobby bar were infamously beseiged by uncredentialed wannabes flogging scripts or seeking acting roles.
Jonathan Wolf, who is starting his third decade as AFM managing director, told Variety that the move is in response to attendees’ concerns. “The lobby of the Loews should be the epicenter of the AFM but nobody wanted to be in the lobby,” he added.
As a result, the AFM will beef up security at the entrance to the Loews. In past years, security has been focused on the access to hotel rooms-turned offices on upper floors and to meeting areas. Wolf said that the change should make it easier for attendees to get around the eight-floor facility to the array of meetings that buyers and sellers schedule — often dozens in a single day.
He also explained that the change in access procedures first started to roll out in 2015, when the hotel began limiting access to the swimming pool area to AFM attendees in order to discourage unofficial approaches.
“We took a half-step when we began the new policy at the pool and it got an unbelievably positive response,” Wolf said.
Wolf, whose contract was renewed in June by the Independent Film & Television Alliance, said that the policy change is similar to what’s in effect at other major film markets, which have continued to tighten access in recent years. “If you want to get into the Palais during the Cannes market, you need a credential,” he said.
AFM is expecting more than 7,000 attendees from more than 80 countries during the eight days of the market, which will include 64 world premieres and more than 300 films shown at the AMC, Broadway, Laemmle, and Arclight commercial theaters. Base price for a credential is $395.
The world premieres include “Killers Anonymous,” starring Gary Oldman and Jessica Alba; “Running With the Devil,” starring Nicolas Cage and Laurence Fishburne; “Stano,” starring Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara; “Killerman,” starring Liam Hemsworth; “Beautiful Darkness,” starring Matthew Broderick and Chloe Sevigny; “Mrs. Lowry and Son,” starring Timothy Spall and Vanessa Redgrave; and Cuba Gooding Jr.’s directorial debut “Bayou Caviar,” starring Famke Janssen.
The conference program will begin on Nov. 3 with 150 speakers lined up including Alison Thompson of Cornerstone Films, “Mudbound” producer Cassian Elwes, Participant Media’s Krista Wegener and Ryan Turek of Blumhouse Productions.