Come Meet our 2020 Presenters

Hello everyone, I am very excited to announce our presenters for our IMAGINE New England Industry Celebration & “Imaginnaire” Awards Gala on January 14tin the exquisite “Glass Room” at the Seaport Tuscan Kitchen.

Please join us for this once a year magical evening and support the industry and the work IMAGINE does in its behalf. Now, meet our amazing presenters for the Awards Gala! If you haven’t already, RSVP as soon as you can. I genuinely appreciate your support!

Our Imaginnaires Presenters:

Casey Sherman will present to Massachusetts Representative Tackey Chan. Casey is a New York Times Bestselling Author including The Finest Hours (now a major motion picture starring Casey Affleck & Chris Pine) and Boston Strong (the basis for the film PATRIOTS DAY starring Mark Wahlberg).

Judy Laster will present to James Montgomery. Judy Laster is the founder and director of the Woods Hole Film Festival, now in its 29th year. She is also the co-founder and director of The Reel Blues Fest along with James Montgomery. Together they are producing the feature documentary, JAMES COTTON: THEY ALL STOOD UP, directed by Bestor Cram.

Mary Hronicek will present to Jan Waldman. Mary is a Boston based actor who also enjoys working behind the camera (production design, AD, Scriptie). As an actor, Mary enjoys exploring complicated, challenging characters like ‘Joan’ in the award winning film, GUTTERBUG.

Kristen Kearns will present to Eran Lobel. Kristen is the COO/Executive Producer at Element Productions. With more than fifteen years of experience working with amazing and talented creatives on broadcast campaigns, web content, and TV shows. She captains the ship at Element.

JoAnn F. Cox will present to Alecia Orsini Lebeda . JoAnn is a Board member of and administrator for Women in Film and Video New England. She enjoys stories (writing, telling, listening, watching!), making connections, and tackling details. She hates limes and loves STAR WARS.

Read on

2020 Industry Predictions

Every year IMAGINE collects predictions for the New Year from Industry Leaders. Enjoy these for 2020. pub

Don Packer, Founder and Video Editor – Engine Room Edit, Brewhouse VFX and Conductor Productions

First, I predict that I will seriously enjoy my second
year of career of watching things from afar. At the start of this year I did something that I didn’t imagine when
I opened EngineRoomEdit thirteen years prior and that is, sold it. Certainly, didn’t predict that but, I could have.

I predict that small companies in the advertising business will continue to win the battle across the board. They have been for a while. With low overhead and massive amounts of freelance talent lying about as the big agencies continue to thrash about, why not. I’m not saying the big agency model is dead, it’s just that there is a LOT more chances for smaller agencies than ever before.

I predict that even if you know how to run the gear and can afford the ever-lowering price, nothing changes. The greatest software remains the human brain. Without
the smarts and the creative talent, you simply have a lot of nice gear.

I predict that the fi lm tax incentive in Massachusetts will finally have the Sunset Clause removed because frankly, even the state doesn’t want to kill this cash cow. The amount of work we have had and continue to have, and the amount of work that wants to come here is enormous. No study will

show anything but the upside if it’s a fair one. And by the way, every state that has killed their tax credits is giving themselves a hard look over their past erroneous decision to do it, (Hello North Carolina).

I predict (and this isn’t a hard one) that with 5G coming the chance to send larger, more complete fi les video fi les will drive everyone in editorial and visual effects nuts as they struggle to perform a level of visual acceptability to their client in round one of approval that used to be expected in the final round.

That voiceover records will be better than ever. With 5G it will sound like the talent is standing right next to you even on a regular cell phone. This is going to be huge because even with a phone patch, we are missing some of the nuances of a person’s voice vs. recording in a studio sound booth.

I also predict that our 5G system in America will suck for some time, compared to China’s version. But we’ll come around.

I predict that clients who are shall we say, uninformed, will remain so. Yes, things CAN be done cheaper and there are many opportunities to cut corners. But in the end, the money you put in is directly proportional to thelook of the end product. Saving twenty grand on a shoot doesn’t mean you’re smart. It simply means you saved twenty grand and probably lost an opportunity to look that much better in the end.

Oh yes, a recession is coming. That’s not hard to predict. Hang on to your hats. I always liked a good little recession. People spend more dollars on advertising. Just
don’t make it a big one.

And finally, an easy one: The Red Line will continue to breakdown at the most in-opportune times.

Jan Waldman. Photo by Dina K Photography

Jan Waldman, Actor, TV Host and Producer

Asia’s role in Financing Films in 2020 China has become the driving force behind big budget films. The issue with this is that not all American films translate well in the
Asian market. Action/Adventure movies do well there, but the comedies, romances, or quirky movies with an American theme literally get lost in translation and this
factors in to which films the Asian market will finance, since the American market is dealing with a much smaller budget, this can be a mitigating factor in dictating which big budget movies are being financed. My prediction is that the large budget independent films will need to take the lead on the more unusual type films
and hope for recognition during the awards

Netflix and Amazon Prime are both investing millions in their programing and it is paying off for both them and the consumer. The streaming services are producing excellent movies, mini-series and television shows that are drawing in all types of viewers, unlike the movie theater industry which is being hamstrung by finances.

One more factor is the convenience viewers have while watching their favorite shows/ movies from the comfort of their homes with TV’s that far surpass the quality of a movie theater screen.

My hope for the movie theater industry (AMC, Cinemark, Cineworld) would be to upgrade their viewing screens. Poor screen quality in movie theaters is another factor in loss of revenue.

My belief is that the movie theater attendance would increase greatly if the screen quality was updated and improved with larger screens making for a more enjoyable viewing experience. Who doesn’t love a movie night out?

Andy Liebman, Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at EditShare

Broadcast and content creation agencies are beginning to decouple their workflows from proprietary systems. We are seeing more facilities beginning to adopt a ‘best of breed’ approach, choosing the right vendor with the right solution for their part of the workflow puzzle. EditShare is a proven choice for these facilities, offering creative agnostic freedom through openness in its entire
ecosystem. Our Flow media management solution throws a blanket across all creative and delivery platforms, working as the digital glue to connect everything together.

Content is the most valuable asset a facility owns. A facility needs to curate the content and deliver the story to their clients, whether it’s a broadcaster or an OTT provider. The facility curating the content needs to make sure they keep that content secure and mitigate the risk of theft. We’ve all seen the stories about movies or valuable programming appearing on the web prior to its release, causing major loss of revenue and job losses through the industry. With EditShare EFS Auditing, we are bringing extreme accountability to facilities dealing
with high value content by tracking every file interaction inception through to delivery. The five W’s of file security are constantly watched— “Who did What to Which file When and Where?”

This data is constantly logged in real time, enabling every footprint to be traced. Additionally, this capability meets new media and entertainment security guidelines
which are quickly becoming mandatory for doing business with high profile content providers.

Cloud is also a major part of the production story as it enables facilities to bring costs down by utilizing cloud technologies. EditShare has been working diligently
with cloud providers over the past four years to bridge facilities and develop an on-ramp to cloud workflows.

While on-premise will have a place in the production chain for many years to come, cloud will become more important as we enter a new production world. With EditShare, clients can feel assured that their investment
today in on-premise solutions will be fully “migratable” to the cloud when and where it suits the customer.

Alecia Orsini, President of Women in Film and Video of New England

I have big hopes for 2020! I predict more productions
coming to our region and blossoming! It would be wonderful to see another TV series establish itself in New England for multiple seasons. More productions in New England will lead to the substantial growth of our rental facilities and post-production houses.

I hope our college students will stay in New England rather than jet off to other states for jobs, and that we can help them thrive right here. The mood in the region is hopeful as we all row in the same direction, supporting the voices of our local filmmakers and sharing our talents with the rest of the world!

Women in Film and Video of New England has that same sense of hope. We’ve had growth in membership and connectivity, and will continue this trend into 2020 as people rally to the cause! We are capturing this energy with mentorships as we connect women with mentors across the film community, ever more supporting their
voices. Nationally, we see small changes taking hold on how women are viewed and treated in the film industry. There is a long way to go, we see the effort being made,
and we are hopeful that more is on the horizon.

As we round out the decade, I think about how far we have come and the wonderful people who have made and will continue to make our industry so rich. I am thankful for the opportunity to be here doing what I love with this community. Here is to more great films, stories and memories to come in 2020.

elaine victoria grey

Elaine Grey: SAG/AFTRA Actress/Director/Writer

My first 2020 prediction is, that I believe that the Entertainment Industry will be seeing another Castle
Rock production, right here in Massachusetts. An outstanding Series 2, 2019, kept viewers on the edge of their seats, and looking for more of Stephen King’s suspenseful thrillers. Watch for Castle Rock, Series 3 to
announce its plans.

While the number of television Series (i.e. Castle Rock and City on a Hill) and others have been on the rise, in New England, I predict that we will see an explosion of new projects, in development, over the coming year.

SAG/AFTRA New England will make great strides this year, with incoming President Andrea Lyman at the helm.

Following in the footsteps of her successful predecessor, Michele Proude, Andrea Lyman will lead her fellow Officers, Board Members and Staff to new horizons. They will continue to support peer organizations and their membership with the ongoing mission to fight for Retention of MA Film Tax Credits and Elimination of the Sunset Clause. I see Andrea Lyman and her team working on developing the Growth of Commercial Contracts; Membership & Program Development, along
with a myriad of other existing and new projects, and bringing them to new heights during the coming year.

IMAGINE Magazine will continue to be the first and foremost provider of Entertainment News in our Industry, here in New England and beyond. IMAGINE’s Publisher and Editor, Carol Patton will also remain a promoter of the Arts, forging ahead, as usual, to ensure
that we retain our Film Tax Credits and put an end to the Sunset Clause.

I predict that, during the coming year, the film Industry, particularly Scriptwriters, will have more of a focus on Inter-generational projects, ones that features the over-50 generation of “Baby Boomers” (1946-1964), “GenX,” (1965-1979),”Millenials” (1980-2000), and the upcoming “Gen Z,” working together, side by side, and fi lling the age Gap across the board, with feisty drama, laughter, revelation and lots of sizzle. How awesome!

All in All, 2020 should prove to be a remarkable year.

Vinca Liane Jarrett, Esq., FilmPro Finance

More channels such as Disney will emerge, and people will subscribe to what they like, but still keep Netflix, which has a jumpstart of more than twenty years on all of them, so the big fear that Netflix will disappear or the prediction that Disney will own the OTT space is just plain wishful thinking without basis in reality.

More heartfelt movies based in true stories will be made and distributed than ever, because it’s what the public worldwide needs to watch to escape the political turmoil and chaos caused by politicians who care more about money than the people or our planet.

Steve McGrath, Editor/Writer of IMAGINE’s Tech Edge and Sales Engineer for Zixi AI

Computing Becomes Mainstream – I love the idea of AI computing. Right now, it’s used in task oriented workflows like file conversions and black detections.
But next year, I think AI will blow up where it won’t only do task oriented computing, but content quality computing as well. Making sure colors are accurate, making sure there is no pixelization.

From there, the possibilities are endless. I think AI could replace “workflow foibles”. We all have them and we all know what they are. They are the goofy, unnatural things you do in your workflows to just get things out
the door. I am hopeful that AI can learn and improve such foibles.

Do I think a reality show could someday be edited by a machine? Absolutely. Can AI compete with a Scorsese film and make a creative masterpiece? Absolutely not.

Judy Laster, Executive Director of the Woods Hole Film Festival

2020 will see an increase in independent film production, both feature and short film series. The need for content will be beneficial for aspiring filmmakers and crew in Massachusetts.

Film Festivals will play an increasingly important
role in the life cycle of independent films, especially if studios are allowed to own theaters again if the Paramount consent decree is lifted.

The Woods Hole Film Festival will host its 29th edition!

Frank Imbergamo

Frankie Imbergamo, Actor, SAG-AFTRA Boston

I think 2020 is going to be a great year in our state of Massachusetts for the movie Industry.

The tax incentive for movies to be filmed here has been stable so I think a lot of the production companies have
their eyes on Massachusetts again.

As it has in the past. Why wouldn’t you? Our state has it all! The past year 2019 we have had a good amount of movies as well as TV series filmed here. I as an actor would love all the movies to be filmed here as so many
other actors from Massachusetts would –keeping us very busy! I know in the past we lost a lot of movies to Georgia but I think we will now be getting them back. 2020 will be a blockbuster year for us here in

Thanks to IMAGINE Magazine and Carol Patton for going the extra mile for all of us actors and production people from Massachusetts.

Steven Feinberg, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Film & TV Office

This will be Rhode Island’s best year yet for film and
television productions!

There will be a prestigious production which will have a powerful impact on our creative community as well as our tourism industry! Oscar winner of THE GREEN BOOK and Rhode Island native, Peter Farrelly, will be a presenter at this year’s Academy Awards!

THE IRISHMAN, which was executive produced by Rhode Islander, Chad Verdi, will receive several nominations during the awards season.

There will be a big surprise when a local film director begins production on a new feature! Another television series will commence in the fall of 2020! Several top notch actors will be in Rhode Island this year and at least one will purchase a home in Newport!

The Rhode Island International Film Festival will once again select their Grand Prize winner which will go on to win the Academy Award for “Best Short Film”.

A Rhode Island made production will be box office gold! Those are my predictions for the year. Looking forward to a healthy and happy New Year for all of our friends and families! Enjoy the world!

Read on

Meet our 2020 Imaginnaires Honorees!

We have reserved the Glass Room at the Tuscan Kitchen Seaport venue for our Tuesday, January 14, 2020 IMAGINE Industry New Year’s Celebration & “Imaginnaire” Awards Gala.

Address: 64 Seaport Blvd. | Boston | MA 02210

Click here for Tickets!

Jan Waldman: Actor & TV Host

Jan Waldman is a Boston based actor, TV Host, contributing writer to Imagine Magazine and Co-owner of Critter Casting. Born and raised in Minnesota, Jan moved to Boston in 1984 and worked as a nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital, married Dr. Howard Waldman, and raised two daughters, Alanna and Mikhaila. In 2012, Jan dove into her new career and quickly became an avid supporter of the industry and independent filmmakers. To date she has more than sixty film projects and commercials on her resume.

Alecia Orsini Lebeda

Alecia Orsini Lebeda, President of Women in Film and Video of New England

Alecia is an award winning multi-media professional with 12+ years’ experience working in the film industry. She is a prominent voice in the region’s film community as President of Women in Film and Video of New England. She also uses her marketing and development skills at NPR station WCAI, a service of WGBH. She also devotes time to Save MA Film Jobs, working behind the scenes for the grassroots organization. She was named one of the Cape & Plymouth Business 40 Under 40 for her volunteer work & entrepreneurship and is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts.

CEO/Executive Producer Eran Lobel

Eran Lobel, President & CEO Element Productions.

Eran founded ELEMENT in 1998 and grew it into one of New England’s premiere full service production, post production and integrated content companies. He has a passion for technology, food, and entrepreneurship and produces award-winning content for commercial and web advertising, television programs and long-format films. Eran is a founding board member of both FILMA and the Massachusetts Production Coalition (MPC), is a current board member of the Boston Ad Club and also serves on the City Year Boston Board of advisors. In his free time, Eran enjoys… just kidding, he has no free time.

Tackey Chan, Massachusetts Representative

Massachusetts House Representative Tackey Chan, represents the 2nd Norfolk District. Chan assumed office in 2011. Tackey is an industry legislative supporter who introduced House Bill No. 2419, An Act to remove the film tax credit expiration date. Over one hundred fellow legislators have become co-sponsors of the bill. Massachusetts Film Tax Credits expire the end of 2022. The passing of his bill will ensure studios, networks, streamers and other producer that they can continue to plan to use Massachusetts as a solid location for their productions continuing to create jobs and business here.

James Montgomery: Producer & Musician

Blues Legend James Montgomery continues to bring down the house on a nightly basis fronting his incendiary band in a career that spans six decades. Montgomery’s college band was signed, almost immediately after he graduated from Boston University by Capricorn Records. That signing would lead to years of touring with most of the biggest names in the business including Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, The Allman Brothers, Steve Miller, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King and a host of others. Montgomery was featured alongside Morgan Freeman and Willie Nelson in DELTLA RISING, a documentary about the roots of the Blues. He is currently co-producing JAMES COTTON: THEY ALL STOOD UP, a loving tribute to his mentor, with Judy Laster also producing and Bestor Cram directing.

Read on

About our January 2020 Issue

For our second decade of work we have included a collection of our covers during this time. Each cover has a story to tell and we have enjoyed bringing them to you.

IMAGINE’s story began in April 1998. Since then we have been connecting the dots of our industry.
Our name IMAGINE very clearly depicts that we had to imagine a vibrant production center in New England. However, we were willing to take on that challenge because it seemed that New England had everything in the natural order of things to become a production Mecca.

And with the introduction of Film Tax Credits to Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, we have proved that to be true. But, not without a great deal of work. It was necessary to educate our elected governors, representatives and senators. The notion of Film Tax Credits is difficult for many people to get their arms around. Many in the industry still do not understand how they work or how to compare the many different state programs that exist around the nation.

Massachusetts, for example, has a solid 25% Film Tax Credit that covers expenditures above and below the line and that is refundable at 90% by the state or transferrable at the going rate (92-93%) and you get your money right away when you choose transferrable. Compare that to New York’s 30% Film Tax Credit, which only applies to expenditures in the state below the line. Which is the better
opportunity? Massachusetts, of course. And that our minimum spend is only $50,000, independents and documentary should be flooding in.

Our covers designs were created by IMAGINE’s Design Editor Monique Walton.

Read on

Elika Portnoy’s AMERICAN DREAM Becomes Samuel Goldwyn Films’ OBSESSION

By Carol Patton

Over the summer Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired OBSESSION, a dramatic thriller directed by Goran Dukic and produced by Boston’s Elika Portnoy’s company Mutressa Movies. The movie hit the festival circuit under the title of AMERICAN DREAM, which really was a very tame title for this story which tangles and untangles two very different personas from backgrounds no one wants or understands. AMERICAN DREAM screened at the Boston International Film Festival in April.

This week OBSESSION (Goldwyn changed the name) gets a theatrical and VOD release. The film will debut in our area at Apple Cinemas Fresh Pond 10 on Friday, September 26th and will be available online as well.

Here’s a quick synopsis of OBSESSION: Before meeting George Good (Brad Dourif), Sonny Jordan (Mekhi Pfeiffer) was just a lost drifter with a troubled past floating from town to town, looking for work. As fate would have it, Sonny ends up saving George’s life from a murderous back-alley mugger. As thanks, George gives Sonny a home and a job as a mechanic on his farm in the lonely Louisiana Bayou. Sonny quickly settles in and makes himself useful around the place but then Sonny meets Larissa (Elika Portnoy), George’s alluring wife. She has a mysterious past and the two are irresistibly drawn to each other. The two begin a passionate affair leading them to construct a twisted plot to take George’s life in cold blood in order to be together. As their despicable plan unravels, they learn how far they are willing to go to cover their misdeed.

This story will thrill you and turn you around in your seat several times before an extraordinary unexpected ending is revealed. Be prepared to be entertained. OBSSESSION radiates with passion and physical sex so much so that the sex scenes between Elika Portnoy and Mekhi Pfeiffer were strategically choreographed. The script is electric and the actors hit their stride in the first moments of
the film.

Mutressa Movies is a production and finance company with offices in Boston and Los Angeles. Mutressa was founded by Elika Portnoy in 2008 to tell inspiring, thought provoking and entertaining stories, which she has been very successful in doing from her first film TRICKS OF A WOMAN (shot in Boston) until now.

If you wonder how this film project came to Elika, I can tell you. Producer Jeremy Wall of Polaris Pictures put the film together – he brought the writer, director and Elika together….Elika says, “he liked the idea of me being the Russian.” That would be the mysterious Larissa whose unseemly background would set her on a path to murder. Mutressa Movies funded the film. Elika would star as Larissa in the movie.

I reached out to Jeremy Wall about his cinematic matchmaking and here is what he said, “I can tell you that Elika is a fantastic producer – she gets it done and cares about the product. She is collaborative and team based and a pleasure to work with. I’d love to make more movies with her.

“She understands the work from behind the camera and in front. I was confident that bringing a quality director like Goran Dukic
to the table as well as the screenplay that all parties would be treated well and equitably. This played out. I could go on about Elika.

In OBSESSION, Elika had mixed feelings about portraying a murderer. She expressed that, “Honestly the hardest is to comprehend how
you could murder. “But,” she said, “we had an amazing acting coach that gave Larissa such a background story that I could understand why she wanted to murder…

“The actual murder” said Elika, “was the hardest scene. It took a whole day and after, I felt like I had been run over by a train.” Crime dramas can be difficult for actors if they are playing the murderer or perpetrator. And so it was for Elika, to say nothing about shooting in the Louisiana Bayou and being eaten alive while in scant clothing by mosquitos while the rest of the crew were covered head to toe including mosquito net face coverings. including mosquito net face coverings.

Mutressa has produced ten features including BEASTS OF NO NATION (directed by Cary Fukunaga and starring Idris Elba and Abraham Attah), LOVE IS STRANGE (directed by Ira Sachs and starring John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, and Marisa Tomei) and THE VOICES (directed by Marjane Satrapi and starring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick and Jacki Weaver). Her films have been in the official selection of Sundance, Berlin, Venice, Telluride, Toronto, Tribeca and have also received Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Actor, and Best
Supporting Actor for BEASTS OF NO NATION.

Alex Orlovsky joined Mutressa Movies as President of Production in January of 2018. The duo’s shared credits include BEASTS OF NO NATION, LOVE IS STRANGE, BLUE VALENTINE, and PLACE BEYOND THE PINES among others. Their next project Eliza Hittman’s NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS will be distributed by Focus Features. Elika is a learner at heart. She has a finance degree from George Mason University. Shestudied financial derivatives at Georgetown University, and international trade and policies at St. Peters College, Oxford University in England.

Her finance experience includes managing $220 million of private equity funds in Latin America and Europe for the International
Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, in Washington DC. This included investments and structuring of new funds, restructuring problem funds and making co-investments alongside other investors. She organized IFC’s first private equity conference, which created a network of investors, entrepreneurs and fund managers. While at the IFC, she also separately started a
biotech company that she ran and sold within a year of its formation.

Since moving to Boston ten years ago she studied singing at Berkelee School of Music and studied modern ballet at the Boston Conservatory.

And I have to add, she is fluent in Bulgarian, English, German and Spanish and has a good command of Portuguese, Serbian, Russian, Italian and Greek. And a member of Mensa.With brains, beauty and talent Elika decided she wanted to learn filmmaking first hand.
“I’ve always wanted to expand my knowledge by learning” says Elika, “And I have had an incredible learning curve with film production” instead of going the academic route as I did with my finance background, I wanted to learn film through hands on experience”.

Portnoy considers her first film, TRICKS OF A WOMAN as her best learning experience. “It cost me about the same as going to graduate school,” she says.

Born in Bulgaria, Elika Trifonova Portnoy was raised in the capital city Sofia. She is a member of the AFI National Council and
she is a member of the Board of Governors for Tufts Medical Center and the Tufts Floating Hospital for Children in Boston. She lives in Boston with her husband and two children. For more information visit

Read on

About our October 2019 Issue

Imagine News 2019 issue Andrea Lyman

Our cover star is Andrea Lyman. She is well known and well-loved in our marketplace. We extend our congratulations to her for being elected the new President of New England’s SAG-AFTRA.

Andrea possesses many talents. She is a singer/actor/producer working in film, on the stage, in voiceover and print. She has produced several films seen in various film festivals. Her award winning film, THE DONOR, was seen in the Pan African Film Festival at Cannes as well as The Roxbury International Film Festival, Boston Underground Film Festival and more.

She and her film team generally produce at least one short film every year that gets seen in various film festivals. She produces her own one woman musical show, “Broadway Lady,” which tours Massachusetts and has been applauded in Europe, NYC, Hawaii and on many cruise ships. Plus, you
will hear her voice on various regional and national commercials, films and web series.

How does she do it all? I’ve noticed online that at least one individual thinks she is a twin or how else could she get everything she does done?

Our cover photo was captured by Carolyn Ross Photography. Our cover design is by IMAGINE Design Editor Monique Walton.

Read on

AFM, A Look Back and a Look Forward

I always enjoy the cool ocean air as I walk up to the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica for the American Film Market every year. The shimmering Pacific Ocean is the backdrop to AFM, as it’s more commonly known to the over 7,000 attendees. It is the largest movie business event in the world and it’s quite a sight to behold. They empty out all the guest rooms at the hotel and transform them into sales offices for international production and distribution companies to hawk their wares to international buyers – this is where movies get bought, sold, seen, and pushed out to the rest of the world. It’s a behemoth of an affair and the movie business has been doing deals at AFM since 1981. Over the course of the eight days of the event each November, over $1 billion in deals get made. Yes, one billion dollars.

And it’s not uncommon to hear some of those deals go down in the five-story open atrium hotel lobby, where large-backed lounge chairs and couches act as a de facto meeting space for attendees who can look up at giant banners advertising myriad films and film production services around the balconies of the many floors above. One year I saw an advertisement with no name, and just images of shark heads coming out of a giant spiraling tornado in front of the Santa Monica Pier. They ended up calling that movie SHARKNADO, one of the SyFy channel’s biggest hits and generated many sequels, a musical at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and they are shopping around a spinoff into a kids’ animated series.

AFM 2018 drew over 1,300 buyers from 73 countries and they showed 402 screenings. The year showed a trend toward uncertainty – with the proliferation of content on every kind of device the competition has become quite stiff. But that can also be seen as a boon for independent filmmakers who can license their content to new media companies looking to fill their content space, even though the revenue from profit-participation is disappearing with it. So producers are trying to keep up with the business as it’s changing so fast because of the new streaming models. It seems like most traditional sellers are trying to find their footing in the new landscape.

LocationEXPO, an integrated locations tradeshow sprinkled throughout AFM, had a strong showing in its second year with 51 film commissions and agencies from around the globe including from Korea, Panama, Russia, Spain and Thailand – altogether they presented more than $1 billion (again, yes, $1 billion) in production incentives and opportunities. And for those that haven’t been to a locations tradeshow in the past, it’s kind of like wandering around the world and seeing all the fantastic places you can shoot, but all in one place. Booths are staffed with knowledgeable representatives from each locale, often the film commissioners themselves, and you can ask them direct questions about filming in their country or city. And if they’re offering incentives (such as Massachusetts’ 25% production credit, 25% payroll credit, and a sales tax exemption), you can start making business decisions about where to shoot.

Carl Hansen being presented the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge award. Carl Hansen, Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Nic Novicki.  Photo courtesy of Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.

AFM is a great place to be, not only because the weather in Southern California is still nice in November, but because the world is there, ready to show you what its got, and waiting to see what you have to offer. For those of you looking to attend AFM this upcoming November, here are some pointers to get around:

  • Get a badge. In the past, you’ve been able to walk into the lobby of the Loews, even without a badge, but they’ve closed the access to the lobby so you must have a badge to get access to any part of the Loews now.
  • Go in with a plan and do your research. There are literally hundreds of rooms and thousands of people who are trying to sell and buy, but they’re not all buying and selling the same things. Know what you’re selling, and target the companies that go after that kind of material. Don’t approach an action/horror distributor with your RomCom.
  • You don’t need to bring a script with you. Come armed with marketing materials (postcards or a pitch deck) that you can hand out easily, and won’t bog you down. You’ll be walking around for hours, so no need to carry all that paper, and no one will just accept a script – even in a marketplace setting. Save a tree and your back.
  • Bring a ton of business cards. Yes, a little old school, but a lot of the world is still kinda old school. And make sure it has all the relevant info for you on it, including phone, e-mail, website and/or social handles.
  • Have fun and don’t be afraid to talk to anyone. You never know who’s going to be at AFM. You will see name actors and directors walking around that you may be able to interact with in a meaningful way (as long as you’re not accosting someone, they tend to be receptive in the market environment). Or you just may meet some really cool people, like accidentally sitting next to an award-winning composer from Italy who is now composing a bunch of amazing projects there. [writer’s note: that actually happened to me]

Carl Hansen is an award-winning filmmaker and Emmy-winning producer, recently having won “Best Director” in the 2019 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. Carl is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion in the Entertainment industry and he enjoys volunteering his time teaching producing and production management classes to the next generation of young storytellers.

Read on

Boston’s Film Guru David Kleiler Dies at Age 79

Above: David Kleiler with Carol Patton at IMAGINE’s New England Industry New Year’s Celebration & “Imaginnaires” Gala, January 8, 2019. David was a 2007 “Imaginnaire” Award recipient. Photo by Navid Namazi.

Dear Imagine Readers, It is with a saddened heart that I share the news of the passing of our industry’s dear friend David Kleiler. I share my condolences with his family and multitude of friends and mentees. David’s passion for film and those of us in the film community was boundless and we will miss him.

David was one of IMAGINE’s very first “Imaginnaires” in 2007 and wrote a column for IMAGINE for several years called “Establishing Shot”. In it was his first hand expression of what the independent film community in New England was up to. His writing was entertaining and insightful. He was a friend, mentor and provided encouragement to everyone he met. His generosity and advice were always readily available.

David founded the Boston Underground Film Festival, supported and helped curate several other festivals and was the driving force behind the effort to save the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline. He also curated the most unique of screenings in his own living room where he showed his and others’ favorite films and then held discussions – loved and attended by many over the years.

He will be so missed. We’ve lost a treasure…..

Tonight at 6pm, there will be a ceremony at Coolidge Corner Theatre where David’s name will light up their Marquee. 

Tuesday, April 23rd, 6 – 9pm, Wake at Bell – O’Dea Funeral Home, 376 Washington Street in Brookline, MA. Map 

Wednesday, April 24th, 11 am, Funeral at St. Cecelia Roman Catholic Church, 18 Belvedere Street, Boston Back Bay, MA. Map

Read on