Publishing our Women Who Work in the Industry Special Edition always gives me such pleasure. I created this concept in 1999 when women were severely curtailed in the work they could do in this industry and the press coverage they could receive was far and few between. IMAGINE expressly intended to balance the ink with a dedicated women’s issue.

Over the years the ink has balanced out, however we continue this issue because it is immensely popular (though under supported) and because there are still inequities existing where women are fewer in number in the top power positions: fewer directors, fewer strong characters, for example. You know, “the glass ceiling” thing, again. The election results reinforced for me that the Women Who Work in the Industry special edition is still as important as it was in 1999 when we began
it. We have some wonderful stories in this book and I hope you enjoy them. Every year I wish we had enough pages to include all the stories that deserve to be included here.

I traveled to Santa Monica for the American Film Market (AFM) along with 8,000 other industry professionals from all over the world. In addition to all the screenings, 400 offices in the Loews Santa Monica Resort Hotel cooking deals all day and night long for eight days, there was a conference every morning and a significant round table every afternoon covering topics like Producing in China
to Working with Talent Agents. Because our global economies, cultures and technologies are changing so quickly, I attended as many of these as time could
permit.

I headed right to the Finance Conference I: The Future of Global Film Finance, which explored the future of independent film financing, the impact of new platforms on global film finance, as well as deal structures that attract equity.

Here are some of the words of wisdom I came away with. David Glasser, President & COO, The Weinstein Company opened with this comment. “Today less is more. We’re in a marketplace where it used to be about the volume of movies, because
we’re always building a library. I think today the buyers are looking for higher quality. They’re looking for something special that separates them from everyone else on the market. It’s got to be about higher quality products…. Everything we say
here starts with one thing – todays’ market place needs high quality products, whether it’s drama, comedy, action. For theatrical releases, the bar is much higher right now…. The biggest challenge is the blurred lines between TV and film, and the
platforms from where you watch them.

“The best advice for a producer is that you are no longer just a film producer. You need to be a content producer. You may take a great film script and it’s not going to work as a movie. It may be for a Netflix or Amazon program, it may be expanded to a TV series. You have to be thinking that way. You need to be able to shift.”

Don Starr, Chairman & CEO, Grosvenor Park Media, contributed in one breath an old adage and a the new phenomenon we’re all watching evolve, “Quality of the writing is everything in the independent business. In the old days a movie actor going to TV
was a career death, now it is a career boost.” Starr added, “The local needs of individual countries have changed. The number of distributors has changed. The total number of presales, across the board in independent movies, is down by 30% at least, maybe more. Before, we used to be able to drive a movie with very little equity. Now we’re finding that if there isn’t significant equity as well as a U.S. sale, foreign markets cannot be sold and a movie cannot be made.”

Don Starr encapsulates the world view and sees that the American dollar is stronger and the international territories we sell to are weaker. They have less money to spend and a need for strong successful content. Add to this that the industry as a
global whole is scrambling to figure out how to best use the multiple delivering platforms of the day and you have to check every day because new opportunities arise in a wink and become strong and powerful overnight – example Netflix (see IMAGINE cover story August 2015.

According to Micah Green, Co-Head, Film Finance at CAA, “The Netflix phenomenon is inspiring. It proves that there is room for bold innovators. They came in and took huge risks and bets with a completely different model and it worked.” Expect more
like this.

Robert Sherman, a Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, a firm that became the “Official Law Firm Sponsor of the American Film Market” for the first time this year, takes into account, “There are many different factors that have contributed to the compression of sales in international markets: localization, growth of local content (China), currency issues, geopolitical issues; so if you are a filmmaker looking to make a project viable in that changing environment, you need to look and
see if your project has aspects that may attract buyers from a creative and financial perspective.”

“So you see, there’s a lot of doom and gloom, but experiences show that if a project is real and it’s rational in terms of the pricing and budget, then yes, business is still getting business done. There’s a great thirst at international distribution level for high quality content, but the bar for presales is higher than ever. The other side is if you’re proactive in pulling together quality packages, there are options to monetize and distribute.”

I was on the west coast at AFM for the Mass Media Expo and had to miss it this year. However, our George Weinstein covered it with his camera and I include scenes that I wish I were in.

Save the date for our most important party of the year: IMAGINE’s Industry New Year Celebration & “Imaginnaire” Awards Gala, Tuesday January 10, 2017. Your invitation is in this edition.