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Indie Suppliers Looking for Genre, Art-House Fare at AFM

19 Feb, 2004 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Doug Schwab, president of Maverick Entertainment, specializes in urban and Spanish-language movies. Tim Hinsley, VP of acquisitions for Koch Entertainment, goes more for the high-brow stuff, from independent cinema to performing arts. And Larry Brahms, president and CEO of MTI Home Video, prefers low-budget horror, action and other genre fare.

What all three suppliers have in common, however, is their planned presence at the American Film Market, which opens Feb. 25 in Santa Monica, Calif. The 24th annual cinematic flea market, which runs through March 3, bills itself as “the largest gathering of the [film] industry's most influential leaders,” with representatives of more than 300 motion picture companies and 7,000 film executives.

Most of the big studios, including 20th Century Fox and the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, are sending acquisition executives. They're looking primarily for films that can be released directly to video, both in the United States and internationally -- mostly low-budget genre product, including Asian actioners.

But for the most part, AFM is a flea market for indies. Doug Schwab said he'll be “wearing two hats” at AFM. On behalf of Maverick, he'll be “looking to acquire films to add to our ever-growing video library in the urban and Latino categories.”

On behalf of Breakaway Films, a production company in which he's principal partner, he'll be looking to sell several films, including Carlita's Secret, starring Eva Longoria (TV's “The Young and the Restless”) and the urban horror film The Evil One, with Candace Carey (Drumline).

Koch's Hinsley said he'll be at AFM with Richard Lorber for titles that can be distributed under the Koch Lorber Films marquee, chiefly “independent cinema, documentaries and fine arts.” For the more mainstream Koch Vision side, Hinsley said, he'll cast an eye toward feature films, TV series and music-related programming.

“We've been heavily into sellthrough these past four years, and we're just out to continue to find good product,” Hinsley said, noting that Koch has more than 3,000 distinct retail accounts, from Wal-Mart and Blockbuster “to small mom-and-pop music stores.”

Brahms, meanwhile, is looking for bargains -- films with budgets in the $1 million range to which he can acquire domestic home video rights for the five different labels he distributes: Red Rum, Artist View Entertainment, Bedford Entertainment, Delta Entertainment and Fangoria.

“I'm really looking for strong action films,” he said.

Family films are also on Brahms' wish list. “I have a 6-year-old who is unquestionably head of acquisitions for our family line,” Brahms said. “He's merciless -- but if he makes it through the first three minutes, we have a winner.”

Executives with UrbanWorks and Ground-Zero Entertainment also will be at AFM, looking for genre films.

UrbanWorks president Jeff Clanagan said he's willing to spend upwards of $3 million on “high-end independent product with great production values and a recognizable cast.”

Ground-Zero president Anthony Perez, on the other hand, wants to meet with Chinese filmmakers and acquire domestic video distribution rights to martial-arts actioners “to strengthen our kung fu catalog.”

“In the past, we've gotten acquisitions for as little as $5,000,” he said. Perez also wants to bring filmmakers to his offices “so they can see how we operate and how we do things.”

He added, “Especially now that MIFED [the film festival in Milan, Italy] is gone, there are only two shows -- Cannes and this.”

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