Executives at the Palais des Festivals during MIPCOM

Sure, AFM is the place for theatrical film distributors and buyers to gather in the fall, but MIPCOM is plenty busy for film companies too.

According to the Independent Film and Television Association, which has been hosting IFTA’s AFM Umbrella Stand at MIPCOM since the mid-90s, there will be 19 companies exhibiting with them at MIPCOM (that’s one more than last year). Jonathan Wolf, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the American Film Market (run by IFTA), says he doesn’t worry that AFM and MIPCOM compete. “Buyers at the AFM are discovering feature films long before they are ever introduced at MIPCOM or any other TV Market.”

It’s those in the market for films-for-TV that make it worth film distributors’ time and money to attend MIPCOM.

To Ken DuBow of Opus Distribution, “MIPCOM is the singular best television market of the year. It comes at the beginning of the television year. People haven’t seen each other for a while. There’s a real sense of anticipation,” he said. And as a film distributor there’s plenty of business to be done. “It’s broadcast-oriented, but you see DVD buyers at MIPCOM, too. There are European, Latins, Asians, people from all over the world,” he said.

But, DuBow added, “We are now doing better with digital than with broadcast. The money has flip-flopped. [MIPCOM’s] Reed Midem is incredible at attracting cutting-edge buyers, and there are tons of digital buyers there,” he said.

DuBow opted not to exhibit under the IFTA umbrella. “The umbrella stand is an excellent deal for people, but my problem is that the tables are set very close together. It’s an issue of discomfort for buyers, so for this MIPCOM I’ve moved to a full-sized stand,” he said.

Tomas Darcyl of Argentina’s Telefilms sees the markt as an opportunity to sell and buy films. “[MIPCOM] is for us, on one hand, a sales market, since we will meet our most important clients and, on the other hand, an event that gives us the opportunity to purchase “made for TV” movies that, if well chosen and with good quality production, can give excellent rating results to all free TV channels in the region,” said Tomas Darcyl of Argentina’s Telefilms.

But Doug Schwalbe of Classic Media, tells us leaves the film sales to AFM, and focuses on TV series only at MIPCOM. “We’re less likely to bring TV movies until we see how the new model in home entertainment is going to work for TV movies. We really need networks to finance them, and we can’t count on video and DVD buyers anymore,” he said.

And for the first time in six years, Larry Goebel and his Imagination Worldwide team will not attend MIPCOM. “It was nothing negative against Reed Midem or MIPCOM. It was just about timing. MIPCOM is four weeks before the AFM, when we’re in the process of acquiring films. We’re just not ready to announce things yet,” he said.

Though Goebel acknowledges that his company could have counted on library sales, “the bulk of our revenue comes from new films,” he said. It was always good to see usual distributors, but it was turning into meet and greet for us,” he said.  But Goebel stressed that the IFTA stand is a very cost-effective way for independents to exhibit, and is keeping his mind open as to whether he’ll exhibit at MIP-TV in the spring.

When asked which market is most important for film sales, Goebel said: “You have to look at it on a company by company basis. Some people say Cannes is best, some say Berlin, some say AFM. The thing about sales is that in 2011, sales is a 24/7, 365-day business. Sales markets used to be the only time you could make sales. That’s just not the case anymore. You can make them anytime. We just had our most active summer in a while.”