Monday, November 23, 2009

IFTA Posts Summaries of Arbitration Awards

Many industry disputes involving independent film or international sales are resolved under IFTA (formerly AFMA) arbitration. IFTA now posts summaries of their awards which can be interesting reading. The summaries are available at:

The summaries name the parties to the disputes and briefly describe which party prevailed.

According to IFTA, it has administered the resolution of disputes in more than 1700 cases involving more than US$500 million in claims. IFTA Arbitration may be used for a wide variety of domestic and international entertainment disputes, such as those arising out of production agreements, motion picture, television and multimedia licensing agreements, financing agreements, film exhibition agreements, and sales agency agreements, to name a few.


The 12th annual The Method Fest independent film festival is currently accepting entries for the 2010 festival, March 25 April 1, in Calabasas, California. Method Fest is dedicated to showcasing breakout acting performances in story and character-driven independent feature and short films. The Method Fest provides a great opportunity to receive Los Angeles reviews and to have films seen by distributors based in Los Angeles. The submission deadlines are:
Early Deadline - December 1, 2009;

Late Entry Deadline February 1, 2010.

You can print / download the entry form for the 12th annual Method Fest on the festival web site, Filmmakers can also submit via

Over the past 11 years The Method fest has launched over 120 feature films into the marketplace (theatrical releases, DVD/video distribution, TV deals), and has brought to attention actors like Naomi Watts, Jeremy Sisto, Hunter Parrish, Michael Angarano, Jena Malone, Tamara Hope, Hill Harper, Navid Negahban and Eugene Byrd, to name just a few.

Full disclosure: I am an advisor to the festival.

If you have any questions, you can email or call (310) 535-9230.


Hawaii has laid off its film commissioner Donne Dawson and reduced staff in order to economize. Incentives under Acts 215 and 221 (which provide a 100% tax credit for 5 years, dropping to 80% for 2009/2010) sunsets at the end of 2010, but the 15-20% refundable credit remains in place.

Additional info at:

The new tax incentive guide put out by The Incentives Office is available for free at:

The regional film commissions (Big Island, Honolulu, Kauai and Maui) are still operational.


Some filmmakers are confused about the difference between a film festival and a film market. Markets are only open to the trade: A member of the public cannot buy a ticket to see a film at a market or participate in it. At markets, films are screened for buyers. Actually, it would be more accurate to call these buyers “licensees” since they usually do not buy films outright but license distribution rights for a term in a territory. One buyer might be a German broadcaster interested in acquiring films to distribute by cable television in Germany. Another buyer might be a Turkish theatre-chain owner who wants to acquire theatrical rights for Turkey. Some buyers want all media rights (theatrical, television, and home video) in a territory, and may sub-license rights to other distributors.

Markets are an opportunity for buyers worldwide to converge at one location to meet with sellers of film rights. In the course of a market, a buyer can talk to many sellers and view multiple films. Deals may be signed during the market or afterwards. The market is also an opportunity for sellers and buyers to socialize, and to meet people with whom they transact business long-distance.

Festivals, on the other hand, are open to the public. Anyone can buy a ticket to a screening, although at the most popular festivals, there may not be enough tickets to go around. Festivals can provide a test of audience appeal. A festival screening may be the first opportunity for the filmmaker to see how moviegoers react to his work. Of course, festival-goers tend to be better-educated, wealthier, and more avid moviegoers than the average moviegoer. Nevertheless, a festival screening does provide some good feedback.

Festivals serve two important functions. First, they expose films to distributors. Acceptance at a top festival will induce many acquisition executives to take a look at your film, either at the festival or by asking to screen it outside the festival. Winning a top festival may make your film highly desirable in the eyes of distributors, and may lead to a furious bidding war.

Second, festivals can be used to generate publicity for a film and draw the public’s attention to it. Thus, once distribution has been secured, the distributor may want the film in a festival to build awareness. If the timing of the festival is near the release date for the film, participation in the festival may further publicize the pic¬ture. On the other hand, if the film is not going to be released for another six months, publicity now may not be helpful, and can be harmful. That is because when the film is released, the prior coverage will have been forgotten by the public, and the news media will consider the film old news. The media may not review the film again or write articles about it.

Except from Risky Business, 2nd Edition by Mark Litwak.