AFM’s new headquarters at Le Meridien Delfina in Santa Monica has elicited strong opinions from attendees.
Inside the hotel’s often busy corridors and meeting places, several attendees expressed dissatisfaction over the AFM’s replacement for longtime venue Loews Santa Monica, with one buyer describing the venue as “pokey”, and many missing the Loews’ beachfront location.
There was a noted reduction in buyers from Europe, Australia, Japan and Latin America.
“The lifts have been the main source of complaint,” said Stephen Kelliher of UK sales outfit Bankside – a sentiment echoed by practically all attendees, as the lifts fail to match the AFM’s capacity.
Another bemoaned the fact they had to trek across town to take meetings at four or five key hotels including the Viceroy, Casa del Mar and Fairmont Miramar, as well as the beachfront suites favoured for the past decade or so by a number of blue-chip US sellers.
“Buyers hate Le Meridien Delfina, and with everyone all spread out it’s just a mess,” one grumbled.
A prominent salesperson said the market was “disjointed”, and added to talk of relocating to other locations, possibly Miami, Las Vegas or Downtown Los Angeles.
However AFM has signed a multi-year deal with the hotel, and attendees also visit agencies, studios and streamers.
Others expressed their satisfaction. Hugo Grumbar, a UK-based Embankment Films representative who is registered with the market, but not based on site, said: “AFM still needs to be held in Los Angeles. Santa Monica is the best area.”
“The hotel is fine – it wasn’t like we had a pick,” said Caroline Couret Deleggue, UK sales agent Film Seekers and member of the board of Independent Film and Television Alliance, the producer of AFM. “How many people complained against the Loews?” And suddenly they’re here and they love the Loews.”
Cinema Management Group president Edward Noeltner was also positive: “The IFTA setup and support staff at the Delfina have been amazing.”
Attendees have also had to navigate the impact of striking hotel workers. Those staying at the Viceroy said the bar had to close early and bedrooms were not being cleaned regularly.
“It’s just not the environment you want,” said one UK seller.
The hotel workers’ activity chimed with the actors’ strike. The SAG-AFTRA work stoppage has entered its 113th day and there has been talk of an imminent resolution as union negotiators and their studios and streamer counterparts wrestled with AI regulation and the union awaited a response to its latest counter proposals.
AFM 2023: Screen’s dailies