AFM Day 1 Recap

Fred Topel reviews Blood Shot and The Glass Man.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

I have always wanted to go to the American Film Market and this year it finally worked out for me. AFM is where distributors buy movies and producers show their wares to buyers. You imagine crazy shenanigans but it’s more like fancy suites with posters and trailer reels. Obviously the big studio movies don’t need to partake in this, so AFM is for all the crazy independent, exploitation or grindhouse type movies to get sold.

There are movies showing at various theaters around Santa Monica every two hours, but AFM is not like a film festival where I can walk into any of them with my pass. Since these screenings are for buyers, you need to get an invite from the exhibitors themselves. I got a couple for today (was supposed to be 3 but the third didn’t work out). Since these films are looking for a buyer, they are way pre-release and a review wouldn’t be relevant at this time, and would probably be unfair. I’m more interested in what kinds of films are working AFM, so my ratings will be on the scale of craziness.

Blood Shot

We were actually on the set of Blood Shot, posting our interviews with Brad Dourif, Michael Bailey Smith and director Dietrich Johnston on Dread Central years ago, so what a way to finally see the film at AFM. We understand the film was taken from Johnston but his work still looks good in it, making limited settings (we were there) look more elegant than the counterparts in this genre, or even by mainstream standards. On the crazy scale, you’ve got Dourif in brownface as an Arab terrorist screaming about Allah and Jihad, and a lot of little people in his militia. Christopher Lambert as the president of the United States, and very pro enhanced interrogation techniques. A vampire (Smith) works for the CIA: Vampire Division. I won’t spoil the finale craziness since I hope Blood Shot does get some takers at AFM and you all get to see it finally. It ends with a lot of visual effects, so what the effects represent is pretty wild.


The Glass Man

Neve Campbell as a British housewife, that’s pretty crazy, right? It’s not a Neve Campbell movie though. She’s a supporting character for Martin (Andy Nyman), a nervously blathering bloke whose vagaries lead to more misunderstandings. He can’t even come out and tell his wife he was fired, and that leads his wife to believe he’s having an affair, and he can’t come out and say he’s not cheating! He even “lends” a thief his watch because he can’t just not stop and talk to the weirdo who’s harassing him on the street. All this crazy behavior leads to more crazy twists I can’t spoil. It’s not the sort of craziness you can put on a poster but it’ll get people talking for word of mouth.

Another note about AFM screenings: people will walk into a screening in the middle of the film, watch about five minutes and leave. There’s a constant rotation, and I don’t sense that it’s any judgment on the film. At festivals, people will give up on a movie because there’s a chance the one starting in 10 minutes will be great. This seems like buyers are trying to get to every available title showing at a location and making an objective judgment on whether it suits their demographic. It’s quite an interesting crowd, not cinephiles but people who know what they’re looking for.

The rest of the week I’m planning to hit the company suites and report on the promo reels they’re showing. Look for some recaps of their trailers and upcoming releases here in these pages. I’m also moderating a panel for the film Conception on Sunday, so if you’re already attending AFM come see me.