I wouldn't call myself a film market pro, but I did kind of feel like one. Four years ago I jumped in the deep end and nervously attended American Film Market, the world's largest film market for buying and selling independently-produced films. This year, I returned still humble, but more confident and capable.
I worked the temporary offices of the market, I dispensed advice to first-timers and briefly had screenwriters lining up to tell me about their scripts. Both trips to AFM in Santa Monica I pitched creative content based on Sacramento's Pink Pussy Kat trial. The wild 1969 trial made national news when the judge took the jury to the club and history by helping write the rules for exotic dance. In 2014, just months into my exploration into producing I was selected to pitch my screenplay "Pink" at a crowded AFM ballroom. Read the full story here. The leap from "Pink" -- the based on a true story dramatic comedy -- to "Do the Dance" the documentary came during the winter of 2015 with the passing of San Francisco topless legend Carol Doda. In developing the script I'd always assumed I would also create a short companion documentary. I'd hoped Doda would be one of the people I'd interview. Her death along with that of former Sacramento County Sheriff Larry Stamm told me that if I was going to do a documentary, the time to interview the remaining participants was now. That realization grew into a fully developed plan to produce "Do the Dance. In 2017, we raised $10,000 to start the project. After shoots in Sacramento, Las Vegas, and Portland, we sat down with our editor to produce a new preview to show investors and potential collaborators. I arrived in Santa Monica Nov. 3 for the final four days of the week-long indie film market. Most film distributors, sales agents and other middlemen in the path of creative content from creator to audience are only interested in finished films, so I knew going into it the primary goal was creating relationships that won't immediately offer fruit. The secondary goal was to learn. Back-to-back panel discussions about producing documentaries, with panelists that included the producers of "RGB," "Won't You Be My Neighbor" and "The Rachel Divide," offered inspiration and practical tips. The panel reaffirmed our belief in the potential of a theatrical release that featuring "must see" special showings include a live performance and discussion. My first time at AFM it felt like a short in the dark. This time around, attending felt like a step in a long march towards completing first the documentary "Do the Dance" and later "Pink."