The American Film Market hosted a weeklong conference in Santa Monica from Oct. 31 to Nov. 7. where  industry professionals converged to discuss the state of the film. Topics explored included the shifting market and the changes that are happening to the industry at every level. Here are some highlights and insider tips that film geeks and aspiring filmmakers should know.

Advice on the art of Filmmaking & Pitching:

“Great material finds a way.  Making movies is so hard.  You go up and down.  Nobody wants to give you money for anything.  It is soul destroying at times, but it reveals how much you really want it, and it is possible.” -Sacha Gervasi, director of Hitchcock

“Identify patterns of feedback.  Getting feedback can be scary, but this is one of the most dramatic ways you can improve a project.  Pay attention to the details during a pitch: when do they smile, where do they look confused? The more feedback you get, the better.” -Stephanie Palmer, founder of Good in a Room

“A good pitch identifies genre, tells the beginning, middle and end to a story and has to be something I can envision actually being made.  If it is too esoteric, if I cannot see the film in my head, it won’t get made.” -Tobin Armbrust, president of Worldwide Production & Acquisitions, Exclusive Media

“People used to turn their noses at low-budget movies, but now it has become cache. It liberated us and let us deal with more interesting themes. You can be liberated by the micro-budget. We are entering a golden age of the democratization of the cinema industry where you can get around the conglomerates utilizing new technologies.” -Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma Entertainment

“It takes the same amount of preparation for a small $25,000 feature as it does for a $20 million one. When keeping a budget low, the chances of a return are greater, so it is a great business model.” -Andrea Sperling, producer at Super Crispy Entertainment

“You have to pick and choose where you want to spend the money to create the most production value.” -Tatiana Kelly, producer of Sunset Stories

“There are a lot of grass-roots opportunities to reach your audience directly and the independent voice does a much better job of that than an institution does.”
-Jane Fleming, former president of Women In Film and Partner, Amber Entertainment

On Current Issues in Film Finance:

"The difficulties we currently face are the changes in taste, digital disruption, and the decline of sales in certain international territories, but there is still an equity market that is buoyant and vibrant for the right projects." -Nigel Sinclair, co-chairman and CEO of Exclusive Media

"It is not a one size fits all formula for films. Not every title should go out wide theatrically. Some will benefit economically and on an exposure basis by going day and date." -Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films

On the possibilities of Video On Demand:

"There are different ways to go about releasing a film. Going to the theaters as a family can be expensive and to have that rush of feeling like you are an early adopter of a movie through  a VOD option is attractive to people." -Graham Taylor, head of global finance and distribution group of William Morris Endeavor

“In territories where piracy is not enforced very well, windowing is a great strategy to limit the effect piracy has on the monetization strategy.” - Robert Beaumont, president of Lightning Entertainment

“Today, smarter audiences are gravitating towards television and as a result, VOD films need to have quality just to compete and get on TV. Just as the VHS and DVD markets evolved, the VOD market is maturing. Technology cycles are getting faster and the cable-VOD gatekeepers are getting tougher on which films are getting in.” -Eamonn Bowles, president of Magnolia Pictures