Guaranteeing its presence in Santa Monica through 2008, the American Film Market (AFM) has signed a multi-year deal with the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.

The American Film Market, which includes some public screenings for Santa Monica residents, is scheduled to take place Wednesday, November 3rd, to Wednesday, November 10th, at the hotel.

“We’re thrilled with their commitment,” said Misti Kerns, Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau president and chief executive officer.

“AFM generates 17 to 22 million dollars in revenue for the city and businesses of Santa Monica each year,” she said.

Produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), the American Film Market has grown steadily during the last two decades to become what it says is the world’s largest motion picture trade event.

Formally the American Film Marketing Association, the IFTA is a trade association representing producers and distributors of independent movies and TV programs throughout the world.

The recent name change reflects the association’s growth and the global nature of its business and diverse activities, which include arbitration, licensing support, lobbying, market research and royalty collections, IFTA officials say.

Since 1991, the AFM has turned the Loews Hotel into a showplace of creativity as more than 7,000 industry professionals from more than 70 countries converge in Santa Monica for eight days of screenings, deal making and hospitality.

The hotel converts all of its rooms and common areas on the upper levels to exhibition space.

Throughout Santa Monica, participants attend meetings and seminars and view more than 400 films.

“Santa Monica provided the upscale ambiance we wanted for the market,” said Jonathan Wolf, executive vice president of IFTA and managing director of the American Film Market. “The beach was also a huge draw.”

“Most who come to AFM also attend the Cannes Film Festival in the spring, so this created the same relaxed atmosphere as Cannes,” Wolf said.

He also added that with more than 70 countries represented at the film festival, festival organizers wanted an environment that guests could easily understand, with theaters, shopping, restaurants, the beach and hotels all within walking distance.

Servicing this many people creates challenges, but Kerns says the community has been extremely supportive.

She and her staff work closely with the hotels, restaurants, police and other businesses to keep everyone up-to-date on the event.

“We prepare a fact sheet each year that gives the dates of the event, and when and where shuttles are running, and we pass out a ‘Welcome AFM’ window placard to businesses,” Kerns said.

The visitors bureau educates merchants on cultural differences, such as tipping customs and works with the police regarding increased foot traffic.

With the goal of creating a positive experience for the attendees, the visitors bureau also provides Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce guides to let guests know of services available so the visitors don’t have to go outside of Santa Monica for any of their needs.

The visitors bureau also informs guests about important issues such as jaywalking and parking, Kerns added.

“Research proves if guests have a good experience on business trips, they’ll come back with friends or family and spend more,” said Kerns.

Kerns and her staff will have to double their efforts this year as the American Film Market returns to Santa Monica Wednesday, November 3rd, to Wednesday, November 10th.

Creating a new strategic alliance with the American Film Institute for the Los Angeles International Film Festival (AFI FEST) — also held in November — AFM and AFI FEST will join forces in marketing, sponsorship, scheduling and a variety of other initiatives.

While each event will continue to be managed separately, the collaboration will result in a unified market and festival combining commerce and culture, event planners say.

“If some producers are deciding which festival to enter, we believe they’ll be heavily influenced to enter the AFI FEST if AFM is also present,” said Wolf.

Kerns hopes the November dates will kick up holiday shopping and her office is encouraging businesses to go the extra mile.

“AFM provides a welcome boost to our economy and contributes to the year-round success of smaller businesses that rely heavily on tourism dollars,” Kerns said. “Thank the customers, let them know you appreciate their business, give good value and service and you’ll make a solid investment in future usiness.”

Information, (310) 446-1000.