National Media Market & Conference (National Film Market) History

In 1978 a group of media professionals in Knoxville, Tennessee came up with the idea to create an “Educators/Librarians Film Marketplace.” This marketplace was to be sponsored by the Knoxville-Knox County Public Library in cooperation with the Greater Knoxville Chamber of Commerce and the Hyatt Regency Hotel, and was to “be designed to bring buyers and users and sellers together in a professional marketplace atmosphere, permitting each to deal with the product directly and immediately.” The “Marketplace” was a first in this country and was intended to draw nationwide attendance. It was to be established to combat the expense and general lack of productive work associated with trade-shows, exhibits, and conferences. The “Marketplace” was to take the form of a yearly “selling conference” at which buyers representing all types of institutions and agencies would attend in order to view films and to make purchase decisions.

A Board of Directors, composed of media librarians (academic, school, public, and state) and film distributors, was established for the formulation of policy, guidelines, programming, and an image for the proposed “Marketplace.”

Informal “committees” were formed to address the major issues of finance, criteria, promotion, and logistics. The vote of the Board was “unanimous in favor of the establishment of an annual film market, the first to be held October 19–23, 1979 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee.”

With a sense of purpose and direction and an October deadline, the Board of the National Film Market adjourned to begin the task of putting on a successful “first.” The National Film Market formally opened on Sunday morning, October 21, 1979 with the keynote speaker discussing “The Past and Present of Film: Its Uses and Usefulness.”

The film screenings also began on Sunday, as did the first of many workshops. The National Film Market was consumed with what could be described as a “working atmosphere.” Film buyers and sellers were seen meeting together on problems and candidly sharing ideas and opinions.

Film buyers in attendance at the National Film Market represented schools, public and state libraries, universities, and special libraries. Vendors and viewers “gave rave reviews to this initial attempt to provide a marketplace for the film industry.”

The Market continued to grow and attract more vendors and buyers over the next two decades. In 1997 the National Film & Video Market officially became the National Media Market, as 16mm “film” was rapidly being replaced by other formats.