Tom Ortenberg, Gregory Chambet and Bill Johnson are among those who have added their voice to the movement to keep the market by the beach.

While the debate over the 2013 location of the AFM goes on, market organisers have adhered to a ‘no comment’ policy, preferring to focus on the more tangible good news in the form of official attendance data released on Monday (Nov 7).

By Monday a group calling itself Let’s Stay In Santa Monica had corralled more than 100 signatories for its online petition to reject a move to the L.A. LIVE complex in downtown Los Angeles and remain within a stone’s throw of the Pacific.

“For more than 15 years Santa Monica has been the ideal location for buyers around the world to meet,” the petition read, adding later: “We do not want to be parked in soulless spaces in the middle of a crowded downtown.”

A simple search of the petitioners reveals that those in favour of keeping the market in situ include Ortenberg, Chambet and Johnson as well as Eric Christenson, Ron Gell, Scott Jones and Pierre David.

The market is set to return to the Loews Hotel in 2012 but after that the contract expires and the location is up for grabs.

AFM managing director Jonathan Wolf declined to discuss the matter at the start of the market, saying only that AFM and IFTA (Independent Film & Television Alliance) management would “be listening all week” to the views of attendees.

And there were plenty of them according to official data issued by AFM top brass. The number of buying companies increased year-on-year by 8% from 664 to 718 while there was a 7% climb in acquisitions executives from 1,417 to 1,523.

Overall attendance went up 4% from 7,695 in 2010 to 7,988. Industry attendees, encompassing all non-buyers and sellers, jumped 21% to a record 2,402 from 1,988 last year. There were 415 screenings, 69 world premieres and 310 market premieres.

“We are thrilled with the strong growth in buyers – it’s our most important metric – and selling out the new AFM Conference Series in its first year underscores the AFM’s relevance to the production community,” said Wolf, who is also evp of IFTA.