SAG Offers Indie Filmmakers Low-Budget Advice

SAG’s David White says indie films are “an incubator of creativity today when big budget film economics often make new ideas a riskier business.”

The Screen Actors Guild stands ready to help independent producers get their projects before the cameras, guild executives said Saturday at a panel devoted to indie filmmaking at the annual Produced by Conference.

SAGIndie national director Darrien Michelle Gipson focused on SAG’s variety of low-budget agreements: “You can get the best actors you ever imagined for $100 a day,” she remarked, patting fellow panelist William Mapother on the back as she did so.

SAG deputy national executive director Ray Rodriguez pointed to a variety of online resources offered by the guild, including SAG’s new online Production Center at That resource was highlighted at the beginning of the panel by SAG national executive director David White, who played a video demonstrating the site.

Mapother also had a digital resource to share: His company, Slated, is in beta testing on an online marketplace for film financing.

Stories of luck and perseverance were also on display Saturday at the SAG-sponsored panel in Burbank.

For writer-director Dito Montiel, the key to making his debut film, “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” was the trust reposed in him by “an actor who just got out of jail” – his description of Robert Downey, Jr. – and by producer Trudie Styler,“who was crazy enough to give me a chance writing and directing.”

Actor-writer-director Clark Gregg cited insanity of a different kind as helping out with the making of his “Choke,” a Sundance Special Jury prize winner that is probably the only movie in existence centering on a sex addicted colonial theme park worker. In Gregg’s case, locations were an issue and, to his delight, he managed to find a county in New Jersey with the necessary facilities: “an insane asylum and a schlocky zoo.” The unnamed county was “very helpful,” he added – making for an appropriate anecdote at a show co-sponsored by the Association of Film Commissioners International.

The panel was introduced with remarks by SAG national president Ken Howard, who said “SAG values independent films and filmmakers like you” and by White, who also highlighted independent film, calling it “an incubator of creativity today when big budget film economics often make new ideas a riskier business.”

The annual Produced By Conference is in its third year, and this time is being held in conjunction with the AFCI’s Locations Show, with several dozen panels and speaker events, as well as about 200 exhibitor booths. The two-day-event, held this year at Disney Studios in Burbank, concludes Sunday.


Twitter: @jhandel