Using Student Film Agreement Easy As ...

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Using Student Film Agreement Easy As ...

Students and faculty assembled at CFS, the Colorado Film School, on Sept. 15 to learn just how easy it can be to produce a project under the SAG-AFTRA Student Film Agreement. 

SAG-AFTRA Colorado Local President Sheila Ivy Traister and union staff presented a comprehensive tutorial, delivering information on the parameters of using the Student Film Agreement, as well as some guidelines for low budget and new media contracts. They also discussed the process by which a student filmmaker would be guided through a project by their assigned SAG-AFTRA business rep. The participants were amazed to learn that there are no fees charged for the type of services SAG-AFTRA provides to filmmakers at any stage in their careers.

While staff laid out the details regarding contracts, Traister, who is also a National Board member, provided anecdotal and practical information from the performer’s perspective. She was instrumental in creating the acting department at CFS in 1999, and taught acting and directing at the school for three years. 

In recent years, faculty member Galina Boulgakova has turned the acting department into one of the major cornerstones of the film program at CFS. Boulgakova is thrilled that SAG-AFTRA is working with the school to increase awareness of the importance and ease of using our contracts, and she was very grateful to have the information to pass along to her students. Acting often takes a back seat at film schools, but not at CFS, where the students are taught to appreciate the performers who bring their stories to life. 

Thoroughly engaged and eager to learn, students and teachers asked questions throughout the presentation. Everyone left with a new understanding of the benefits of working with union performers under a SAG-AFTRA contract. 

Clayton Richard Beutler, in his second year at CFS, appreciated the insight. “As students, it benefits you to practice working under the provisions of the contract so that you can take that knowledge with you into your professional careers,” he said. 

All of the participants left with a better grasp of the important role SAG-AFTRA plays in creating and maintaining a sustainable work environment in the entertainment industry. They also learned how critical it is that they, as future filmmakers, begin to develop a working knowledge of who we are and how our contracts work.

So, just how easy is it to take this knowledge and apply it?

“SAG-AFTRA was amazingly helpful in walking us through their contracts. I would have never expected to walk into a workshop out of curiosity and walk out with a fantastic new lead for my film! I’m so excited to work with Sheila Ivy Traister; she’s a real talent. And I’m eager to cast SAG-AFTRA members in as many future projects as I can,” said sophomore Benjamin Rand, who has a six-day shoot schedule later this semester.  

SAG-AFTRA encourages its members to support student filmmakers, who are the future of our industry. By participating in their projects, we make it easier for them to recognize the benefits of working with union performers as they begin to navigate their professional careers. Who knows, the students you work with might be the next Martin Scorsese or Lena Waithe, and you could be their muse!