Screen Actors Guild and SAGindie Panel Targets Independent Filmmakers at Producers’ Conference

Screen Actors Guild and SAGindie Panel Targets Independent Filmmakers at Producers’ Conference

Ken Howard at Produced By ConferenceScreen Actors Guild and SAGindie hosted a discussion at this year’s Produced By Conference offering advice to independent filmmakers on creating quality productions with limited resources.

The June 4 event, Big Names, Small Budgets: The Influence of Professional Talent on Indie Projects, featured a panel that included SAGindie National Director Darrien Michele Gipson; actor William Mapother (Another Earth, Lost); actor and writer Clark Gregg (Choke, Iron Man); writer and director Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, The Son of No One); and SAG Deputy National Executive Director of Contracts Ray Rodriguez. The panel was moderated by SAG National Director of New Media Mark Friedlander. SAG President Ken Howard (above) welcomed the attendees with opening remarks.

The panel discussed the difficulties producers face in securing funding, the benefits of professional talent and how the essential ingredients of a successful production are hard work, tenacity and little bit of luck.

Montiel summed up the absurdity of finding funding for a movie. His unusual journey took him from making short one-minute videos to working with Robert Downey Jr. and Trudie Styler, wife of musician Sting.

“It’s all crazy. One day you’re trying to get money for a slice of pizza. The next day you think $2 million is not a lot of money,” he said.

Gipson stressed that getting famous faces in your low-budget production may not be as impossible as it seems, as long as you have a quality script, a great story to tell and demonstrate professionalism.

“At any given time you can have 90 percent of actors not working,” Gipson said. “If they have to do something, they want to do something good.”  

Under the Ultra Low Budget Agreement, producers can pay even well-known actors $100 per day, and often, if they truly believe in the project and aren’t otherwise engaged, well-known actors will get involved in low-budget films, Gipson said. 

Producers Guild of America’s Third Annual Produced By Conference was held at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif. from June 3-5. 

Produced By Panel

From left, SAG Deputy National Executive Director of Contracts Ray Rodriguez; SAGindie National Director Darrien Michele Gipson; SAG National Director of New Media Mark Friedlander; writer and director Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, The Son of No One); actor and writer Clark Gregg (Choke, Iron Man); and actor William Mapother (Another Earth, Lost).