SAGindie Staff

Meet SAGindie’s Usual Suspects.

2017 marks the twentieth anniversary of SAGindie’s founding, so with that landmark in mind, our staff has looked back on the year 1997 to pick our favorite movies also turning 20 this year.

Darrien Michele Gipson

SAGindie National Director

Darrien Gipson An M.F.A. recipient from the Peter Stark Producer’s Program at USC, as well as a USC President Samples Fellows, a university honors program for Community Service, Darrien was formerly the Vice President of Production for DEF Pictures, where she shepherded such films as Gridlock’d and How to be a Player. Darrien began her career at SAGindie as the Event Coordinator, where she traveled throughout the country to festivals, educating filmmakers on SAG-AFTRA’s low budget contracts and all ensuing budgetary and distribution concerns. She visited more than 25 states, 3 countries, and over 55 festivals to consult with independent filmmakers. Yes, she has a lot of frequent flyer miles. No, she isn’t sharing them.

As the National Director of SAGindie, Darrien is responsible for just about everything – global warming, demoting Pluto, lowering cancer rates. She is also responsible for the strategic planning and oversight of SAGindie, including administration, sponsorship negotiations, national advertising campaigns, and SAGindie.org – the organization’s online resource for independent filmmakers. Darrien is the engine behind SAGindie, pushing it into being the best independent filmmaking resource EVER.

Asked what her favorite movie of 1997 was, Darrien stated, “Tasked with deciding which film from 1997 should wear the crown as THE BEST, I had the pleasure of going down memory wikipedia-lane. There were some real clunkers that year, to be sure. But there were also some films that are burned into my memory: My Best Friend’s Wedding – from the opening credit song, to the amazing Dionne Warwick sing-a-long, to the surprising ending where our heroine DOESN’T get the guy (spoiler alert! Oh come on, you had 20 YEARS!), I loved this movie; Grosse Pointe Blank – acerbically funny. When I see my sister wearing anything with a lot of buttons, I still call her Sgt. Pepper. One of the best pairings of the Cusack siblings ever; Good Will Hunting – ‘nuff said; Soul Food – for crying out loud! After Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (1993), this continued my post-movie binge eating craze. Not to mention, once the TV show began, it forever solidified our collective confusion of “Which Soul Food? The one with Vanessa Wiliams.” BUT, when push comes to bludgeon (that’s how that goes, right?), my absolute favorite film from 1997 has to be Love Jones. The story, the romance, the soundtrack(!), even Bill Bellamy driving around in a hearse. It is a classic that has more than stood the test of time.”

Eliza Hajek

SAGindie Manager of Development and Sponsorship

Eliza Hajek Eliza was born with a vestigial tail! Her parents took her around the world in a traveling show featuring other aberrations, where she was the star. When interest in her died down, she consulted a wise man who told her she would become rich and famous after moving to Los Angeles and becoming involved in film. Looks like he was right! Her duties as Manager of Development and Sponsorship encompass (among other things) traveling to film festivals, speaking on panels and at seminars, and interacting with independent producers worldwide in order to get the word out about the SAG-AFTRA Low Budget Agreements.

Eliza’s favorite movie from 1997? “The Man Who Knew Too Little. It’s a surprisingly entertaining film that no one saw and no one really remembers so I can quote it all day long and no one knows that I’ve stolen all my hilarious jokes from a film and that without it I am a very unfunny person the end.”

Colin McCormack

SAGindie Content Coordinator

Colin McCormack Colin comes to SAGindie fresh from an animal welfare nonprofit (yes, that old story again) where he worked on filmmaker outreach and marketing partnerships, mostly for documentaries about animals. Now he’s moved on to working with humans as SAGindie’s Content Coordinator, managing web operations, marketing and promotions, and social media outreach. Originally from Michigan, Colin graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in Media Studies. He has freelanced as a screenwriter, producer, and editor on projects ranging from feature and short films, commercials, awards shows, and reality series about child beauty pageant contestants (…yep).

What 1997 movie is Colin’s favorite? “While Austin Powers, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, and I Know What You Did Last Summer all hold a special ’97 place in my heart for nostalgic reasons, my all-time favorite movie turning 20 this year is Boogie Nights. It’s the 1997 movie that’s always good for a re-watch, the 1997 movie soundtrack that never gets old (partly because all the songs were already old, even in 1997), and has the best ensemble cast a 1997 moviegoer – or even a 2017 moviegoer – could ask for.”

Amanda LaFranco

SAGindie Office Coordinator

Amanda LaFranco Spawned in the very unknown part of rural northern New Jersey, Amanda decided to “call and raise” her small town and shipped up to Boston to pursue a B.A. in Film from Emerson College. After spending a summer in Los Angeles, and promptly falling in love with the smog and traffic, she packed up once again and moved to California determined to avoid winter for at least the near future. Amanda has written and produced her own film, as well as worked with companies like Dark Horse and Asylum Entertainment on film and television projects. She continues to write daily and can often be found wandering Downtown with her camera. She is beyond excited to be working with SAGindie to help filmmakers turn their ideas into reality, and is spreading the word about SAG-AFTRA’s low budget contracts to anyone that will listen. She’s around to help assist the rest of the SAGindie team as well as answer questions for you, so feel free to ask!

Amanda’s favorite 1997 movie? “I know I’m supposed to narrow this to my favorite 1997 movie, but there were some good films 20 years ago! So I’ve narrowed it to three. My favorite movie from 1997 in 1997 when I was 7, was Hercules. I aspired to be Meg, I had a stuffed baby Pegasus, I’d sing “Go the Distance” around the house and it still holds up as one of my favorite Disney films, because comedy. My favorite film out of all the films that were released: L.A. Confidential. It’s just damn fine. It’s good at face value, it’s good in the noir genre, it’s good for Guy Pearce, I think we can all agree on that. I also can’t not include Jackie Brown, with kick ass Pam Grier. Nuff said.”

Michael Sladek

SAGindie New York Consultant

Michael Sladek Michael Sladek is an award-winning filmmaker whose recent feature-length films include Con Artist (New Yorker Films), BAM150 (Cinema Guild), and Devils Are Dreaming (Dances With Films, Jury Award). Sladek has also directed and produced multiple shorts, music videos, and web series, including the animated short We Live On Your Street (Slamdance Jury Award). A 2013 Acker Award recipient, he is a screenwriter and graphic artist/illustrator as well as a stage director. A once-and-future actor and member of SAG-AFTRA, Sladek currently serves as New York Rep for SAGindie, helping bridge the gap between indie films and union performers. He has worked as a freelance journalist for publications such as Mean Magazine, served as Filmmaker Coordinator for Tribeca Film Festival, as Talent Coordinator for MTV News, and as Personal Assistant to author Jamaica Kincaid. Hailing from Denver, Colorado and Southern California, Sladek studied theater and actor training in college.

For Michael’s favorite 1997 movie, he stated: “1997. What a year, what a year: George Lucas basically ruined all three of his Star Wars films, James Cameron gave us non-stop Celine Dion dreck, we were fed such cinematic classics as Beverly Hills Ninja, McHale’s Navy, Contact, George of the Jungle, GI Jane, Leave It to Beaver, and Mr. Magoo. On the flip-side, we also did get Donnie Brasco, Private Parts, L.A. Confidential, Boogie Nights, Starship Troopers, Good Will Hunting, Amistad, As Good As It Gets, and Jackie Brown. But as far as the “best” movie of ’97, I’d have to go with Boogie Nights. It’s perfect in every respect from writing to acting to directing to cinematography to soundtrack (I defy you to hear “Sister Christian” and not think of Alfred Molina and firecrackers), it’s aged perfectly, it introduced us to numerous levels of epic talent, it revamped lost careers and gave us one of the best character names in decades: Dirk Diggler.”

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