Spotlight Articles & indieBlog

And Now a Word from the Newbies

Colin McCormack — Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

A word of welcome from SAGindie’s two newest employees, Amanda LaFranco and Colin McCormack


The shoes I’ve gotta fill…

Ellen left a pretty big legacy here at SAGindie, and I’m only just realizing how much of a challenge living up to her reputation is going to be; to put in comparison, it’s like when Russell took over for Auerbach. However, I love what SAGindie offers to filmmakers and I am effused to be able to help connect producers with actors, and to get those on-screen gems we call “indie films” made. Whether your style is Fruitvale Station, Napoleon Dynamite, or even Eraserhead, I’m here to help! Though I may be stuck in an office all day, I’m metaphorically on the front lines with you – so I will be slogging through those thick contracts to find the answers you need.

I’m a Jersey girl born and raised (yes I love Bruce Springsteen), who has finally settled in Los Angeles after a series of grand adventures in Boston. I’m obsessed with the films and themes explored in 1970s cinema from Jaws to Two-Lane Blacktop. However, any time a theater is showing the venerable classics Star Wars, The Princess Bride, or When Harry Met Sally… trust me, I’m there. After seeing my own film come to life on screen I realized I never want to stop creating, so I make a conscious effort to capture my wildest imagination on a page every day.

Personal bragging rights include: running with the bulls in San Fermin (thankfully still in one piece), racing Astons with the Queen from Geneva to Brussels (she was on holiday), and sipping whiskey at the base of Kilimanjaro with Hemingway (that’s a story for another time).

But enough about me, let’s talk about your project and how SAG-AFTRA’s low-budget contracts can help it become a reality.



Hey there, how’s it going? You alright? My name is Colin and I’m the new guy – or “the new Will” – taking over the proverbial internet reigns for SAGindie. Don’t worry, I’ll grow on you like fine wine (is that a saying?). I’m here to help get the word out about SAG-AFTRA’s low-budget agreements on the interweb and via (when absolutely necessary) personal interaction.

But don’t fret if you happen to be a pale, hunchbacked writerly type like me. You can keep up to date on SAGindie news, events, interviews, and other fun stuff through our blog, newsletter, Twitter, or Facebook – all from the comfort of that corner in your living room you call your “home office.” I urge you to stay tuned for some exciting developments, as we will be giving the website a facelift in the coming months (though this being Hollywood, we’ll likely attribute the new look to “resting” and “drinking lots of water”).

Originally hailing from the Detroit area, I moved to LA just before Michigan started its filmmaker tax incentives. Since those tax credits did not alleviate five months worth of snow, I decided to stay on the West Coast. I’m fascinated by the creative development process, and get excited/jealous when I read about great “why didn’t I think of that?” movie ideas. I’ve written a few movies, which are all still toiling in good ol’ development. If forced to pick some favorite films, I’d have to include a double-feature of The Graduate and Harold and Maude, though I also have a particular affinity for 1980s comedies (Tootsie, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and Heathers among the obvious greats).

I’m thrilled to be a part of SAGindie and look forward to lending my support to those courageous souls known as independent filmmakers.


NYC: You’re Invited to the Minority Independent Producers Summit! Sponsored by HBO

SAGIndie — Friday, June 20th, 2014

Join us June 25th – 27th for our inaugural Minority Independent Producers Summit (MIPS) where you’ll have a chance to network with industry professionals and experts in the areas of financing, production, and distribution.

Featured speakers and panelists have worked with organizations including the Tribeca Film Institute, Producers Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, Independent Filmmaker Project, SAG-AFTRA, and New York Women in Film and Television.

Our mission is to increase the diversity of minority independent producers and content creators in the worlds of film, television and digital online industries today.

We aim to be an advocate for increased participation by independent producers from underrepresented communities such as those of color, LGBT, women and those with disabilities.

This year’s panelists include:

Lisa Cortes: Executive Producer – Precious (2009), In the Summer Pavilion (2014)

Rachel Watanabe-Batton: Vice Chair – Producers Guild of America, East

Terence Nance: Writer/Director – An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2013)

Amy Dotson: Head of Programming – IFP

View more at

Click below to register:

Use the discount code to access our promotional discount: mipsnyo_disc14

Limited availability remaining.


SAGIndie — Wednesday, May 28th, 2014


The Screen Actors Guild Foundation is now accepting submissions from filmmakers residing in all states west of the Mississippi for its August 2014 Short Film Showcase.

POSTMARK DEADLINE EXTENSION: Monday, June 9th. All entries postmarked after that date will be placed in contention for our April 2015 event.  If you submitted to the SAG Foundation NY showcase, you are ineligible to submit to the LA showcase.

Webseries produced under a union contract are also eligible for consideration.

There is no entry fee, nor is there a cost to attend the screening, which is held in Los Angeles, twice a year.

All shorts MUST be produced under a SAG Short Film, SAG Student Agreement or SAG-AFTRA New Media contract, not run more than 20 minutes, including credits – no exceptions, and be completed films. Previous submitted films are eligible for re-submission.

The showcase is open to all types of cinematic expression, and is designed to encourage union members, and others, to create their own projects. In addition to the screening, the evening includes a Q+A with the directors and producers, and an opportunity to network with those in attendance.

Filmmakers may submit a regular DVD copy of their film – no Blu-Ray, please — which should be clearly labeled with a title, email contact address and the project’s SAG production number to:

5757 Wilshire Blvd. #124
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Questions regarding your production number please call the SAG-AFTRA office at 323-954-1600. For any other questions please email


We are accepting shorts from filmmakers currently residing from the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming


Will Prescott — Friday, April 25th, 2014

jared drake and ryan mccann

Director JARED DRAKE is no stranger to bringing unique characters to life, and he will be the first to tell you casting the right actor is the key to pulling it off. One look at his indie hit VISIONEERS, and it’s easy to see how casting was vital to making it all work. The dream ensemble included Zach Galifianakis (long before HANGOVER fame), Judy Greer, Missi Pyle, James LeGros, and D.W. Moffett who each had their own spin on characters that were, arguably, a major contribution to the critical-acclaim of the project.

That said, it does take a talented team (typically the director, casting director, and producers) to be confident enough to pull the trigger on what they hope will be a homerun performance.

Jared is hard at work on his next feature, MACK LUSTER (a VISIONEERS spinoff of sorts with RYAN McCANN reprising his iconic role of Mack), which has recently launched an ambitious Kickstarter campaign (see the pitch video below). With the casting process currently underway, he was more than willing to share some advice for actors looking to nail that audition.


I love auditions. An endless stream of actors, all shapes and sizes, filing in and out, bringing to life characters I’ve spent years with in my head with fresh ideas, angles, and perspectives that I never could’ve dreamed of. And most actors are polite, longing for a chance to invest their heart and soul into a project. This makes every audition a huge honor from the second the door opens.

But then the door closes.

And from that moment on there is no telling what direction the audition will take. To help define what makes one audition more rewarding than others, I’ve compiled a list of helpful Dos and Don’ts for actors when they audition.

DO: Own it.
When an actor walks into the room with an attitude that says “I have an idea for this character I can’t wait to show you,” I get the chills. I want an actor that makes choices, and comes with all they have. That knows who they are and will take what is written, apply it, and bring it. To show me “this is what I can and will do for this role and if it’s not a fit, it wasn’t meant to be.” And chances are, if you make a strong enough choice, I’ll remember you for future projects. I have cast actors based on choices they made in auditions for past projects. Make a strong, clear decision about what YOU can bring to the role. It leaves an impression. And impressions are good.

DON’T: Tell us the character needs more lines.
Then come with suggestions. Seriously, this happens a lot. And I’m always shocked when it does. If you’re already angling to get more lines, it tells me your interests are not to service the movie, but to service yourself.

DO: Get off book.
I know it is impossible to do with multiple auditions a day, but for those important roles, come in off book. It doesn’t look needy. It looks prepared. I absolutely love this and give huge bonus points for anyone taking the time to get organized. It tells me you’ll be ready to shoot when it comes time to roll camera.

DON’T: Tell us that you can do anything, it just depends on what we want.
This isn’t a one size fits all sort of business. And, maybe, we don’t know what we want for this one liner bit part and are hoping to be inspired through casting. I know this sounds sucky, but sometimes it is the truth. Show us what you got and what you can bring to the role, and we’ll decide if it’s something we can shape the character into.

DO: Say you love the material.
I know it’s dorky, but kissing up does leave a mark no matter how badly we want to admit it doesn’t. Think about it, at this stage in process, we’re probably caught up in rewrites with a million people telling us what they think should change in the script, struggling to digest the vague comments and wrangle them into something coherent…so it’s nice to hear from someone, anyone, that the material is great! Then, before you leave, thank us and tell us it was the one of the coolest auditions you’ve been on all week.

DON’T: Be a broken record.
We give you a massive adjustment that completely changes the direction of the audition, and you do the exact same thing you did before. This happens more times than not. When a director gives you an adjustment, they’re either testing you to see how well you take direction or they genuinely want to see it played a different way. In either case, failing to try something new is goodbye because it tells us you’re blocked and won’t be able to react to the environment once the camera is rolling. So do something… anything… except for what you just did. Flip that switch, and flip it HARD.

DO: Calm our nerves.
Yup, we get nervous just like you do! If the director is in the room, comfort them by thanking them for an adjustment they give you or telling them their approach to the character is solid. Again, dorky. But the more comfortable we are with you in the casting room, the more comfortable we think we will all be on set together and better your chances of being hired when it is down to you and some self-centered jerk.

DON’T: Don’t tell us you’re nervous.
We know you are. Everyone is. Those who don’t make an issue out of it now likely won’t make an issue out of it when they’re in front of the crew and on camera. Keep your nerves to yourself. We’re all freaked out! Oh…and don’t tell us you would be more prepared if things weren’t so screwy at home or you didn’t have to run ten errands that morning. If we’re casting, the rest of my day is probably composed of putting out small fires with producers, financiers, clients, or department heads over logistics. The last thing I need is to hear about your baggage.

DO: Start yourself over in the middle of an off reading.
I love this. I know some argue against it. But all the best actors I’ve ever worked with have some sort of governor on their acting engine that tells them when they’re off and how to fix it. It tells me there is a tangible set of tools there to work with, and you won’t need hand-holding through every line. Just don’t let it happen more than once…and when you do start over, it better rock!

DON’T: Don’t be a talker.
Engage with us, but if you’re droning on after your audition and we start checking emails, it’s probably time to leave. There is a fine line between communicating who you are and making us fear that you’re going to be a nuisance on set. There is nothing that bugs me more than a crew or cast member that can’t see when I have a million things running through my head and, for whatever reason, think it’s a great time to tell me a ten minute story about their cat.

DO: Believe in yourself.
The last thing I want to reiterate to every actor out there is that we are all rooting for you. Every single time an actor walks through the door, there is promise. And I always catch myself holding my breath hoping they’re going to blow it out of the water. We are your friend. All we want is for you to succeed.


If you found this article helpful, make sure you check out Jared Drake’s latest project MACK LUSTER or learn more about Jared at If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent filmmaker or filmmaking related business we should interview, email for consideration.


Will Prescott — Thursday, April 24th, 2014



A few years ago we interviewed indie Producers EBEN KOSTBAR & JOSEPH MCKELHEER about their critically-acclaimed film THE HAMMER– the true story of deaf UFC Fighter Matt Hamill. The film has enjoyed an amazing journey while inspiring many along the way and now, Eben and Joe have stepped back into the world of mixed martial arts with their latest project, FIGHT CHURCH (trailer below).

FIGHT CHURCH is a feature-length documentary about the confluence of Christianity and mixed martial arts, including ministries which train fighters. The film follows several pastors and popular fighters in their quest to reconcile their faith with a sport that many consider violent and barbaric. Faith is tried and questions are raised. Can you really love your neighbor as yourself and then punch him in the face?

The film is directed by BRYAN STORKEL and Academy Award Winner, DANIEL JUNGE. This is Daniel’s follow-up film to SAVING FACE, which won an Oscar in 2012.

FIGHT CHURCH premieres tonight in Boston at the Independent Film Festival of Boston (a festival SAGindie is very proud to be a sponsor of). The doc is also scheduled to screen at the Nashville and Maryland Film Festivals.

For tickets to the premiere screening tonight at IFFB, go HERE.

For more info visit FIGHTCHURCHFILM.COM.


SAGIndie — Thursday, April 24th, 2014


If you’re in Massachusetts and/or attending Independent Film Festival Boston this year, make sure you check out the panel “Make it (Indie) in Mass” featuring SAGindie’s Eliza Hajek on Saturday, April 26th at 12:00PM.


  • Mike Bowes, Producer of RUBBERNECK (IFFBoston 2012)


  • Lisa Strout (Mass Film Office)
  • Lyda Kuth (LEF Foundation)
  • Eliza Hajek (SagIndie)


Who says only Hollywood blockbusters get made here? Filming in Massachusetts is a great deal at any budget. Find out all you need to know about applying for the tax incentive, working with unions, and the differences between shooting docs vs. narratives.



Will Prescott — Thursday, April 17th, 2014


If you haven’t already heard of, or run into, filmmaker PAUL OSBORNE somewhere along the way, don’t sweat it because the odds are you will. A champion of indie film and a staple along the festival circuit, Paul has been making a successful go of it in the industry for a while now.

In addition to contributing articles for Moviemaker Magazine, Film Threat, and Ted Hope’s blog Hope for Film, he’s the driving force behind indie gems TEN ‘TIL NOON, OFFICIAL REJECTION, and most recently the critically-acclaimed thriller FAVOR (killer trailer below), which will be hitting iTunes and Cable VOD on April 22nd from Gravitas Ventures.

No stranger to making things happen on a shoestring budget, we asked Paul for some advice on directing micro budget productions that don’t suffer from a lack of quality. Lucky for us (and you), he was kind enough to share some of his secrets.


1. Shoot Quickly and Efficiently. Shooting a movie is the most expensive part of any production, and if you’re making a micro-budget flick (defined as anything with a cost of $50,000 or below), it’s critical to get the most out of the time the cameras are rolling as possible. The best way to accomplish this is to shoot as fast as you can without significantly impacting quality. When we made my movie FAVOR, our mantra was “write it like art, prep it like art, cast it like art, rehearse it like art, cut it like art… but shoot it like exploitation.”

The trick is to be prepared, know what you want, have your priorities in order… and follow the rest of this list.

2. Rehearse Your Actors During Pre-Production. When you make a small film, it’s vital to get good performances – after all, there are no giant CGI robots or superheroes to distract the audience if the actors suck. But sussing out the nature of a scene or the layers of a character takes time, and when you’re shooting you don’t have a lot to play with. So, I suggest doing extensive rehearsals (with the actors who are willing to participate) in the weeks leading up to your start date. Not only will your performers be fully primed when they finally step in front of the camera, you’ll have likely already developed an all-important shorthand with them as well.

3. Schedule Each Day Yourself. You may have an assistant director, production manager or producer willing to do it for you, but I suggest taking on this task personally. Having rehearsed your actors, only you know which ones are slow to warm to a scene, which are good to go right when they arrive and which burn out quickly. Only you can decide which pages should be given more attention than others, and if they’re calling lunch in ten minutes, whether it’s worth squeezing in one more take or breaking early. Additionally, if things have to be shifted around, you’ll be so familiar with the plan you won’t have to call a meeting to figure it out – you’ll simply know what to do.

4. Be the Hardest Working Person on Set. Directing a movie, even a micro-budget one, is a privilege. Yes, it means you have all the responsibility on your shoulders, but in a director-driven medium it also means you have the most to gain. It’s a given you should treat every member of your cast and crew with kindness, dignity and respect, but it’s also important to demonstrate this by working harder than any of them. You should be the first one there, the last one getting food, the first one back from lunch and the last one to leave after wrap. The crew will not only feel appreciated, they’ll also work harder just to try and keep up with you.

5. Make Decisions Fast. Your cast and crew are looking to you to steer the ship, and the confidence they have in you is directly proportional to the mood on set. Making decisions quickly will give the illusion you know what the hell you’re doing, even if you don’t. As strange as this is to say, it’s often better to make a quick decision rather than the best decision as long as it keeps the shoot moving forward.

6. Feed Your Crew Well. It doesn’t matter what your budget range is or how much you pay the crew – if you don’t feed people well, they will revolt. This doesn’t mean the food has to be expensive – on FAVOR, our producer often cooked for everyone, and craft service consisted of whatever was on sale at Costco. On a day-to-day basis, quality meals are more important than good wages. I’ve seen volunteer crews toil endlessly on full bellies and well-paid ones walk because they were served leftover curry for the sixth straight day.

7. No Task is Beneath You. Yes, a director is generally the highest authority on set, but you’re not above the crew – you’re a member of it. If you’re sitting on your ass and everyone else is working, you’re doing it wrong. Get up, move a light, clean up the paper plates from lunch, steam the shirts in wardrobe…You owe it to your movie, and it sends a positive message to everyone else.

8. Protect Your Actors When They Fail. Sometimes actors come to set not knowing all their lines, or aren’t in the right headspace, or are just tired. Even the most professional performers can have an off-day, and calling them out on it is only going to make it worse. If a performer just isn’t hitting it, your best bet is to invent some “technical adjustment” so they can step aside and collect themselves without any attention placed on the fact that they need to. Remember that actors have to expose a part of themselves in order to do their job, so it’s your job to make them feel safe enough to do it.

9. Limit the Toys. Lighting a scene can often take a long time. Want it to go faster? Have fewer lights. Would you like to streamline the time it takes for your cinematographer to set up a shot? Limit the number of lenses available. If there are a lot of toys on set, your technical people will want to play with them, so if you’re shooting on a tight schedule and an even tighter budget, it’s wise to limit the gear to the essentials. Just make sure the gear you do have can do the job.

10. Enjoy Your Difficulties. After a particularly grueling day during the production of my first feature, TEN ‘TIL NOON, I vented to my wife about some of the issues we were having on set – our first A.D. was wildly disorganized, our cinematographer was lazy and sneaking off to watch Pay-Per-View movies between set-ups, one of our actors kept trying to rewrite his dialogue. When I finished my rant, she smiled and said, “You’re lucky you get to have these problems. Enjoy them.”

BONUS PARTING THOUGHT. We don’t get to do this everyday. Movies aren’t made, they’re forced into existence, so when you finally get one going and are facing the difficulties that invariably present themselves, take a moment to savor the fact that you have them. It doesn’t make these problems go away, of course, but at least for me, it makes tackling them a whole lot easier.


You can pre-order Paul Osborne’s film FAVOR on iTunes now and keep tabs on his projects by following him on twitter at @PaulMakesMovies. If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent filmmaker or filmmaking related business we should interview, email for consideration.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Nudity Clauses, But Were Too Shy To Ask

SAGIndie — Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Our friends over at Film Independent asked us about nudity in film and we had much to tell them. Check out a few of the tips:

Can the nudity section (section 43) of the SAG-AFTRA Basic Agreement serve as a sufficient contract agreement if both the producer and actor agree?

Section 43 does not serve as a sufficient contract between the performer and producer. Prior written consent of the performer is required in the form of a letter or rider that outlines the actions of the nudity or sex scene that will take place.

Can a producer draft the nudity rider or does the producer need to hire an entertainment lawyer to properly draft this additional contract agreement?
It’s always advisable to have a lawyer at least look over a rider or any other contract. When hiring a lawyer isn’t possible, the producer can draft it on his or her own. Ultimately the performer and the performer’s representation will need sign off on it.

Are there boilerplate contract forms or a standard way of drafting this additional contract clause? If so, is it available through SAG-AFTRA?
There’s a standard nudity clause provided by SAG-AFTRA that outlines everything. That said there really isn’t a sample nudity rider that exists on SAG-AFTRA’s end. The best idea is to draft up exactly what’s going to take place and present it to your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative for review.

Are the descriptions of nudity and sex in a script sufficient detail to be transcribed into a rider or should the producer work out more specific details?
The producer should always, always explain more detail. All of the action that’s going to occur, how it’s going to be shot, who’s going to be present—these details aren’t in a script. It’s also worth mentioning that when a nudity or sex scene is being shot, it must be done so on a closed set.  And always have a designated robe person for in-between takes.

Continuing reading the rest of the article HERE.


SAGIndie — Friday, February 21st, 2014

The Screen Actors Guild Foundation is now accepting submissions from all states east of the Mississippi for its June 2014 NY Shorts Showcase – now in year five!

All shorts MUST be produced under a SAG-AFTRA union contract, and not run more than 20 minutes, including credits – no exceptions. The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 24th. All entries received after that date will be placed in contention for our October 2014 event.

Webseries produced under a union contract are also eligible for consideration. There is no entry fee, nor is there a cost to attend the screening, which is held in New York City, three times a year.

The showcase is open to all types of cinematic expression, and is designed to encourage union members, and others, to create their own projects. In addition to the screening, the evening includes a Q&A with the directors and producers, and an opportunity to network with those in attendance.

Filmmakers may submit a regular DVD copy of their film – no Blu-Ray, please — which should be clearly labeled with a title, the director’s name, an email contact address and the project’s SAG-AFTRA production number to:

1900 Broadway – 5th Flr.
New York NY 10023

You will only be notified if your film has been selected for the screening.  DVDs will not be returned.

Check out the new 2014 SAG Foundation Promo featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Kerry Washington, John Goodman & more!

The Screen Actors Guild Foundation provides vital assistance and educational programming to the professionals of SAG-AFTRA while serving the public at large through its signature children’s literacy programs. Support the SAG Foundation at


SAGIndie — Tuesday, December 10th, 2013


If you haven’t heard the news, the SAG-AFTRA New York offices (260 and 360 Madison locations) will be closing at 5:30 pm on Friday, Dec. 20 and will be completely closed until they re-open in their new office space on Monday, Jan. 6. New York Staff will be unavailable, either in person, by phone, or by email. For on-set emergencies, the hotline number will still be available: (212) 517-0909.

You may also call the SAG-AFTRA national office in Los Angeles during this time.

  • General questions: (323) 954-1600
  • Agency: (323) 549-6745
  • Broadcast: (323) 634-8129
  • Commercials Contracts: (323) 549-6858
  • Sound Recordings: (866) 912-3872
  • Television Contracts: (323) 549-6835
  • Theatrical Contracts: (323) 549-6828

The brand new space will be located on the 5th floor at 1900 Broadway, across from Lincoln Center between 63rd and 64th streets.

The LOW BUDGET CONTRACT WORKSHOP on Thursday, December 12th will be the final one held at 360 Madison. Starting January 9th, the workshops will be held at the new SAG-AFTRA location on the 5th floor at 1900 Broadway. RSVP online HERE or call (212) 827-1481.

Construction at the new office space is underway, and as you can imagine, the construction zone is both busy and physically hazardous.  For safety reasons, the site must remain off-limits to all members until construction is complete and we have received our official Certificate of Occupancy.  This applies to all members, including Officers, Board members, Committee members and others.  We are all eager to see the new space and look forward to welcoming everyone when it opens!

If you have any questions regarding this policy, please contact Roe Badamo at (212) 863-4213.