SAGIndie joins Brooklyn’s ISSUE Project Room in presenting Actor as Auteur: Brunch with Steve Buscemi

SAGindie — Wednesday, May 12th, 2010


On June 6, 2010 Actor, writer, and film director Steve Buscemi will talk with Emmy Award-winning journalist and Co-Host of WNYC Radio and PRI’s The Takeaway, John Hockenberry, about creating unforgettable characters that ultimately drive a film’s narrative and impact. The afternoon will feature film clips from the actor’s career as well as brunch at an award-winning Brooklyn eatery.

It is our pleasure to extend an advance invitation to SAG and SAGIndie members. The event will be publicly announced this Friday May 14th, so please take advantage of this opportunity to secure seats to this intimate event.

Actor as Auteur Brunch To Benefit ISSUE Project Room
Presented in Collaboration With SAGIndie
Sunday, June 6, 12pm – 2pm
$125 Per Person ($95 tax-deductible, three-course brunch is included.)

For more information please call 718-330-0313.

There are numerous iconic characters in film history, from The Little Tramp to Charles Foster Kane to Colonel Kurtz to Travis Bickle, all of them well drawn and directed. However, had Chaplin, Welles, Brando or DeNiro not played these roles would the film had the same powerful impact on our culture? Can a case be made for actor as auteur?

It is difficult to imagine Buscemi’s roles and their indelible effect on each film without his personal, stylized approach in bringing them to life. They emit essential energies striking a balance between deeply held neuroses and outward bombast. From lead roles in films like Fargo, Resevoir Dogs, Living in Oblivion, Trees Lounge, and Ghost World to supporting roles and cameos in films such as The Big Lebowski, and Barton Fink, his presence breathes life into every corner of a film. “Buscemi is a quiet tyrant of artistic fury who threatens to overrun every frame he’s in with the inner desperation he projects even in his most subtle performances,” says Hockenberry.

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SAGIndie is a gentle and loving union between the hard working thespians of the world and the passionate filmmakers who buck the system. Since its formation in 1997, SAGIndie has been traveling to film festivals, trade shows and conventions spreading the word: Just because your film isn’t produced by a studio doesn’t mean you can’t use professional talent. www.SAGIndie.org

ISSUE Project Room, a registered 501(c)(3) organization, was established in 2003 by visionary artist Suzanne Fiol, and is a vibrant nexus for cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary arts in Brooklyn. ISSUE supports emerging and established experimental artists through more than 200 programs each year including music concerts, literary readings, films, videos, dance, visual and sound art, new media, critical theory lectures and discussions, site-specific work, commissions, educational workshops, master classes, and genre-defying interdisciplinary performances that challenge and expand conventional practices in art.  Support for ISSUE has been provided by CHORA, a project of the Metabolic Studio, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation led by Artist and Foundation Director Lauren Bon. CHORA aims to support the intangibles that precede creativity. www.ISSUEProjectRoom.org 

John August (dot com)

Will Prescott — Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

For those of you who aren’t familiar with his work, John August is one of Hollywood’s hardest working screenwriters. With substantial writing credits to his name (GO, Charlie’s Angels, Big Fish) he has also directed, produced, and worked within the industry for numerous years. Bottom line – the guy has been around. Not only is he talented, but he’s also super smart and wants to impart his knowledge on you.

His website, johnaugust.com, is one of the most amazing filmmaking resources on the ‘nets. I visit it daily and always come away with something useful. Topics of discussion aren’t just limited to screenwriting, they span the industry and can range from Releasing Micro-Budget Indies to Tips for using Index Cards. On occassion, John will even give his opinion on random, day-to-day issues like taking anxiety medication.

It doesn’t matter what level of the industry you’re in. Do yourself a favor and subscribe to his site. You’ll learn a lot.

My Experience with a Man-Eating Croc at the Lake Placid Film Festival (Just Kidding- about the croc, not about the festival)

Ellen Tremiti — Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Just yesterday I sat at my desk and picked out a list of films that I hope to see at Sundance this year. This will be my first time attending the festival and as a recent film school graduate I am very excited and thankful for the opportunity. I put Welcome to the Rileys on my list and eyeing one of its cast members, Melissa Leo, brought me back to a film festival that I had a chance to participate in while still in school at Emerson College. It was the Lake Placid Film Festival and one of my most beloved film professors, Pierre Desir, agreed to take a group of 5 students to the festival for a long weekend to see a couple screenings, including Leo’s academy nominated performance in Frozen River, and to compete in the student 24 hour film Competition, judged by a Frozen River producer, director Courtney Hunt (also nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay), and actress Melissa Leo.

After making the drive from Boston to Lake Placid we were housed in a large dormitory style room that shared a large common area with the other groups. The next day it was time to receive our 24 hour rules and requirements, each movie had to incorporate different aspects of the Lake Placid area, including a marathon, acid rain and a dog (not sure how that one fits in thinking back now, residents of Lake Placid must own a lot of dogs). We had time to brainstorm and then cast from a line-up of local actors.

Under the guidance of Pierre we location scouted while making all the necessary stops, the thrift store for costumes, the local all-purpose store for balloons, streamers, and chalk, and the hardware store for Christmas lights and a dog leash; then we ran around with our from-home props, including a banana suit and got to work. We were, if you haven’t figured it out yet, making a love story. We used two of our own crew, who had an acting background, in addition to the local talent, and we set about creating something simple and something short. We had a goal to edit this movie to be 5 minutes as opposed to the limit of 10. We shot all necessary moments, the meeting of the young, eccentric couple, the honeymoon period and then the simplistic moments that pulled them apart. This all led up to our finale at our most scenic location: the Lake Placid horse track/fair grounds.

We had decided to frame our story around a dance marathon at the fair grounds. Our local actor played the Dance Marathon DJ and our group duo played the last couple dancing. After hours and hours of trying to break the world dancing record, they were exhausted and that’s where we spliced in the memories of their relationship, good and bad, which led them to the final seconds before the marathon would end and they would break the record and win, but in that moment our female character realizes she doesn’t know why she’s still there and leaves.

When our movie played the next day I was surprised at the crowd’s reaction to that moment–horrified gasps and sad laughs at the boy left alone on the fair grounds. Our movie was definitely the most absurd; from its opening moment to its end it held onto a specific, colorful and zany vision. We also made a very big effort to have fun, which not all the groups did, and that was pretty key in this whole sleep-depraved experience.

So it was a wonderful moment when all of our fun paid off and our film, titled “Somebody’s Fool,” won the competition, mainly for our “fellini-esq vision” (thanks Ms. Hunt) and for sticking to a style from start to finish. If I could pinpoint why ours stood out that day I would say it was the style, but it was also more subtle moments, shooting our climax at magic hour, playing with silly dialogue, matching our shots to our art/costume design and most of all, being flexible. We were the only group who chose a non-running marathon and the other groups assigned specific roles to each person in their group, there was a writer, a director, a cinematographer, etc. but we didn’t do that. Sounds scary, right? Well, it’s not if egos are put aside. I’m not suggesting that any film be made like this, but for a 24 hour competition, it was vital even if we did receive some flack for this by the judges. By pooling 5 experienced student filmmakers’ minds we came up with the best concepts to suit our movie and we kept everyone involved.

So this second blog of mine told a story, but hopefully it showed you that I enjoy filmmaking and making projects happen successfully and also, that I understand that each project is different and each filmmaker has different needs depending on what they’re making and how they’re making it. The key is flexibility and learning how to make your specific movie happen, and of course, I also learned that winning feels good, so let me and SAGIndie help you improve your movies so you can win at your own festival competitions no matter how big or small they are!

Netflix Interactive Map

Will Prescott — Monday, January 11th, 2010

Over the weekend I stumbled upon this amazing interactive map that the NY Times put together. It gives you an idea of the Netflix rental patterns for 100 frequently-rented titles in 12 cities. Some of the 2009 findings are pretty interesting – considering that the top rented films can change drastically from one neighborhood to the next.

While big films like THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON and TWILIGHT top many zip codes, it’s very encouraging to see quite a few indie films sprinkled within the findings.

Check out the map HERE.

What’s New in the New Year, you say? Well, me of course!

Ellen Tremiti — Thursday, January 7th, 2010

My name is Ellen and I am the new SAGIndie Assistant.

I am very excited to pick up the torch here at SAGIndie and wear as many hats as needed. I’ll be alleviating the workload in the office, helping filmmakers and thespians alike learn how SAG’s low budget contracts can make their lives better and easier, assisting with the planning of SAGIndie events and acting as Darrien’s all-around right hand woman.  There are a few mixed metaphors here, but the point is I am ready to help SAGIndie continue to help all of you as a valuable and approachable resource.

A little about me: I was a film and writing/literature student in college. I still enjoy those subjects very much. My favorite movie is Taxi Driver, mostly because of these two guys, and a seventies theme shrouds my top ten, Jaws, the Godfather and even Rocky are in there. But, I also love Fargo, don’tchaknow, and more recently I really enjoyed District 9 and Up in the Air. On an un-cinematic note, I like Paris (been there once), game nights, and wrought iron and I dislike most cheesy romcoms, really loud sounds and anything flavored with coconut, ugh.

Hope you’re having a good day and you’ll be hearing from me again soon!


iPhone Apps for the Biz

Will Prescott — Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Happy New Year!

Trying to figure out what to spend that holiday cash or iTunes gift card on? Why not head to the iTunes store and load up on some filmmaker friendly apps?

Our friends over at THE WRAP put together a list of the 10 “Hollywood” apps every movie lover or working professional must have for their iPhone. Some are more fun than practical, like the Space Odyssey inspired HAL 9000 app, which costs nothing, but provides hours of fun with endless Hal one-liners. Other apps are much more useful for the indie filmmaker on the go, like the Artemis Director’s Viewfinder, which costs $29.99, but allows you to plug in the shooting format, the aspect ratio, and the type of lens you’re using to preview an upcoming shot.

Check out the entire list HERE.

SAGIndie wants to hear from you

SAGindie — Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Hey! We need your help!

In an effort to strengthen SAGIndie and provide you with quality information, we’re looking to gather feedback from any and all interactions you may have had with us. Be it at one of our monthly workshops, one of our fabulous festival events, or just over the phone — your opinion matters to us.

Have our workshops totally confused you? Did you enjoy the scones at our Sundance Filmmakers Brunch? Have we (appropriately) touched you in some way and inspired you to be a better producer? All feedback — positive or negative — is welcome! (although, keep in mind that a special treat may be awarded to the person who showers our National Director with the most compliments.)

So, go ahead and drop us an email at blogadmin@sagindie.org and let us hear it. Feel free to send your comments anonymously, but please include any pertinent info regarding your interaction(s) with us, such as “I was at your bowling party in NYC” or “I attended a contract workshop on November 30″ or “I called in on a Tuesday in March.” The more information we get, the better off we’ll be able to address your thoughts.

As always, thanks for your continued support. We look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,

Your friends at SAGIndie.

SF2: SAG Foundation Short Film Showcase

SAGindie — Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Happy Friday!

Just wanted to let you know that the SAG Foundation in New York has launched SF2 (SAG Foundation Short Film). SF2 is a new showcase where filmmakers can screen their shorts and inspire SAG members to create their own projects produced under a SAG contract.

For more details click HERE or contact the Foundation’s NY Program Director, Franz Reynold at

Best wishes,


Darn [Filmmaking] Kids These Days!

Darrien Gipson — Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

I’ve been in this industry for a while now. No, I wasn’t hanging out with D.W. Griffith (THAT certainly wouldn’t have gone well for me!), but I’ve loved movies all my life, and have been “in the biz” for a couple of decades, so I’d like to believe that I have some small amount of insight. Eh, scratch that – I think I’m freakin’ brilliant!

I remember what it was like when I was a newbie. Our cell phones weighed 3lbs, flipped down to answer, and had an extendable antenna. When you saw someone on the street with it, you knew they were either a big shot making big deals, or a Marine calling in air support. Ah, good times AND a good arm workout! But nowadays, filmmakers have it easy. Sure, it’s nearly impossible to get money for the budget – but there was only like 12 days when getting money was “easy” and I missed them. Technology has advanced such that, if you can get your hands on a camera, video or film, or if you can get your parents to buy you a RED, you can create your opus. Now I would be the last person to say to get your friends together and just shoot it, because we all know that getting PROFESSIONAL TALENT is what it’s all about. But let’s face it, not every great production is… say, ready (read: good enough) to warrant a professional cast.  So I’m taking that hat off. But you can make a film.

But what will be our next great indie film trend? We have done to death the Tarantino-esque gritty, profane homages to the 70’s. Besides, UNDERCOVER BROTHER said all there was to say on that. The slacker movie is, thankfully dead or dying – thanks James Franco. And now Judd Apatow has started to falter (it’s not lost on me that these are not “indie” films but big films whose subject matter should have been shot on your sister’s camera). 500 DAYS OF SUMMER is a romance (or death of) story cleverly told with a hipster soundtrack. Tomorrow, there will be 600 more “I love you/I hate you” films with songs by bands that only the WWWAAAAYYYY underground people will know.

What’s my point? Well, truth be told, I forgot that hours ago and am now just rambling to watch the letters appear on my screen. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. BUT, I will say this – we need you all.  We need you to get out there and figure this out.  Indie film isn’t dying, it’s MOLTING. It’s shedding the dead skin of those who have long since lost their indie stripes and underneath is the gleaming new skin of the next generation. Uh, in this analogy, you’re the new insect skin. Just want to be clear. We need you to keep INDIE so we can continue to outshine the big boys and their bloated productions.  We need you so we can keep pulling a paycheck – but that’s neither here nor there. So, get out there and work. Think of what makes you interesting (anything? Beuller? Beuller?) and make a movie about it. Do you see the world in a different way? Make a movie about it.

Not sure you’re that interesting? Make a short. Still not sure? Make a sandwich and figure out what you’re doing with your life. In any case, remember: Actors act, writers write, and filmmakers LIVE and hold a camera up to it at the same time. Hope you’re ambidextrous.

BANDSLAM: Victim of Shoddy Advertising?

Eliza Hajek — Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Nikki Finke has posted an insightful insider account of a very real possibility behind the embarrassing gross of Walden Media’s BANDSLAM. As I am very close with a handful of people who worked on the film, I have had to opportunity to see it twice in previews, and I can assure you, it’s smarter than your average cringe inducing, placating drivel that something like Disney churns out consistently. I have heard a lot about the advertising, about how it appeared to be another film compromised of the aforementioned descriptors.

Honestly, I haven’t even seen any advertising for Bandslam at all, but have heard enough about it to surmise that someone decided it was in the film’s best interest to go the lazy route and now we have a great film that never stood a chance; dressed it up in High School Musical clothes, when it should have been out in something closer to what SCHOOL OF ROCK was wearing.

Check out the Article HERE.