SAGindie partnered with SAG-AFTRA and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for a super informative panel on The Nuts and Bolts of Indie Filmmaking on April 4, 2018, in Los Angeles. If you were unable to join us, we have video of the full panel above and quotes/highlights below. (And special thanks to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for making the panel video available!)

Panel Details


Modern technology has made filmmaking more accessible than ever, but working on a professional level requires a little more planning than simply shooting in the backyard with friends. Various areas of the production process can be costly if overlooked, but this panel will teach independent filmmakers how to cover their bases. Indie producers can learn how to protect their projects – and themselves – at this panel discussing best practices in entertainment insurance, payroll, permitting, and legal services. Presented by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, SAG-AFTRA, and SAGindie.


  • DeMille Halliburton (Principal, Integro Insurance Brokers)
  • Kathy Heller (Professor and Executive Director, Chapman University Entertainment Law Program)
  • Joshua Mingo (Director of Permit Operations, FilmL.A.)
  • Daniel Willett (Contracts and Marketing Administrator, ABS Payroll)
  • Moderated by Colin McCormack (Communications Manager, SAGindie)


Getting permits.
Some people make an assumption that just because they’re a smaller scale or because they’re all contained on a property, they won’t need a permit. Chances are if they’re in the LA area, you’re going to require a permit of some sort.

Don’t necessarily trust the owner or the rep for the property. Their interest is to get that contract signed, get the payment, and that’s that… If you’re being told, “You don’t require a permit to be here,” call us [or your local film office] and check. –JM

Forming an LLC.
You have assets, your home, your car… you want them protected from liability and that is one of the main purposes people set up an entity – a corporation or an LLC. It’s fairly straightforward; it’s fairly simple. You can use a lawyer to set one up [or] you can go to the Secretary of State’s office and file your articles all by yourself.

Is [protection under an LLC] as good as insurance? Of course not. It will simply give you one way of protecting your personal assets. –KH

Insurance policies.
You can’t cover a shoot with an Allstate or State Farm business policy. There are a finite number of entertainment carriers that would cover a production. If you’re shooting in your home, your homeowners insurance would decline to cover you. If anyone got injured while you were shooting at your home, you would have no coverage. You definitely need an entertainment carrier.

Errors and omissions insurance (E&O) – no distributor will do a deal with you without having that coverage. That covers you for libel, slander, defamation of character, copyright infringement, all those things. –DH

Workers compensation.
Workers comp is generally obtained through payroll services; that’s the second biggest component outside of the paychecks themselves. -DW

It might be a little cheaper [to buy workers comp from the state] and if you’re doing an ultra-low-budget and you just need general liability and workers compensation and you have the time to have somebody go down to wait on line and go through the paperwork, then it’s an option… It’s kind of like dealing with the DMV. -DH

Payroll companies as “employers of record.”
You [as the producer] are the person hiring or firing, you’re telling people what to do and when to do it, but we [the payroll company] are the “employer of record,” which means all the tax forms and unemployment is being done under our entity. You don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff. Unemployment claims that pile up over the years, that comes to us instead of you. Workers comp claims and management, that all gets handled on our end. –DW

Copyright and chain of title.
Every distributor is going to ask you for clear and complete chain of title… What “chain of title” is is everything you see and hear and everywhere that came from, you have permission from the owner to use it in your film.

You can go to to research the copyright of something you’re interested in.

There’s no such thing as too soon to start thinking about chain of title. -KH


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