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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Alternatives to SAG Indie?

One Way Community blog has a nice post about SAG Indie, check it out.

But, filing paper work for ultra-indie projects 4-6 weeks before shooting sounds, well, like a little too much unnecessary work for ultra-low budget DIY projects, so, for many indie filmmakers - the casting process goes a little like this:

1 - ask your filmmaker friends for actor recommendations - try to find the actors needed,
2 - hold an audition or several for non-SAG actors - try to find the actors needed,
3 - use non-actor friends & acquaintances - try to find the actors needed.

Those are fine ways to go, and I'll probably (actually already have a bit) use all 3 methods to find actors for my next fiction feature, BUT, for filmmakers & actors who are not "connected" to various small indie filmmaking networks or do not live in areas that have a lot of filmmakers & actors, I wonder if - A) there are other websites, etc. that connect indie filmmakers with reliable & skilled non-SAG actors & also connects actors with reliable filmmakers, and B) if such a site or sites do not exist, if we (interested people) should create one or several.

I don't have anything against SAG or SAG Indie, but it seems like those institutions were set up for Hollywood & indiewood needs, not the current age where high quality feature films can be made for a very low budget, I mean really, really, couldn't even imagine in the 16 MM indie days low budgets (Quiet City, Medicine for Melancholy, both recent comedies by the Duplass bros. - etc.). Also, really, dealing with SAG is or feels like dealing with Hollywood - the down side being layers & layers of rules & regulations & high cost, also there's an incompatibility in available resources between the two parties (indie filmmaker vs. SAG), making truly just negotiations difficult or impossible* - maybe I just want to find some good actors for my ultra-low budget DV feature & not have to spend hours & hours & hours reading up SAG regulations (although, I am cool with doing that if I absolutely have to at some point) and then worrying about if I am following them in the months & years ahead that are involved in a feature.

Maybe something like a website for indie bands looking for musicians? I guess Facebook, MySpace, Craigslist, etc. could be where such connections can be & are made.

Anyway, if anyone has any suggestions on places where reliable indie filmmakers (people who will eventually get the films completed, even if it takes a long time so that the time put in & work done by actors in not wasted) & reliable non-SAG actors (people who will show up for rehearsals, shoots, & are skilled at what they do or approach the acting work with a fair degree of professionalism) can find one another, leave the URLs & links in Comments. Thanks!

- Sujewa

*re: incompatibility in resources: if an indie filmmaker has to, he or she probably could raise a couple of thousand dollars for a lawyer for a complex/very important legal matter, however, an entity such as SAG or any other Hollywood level organization would have access to several times that much in legal resources & thus could make life difficult for the indie filmmaker if there is a significant disagreement between the two parties. so, i think it is a good idea to try to do business with others who are pretty much in the same boat as you are - fellow artists really - instead of large organizations or corporations, so that neither party is able to intimidate the other into getting their way. i have heard horror stories from indie filmmakers about dealing with "indie" distributors & chain stores - with the indie filmmakers ultimately losing out because he or she can't or is not willing to waste time & money battling their former business partners who have far deeper pockets & more personnel to use in trying to get what they want done.


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5 comments:

1Way or Another said...

Actually, M4M used SAG actors as well as The Duplass Brothers. Greta Gerwig, the Julia Roberts of no budget films, is a SAG actress.

The Sujewa said...

True, but all those filmmakers & dozens - really thousands - of ultra low budget filmmakers have also used non-SAG talent (or were, in many cases, made up probably entirely of non-SAG talent) in their movies, and many of those movies were very low budget by even ultra-indie standards of 10-15 years ago (the 16MM days)- since many new first & second time, etc. indie features get shot on DV or now on HD or HDV.

MfM did use SAG actors, but that movie - or a similar movie (in story, in what's in the film) could have been done just as well with non-SAG talent, in my opinion. Were Duplass brothers & Gerwig SAG when they made their first no-budget features?

Perhaps ultimately it comes down to a matter of belief - I believe, based on my own experineces & what I've seen - that there are great non-SAG actors out there for indie projects.

I guess, ultimately, getting good actors is what counts - regardless of the route you take. But it is a good idea for indie filmmakers to keep in mind that SAG is not the only way to go.

1Way or Another said...

True, Sujewa. But I think thats generally a "common knowledge" statement. Most low budget filmmakers know that SAG is not the only way to go.

I think whats less known, is that for those filmmakers that are interested in working with SAG, that there are new exciting ways for them to do so. Not every low budget filmmaker shares a wariness for corporate industry structures. That in my opinion, is exciting, and makes what we do truly diverse and liberating.

That seems to be the revelation here, and foregoing SAG altogether, or the disdain for their 'air of entitlement' is actually not a new attitude.

Its a cool thing when all forms of production "perks" get offered to all types of filmmakers. Which was the basis of our original post.

The Sujewa said...

Sounds good, & good luck with working with SAG on future projects, let us know how things go.

1Way or Another said...

Thanks! We used some SAG actors on at least 2 of the 3 films we just completed and things went great, actually. We were very happy. And we had no 4 - 6 weeks of paperwork, nor any troubles with their process. Its all about education on how to manuever the system, which is pretty easy, painless, and in some ways, actually easier than a non-union shoot because you get sent so many new talents, and the actors (like some non-unions) actually show up on time to auditions! Tell you all about it in person soon!

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