Fall / Winter 2017

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64 SAG-AFTRA | Fall/Winter 2017 | 20 YEARS and Still INDIE Celebrates Two Decades! I ndependent film as an art form has existed since the beginning of cinema itself. Independent film as a movement, however, could roughly be traced to the 1960s, the decade of "New Hollywood," John Cassavetes, Easy Rider and the first Screen Actors Guild Low Budget Agreement. Still, it took a few more decades for "indie film" — the culture, the phrase, the phenomenon — to really burst into the mainstream. By the 1990s, the Sundance Film Festival had grown into one of the industry's most anticipated and analyzed events, indie filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez and Richard Linklater had risen to the A-list, and more and more actors were searching for risky, challenging roles from fresh new cinematic voices. So, in 1997, with a vision to link the Screen Actors Guild with the independent film community, SAGindie was formed. Originally known as the SAG Film Festival/Trade Show Campaign. It was soon rebranded as the SAG Indie Outreach Campaign, before simplifying as SAGindie. Since its formation two decades ago, SAGindie has acted as a free resource for independent producers who want to employ professional actors on their projects. Funded by a grant from the SAG-Producers Industry Advancement & Cooperative Fund, with oversight from SAG-AFTRA's National SAGindie Committee, the organization reaches filmmakers through monthly workshops, film festivals and conferences, and through its online resources. The goal is to educate producers on the opportunities SAG-AFTRA offers through its various low-budget signatory agreements. From student and short films to features with budgets up to $2.5 million, SAGindie lets it be known that hiring professional actors is more accessible than ever. This year, SAGindie celebrates its 20th anniversary, and the industry has seen significant evolution during that time. By the time the 2000s rolled around, even major Hollywood studios saw the promise in backing independent- minded films. Nearly every studio began creating boutique "shingles" to shepherd lower-budget and auteur- driven projects. But the 2008 economic recession took its toll. Studios opted to bet big on large franchises, leading to the closure of multiple specialty shingles and independent production companies and distributors. But indie filmmakers — as they are wont to do — have persevered. As studios tightened their belts, advances in technology made it possible for anybody with a phone to produce and distribute their own content. Filmmakers with no industry contacts were able to bring their stories to life on their own. Actors tired of waiting for the perfect role could produce their own work. For every small-market production company that shuttered over the past decade, a string of bold upstarts have come along to help fill the void and hold their ground against the major studios. When low-budget indie Moonlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture in February, it proved that SAG's Film Festival/Trade Show Campaign advertises to reach independent filmmakers in 2000.

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