The success of an independent film can often depend on getting a "name star" to sign on to the project. The “Big Names, Small Budgets” seminar, presented by SAG and SAGIndie at this past weekend’s “Produced By Conference” (PBC), focused on how to accomplish that.
The PBC, presented by the Producers Guild of America and the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI), brought out some of the biggest names in Hollywood’s film, television and new media producing community. The conference, now in its third year, was held at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.
The “Big Names, Small Budgets” seminar was moderated by Mark Friedlander, the head of SAG’s new media department. He was joined by Darrien Michele Gipson, National Director of SAGIndie, Ray Rodriguez, SAG’s Director of Contracts, actor William Mapother (Another Earth, In the Bedroom, Lost), writer/director Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, The Son of No One, Fighting), and actor/writer/director Clark Gregg (Choke, Thor, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Iron Man).
Gipson explained that it was important for indie producers to understand their options. She explained that the scale that actors need to get paid varies with the total budget of the project. “You really can get name actors to work for $100 a day on an ultra-low budget, under $200,000 project,” she said. “If you have a project that’s really great you can get almost anyone you can imagine. After all, at any one time 95 percent of actors aren’t working. Doing a worthwhile project that improves your craft for $100 per day is better than just sitting there,” Gipson explained.
Every time Gipson said actors would work for $100 per day, William Mapother looked at the attendees, smiled and waved his hand. “All SAG asks,” Gipson emphasized, “is that you pay the appropriate scale plus pension and health, don’t hurt our actors, give them a place to sit down – not a curb - and feed them.”