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NHFF SAGindie Workshop with Darrien Michele Gipson

The New Hampshire Film Festival welcomed Darrien Michele Gipson of SAGindie to teach individual filmmakers how to navigate SAG-AFTRA’s various budget agreements. She described her own purpose and goals as part of SAGindie, and how she serves as a midpoint between filmmakers and the union, explaining the union to filmmakers and vice versa. She aims to provide free information to independent filmmakers so that they have enough understanding of the system’s policies to be able to hire actors and develop a film with the correct budgets.

The small audience was comprised of a mixture of film producers, directors, writers, actors, and some who were a combination of all four. They primarily received a detailed crash course in not only the policies of SAG-AFTRA, but individual theatrical contracts that may apply to their future endeavors. Specifically, Gipson focused on the Short Film Agreement, Ultra Low Budget Agreement, Modified Low Budget Agreement, and Low Budget Agreement and what defines each one.  

However, as Gipson cautioned at the start of the workshop, the contracts and rates for these agreements are currently being revised and changed by SAGindie. This might mean an increase in various rates, or the general criteria that differentiate each of the budgets. No matter what those new rates and policies become, Gipson assures, “We will figure it out together.”

In addition to providing a rundown of facts about each budget, Gipson tailored her presentation to the questions of the filmmakers present. She also shed light on the realities of each budget in terms of their limitations and any potentially hidden or overlooked costs. As she says, “When someone is offering you a pot of gold, it’s not free!” Included with these grains of salt, the audience also collected some sugar through Gipson’s tips and tricks on how to maneuver through the various agreements and contracts as an independent filmmaker.

In the end, all who attended SAGindie’s workshop left already thinking ahead to future or present projects that could benefit from the information and connections Gipson introduced.


By Abbigail Downer