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Film Independent Forum 2014 Highlights

SAGindie — Monday, October 27th, 2014

find forum panel

SAGindie was a premiere sponsor of this year’s Film Independent Forum, which kicked off October 24 with a screening of Nightcrawler at the Directors Guild of America Theater, followed by a panel discussion with producer Jennifer Fox, editor John Gilroy, and writer/director Dan Gilroy, moderated by Mark Olsen from the Los Angeles Times (pictured above).

In addition to rubbing elbows with some SAGindie staffers, attendees got to witness panels on topics ranging from financing, tax credits, hybrid distribution, and documentary and horror filmmaking. Panelists and speakers included the people behind films like Short Term 12, Nebraska, Precious, and Half Nelson; and executives from companies like The Exchange, ICM Partners, Bold Films, Fandor, and Paradigm Consulting.

While there was certainly too much knowledge dropped throughout the weekend to fully recap, two highlights were easily the keynote speeches from Jill Soloway (creator of the Amazon original series Transparent) and Tim League (CEO of Alamo Drafthouse and co-founder of Drafthouse Films).

Some choice quotes from the weekend follow, with videos of the full keynote speeches below:

“You don’t get to say, ‘I’m an artist, I need to be free!’ You must speak the vision of your project in a way that convinces people to pay for it. If they won’t pay for it, that is the artist’s fault. It is my fault. It is your fault. It is not the executive’s fault or the world’s.” -Jill Soloway

“A lot of people make a film and are like ‘I can save money. I don’t have to pay the agent 10-15 percent, I’m going to do those deals…’ You run a very very serious risk of getting into something that you don’t fully understand. That 10 percent is worth it in terms of access, credibility and sheer safety.” -Tim League

“Just make a movie. It’s not to make a ton of money or to make your money back. Just make a movie to prove that you can.” -Asher Goldstein (Producer/Executive, Broad Green Pictures)

“I couldn’t sleep at night if I knew I blew someone’s money irresponsibly.” -Gita Pullapilly (Director, Beneath the Harvest Sky)

“You have to get drunk with your director. You have to be slurring a little bit during that process. You have to feel that comfortable and that vulnerable and show that, but at the same time introduce boundaries. You know, ‘safe words.’” -Lisa Cortes (CEO, Cortes Films)

“[The digital world] was the only place where people my age could be trusted with a miniscule budget.” -Jake Avnet (Chief Operating Officer, Indigenous Media)

“There’s not a conspiracy to prevent really good writing from being found… You have to have the humility to fail over and over and over.” -Ray McKinnon (creator, Rectify)

 

Film Independent Forum 2014 Keynote Speech: Jill Soloway

 

Film Independent Forum 2014 Keynote Speech: Tim League

This Week’s Good Reads (Week of October 20)

SAGindie — Friday, October 24th, 2014

This week brought us the Gotham Award nominations, which means awards season has finally begun. And here on the West Coast (where awards season is valued more than family and brunch), we are preparing for this weekend’s Film Independent Forum, where we’ll be staking out a spot to meet with filmmakers, hear keynote speeches from awesome folk like Tim League (see below) and Jill Soloway, and see a good movie or two while we’re at it (Nightcrawler is the opening film, so we’re ready to be thoroughly unsettled by Jake Gyllenhaal for a while). If we don’t see you there, we’ll assume it’s because you’re catching up on the best film-related reads from the week…

Good Reads for the week of October 20, 2014

Make A Place For Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, And Film Stock In Digital Future (via Tim League for Deadline)
The Alammo Drafthouse CEO (and Film Independent Forum speaker) explains how his theater has tackled the big film vs. digital debate.

Kevin Smith Wrote This Diary Entry Right Before Filming Clerks (via Eric Eisenberg for Cinemablend)
A charming reminder of youthful humility and optimism. Would your 20-year-old diary entry be more embarrassing or less?

Freddy Lives: An Oral History of A Nightmare on Elm Street (via Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum for Vulture)
We’ve been touting indie horror films this week, and Vulture reminds you why Wes Craven’s Nightmare is still one of the best.

Fake deaths, cheap resurrections, and dealing with real grief (via William Hughes for The A.V. Club)
A moving confession about how your reaction to dramatic movie plot devices can change once you’ve faced a real-life tragedy.

Indie TV: When Auteurs of the Art House Make the Move to Your Living Room (via Andy Greenwald for Grantland)
Why some of the best indie filmmakers from the ’90s and 2000′s are migrating to the small screen.

 

In case you were ignoring us (aka blatant self-promotion)

SAGindie presents Indie Horror 101 (via SAGindie)
From vampires to zombies to man-eating plants, we’ve got you covered when it comes to the indie horror classics.

 

A video worth watching

And Uneasy Lies the Mind – Shot Entirely on the iPhone from Ricky Fosheim on Vimeo.

 
How ’bout you? Read anything good this week?

 
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If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent film-related topic we should write about, email blogadmin@sagindie.org for consideration.

An Indie Horror Primer

SAGindie — Monday, October 20th, 2014

evil dead

It wouldn’t be October without a few good scary movies to get you through the drought autumn. Whether you prefer haunted houses, cursed dolls, or emo vampires, chances are your favorite horror film owes a debt of gratitude to independent film. For years, Horror (and its sub-genres) has been the place for low-budget indies to break through and become massive successes, both financially and culturally. But in case you’re not well-versed in indie horror, we’ve compiled a list of the most influential independent horror movies since the dawn of man. Welcome to Indie Horror 101…

 

Vampires

Nosferatu (1922)

Nearly a decade before Universal Pictures got in on the vampire game with their classic Dracula adaptation, German independent filmmaker F.W. Murnau made his own bootleg Dracula, changing enough of Bram Stoker’s novel to pass it off as original (it didn’t work – Stoker’s estate successfully sued the filmmakers and the production company never made another film again). But if blood-sucking is your thing, you can’t get creepier than Nosferatu‘s Count Orlok. Dude came around before the invention of sound, and he’s still way scarier than any movie monster CGI could come up with today.

See also: Nosferatu the VampyreNear Dark, Shadow of the Vampire, Let the Right One In

 

Zombies

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Not the world’s first zombie movie, but definitely the world’s most important zombie movie. George A. Romero created an empire (he’s still making sequels!) from this inexpensive hit, employing cheap-but-effective special effects makeup and using controversy to its advantage (Variety called the movie an “unrelieved orgy of sadism”). The Walking Dead may be breaking records as the most-watched show on cable, but none of it would have been possible without Romero’s DIY zombie flick.

See also: Let Sleeping Corpses LieDawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Planet Terror

 

Horror Comedy

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Nope, not the one where Steve Martin sings about being a dentist. This Roger Corman cult classic was filmed over 2 days for about $30,000 and co-starred a then-unknown Jack Nicholson. The story about a man-eating plant was too ridiculous to be truly scary, so the filmmakers amped up the humor, proving that you can laugh while watching people get murdered and not feel bad about it.

See also: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Re-Animator, Shaun of the Dead, Teeth

 

Slashers

Black Christmas (1974)

Yes, John Carpenter‘s Halloween gets much of the (well-deserved) credit for launching the slasher movie into a full-on phenomenon (and becoming one of the most successful indies of its day). But four years before Michael Myers stalked Jamie Lee Curtis, this little indie out of Canada featured a deranged killer targeting a house full of sorority gals (including Lois Lane and Juliet) – and on Jesus’s birthday, no less! While not as iconic as Carpenter’s masterpiece, Black Christmas will still make you yell at the girls on your TV screen for going into dark rooms to explore strange noises. And what’s more fun than that?

See also: Peeping TomThe Burning, All the Boys Love Mandy LaneYou’re Next

 

Gore

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Whether you call it a “Splatter Film,” “Torture Porn,” or good old fashioned “Gore Fest,” the mother of them all is Tobe Hooper‘s low-budget indie about a man from the Lone Star State who is covered in skin — other peoples’ skin. With elements of the slasher genre (including Marilyn Burns as the “final girl”), Texas Chainsaw drew outrage upon release for its disturbing violence. The film was banned in parts of Canada, and theatergoers in San Francisco reportedly walked out in disgust (yes, people in SAN FRANCISCO in the SEVENTIES thought the film was a little much). But like any good cult film, it eventually caught on and continues to be one of the most famous horror movies of our time.

See also: The Last House on the LeftI Spit on Your Grave, House of 1000 CorpsesThe Human Centipede

 

Supernatural

The Evil Dead (1981)

A list of influential horror films wouldn’t be complete without Sam Raimi‘s ultra-indie Evil Dead – the quintessential “cabin in the woods” movie. The $90,000 budget provided for a tumultuous production in the Tennessee wilderness, but Raimi’s distinct visual style quickly put him on the map, and deadly camping trips would become a Halloween staple for years to come.

See also: Phantasm, The Amityville Horror, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser

 

Found Footage

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Found footage movies are a little played out now, sure, but think back to when Blair Witch was first released and the “is it real?” frenzy that ensued.  One of the best marketing campaigns in history helped usher in a new renaissance of docu-style (read: super duper inexpensive) horror films that could shoot on mini-DV, edit on a laptop, and make a hundred million dollars in the theaters. Who would’ve thought all that success could stem from a shot of an unknown actress snot-crying in extreme close-up?

See also: Cannibal Holocaust, [Rec], Paranormal Activity, V/H/S

 
What are some of your favorite indie horror films?

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If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent film-related topic we should write about, email blogadmin@sagindie.org for consideration.

This Week’s Good Reads (Week of October 13)

SAGindie — Friday, October 17th, 2014

This week saw the unfortunate passing of two actresses who never really got their due: Elizabeth Peña and Misty Upham (for great examples of their talents, go ahead and watch Lone Star and Frozen River, respectively). In lighter news, there was buzz on the media landscape with HBO’s announcement that they’ll be launching a standalone streaming service for the kids who hate cable bills (and are tired of using their parents’ HBO Go passwords, presumably). Your move, Cinemax.

More Good Reads for the week of October 13, 2014

Zombies, Aliens and Robots: Gale Anne Hurd on Her Greatest Hits (via David Fear for Rolling Stone)
The woman behind The Terminator takes a look back at her prolific producing career.

Potent Posters: 8 of the Year’s Best (via Hannah Weintraub for The Credits)
Scroll through these purdy pictures and tell me you don’t want to see these movies.

In Film, Women’s Stories Break Through At Fall Festivals (via Bilal Qureshi for NPR)
Why the festival circuit is the place to find compelling films by women and about women.

Everybody Be Cool: “Pulp Fiction” 20 Years Later (via Nathan Reese for Complex)
Now Pulp Fiction can almost legally drink alcohol in the U.S.

Redefining Micro-Budget Filmmaking: The $6,000 ‘Layover’ (via Joshua Caldwell for The Wrap)
An insightful breakdown, from the development process to finding your market.

Mike Leigh Is the Master Filmmaker Who Hates Hollywood (via Nico Hines for The Daily Beast)
How the British director of Mr. Turner is still making films on his own terms.

I Re-Watched Shawshank Redemption and Your Mom Was Right—It Rules (via Lindy West for GQ)
Lindy West’s movie re-watches are always a hilarious time for your brain and eyeballs (see also: Jurassic Park; Love Actually).

 
How ’bout you? Read anything good this week?

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If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent film-related topic we should write about, email blogadmin@sagindie.org for consideration.

This Week’s Good Reads (Week of October 6)

SAGindie — Friday, October 10th, 2014

In case you missed it, this week we had ourselves a Low-Budget Contract Workshop (no worries, you can join us for next month’s workshop!). Other than that, the most important news of the week is ebola Twin Peaks ISIS that Newsweek did a story about fart jokes. Seriously.

Good Reads for the week of October 6, 2014

The History of the Fart Joke (via Gogo Lidz for Newsweek)
From The Marx Brothers to Blazing Saddles, this journalistic institution goes deep on everyone’s secret giggle-inducer.

10 Filmmaking Lessons From Paul Thomas Anderson (via Jason Bailey for Flavorwire)
Anderson’s next film Inherent Vice apparently employs some fart jokes of its own. Hoorah!

It’s time to stop freaking out about movies we haven’t seen (via Tasha Robinson for The Dissolve)
Let’s not be too quick to judge P.T. Anderson on his fart joke skills until Inherent Vice actually hits theaters, okay?

When Josh and Benny Safdie Met Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (via Scott Foundas for Variety)
One indie-sibling-filmmaking-duo interviews another indie-sibling-filmmaking-duo.

IFC Films’ Jonathan Sehring on ‘Boyhood’ Oscar Campaign and ‘Crouching Tiger 2′ Backlash (via Tatiana Siegel for The Hollywood Reporter)
He agreed to fund Richard Linklater’s 12-year film shoot, but Abel Ferrara also hates him. Get inside the head of the head of the studio (did that sound right?)

‘Eleanor Rigby’ Director Admits Mistakes, Embraces the ‘Slim Chance’ to Show His Original Movie (via Steve Pond for The Wrap)
One script split into three movies with three separate releases… what could go wrong?

 
How ’bout you? Read anything good this week?

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If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent film-related topic we should write about, email blogadmin@sagindie.org for consideration.

This Week’s Good Reads (Week of September 29)

SAGindie — Friday, October 3rd, 2014

With a new month kicking off this week, SAGindie (along with a number of other sites, including our pals at Indiewire and Film Independent) recommended some must-see movies for October. While we obviously feel that our own list is the best, most comprehensive, unquestionable collection of films you’ll ever want to see (let the fighting begin in the comments section), there was some noticeable overlap on a few titles. The basic consensus is that the top picks across the board are: Birdman, Dear White People, Force Majeure, Listen Up Philip, The Overnighters, and Whiplash. So shoot those ones to the top of your list. But this week wasn’t all about movies-of-the-very-near-future. Take a look at the other film-related stories to hit the web this week.

 

More Good Reads for the week of September 29, 2014

Don’t Kill Your Movie: Avoid Deadly Mistakes with Distribution Deals (via Jerome Courshon for The Wrap)
Making the movie is half the battle. Distributing it without getting screwed is the other half.

It’s Been an Amazing Year for Animated Films – You Just Haven’t Realized It Yet (via Bilge Ebiri for Vulture)
While the big studios’ animated efforts have largely underwhelmed, foreign and indie animation is thriving.

6 Lessons on Filmmaking From Darren Aronofsky (via Sarah Salovaara for Filmmaker Magazine)
The guy who made Requiem for a Dream is offering advice. In the words of Sister Act 2, “You better wake up and pay attention.”

The First Oscar Lock of the Year Is Here (It’s Not What You Think It Is) (via Mark Harris for Grantland)
(If you think it’s the year’s buzziest indie film, then yes, it is what you think it is.)

Moviemaker’s Third Annual Guide to Digital Distribution (via Erin Trahan for Moviemaker Magazine)
Find out if you should aim for Hulu, iTunes, or some brand new site all the kids are crazy about.

Fall Deadlines Filmmakers Should Know About (via Oakley Anderson-Moore for No Film School)
Get the info on festivals, grants, contests, and other funding opportunities you may want to pursue.

Netflix’s Ted Sarandos Explains Adam Sandler, ‘Crouching Tiger’ Deals (via Gregg Kilday for The Hollywood Reporter)
Netflix is making movies now. Remember when they used to ship DVDs in the mail? Also, remember mail?

 
How ’bout you? Read anything good this week?
 
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If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent film-related topic we should write about, email blogadmin@sagindie.org for consideration.

SAGindie’s OCTOBER MOVIE PICKS

SAGindie — Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

birdman

It would make sense for October to be chock-full of horror movies, thrillers, and supernatural spectacles, and you can probably find a good movie to frighten you this month. But October also looks to be the month of the splashy indie, with a number of buzzy Sundance/Venice/Toronto Film Festival releases finally hitting the market. We wouldn’t be surprised if the entire roster of next year’s Independent Spirit Award nominees are from October 2014. ‘Til then, take a look at the movies the SAGindie staff is most excited for.

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Darrien’s Picks:

OK, I’ll admit it. I. Cannot. Wait. For John Wick. Keanu Reeves in the genre of “man with a certain set of skills” just looks sexy and violent – and I should probably go back to therapy cuz I’m loving it. Heck, I love all of the “man with… skills” movies. I loved Taken (1), The Equalizer, The Grey (meh). So I’m glad that this one is coming out before I can be so saturated with this theme that I begin to hate them before I even see the trailer. There are others that I am interested in, i.e. Gone Girl (I didn’t read the book but it’s already been spoiled for me. I hate people!) and Fury. But there’s also The Judge and Birdman that are supposed to be great. I’ll wait for more reviews, etc.

 

Eliza’s Picks:

I Am Ali – a documentary about the greatest athlete of the greatest sport, alright SOLD.
Force Majeure – because I get it. I’d sooner notice my phone was gone than my legs.
Whiplash – Hey Miles, call me!

Films I’ll see again because I liked them so much the first time around: Listen Up Philip, The Overnighters, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

 

Colin’s Picks:

Along with all the other obedient Oprah Book Club members, I will be first in line for Gone Girl because I love most anything David Fincher touches (yes, maybe I even teared up a little during Benjamin Button. Maybe.) I’m also very excited for Dear White People because we’re overdue for a good social satire (plus their marketing has been on-point). Nightcrawler looks absolutely batshit crazy, which has me 100% interested (I already saw Birdman and will likely need to ingest all of that wonderful craziness again). And I’m ready for Whiplash to give us the antidote to all the “inspiring teacher” movies from the past three decades. Role models and impassioned speeches about seizing the day? No thanks. Give me emotional abuse and jazz!

 

Amanda’s Picks:

Birdman, which is surprisingly NOT a Marvel one-off, is one of the few films on my must-see list for the end of this year and it should be on yours as well. The dark comedy will surely showcase a stronger display of both character development and dramatic tension than any Marvel movie, and between Keaton’s return as a leading man and Iñárritu’s stunning directorial prowess it’s basically guaranteed to make the $16 ArcLight ticket worth it.

But… what would October be without a good scare-the-pants-off-you, make-you-double-check-dark-corners, horror flick as well? So it’s my great hope that A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night finds its way into theaters in time for Halloween. Highlighted at Sundance’s NEXT Fest this year, the film is an Iranian vampire western which according to Sundance, “combine[s] the simmering tension of Sergio Leone with the weird surrealism of David Lynch.” — I didn’t even know I had been searching my whole life for a Fistful of Dollars, Twin Peaks, Let the Right One In mashup until I read that sentence, but I’m ready for it. I also love supporting women in cinema, and this film has me covered; between writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour and female lead Sheila Vand, I’m ready for my daily dose of admiration. The teaser is sure to give you some chills, it worked for me. Let’s get spooky.

 
WHAT MOVIES ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING THIS OCTOBER?

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If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent film-related topic we should write about, email blogadmin@sagindie.org for consideration.

This Week’s Good Reads (Week of September 22)

SAGindie — Friday, September 26th, 2014

It’s been a promising week for diversity on TV. While ABC was premiering new shows like Black-ish and How to Get Away with Murder, the new media world saw the launch of Issa Rae’s ColorCreativeTV and the Amazon Original Series Transparent. Hopefully these new ventures will launch even more stories about folks that look a little less like the Friends cast (which also got a lot of love this week on the 20th Anniversary of its premiere).

 

More Good Reads for the week of September 22, 2014

The Age of the Streaming TV Auteur (via Adam Sternbergh for Vulture)
How today’s hit slew of streaming shows mirror the indie film boom of the ’90s.

How Sony Pictures Classics Survived the Indie Film Biz (via Ramin Setoodeh for Variety)
Speaking of the indie film boom of the ’90s, take a look at one of the last-shingles-standing.

Awkward Black Girl’s Next Misadventure: Her Own Studio (via Jai Tiggett for Indiewire)
An inside look at Issa Rae’s Color Creative.

Racking Focus: Indie Filmmakers Need More Screens (via Zachary Wigon for Tribeca Films)
Why IFP’s new movie theater is a good thing for filmmakers.

12 Things I Learned at Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School (via Marie-Françoise Theodore for Indiewire)
This was bound to be more memorable than a semester at Tisch.

What’s Behind the Rise of Transgender TV (via Natalie Jarvey for The Hollywood Reporter)
In the wake of Transparent and Orange is the New Black MTV, HBO, and AOL add trans-themed programming to their schedules.

It’s Still the Era of White Television (via Kellie Carter Jackson for The Atlantic)
Before we start celebrating that TV’s diversity problems are solved, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

How to Address the Gender Divide in Filmmaking (via Sarah Salovaara for Filmmaker Magazine)
Ditto for gender equality.

 
How ’bout you? Read anything good this week?
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If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent film-related topic we should write about, email blogadmin@sagindie.org for consideration.

ISSA RAE Launches COLOR CREATIVE

SAGindie — Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

color creative panel

This week, SAGindie co-sponsored a special screening of three comedy pilots from Issa Rae Productions’ Color Creative. This new venture from Issa Rae and Deniese Davis produces TV pilots from underrepresented writers, shepherding these projects from development through production and release.

ColorCreative.TV launches today, where you can watch each of the three pilots: Bleach (written by Shawn Boxe and directed by Victoria Mahoney); Words With Girls (written by Brittani Nichols and directed by Tessa Blake); and So Jaded (written by Syreeta Singleton and directed by Daven Baptiste). And if you’re a female writer or writer of color, you can inquire about submitting for the next development process (which will focus on drama pilots).

Today Indiewire published an in-depth story that goes behind-the-scenes at Issa Rae Productions and looks at the process of launching Color Creative, and the struggle to increase opportunities for diverse voices in the TV industry. You’ll definitely want to check out the story, watch the pilots, and support this new endeavor. Get on board now, because it’s only a matter of time before Issa Rae takes over the world.

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Learn more about Issa Rae Productions here or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent film-related topic we should write about, email blogadmin@sagindie.org for consideration.

This Week’s Good Reads (Week of September 15)

SAGindie — Friday, September 19th, 2014

This week, a large bulk of the independent film world was occupied with IFP Independent Film Week in New York. And there was a lot of good stuff happening there (including an appearance by SAGindie’s own Darrien Gipson). Luckily for those of us that couldn’t attend, we’ll kick off this week’s must-reads with Indiewire‘s recap of the event, which you can read here. Boom, consider yourself educated.

 

More Good Reads for the week of September 15, 2014

Festival Strategy 101: Plot the Right Course for Your Film (via Valentina Valentini for MovieMaker Magazine)
Some great tips on making sure you find the film festival that best fits your project.

Alt-Fall Movie Preview 2014: The Wild, the Weird, and the Totally True (via David Fear for Rolling Stone)
RS shows some love for the little guys, i.e. the indie films coming out this autumn.

The Man Who Brought Stop-Motion Animation Into the 21st Century (via Caitlin Roper for Wired)
An interview with filmmaker/entrepreneur/very-patient-man Travis Knight.

Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, and Dan Stevens on The Guest, and its place in their big plan (via Tasha Robinson for The Dissolve)
An extensive chat about indie filmmaking with the writing/directing duo and the dead guy from Downton Abbey.

 

In case you were ignoring us (aka blatant self-promotion)

SAGindie attends the Transparent premiere (via SAGindie)
We didn’t ask a single actress (or actor) what dress they were wearing during our red carpet coverage.

 
How ’bout you? Read anything good this week?

 
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If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent film-related topic we should write about, email blogadmin@sagindie.org for consideration.