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Because independent films are more popular than ever before, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is running ads such as this one in Filmmaker magazine and film festival programs to publicize its recently modified “Low Budget Agreements.” First instituted in 1969, the agreements mark the union’s effort to recognize the financial realities of the indie film industry. Still, the ads were not designed just for directors or actors, who ostensibly think about things like performance quality. They are aimed at the people who control the purse strings: producers, who generally decide whether a given film will use union talent or not. So if the ads are funny at first glance and jarring at second, it shows only that SAG’s becoming savvy. The union understands that even low-budget filmmaking is becoming a business first and an art form second.

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