SAG acting seminar at the SD Film Festival

Frederic Cone

Frederic ConeNews Editor

When the Screen Actors Guild came to the South Dakota Film Festival, held in Aberdeen Sept. 9-12, they had a definite plan in mind. The SAG held a seminar to promote the hiring and non-discrimination of Native American actors and actresses from the Midwest. Through this seminar, they were able to give advice to aspiring actors. The ultimate goal was to make the process of breaking into the film industry less intimidating.

“One of our focuses for coming here was to generate interest in hiring Native American actors for film projects both regionally and nationally,” said Adam Moore, associate national director of affirmative action and diversity with SAG.

SAG also was here to promote the fair and equal treatment of Native American actors and actresses, not only here, but across the country.

“In addition we wanted to re-affirm the SAG’s position and assistance in maintaining fair and non-discriminatory environments in the film industry,” said Delanna Studi, a member of the National Task Force for American Indians. “For me as a Native actress, it was important to get out here and show that there is a possibility for success in the industry, and hopefully it will inspire younger generations to pursue their own careers in the industry.”

The presenters of the seminar included Chris Eyre, director of the films Edge of America and Smoke Signals; Rene Haynes, casting director for Edge of America and the Twilight saga and actors Delanna Studi and Brian Westcott, both members of the National Task Force for American Indians.

The SAG is committed to advocating on behalf of Native actors, though their focus is going out into communities where new actors are and where films are being created in order to pull in new talent.

“The tribe I am most interested in is the tribe of fellow actors,” Brian Wescott said. “We are all one group aspiring in the same direction: to improve as actors and create more interesting films.”

The SAG serves many functions. It advocates on behalf of the rights of actors and also creates environments that make it easier for actors to do the best job.

“The SAG is a resource for filmmakers and actors to tell the stories they want to tell in the most professional way possible,” Moore said.

The second half of the seminar was devoted to giving up-and-coming actors and filmmakers helpful advice about how to audition and work professionally in the industry.

“We, as a group, wanted to de mystify the daunting nature of trying to break into the film industry and give aspiring actors and filmmakers the tools and confidence to be able to become successful,” Haynes said.

The underlying focus of this seminar was to build the confidence level of aspiring actors and actresses in their abilities.

“You are your own obstacle to be successful,” Studi said. “If you love the industry and want to be a part of than you need to stick with it.”

During the course of the seminar the group broke down the various aspects involved in becoming successful in the film industry. The final segment of the seminar focused on top ten steps for taping your own audition.