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SAG indie outreach head Brakefield exits

Exec returns to producing, tapped for PGA panel

Shawna Brakefield, longtime director of the Screen Actors Guild’s indie outreach program, has resigned her post in order to return to producing as SAG brings the program inhouse.

Brakefield, who had been a consultant to the program, will leave her post next week and plans to assist in the transition. SAG spokeswoman Ilyanne Kichaven said the program, funded through the SAG-Producers Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund, will continue to operate and a replacement will be named shortly.

“There is no question that Shawna’s leadership over the past five years has built a solid foundation for the guild in opening the dialogue and increasing mutual understanding between performers and producers,” said Tom Bower and Richard Herd, co-chairs of the Indie Outreach Committee.

Bower told Daily Variety he was troubled that no funding or staffing is available to operate the program. “I am alarmed about how SAG is going to coordinate the indie program, particularly since this has been spectacularly successful in offering an alternative to producers,” he added.

Tapped for PGA panel

Brakefield also has been tapped to co-chair the Producers Guild of America’s newly forming Emerging Producers Outreach Committee with producer Richard Hull (“She’s All That,” “On the Line”). Other committee members include Jonathan Treisman (“Pay It Forward”), Kevin Foxe (“The Blair Witch Project”), Eric Watson (“Requiem for a Dream”), Michelle Jade Lee (“Dancing in September”), Chris Donahue (“Visas and Virtues”) and Andrew Panay (“Serendipity”).

PGA exec director Vance Van Petten said of Brakefield, “Her groundbreaking work at SAG, and her profound understanding of the relationship between producer and performer, makes her an enormously valuable asset to the PGA membership.”

SAG has said its surveys show 25% of films accepted into major film festivals were SAG signatories before the program, compared with more than 90% currently. SAG signed 941 films to low-budget agreements in 1996, compared with 1,765 in 2001.

The indie outreach program includes monthly Signatory Workshops for first-time filmmakers and partnerships with the Sundance Institute, Independent Feature Project and Columbia University. Brakefield and longtime associate Jennifer Cook, who also is departing to return to acting and writing, produced more than 110 events a year.

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