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Need proof that independent film is becoming entrenched in Hollywood? Simply check out some of the new leadership at the Directors Guild of America.

On June 29, the DGA elected Michael Apted as its next prexy, along with naming Steven Soderbergh as its second VP. Both are apt examples of indie helmers who have jumped into studio waters but continue to swim in both streams.

Apted, who has headed the guild’s independent directors committee since its inception five years ago, says, “The world of independents has now been sort of ironically institutionalized. Before we started the committee, the DGA traditions were very studio-based, but now (the indie committee) has become part of the infrastructure.”

Apted’s goals for his two-year term include dealing with piracy, late scripts, digital technology and upping membership diversity. But he also admits that elevating the profile of indie directors at the DGA will be a major focus, particularly as that sector is the key source of new DGA members.

“We have to be alert to the more anarchic elements of the business,” Apted adds. “There’s a lot of anxiousness at the DGA over improving diversity, and indies tend to be a way minorities and women get involved. Indies are the future, from our standpoint.”

Apted notes the DGA’s low-budget agreements cover projects with budgets of less than $500,000. “We want to be flexible so we’re not here to derail a film with ridiculous demands,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Apted’s scouting locations in England for “Sheherezade,” an independently produced pic (Recorded Picture Co. and Morgan Creek) to be distributed Stateside by Warner Bros. He plans to shoot in September and October with Juliette Binoche, Laurence Fishburne and Gary Sinise toplining — assuming financing falls in place.

“With an independent film like this, you’re constantly juggling balls in the air,” he says. “It’s a real house of cards that can fall apart at any second, so you don’t really have anything until you start shooting. That’s why indie films have so much passion in them — because they require so much time, energy and commitment.”