What is the Independent Filmmakers Guild of America, and what exactly is a Professional Association? How is it different from a union?
The IFGA is a professional association that gives independent content creators access to basic and important services and resources that can be difficult (or very time-consuming) to attain individually.
A professional association is an organization with members who work in or share an interest in a specific field or industry.
Some of what we offer is unique to the Guild, some of it is accessible elsewhere, but we have put it all in one place, so it is readily accessible and relevant to IFGA members.
Regardless of the field, if you work in, or are interested in the world of filmmaking, you can join the IFGA (as a director, a producer, an actor, a makeup artist, an editor, a camera operator, a grip, a production assistant, or anything else within this world).
There are annual dues, which we try to keep to a minimum, but this allows the Guild to provide free and discounted services as well, such as the free script registry and online courses.
We have added a healthcare partner, who works directly with association members to find comprehensive solutions to meet individual needs for health insurance, dental insurance, vision care, and pharmacy services. We also work with a business insurance company to help creators access crucial coverages such as production insurance, errors and omissions coverage, worker’s comp, and commercial auto insurance.
We also have a member who is an entertainment lawyer, who has put together a package of services to help members have access to discounted services such as contract reviews.
We are continually adding ways for members to connect and network such as our private Facebook group, an IFGA forum, and a member-to-member services section. We hold monthly town hall meetings and webinars; and in the future, we hope to hold an in-person summit.
Additional resources include our document library, a knowledge base, and more. We are also creating a section with free classes for photography, filmmaking, and editing.
As the Guild grows, so will the collection of services and resources.
The IFGA is not a union. It is a professional association. So what is the difference between a professional association and a union? There are no restrictions or minimum earnings to qualify for any of these programs. You just have to be a member. A labor (or trade) union represents the collective interest of workers and negotiates with employers, with its primary focus being on wages and work place conditions, whereas a professional association focuses on an interest in a field or industry.
A union often regulates what work can be done and who is working it while implementing a standardized set of wages. There might also be thresholds (hours worked or money earned) to qualify for the union, qualify for benefits, or to maintain membership. None of this applies to a professional association, and it doesn’t matter what an area of expertise is. Whether a member is a director, an actor, a producer, a makeup artist, a grip, a production assistant, or serves any other role, does not matter. Anyone who considers themselves a member of the independent filmmaking community can be a member of the Independent Filmmakers Guild of America and take part in everything it has to offer.