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Does Hollywood want to replace actors with AI replicas?

This is one of the arguments presented by the actors' unions that went on strike.


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During the press conference in which the Hollywood actors confirmed that they were going on strike, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA's chief negotiator, revealed a proposal from the Hollywood studios that raised concerns, not only among the actors, but also among the art community at large.

As in the case of the writers' strike, the use of generative AI has been pointed out as one of the most controversial points in the negotiations between the two parties.

Fran Drescher, SAG-AFTRA president, stated in her opening statement at the press conference:

If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble, we are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines.

"Groundbreaking" Proposal 

In a statement issued about the strike, the Alliance of Film and Television Producers (AMPTP) said its proposal included “a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses for SAG-AFTRA members.

“This ‘groundbreaking’ AI proposal that they gave us yesterday, they proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get one day’s pay, and their companies should own that scan, their image, their likeness and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity on any project they want, with no consent and no compensation. So if you think that’s a groundbreaking proposal, I suggest you think again,” stressed Crabtree-Ireland during the press conference.

In response, AMPTP spokesman Scott Rowe sent out a statement denying the claims made during the SAG-AFTRA press conference.

“The claim made today by SAG-AFTRA leadership that the digital replicas of background actors may be used in perpetuity with no consent or compensation is false. In fact, the current AMPTP proposal only permits a company to use the digital replica of a background actor in the motion picture for which the background actor is employed. Any other use requires the background actor’s consent and bargaining for the use, subject to a minimum payment,” underscored Rowe.

Fair Strike?

Here are some of the components of the Producer offer that SAG-AFTRA has chosen to waive in favor of a strike:

  • The highest percentage increase in minimums in 35 years
  • 76% increase in High Budget SVOD foreign residuals
  • Substantial increases in pension and health contribution caps
  • Groundbreaking AI proposal which protects performers’ digital likenesses, including a requirement for performer’s consent for the creation and use of digital replicas or for digital alterations of a performance
  • 58% increase in salaries for major role (guest star) performers wages on High Budget SVOD Programs
  • Limitation of self-tape requests, including page, time and tech requirements. Options for virtual or in-person auditions
  • 11% pay increase in year 1 for background actors, stand-ins and photo doubles, an additional 17% increase for background actors required to do extensive self-styling, and an additional 62% increase for stand-ins required to deliver lines during a run-through and photo doubles required to memorize and deliver lines on camera
  • First-time-ever fixed residuals for Stunt Coordinators on television and High Budget SVOD programs
  • Shortened option periods for series regulars earning less than $65,000 per episode on a half-hour series or less than $70,000 per episode on a one-hour series
  • Dancers will now receive the on-camera rate for rehearsal days
  • Additional payments of 25% for dancers required to sing on camera during principal photography, as well as for singers required to dance on camera
  • First-of-its-kind provision establishing rates, terms and conditions for High Budget Programs made for AVOD
  • Hair and make-up consultation for performers of all complexions and hair textures
  • Limits on the amount of initial compensation that can be advanced or prepaid as residuals

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