In an unprecedent move, 160,000 Hollywood actors represented by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) joined writers in strike against Hollywood after negotiations between the union and major studio networks failed.
Much of Hollywood had shut down in May after writers went on strike, protesting against low pay as studios shifted to streaming, and the incorporation of A.I into writing scripts.
The demands made by the actors union include fairer working conditions, and protection of actors against digital replicas like A.I and computer generated faces and voices will not be used to replace actors. Another demand was that actors should receive better pay base and residuals- which are payments made to actors in television and films they have starred in.
During the negotiations, network studios had offered what they called a ‘ground-breaking proposal’ that actors would be asked for consent when their digital replicas would be used in films, while background actors would be scanned and give one day’s pay for their digital image to be used on screen without their consent, which SAG said was unnacceptable:
“They propose that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan of their image, their likeness, and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity,” the SAG chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said. “If you think that’s a ground-breaking proposal, I suggest you think again.”
The cast of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ walked off the red carpet at the London premiere on Thursday, including A-list actors like Cillian Murphy, Florence Pugh, Emily Blunt and Matt Damon, when the strikes were announced in the US.
Addressing the strike during a red carpet interview, Damon defended fellow actors who were protesting for studios to provide better pay, sharing that royalty payments are a way for working actors to survive:
“We got to protect the people who are kind of on the margins. 26,000 bucks a year is what you have to make to get your health insurance. And there are a lot of people (for) who residual payments carry them across that threshold. If those residual payments dry up, so does their healthcare, and that’s absolutely unacceptable.”
Announcing the SAG-AFTRA strike, President of the union Fran Drescher, called this a sad decision, which will greatly impact both writers and actors.
“We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. You are systematically trying to figure out ways to carve us out of what is due us. Shame on you!”