In the demands of both the writers’ union and the actors’ union, the AI and how it is going to be controlled is part of the negotiations, and is a point of friction between the negotiating parties.
If COVID-19 was able to paralyze all Hollywood productions during the strong restrictions due to the pandemic, now a strike by the SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) threatens to do so. Since it appears to be imminent, talks with the studios have concluded without agreement or extension. The union contract officially expired at midnight on July 12. One of the points on the table is how to defend the rights of creatives against the threat of AI (Artificial Intelligence). In a statement, the union said that the bargaining committee had voted unanimously to recommend a strike.The union’s national board is expected to meet today to call a strike, which would immediately stop the production of movies and television shows by companies represented by the Alliance of Film and Television Producers.Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA, said in a statement that the AMPTP’s responses to its key issues were “insulting and disrespectful.” “SAG-AFTRA negotiated in good faith and was eager to reach an agreement that sufficiently addressed the needs of artists, but the AMPTP responses to the union’s most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry,” Drescher said. “Businesses have refused to engage meaningfully on some issues and on others they have blocked us outright. Until they negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach an agreement.”
Production has already been drastically reduced due to the Writers Guild of America strike, which began on May 2.
Anthony Behar/Sipa USA / Cordon PressSAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 artists, has not gone on strike against film and television companies since 1980. The last time actors and writers went on strike simultaneously was in 1960. AMPTP said in a statement that it was disappointed by the outcome of the talks. “We are deeply disappointed that SAG-AFTRA has decided to walk away from the negotiations,” the group said. “This is the Union’s choice, not ours. In doing so, it has scrapped our offer of historic salary and residual increases, substantially higher limits on pension and health contributions, hearing protections, shorter serial option periods, an innovative AI proposition that protects digital images from actors and more. Instead of continuing to negotiate, SAG-AFTRA has put us on a course that will deepen the financial hardship of thousands who depend on the industry for their livelihood.” The union seeks a residual streaming formula that will account for the success of the shows . The studios have been unwilling to disclose their own audience data, prompting SAG-AFTRA to propose using metrics from Parrot Analytics, a third-party data firm. It is also seeking regulations on the use of artificial intelligence, which would require actors being paid for any AI-generated use of their likeness, as well as limits on self-recorded auditions and a host of other issues.
In a message to its members, the union highlighted both streaming and artificial intelligence as central issues in the negotiations.
“As you are aware, over the past decade, your compensation has been severely eroded by the rise of the streaming ecosystem,” the union wrote. “Furthermore, AI/artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to the creative professions, and all actors and performers deserve contractual language that protects them from having their identity and talents exploited without consent and payment. Despite our team’s dedication to advocating on their behalf, the AMPTP has refused to acknowledge that the huge changes in the industry and economy have had a detrimental impact on those who work for the studios.” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, The SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director, also underscored those points, saying the studios “have implemented massive unilateral changes to our industry’s business model, while at the same time insisting on keeping our contracts frozen in amber.”
Outrage at SAG-AFTRA over treatment received in negotiations
“This is not how you treat a valued and respected partner and an essential collaborator,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “Your refusal to meaningfully engage with our key proposals and the fundamental disrespect shown to our members is what has brought us to this point. Studios and streamers have underestimated the determination of our members, as they are about to fully find out.” The union began talks on June 7. Drescher, who also chairs the bargaining committee, said the talks had been “extremely productive” in a video message to members on June 24. The two sides agreed on June 30 to extend the contract for another 12 days, signaling they saw some hope of a deal. But the talks have grown much more acrimonious in recent days. On Monday, top studio executives agreed to propose bringing in federal mediators to help resolve the dispute. While SAG-AFTRA agreed to mediation, it also criticized the last-minute move as a “cynical ploy” to seek a second extension.
The union also said it remains interested in reaching an agreement, but suggested that the studios “have no intention of negotiating an agreement.”
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service sent a mediator on Wednesday who was available for the final day of talks. Union members have been urging leaders to take a hard line. In a letter from two weeks ago, signed by more than 2,000 players, leaders were urged not to accept anything less than a “transformational” deal. “This is not a time to meet in the middle, and it is not an exaggeration to say that the eyes of history are on all of us,” the letter said. Many members have already joined writers on pickets outside major studios. On Tuesday, the actors were on hand at various WGA pickets to receive training in the logistics of strike operations from WGA strike captains.
In early June, SAG-AFTRA members voted 98% in favor of a strike authorization, giving leaders the power to call an industry-wide strike if an agreement could not be reached. strike all the interpreters who are working on a production must paralyze their activity with what productions like Deadpool 3, would be seriously affected. So we can forget about having more leaked images with the Merc with a Mouth and Wolverine on set.
Follow the press conference of SAG.AFTRA about the strike
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