For around three months, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has been on strike against their employers, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The actors’ guild’s main reasons for the strike were over the treatment of actors in the industry and the threat of generative AI software. On November 9, 2023, SAG-AFTRA called off their strike and returned to work, leaving the film industry running at full capacity again.
The new contract is mostly a victory for the union and will give the actors higher wages and residuals, and will also regulate the use of artificial intelligence. SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher stated upon the ratification of a new contract, “…now that we have forged the biggest deal in industry history which broke pattern, established new revenue streams and passed a historic $1 billion plus dollar deal with the most progressive AI protections ever written, I feel pretty confident in saying this is a paradigm shift of seismic proportions!”
The new contract will give actors a sizable increase in wage minimums, with more wage increases each year until 2025 for speaking actors and background actors. Residuals for streaming and residuals based on the success of a show will also be increased. Some of the success-based residuals will be given to a joint fund owned by the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA, which will give the money to other streaming actors. The Health, Pension, and Retirement funds will also be expanded and will help actors keep qualifying for the coverage. There will be new changes to ensure that actors are not mistreated or put into places where they are not comfortable, such as sexual harassment protection. Scripts and other important documents related to someone’s role must be provided 48 hours prior to the deadline and actors will not be required to do too much for a call-back.
One of the biggest concerns about the new contract are the parts about artificial intelligence and its regulations. The contract states that there will be requirements regarding digital replicas and AI-created actors, including notice and compensation. However, the broadness of the deal and how it isn’t fully restricted has brought up major concerns within the actors’ union about the possible ways that the producers could exploit these terms. For example, actors are concerned that the studio could require actors to accept AI-related conditions in order to be employed. The AMPTP would be able to go directly to actors instead of through SAG-AFTRA in order to make these deals. Although these requirements are a good first step into regulating artificial intelligence in the industry, they do not fully prevent the threat to the jobs of actors and more restrictions will likely be proposed in the future.
Sophomore Nicholas Carpenter is a Staff Writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.