It may be a good time to start making a list of all the TV shows and movies you’ve been thinking about watching. Last week the Screen Actors Guild went on strike, joining the Writers Guild of America. The WGA has been striking for a month. Now come the big guns, the actors.
AI, of course, and the rights of ‘digital versions’ of actors are the big sticking point. Studios have been up-front with using digital actors or doubles to do the heavy lifting on a show. It’s how Peter Cushing returned in Rogue One and how a certain young Jedi appeared in The Mandalorian. Actors know that if a studio creates a digital version, they don’t own it. The same goes for their voice and voice actors’ voices. Unchecked, you could realistically ask “Did so and so even work in this movie?” if a digital version was used the entire time.
While I am quite bullish on AI, the graphical power to pull these tricks off is present today and this is not a “ChatGPT will take our jobs” kind of thing. Look at any AAA video game and you’ll see the threat to actors clearly.
Besides this, is the money and how streaming is Hollywood’s secret weapon to hoard more money.
The stories that have come out in the past weeks about how streaming has flipped the industry upside down are incredible. No longer are writers able to work their way up or to even be on set during filming. “Writer rooms” are more exclusive and have gatekeepers wherein the people who work to create the stories we love to watch are essentially kept out of most of the process.
Every time “Friends” changes services, we hear about the gobs of money the actors continue to make in residuals. In today’s day that entire cast would be under-paid and given peanuts for the same work. A bombshell report dropped on Friday revealing many of the cast members of Orange Is The New Black were severely underpaid. For a show that helped solidify Netflix as a dominant platform of original content, it’s shameful to see this happen. And yet, we’ve seen this strike before.
The WGA had its last strike in 2007 and 2008. It was a similar tale of not getting enough money for the intensely-creative and demanding work they did. To counter the sudden loss of programming, the networks scrambled to fill their airwaves. American Idol and other reality shows were dominant at the time…