Dispute over financial future stalls production of TV shows, films
On July 14, members of SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild- American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) officially began a strike, halting all major television and film productions.
Ever since the streaming service revolution, actors have felt as though they are receiving the short end of the stick. In the past, actors could put together a viable living on just a few credits every year through residual checks, which are paid out over many years. However, the current model of entertainment doesn’t support actors in quite the same way. While the streaming service CEO’s rake in money, actors are facing limited access to health insurance and a significant decrease in the amount of residual checks compared to what they were seeing prior to the rise of streaming services. Though the impact on celebrities isn’t so severe, the everyday actor is feeling the pinch.
“It’s super important that actors and performers stand up to protect their image and their financial future moving forward,” said Minnehaha theater director, teacher and longtime member of SAG, Nicholas Freeman.
Although streaming services such as Netflix are seeing massive amounts of income, they still claim to be losing money. Many believe that this is due to the large sum of money that they have poured into funding and producing their own original shows and films, which are
“Netflix is claiming that they’re losing money, but they’re spending a lot of money on movies,” said veteran actor Richard Kind, whose talents can be seen in iconic films Inside Out and Argo, “And, they have an enormous amount of income.”
Both actors and streaming services are taking a loss, so why continue with the same business model? Many, including Richard Kind, believe that there needs to be a pivot.
“I understand that Netflix is losing money, so they have to change their paradigm,” said Kind.
Also, just like many industries, actors fear the looming cloud that is AI technology. Now that AI can manufacture faces and voices, some are fearing that AI will eventually be used to replicate celebrities, and be used in films. SAG-AFTRA is attempting to limit the legality of AI, and eliminate the threat it has to actors’ livelihood.
“I believe that we may have to have copyrights on our image and voice,” said Kind.
Until the actors receive more health care benefits and new forms of what they feel is adequate compensation, the strike isn’t going anywhere. SAG-AFTRA seeks to structure new contracts for all working actors, which will incorporate more benefits and ways to receive
“I don’t think [the strike] is going to end for a long time,” said Kind, “We must acknowledge that the old way [of film and television viewing] is not tomorrow’s way.”