In a historic move that echoes through Hollywood, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) recently concluded a momentous 118-day strike with a tentative agreement with major studios. This comprehensive summary delves into the intricacies of the deal, covering pivotal aspects ranging from wage increases to groundbreaking provisions on artificial intelligence (AI), casting, streaming bonuses, equity, and sexual harassment prevention.
Wage Increases: A Paradigm Shift in Compensation
Wage minimums for performers are set for a notable upswing, with an immediate 7% increase, followed by a 4% bump in July 2024 and an additional 3.5% in July 2025. Background actors, stand-ins, and photo doubles are not left behind, witnessing an 11% rise, followed by incremental increases over the contract's duration. This shift aims at ensuring fair compensation for actors working at scale, fostering a more equitable industry landscape.
Artificial Intelligence: Safeguarding Performers in the Digital Realm
One of the groundbreaking aspects of the agreement lies in the realm of artificial intelligence. In cases where an employer intends to create a "digital replica" of an actor's voice or likeness, explicit consent becomes paramount. Notably, the performer must be compensated for the days they would have worked if their digital likeness is utilized. The agreement also delves into the nuanced use of "synthetic performers," placing protections and notification requirements on companies seeking to employ non-replica digital entities.
Streaming Bonuses: Incentivizing Success on Digital Platforms
Acknowledging the industry's digital transformation, the agreement introduces streaming bonuses for performers, contingent on program viewership. The bonus, in addition to residuals, is triggered if the program achieves a 20% viewership among the streaming platform's domestic subscribers within the first 90 days of release. This move not only aligns with industry shifts but also establishes a mechanism for fair compensation in the evolving landscape.
Casting and Auditions: Navigating the Changing Landscape
The agreement addresses the evolving landscape of casting and auditions, particularly in the digital age. Performers are relieved of certain burdens during virtual and self-taped auditions, ensuring a more accessible and cost-effective process. Additionally, the agreement outlines guidelines for communication, storage of self-tapes, and prohibits producers from charging performers for general casting calls, fostering a more inclusive audition environment.
Equity and Inclusion: Paving the Way for Diversity
In a commitment to diversity and inclusion, the agreement mandates efforts to hire stunt performers with a "sufficient likeness" to the characters they portray. Furthermore, principal performers gain a say in hair and makeup arrangements, ensuring their specific needs are met. The agreement also pushes for collaboration with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) to enhance representation in hairstyling and makeup, emphasizing diversity across all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Sexual Harassment Prevention: A Definitive Stand
The agreement takes a firm stance on sexual harassment prevention, requiring producers to make "best efforts" to hire intimacy coordinators for scenes involving nudity or simulated sex. Provisions are in place to protect performers who request the presence of an intimacy coordinator, fostering a safer working environment. Additionally, transparency is emphasized, with background actors informed in advance about any intimate scenes, empowering them with the information needed to make informed decisions.
In conclusion, the SAG-AFTRA's tentative agreement stands as a watershed moment in the entertainment industry, addressing not only financial aspects but also embracing technological shifts and championing inclusivity and safety. This summary serves as a testament to the evolving dynamics of Hollywood, heralding a new era of collaboration, protection, and equitable practices.