SAG-AFTRA actors stand tall at San Diego Comic-Con, demand fair pay amidst AI threat
San Diego actors from SAG-AFTRA protest outside San Deigo Comic-Con, demanding fair pay and opposing AI's use in films.
On the bustling second day of San Diego's famous comic-con, a different kind of drama unfolded just across the street from the convention center. Local actors, part of The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), took to the picket line to make their voices heard after weeks of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
Mark Allyn, a San Diego-based actor and voice actor, expressed the importance of the strike, stating, "This was a great idea to get people to know what the strike is all about, get our voices heard." Many comic-con attendees, eager to support the actors, stopped to photograph and show their solidarity.
For Allyn and others like him, it was a bittersweet moment as they would typically be participating in the comic-con festivities, but this year, they are sacrificing that opportunity to fight for better wages and a fair share of residuals from streaming platforms.
One major concern for the actors is the growing implementation of artificial intelligence (A.I.) in Hollywood. Some CEOs have been considering using A.I. to create background actors in films, a move that doesn't sit well with human actors. Mike Egbert, another actor joining the protest, passionately voiced his opinion, saying, "Why would we want to hire a robot when we're the ones with the emotional ties to this planet? The emotional ties and relationships with each other that make it special. It makes it unique."
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Egbert donned a shirt with a powerful message: "Actors not AI." He emphasized actors' critical role during the pandemic, providing entertainment through streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney. Now, they want to be fairly compensated for their contributions so they can continue to make a living.
AMPTP, representing the studios in the negotiations, has not fully met the actor's demands, but they claim to have offered "historic pay and residual increases." Despite the ongoing stalemate, the actors remain resolute in their mission to secure better wages and protect their profession from the encroachment of artificial intelligence.