Though negotiators from both the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) met this past weekend in hopes of bringing Hollywood’s ongoing labor strike to an end, contract talks have reportedly stalled once again due to the desire of studios to own performers’ digitally scanned likenesses in perpetuity.
Previously, the AMPTP insisted that its most recent proposed contract was its “best and final” offer. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, SAG-AFTRA refused and walked away from the negotiations over the AMPTP’s insistence on pushing for new rules regarding the use of people’s likenesses that would ultimately leave actors in the lurch. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the AMPTP’s newest contract would allow studios to secure the digitally scanned likenesses of all Schedule F performers — members of the guild making more than the minimum $32,000 / episode rate for series or more than $60,000 for feature films.
The AMPTP has been trying to get SAG-AFTRA on board with the idea of studios paying actors for their likenesses since the strike began earlier this year. Because this most recent proposal would allow studios to use digital scans of dead actors without the consent of their estates or the guild, however, SAG-AFTRA has refused and expressed its desire for changes that would require the studios to pay actors each time their faces are used and receive consent from those actors before doing so.
On Monday evening, SAG-AFTRA posted a short message to X (formerly Twitter) stating, “There are several essential items on which we still do not have an agreement, including AI.”
Throughout the strike, background actors have largely been the focus of conversations, involving the way studios have gotten into the business of scanning performers’ faces for postproduction tinkering. Background actors are just as important as Schedule F performers in the overall filmmaking process, and they deserve the same protections. But this all comes at a time when it’s becoming increasingly clear performers across the board have very good reason to assume their best interests aren’t being prioritized by studios, especially when it comes to how their faces will be used to sell products.