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Union Demands: What Do WGA & SAG-AFTRA Want From AMPTP?

SAG-AFTRA’s strike will hit its two-month mark on September 14th, and the WGA’s already surpassed four. Consequently, our country is facing a massive shortage of the thing we crave most—entertainment. Yet, an overwhelming majority of the public still has its proverbial hammer out in support of these thirst-quenching unions continuing to withhold their creative juices from pouring through the AMPTP and onto our screens.

Speaking of strikes, a poll from Policy Think-Tank ‘Data For Progress’ suggests that almost half of the American voters harboring a distaste for labor unions continue to side with SAG-AFTRA and the WGA. 

Clearly, the challenges faced by these unions hold a lot of weight. In what way have major advances in tech—like AI and streaming—broken the entertainment mold, calling for new contracts to be cast by Hollywood’s main contract maker for our TV and film production movers and shakers? 

Career Stability: Could AI-Generated Content Swipe It?

Have you ever been captivated by a comment or blog generated by a bot or fooled by a celebrity deep fake? Chances are, the answer is yes and you didn’t even know it. Today’s AI-generated content is so believable that it is lurking—and well-camouflaged—in almost all corners of the web.

If precautions aren’t taken to prevent the work (and wages) of writers, actors, stunt people, makeup artists, and more from ambushes by the cost-saving convenience of non-human labor, they might lose dominion over their careers. Apart from a contract, what might stop a production or distribution company from prompting AI to shoot off a script and then reloading it with actors’ likenesses so it can be performed ‘artificially’? 

With the rise of AI technology in the creative sector, SAG-AFTRA actor and WGA writer salaries are on the line… and they aren’t the only ones. The alarming cons arising in parallel to AI’s advantages are not confined to show business and are already appearing across other industries.

(Photo Cred: David Robb/Getty/SAG-AFTRA/WGA)

With machine learning in full swing, artificial intelligence can now learn faster than a human hippocampus. Although we can only predict how this crazy fact will alter our civilization in the future, the possibility that it will continually finetune its own computational prowess and one day perform almost any skill set is not mere fiction. 

Still not convinced that our spotlighted unions’ unease about AI content creation causing potholes in once-stable career paths is rooted in reality? A convo with ChatGPT or a creative prompt to Jasper will open your AIs.

AMPTP, Stop Playing. Put Your Shoulder To Their Pay Structures!

Speaking of instability, streaming platforms have all but replaced cable television, turning syndicated reruns—a once relied-upon revenue source for actors—into a dust-covered dream. Like a loose thread on a sweater, this seemingly innocuous shift to OTT services has slowly unraveled the pertinence of existing AMPTP company pay structures. 

According to SAG-AFTRA and WGA leaders, our major motion picture and television producers have not taken this shift into account, nor made any attempts to patch up their calculations to ensure that the people involved in producing their money-makers are compensated fairly.

The result? Unacceptable working conditions such as minimums that have not met inflation, unstable employment schedules as TV series take on a trendy new shape—i.e. shorter seasons released less often with longer episodes—and payment formulas that primarily serve Wall Street and cannot thrive amidst our current entertainment landscape. 

Writers’ rooms are currently being drowned out too, dragging the shared brainstorming power and break-out opportunities they offer underwater.

If the AMPTP doesn’t straighten out its compass, it will surely sink. In upcoming columns, we’ll map out what brewed this storm and shed light on the waves it could set in motion,  starting with AI and media production.

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