Background actors are getting cloned by AI

Studios replace background actors with AI

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The Future. Some high-budget, VFX-driven shows may already be digitally cloning background talent to be used in future productions… and that could spell bad news for both working actors and the craftspeople who support them. With the practice going on for years, it’s no wonder SAG-AFTRA has made the regulation behind the use of AI a major sticking point in the ongoing contract negotiations with the Hollywood studios… a battle that may only end when “informed consent” and proper compensation are generated by the tech’s use.

He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere
Background actors, who make up to $187 per day, represent a large majority of SAG-AFTRA’s membership (most union actors don’t make a living from acting)… and are the most vulnerable group that could be replaced by AI.

  • Some shows are pressuring background actors to undergo full body scans during shoot days, seemingly without forewarning.
  • The worry is these scans can be used to populate shows so productions don’t have to hire humans for as many days, using the scans however they please.
  • That would not only impact how many days background actors work but also the costumers, makeup artists, and prop masters who are assigned to extras.

These fears seem to already be materializing (but pretty hush, hush). Union extra Nicole Kreuzer revealed to Fast Company that she, along with almost 200 other extras, were told in the middle of the shoot that their bodies needed to be scanned… and they didn’t have access to their phones to call SAG and ask for advice.

Without leverage to push back, Kreuzer consented to the scans, which she was told could be used to make her leap over buildings or fight. Kreuzer alleges The Mandalorian gig seemed like a long-term job, but after the scans, she and others weren’t called back — leaving them with just a day rate of $170.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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