Recently, we’ve published a few explainer videos about how artificial intelligence is disrupting a range of industries: including art and photography, music, and information jobs. This week, we’re looking at why Hollywood actors are striking over their concerns about the use of AI in film and TV production.
The Hollywood entertainment industry has been at the forefront of creativity and innovation for decades. However, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and deepfakes is now challenging the traditional ways in which movies and TV shows are produced and distributed. The advent of AI-generated content has not only affected the dynamics of Hollywood, but it has also triggered significant changes in actors’ and writers’ working conditions and compensation. This video explores the transformation taking place in the entertainment industry and how it is impacting the livelihoods of those involved.
What are residuals?
In the past, the Hollywood business model relied on residuals—small fees paid to actors and writers for each rerun of their content on television. This system allowed them to earn continuous royalties even years after the original broadcast. Iconic shows like “Friends,” “The Nanny,” and “Seinfeld” reaped the benefits of this model. However, with the advent of streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, the landscape shifted dramatically.
The age of streamers
Streaming platforms have brought greater diversity to the entertainment industry, offering a wide range of content to audiences. However, they have also led to a significant shift in the residuals system. Unlike traditional TV networks, streaming platforms keep their data in-house, making it challenging for actors and writers to accurately determine how many viewers are watching their content. As a result, the residual cheques have become much smaller, putting strain on actors and writers.
AI Deepfakes in Hollywood
Ontop of that, Hollywood is now grappling with the emergence of deepfake technology. Deepfakes utilise AI algorithms to create realistic, manipulated videos that can seamlessly place someone’s likeness into different contexts. This technology has the potential to replace actors with AI-generated versions of themselves, posing a new threat to their livelihoods. Many actors fear that their digital likeness could be used in productions they never agreed to or even received compensation for. The technology’s rapid advancement has raised concerns about actors losing control over their image and the potential for exploitation. With deepfakes becoming increasingly sophisticated, the question of who owns an actor’s digital likeness remains unanswered.
The strikes continue
Amid these challenges, Hollywood is witnessing significant labour strikes as actors and writers unite to fight for fairer pay and better working conditions. The Writers Guild of America’s 100-day strike in 2007 foreshadowed the current battle over compensation for new technology. The recent joint strike by 160,000 Hollywood actors and 11,000 writers demonstrates the industry’s urgency in addressing the challenges posed by AI and deepfakes. Finding a resolution to these complex issues is not easy. Some suggest government intervention through regulations, but the rapidly evolving landscape of AI technology makes it difficult to create laws that won’t quickly become outdated. Instead, stakeholders in the entertainment industry must come together to negotiate fair terms that balance the interests of actors, writers, studios, and streaming platforms.