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SAG and Technology
by Jeff Nightbyrd
It behooves everyone to stay current on the technological revolution that intersects every actor's work. This week I have been dealing with an interesting issue for an actor who worked on SPY KIDS 3. He was photographed for publicity stills and then his image was used in a CD-ROM that is sold as "merchandise." After corresponding with the attorneys for Miramax and the Game Company I could not get satisfaction. I argued our talent had never signed a video game release. They argued that it fell under the promotional clause of a standard SAG contract.
I spoke with the SAG expert in LA and he said video game usage is a growing issue. He said some films now are calling actors in for what they think are film parts but they never appear in the film. Instead they are being shot for the video game at the SAG standard day rate for film. A major part in an international video game would pay much more than the SAG acting day rate. SAG now has a special release for video game usage but many companies are trying to get around it.
In the case of our talent, it looks like I can collect something. The attorney for Miramax called me immediately after I filed the SAG complaint. But like so many of these emerging problem areas, the actor must be aware. If you are dressed in a leotard with little lights running down your appendages in front of a blue screen then you are going to be digitized and possibly headed for a video game or hybrid CD. Always ask what's going on if you don't understand what's being done.
With the emergence of DVDs we will see all sorts of new uses for talent. For instance: more extreme scenes shot for the DVD that are never intended for theatrical release. But then you must also consider DVD sales outpace Theater sales in the current market. Maybe your appearance in DVD is now more important than your fleeting appearance on the Movie screen?
The point is to keep up on the technological change because how your image or character is marketed may be completely different than in the past. And it may potentially mean more dollars in your pocket if you are aware of what is going on.