Voice Actors Unite: Picket Date Set for SAG-AFTRA Strike
[Original story can be found here]
You may have heard in the passing week of an possible SAG-AFTRA Strike coming soon. SAG-AFTRA has been in negotiations with the video gaming industry for over 19 months to get a new deal on a contract that hasn’t been updated since 1994. That’s a 22 year contract that hasn’t changed with the times, and believe me when I say, the times have changed in the last 22 years.
— Christopher Smith (@GetMeSmith) October 21, 2016
Since the announcement on the 17th that a SAG-AFTRA strike was eminent, there were still attempts up until the 19th to negotiate a contract that was fair and reasonable. However, it would seem that our beloved voice actors were not taken seriously and the movement coined the hastag “#performancematters” to lead their campaign for change. Twitter has been abuzz since then.
Since the strike became official, more details about the treatment of actors, even in negotiations, has been revealed.
#performancematters Final straw 4 me was one of the negotiators looked in my eyes & said, "No one really cares about the voices"
— tara strong (@tarastrong) October 21, 2016
Knowing first hand that games have moved me to tears over their VA’s performance, this tells me that not only are these negotiators and publishers out of touch with their audience, they’re pretty cold as well.
Jennifer Hale, the voice of Commander Shepard, adored by fans, and a solid voice in the Voice Actor community has been a calm voice in the storm of people struggling to understand everything happening.
don't let the strike worry you, there's amazing stuff coming, we'll keep you posted as soon as we can.
love you guys #performancematters
— Jennifer Hale (@jhaletweets) October 21, 2016
One important message Hale has repeated again and again is that “…our battle is NOT with Developers, it’s with Corporations”.
According to an announcement on the SAG-AFTRA website, the two issues of most importance were transparency and compensation. No other acting contract has withheld details about the role, ie. what game they’re in, so that the actor can make an educated decision about whether or not to take the job.
You wouldn’t accept the same pay for working on a small, new game, as you would a well known title making it’s third installment. This is , however, what is happening to our beloved actors.
For fair compensation, employers have offered to give actors an upfront bonus based on the number of sessions worked. However, the employers refused to consider a second option, in which an employer would have the option to buy out an actor with an upfront bonus, or paying out a bonus after the games release if it sells more than 2 million units.
The stories of voice actors getting hurt on the job, losing their voice, and sometimes permanently losing range is another important point they want addressed. Voice actor safety is something they’re taking very seriously. As a testament to how little the employers seem to care, their response to a request in negotiations that voice actors safety be considered, was to provide more tea and water.
Many actors have had to have surgery, and have no way of shutting down the performance if they feel like they may physically need to. Actors can spend up to four hours putting massive strain on their voice with no break. The bottom line is that people are getting hurt and the employers seem not to care.
Overall, the point of the strike is to let employers in the game industry know that “SAG-AFTRA members will stand fast to their principles and not be exploited”.
Voice Actor Steve Blum is also involved with the movement and recorded a piece that sums up everything perfectly! Please take a moment to listen to his beautiful voice give you all the important details.
The members of SAG-AFTRA are asking for solidarity from the voice acting community, though not all are compliant, as some members consider this an opportunity to cash in on the mistreatment of their fellow actors.
As a fan and an entertainer myself, I have to pause for a moment and reflect on how important performance is. How much games, and animated series have given me. Inspiration, hope, friends, and sometimes they’ve even saved my life.
Where would I be? Where would any of us be, without the Jennifer Hales, Steven Blums, and Tara Strongs of this world? They make the difference in games. They draw us in. They bring the game to life.
Without them, so many of my favorite experiences would be moot. To say their performance doesn’t matter feels like a personal attack, because it does matter. It matters to me, and so many others. It’s about damn time things changed for them, and I am hopeful that this story has a positive outcome!
The strike is set to happen 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday, October 24th, in front of the Electornic Arts Building.
Keep up with Don’t Feed The Gamers as this story continues to unfold and we continue to stand by our voice actors!
How have your favorite voice actors and/or the games and shows they’ve worked on changed your life? How has the video game industry impacted your life? Let us know why Performance Matters in the comments below!
Charles Douglas734 Posts
Deep in the mountains of the south west lives a man who writes game editorials, makes YouTube Videos, and is an overall mega nerd. An avid believer in Unicorns, and your new all star line backer, Number 34, CHARLES DOUGLAAAAAAASSSS!!!!