SAG-AFTRA members picket at Netflix Los Gatos campus as nationwide strike continues

Zach Fuentes Image
Friday, July 21, 2023
SAG-AFTRA members picket at Netflix Los Gatos campus
Netflix's Los Gatos Campus was the scene of the latest call to action for the SAG-AFTRA strike that joins the Writers Guild of America.

LOS GATOS, Calif. (KGO) -- Strikes in Hollywood are capturing worldwide attention after actors in the SAG-AFTRA union went on strike last Friday, joining the Writers Guild of America who have been on strike since May.

In the Bay Area, Netflix's Los Gatos Campus was the scene of the latest call to action.

"The streaming avenue has changed the whole way we look at residuals for our actors," said SAG-AFTRA board member Robert Chestnut.

Actor Anthony Abate brought one of his residual checks to the picket line -- made out to him for one cent.

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"We're not asking for an arm and a leg. We're asking for a living wage. One penny doesn't do it," Abate said, "This one penny, it doesn't even pay for the paper that it's written on."

Actress Kimiko Glenn starred in Orange is the New Black and recently put a large spotlight on the issue of streaming residuals, revealing that she made $27 in residuals from the hit show.

While actors around the country are striking, local actors say they face unique challenges.

"There are so many incredible opportunities that come through the Bay Area," said SAG-AFTRA member Sedrick Cabrera. "But they're far and few in-between."

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Union members say many Northern California actors now have fewer opportunities to audition for principal roles, so they do background work -- work they say is now at risk because of AI.

They say studios can film and pay a person for one day of background work, then use their image indefinitely to finish the product.

"Imagine that you show up to work, someone pays you for half a day, they download everything that it is that you do, and they say, 'You're off for the rest of your life,'" Cabrera said. "That's exactly what the studios are trying to do to us."

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers represents studios. They disagree. A statement issued Tuesday says:

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"SAG-AFTRA continues to publicly mischaracterize AMPTP's AI proposal. The Union has distorted the facts in an effort to garner support for its work stoppage, but the facts need to be corrected. The AMPTP agrees with SAG-AFTRA that use of a performer's likeness to generate a new performance requires consent and compensation."

In the statement, the AMPTP went on to outline its AI proposal.

Despite its difficulties, Chestnut says the strike is highlighting important needs and people.

"This is a wonderful thing. We can start getting a little more attention to the Northern California member," he said, "Beyond the strike we have a lot more work to do here."

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