The strike-ending tentative agreement between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP was approved by 86% of the union’s National Board; now, it’s up to SAG members to vote on whether to ratify the contract before the Dec. 5 deadline. The deal includes better compensation as well as provisions to protect actors’ rights, particularly when it comes to streaming residuals and the use of AI. Here’s our breakdown of the new agreement and what it means for you.
SAG released a summary of the tentative agreement that is “expected to generate over $1 billion in new compensation and funding to the benefit plans.” Further details and the full contract will most likely not be released until after the member vote. According to the summary, the agreement includes a 7% increase in minimums starting Nov. 9; working condition terms will go into effect after ratification.
Residuals and streaming compensation
Residuals for primetime shows will be increased across payment schedules (including half-hour, one-hour, and other show lengths). Significantly, a fund of approximately $40 million per year will be established to compensate actors involved in SVOD (subscription video on demand—i.e., streaming services).
75% of the fund will go to actors who appear on projects watched by at least 20% of a streamer’s subscribers within the first 90 days of release; the other 25% will be discretionary, to be given to other performers working in SVOD under a revenue-sharing model. This is the first time that performers will receive streaming compensation bonuses, a sea change that SAG president Fran Drescher called “essential.”
Safeguards against artificial intelligence
One of the most robust stipulations of the agreement involves consent and compensation guardrails for digital replicas created with generative AI. The contract requires studios to obtain informed consent before creating or using digital likenesses of actors—and that performers receive fair compensation for days they would have worked were they not replaced with replicas. Drescher called the safeguards “the most progressive AI protections ever written.”
However, while these provisions may be the most progressive the industry has ever seen, some believe they don’t go far enough. The section outlined in the summary includes several exceptions to the “informed consent” AI guidelines celebrated by Drescher and SAG chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. These include nearly anything done in postproduction and the use of AI to train synthetic performers using actors’ past work.
Actor-filmmaker Justine Bateman posted on X that the language surrounding AI use in the agreement summary is troubling, since it leaves informed consent “up to the studios/streamers’ interpretation.” She added that the inclusion of synthetic performers “gives the studios/streamers a greenlight to use human-looking AI objects instead of hiring a human actor,” which she believes is “anathema to a union contract at all.”
Casting and self-taped audition regulations
The new deal regulates casting and self-tape demands in the following ways:
- For self-taped auditions, breakdowns, sides, and scripts must be provided at least 48 hours (or 72 hours for minors) before the submission deadline.
- Actors can’t be asked to read more than eight pages for an initial self-tape, or more than 12 for a callback.
- Performers can’t be required to memorize material, do stunts, wear clothing more revealing than they would at a public pool, or use specific equipment or software.
Compensation for background actors
Under the new agreement, background actors will receive an 11% minimum wage increase. They will also receive compensation for all contributions—including digital replicas—regardless of whether their role requires time on set.
The deal also features improved equity and inclusion initiatives, including using hairstylists and makeup artists who are able to work with a variety of hair types and skin tones, as well as access to gender-affirming care. The agreement also requires studios to provide better relocation benefits and hire more intimacy coordinators.
SAG will hold ongoing meetings for members who have questions about the new contract throughout the voting period.