Disney has been accused of coercing actors into giving up their likeness for ‘digital replicas’ that can be used freely and without additional compensation. This controversial practice came to light during the filming of WandaVision, a nine-part series on Disney+.
On set, actors were reportedly ushered into a trailer, asked to stand in front of an intricate rig of cameras, and have their faces scanned. This process took about 15 minutes and involved the actors making various facial expressions. However, the actors claim they were not informed about their ‘avatar”s subsequent use.
The revelation comes as part of a recent exposé by NPR. One of the actors, Alexandria Rubalcaba, told the outlet: “What if I don’t want to be on MarioVision or SarahVision? I fear that AI is eventually going to weed out background actors. They won’t have any use for us anymore.”
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, revealed that during talks, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) proposed that actors should be scanned, paid for a day’s work, and their companies should own the scan “for eternity”.
The AMPTP further stipulated that studios should have the rights to use the actors’ images or likeness eternally, on any project, without requiring additional consent or providing further compensation.
The increasing reliance on artificial intelligence and CGI technology in film and TV production has sparked industry-wide concerns, including the ongoing strikes by SAG and the Writers Guild of America (WGA). They fear AI technology could replace real actors, lead to exploitation, and infringe on their rights and wages.