What does it mean when actors say they do not want their “acting” to be replaced by AI generated versions of themselves? Several things come together to elicit my comment on this — the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, the “Joan Is Awful” episode of Black Mirror’s current season on Netflix and finally my own personal interactions with the actors I hired for the movie I produced.
If you have not seen “Joan Is Awful”, please take a gander. The premise of instantly produced and streamed entertainment based on ongoing events in a real life person’s life using AI generated acting is very entertaining. To hear about which “fictive level” one is in and that shows work better when showcasing the sordid rather than the happy part of the person’s life are brilliantly funny. It does break down when you consider how fictive levels suddenly merge. I definitely wonder if Salma Hayek, Annie Murphy and all the other actors in it are currently on strike … after having brought this piece to us. Ok ok fine … that was fiction.
Some time back, when I hired actors to play the characters in my movie, I was struck at first with how earnestly they asked to be cast in those roles and later by how convincingly they acted the parts. Then I spent months trying to decide whether their initial earnestness was acting or real. Later, I was shocked when on set the food caterer fed my movie crew pizza which they humbly ate, but the actors only got and ate from Whole Foods. I was even more shocked when I as executive producer drove one actor to set in my car and the actor chose to sit in the back seat with just the two of us in the car. Granted the actors look beautiful, and also that not all of them are like this but surely the mere ability of make believe is not worth this exalted treatment.
In the world of branding, the same brand content/text/images are used in multiple formats of messaging, whether it is digital ad, print, email or TV. Brand consistency and promise do work well for most established brands. There is an analogy in the acting world. Even if they are not typecast, the unmistakable flavor of a Robert De Nero or Tilda Swinton comes through in any of their roles in any movie. Their “brand promise” remains a huge draw for the audience. It is just that in branding, the the brand collateral does not…