Justine Bateman Slams SAG-AFTRA Deal’s AI Provisions, Says Actors Should Only Approve It ‘If They Don’t Want to Work Anymore’ (Video)

“I’m going to be making human things for human audiences,” the outspoken actress/filmmaker says

Justine Bateman is deeply disappointed with the tentative agreement in place between SAG-AFTRA and the major studios, which ended the strike. While speaking with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi, she explained that members of the union should approve the deal after voting begins Tuesday only “if they don’t want to work anymore.”

Bateman added, “If they want to be replaced by synthetic objects that are made by generative AI, why not?”

The filmmaker, who also serves as the union’s AI advisor, has been fighting against integrating generative AI into the industry all year. As she told Velshi on Friday’s show, Bateman believes that studio executives “are choosing to no longer be in the film and series business.” Instead, she added, they are pushing out positions for humans who make up casts and crews and letting AI do the work instead.

“I think they sort of like to think of themselves as being tech barons themselves or something. But this, doing projects that don’t involve humans is not being… you’re not in the film business anymore,” she continued. “They don’t know what it’s like to make a film.”

Velshi asked her what consumers of media can do to support Bateman and creators like her who don’t plan to incorporate generative AI into their work. For Bateman, it “depends on what you want.”

“I mean, soon they’ll have customized films for you based on your particular viewing history,” she added. “And they won’t bother to copyright them because it’ll be like Kleenex. They’ll make a million of them an hour, it won’t matter to them.”

Bateman added, “The train track is split. One train track is going, ‘OK, we’re going to participate in this sort of negotiation with the cannibals and we’re going to talk about just how you’re going to be cutting my foot off, and are you going to grill it or boil it, and what kind of sauce are you going to put on it?’”

That track, she added, is the one that includes generative AI. As for Bateman, “I’m on a different track, which, I’m going to be making human things for human audiences with human crews and casts and so forth. And we’ll see what happens.”

Members of SAG-AFTRA will begin voting on whether to ratify the agreement this Tuesday. Voting concludes the first week of December.

A summary of the proposed contract will be released on Monday. The new contract was approved by 86% of the union’s board.

Early Saturday, Bateman explained on X (formerly Twitter) that she intends to go over the actual deal document with her followers. She posted, “I will be taking the actual deal document (and not the ‘summary’ SAG is planning to release) and explaining the violating #AI permissions the AMPTP will have over you. I’m very disappointed that the SAG leadership and committee did not take my guidance on the #AI issues.”

She continued her thread, “I have spent time over the past eight months writing op-eds, doing press interviews, and posting on social media to warn my fellow entertainment workers about how the studios/streamers mean to discard you with generative #AI.”

She added, “Why? Because it’s the right thing to do, because it’s unconscionable what the CEOs are doing, and because it would be immoral of me to not tell you just how the actors and crew, in particular, are going to be abused.”

Bateman concluded, “I’ve said from the beginning that the use of generative #AI will collapse the structure of this business. I want the actors and crew to have enough self-respect to turn over a table and flip the CEOs off as it happens. They’re going to leave you with nothing left to lose.”

Watch Bateman’s interview in the video above.


8 responses to “Justine Bateman Slams SAG-AFTRA Deal’s AI Provisions, Says Actors Should Only Approve It ‘If They Don’t Want to Work Anymore’ (Video)”

  1. Scott Urner Avatar
    Scott Urner

    An article like this is useless: With AI, we’re supposed to trust the studios; with this article that I’m reading, we’re just supposed to trust the source. So specifically, what’s in the deal regarding AI, and if not up to snuff as far as Bateman is concerned, then what should it be. That’s what should be in this article.

  2. DeepHomage Avatar

    Actors and actresses can’t currently be replaced by synthetic objects. At best, they can only be imitated by deep learning models with the assistance of a human stand-in, for example, young Luke Skywalker in
    The Mandalorian. But the human brain has evolved to recognize faces, and even the best attainable synthetic media recreation is still vulnerable to the uncanny valley effect, especially at higher resolutions.

    1. You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Hires You Avatar
      You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Hires You

      There are deep fakes that have been pretty convincing on the small screen.

      What if Brad Pitt rented out his ‘face’ to productions that had a number of less expensive SAG-AFTRA ‘nobodies’ perform all of the physical movements for his character?

      Brad Pitt’s deep fake face could star in 10 different movies a year without leaving his house. The less expensive ‘nobodies’ who’d be doing all of the physical work wouldn’t become known to the audience.

      We don’t know who did the stunts for Tom Holland when Spiderman was wearing a mask in the movies.

      We wouldn’t know who was doing the physical acting for Brad Pitt when the character was wearing a deep fake Brad Pitt face in a movie.

      What happens to the real Brad Pitt who’ll be getting older while his much used deep fake face stays young ? His real life face will be aging off screen and he’ll end up looking like your grandpa’s scrotum. What then, amigo?

      Actors Brad Pitt’s real life age who weren’t ‘somebodies’ would have an even more difficult time getting work.

      The best that the ‘nobodies’ who performed all of the physical work that deep fake Brad Pitt did in the movies could hope for when they got older would be to perform all of the physical work for Tom Hanks when he was renting out his ‘face’ to producers who wanted him to play an old man role in their movie.

      What if all of the ‘nobodies’ that you saw in a Brad Pitt movie were Canadian ‘nobodies’ and all of the physical work that they did was done in Canada?

      What if Brad Pitt’s young deep fake face and Tom Hank’s old deep fake face were put into those made in Canada movies in post?

      What if Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks weren’t originally going to star in those movies but the contracts for Ryan Reynold’s young deep fake face and George Clooney’s old deep fake face fell through along the way?

      How soon will it be before “What if ? ” and “What then?” becomes “What now?”

  3. Max Avatar

    Yeah Justine, let’s just keep everyone unemployed until it’s perfect for you. Major facepalm. She lives in a nice home and is pretty set financially.  We can’t have it all yet. Get real. 

    1. Wake Up Avatar
      Wake Up

      Yeah Max, let’s keep everyone employed until the generative AI takes over in about 2 years and there’s no business left at all. Major facepalm. Oh, then there ill be no more “yet.” YOU get real. 

  4. Adrianne Avatar

    When are actors going to realize they aren’t REQUIRED to join SAG/AFTRA. 
    Branch out and make your own projects that don’t require sag actors in the first place. You want to beat them at their own game stop doing their movies. 

    1. You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Hires You Avatar
      You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Hires You

      When are the SAG-AFTRA members, 86% of whom make less than $28,000 a year, going to call on their union to reduce the flow of runaway SAG-AFTRA productions that are setting up shop and filming in other countries?

      The American SAG-AFTRA ‘stars’ who play the lead characters in SAG-AFTRA movies and SAG-AFTRA tv shows that film in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and other Canadian cities that double for American cities, are surrounded by Canadian performers playing American characters in American stories.

      Those film and tv industry jobs would have been filled by American performers if those SAG-AFTRA productions had remained in the US.

      Missing out on doing jobs because the jobs are being done in other countries or missing out on doing jobs because those jobs are being done by AI is the same difference to the SOL SAG-AFTRA union members who are missing out on the opportunity to earn an income in their own country.

      When is SAG-AFTRA going to exclude non-SAG-AFTRA productions that were made in other countries by other unions from the annual SAG Awards ceremony?

      ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Radio, and Television Arts) union doesn’t include SAG-AFTRA productions in the competition for ACTRA’s “Best Series” award or include SAG-AFTRA members who aren’t members of ACTRA in the competition for ACTRA’s “Best Actor” award in the ACTRA Awards ceremony.

      When is SAG-AFTRA going to stop hosting the annual ‘ACTRA Day’ in Los Angeles, California ?

      Every year SAG-AFTRA representatives gather at a posh event and congratulate ACTRA representatives on the film and tv work that left the US and was done in Canada.

  5. SAGAFTRA Actor Avatar
    SAGAFTRA Actor

    She doesn’t have to work anymore and will have a great life. She is trying to tell us what’s coming and I respect her for it. I’m looking forward to her thoughts on the deal points and will be considering her arguments when I vote.

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