Cafe Witness

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Someone's in the Money

Fresh off the Yahoo! Videobloggers message board, here's a list of the AFTRA rates for film and television performers.

Notice that these are their rates for "interactive media." Which means an AFTRA actor who makes a web video is technically due several hundred dollars per day, at the very least. (NOTE: I've yet to see evidence that this pay structure is currently being adhered to, or that anyone in "interactive media" is earning these rates. But, for the sake of argument, there it is.)

Pretty cool, huh?

Not necessarily.

If / when AFTRA (and other unions) are granted jurisdiction over the internet, it could become a lot harder to launch something as simple as a videoblog. Granted, as long as none of your actors are AFTRA members, you don't have anything to worry about -- yet. But, as one member of the message board commented:

I am of the opinion that every time a videoblogger charges less than the rate card, they screw things up for people in AFTRA.

Thus, it's likely that, in the very near future, ALL videoblogs may qualify as AFTRA productions if they operate under a certain budget, accrue a certain amount of revenue, etc. (Unions tend to not appreciate non-unionized workers, even if it is just a kid from Ohio making movies with his webcam.)

And, for productions whose members are in AFTRA -- say, the cast of The Burg -- they'd presumably have to find funding to pay each actor their day rate. If it takes 3 days to shoot a 10 minute episode, that's over $10,000, just to cover the primary cast in one week's episode of The Burg. (This doesn't even cover extras, minor actors, and all other job functions -- director, producer, writer -- all of which, it follows, would need to earn their union's standard rates as well.)

So, forget about "monetizing your vlog." T-shirt sales and Revver clicks aren't going to cover AFTRA fees. The bigger question is: who's going to fund the future of web video?

(Enter: The studios ===> Hello, old media cycle, all over again...)


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