Showbizreporting's Blog

October 27, 2009

Note from Phil LaMar

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 7:51 pm
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Here is a good word from working actor Phil LaMarr

Tonight’s caucus is all important for the Interactive Voice Over community

Tuesday, Oct 27th, 7:30-9 p.m.
5757 Wilshire Blvd.
James Cagney Board Room
RSVP to Mary Hashimoto at or call (323) 549-6453.
Parking will be validated.

Bring your paid up SAG card.

From Phil:

Hi, for anybody reading this who doesn’t know me, my name’s Phil LaMarr. I’m a SAG/AFTRA member who does a good amount of voice work for video games. I’ve attended the SAG Interactive meeting in Sept. and I was on the AFTRA interactive steering committee where I voted against this proposal. I’m not going to able to make the meeting Tuesday so I wanted to say why I changed my mind and decided to support this agreement.

At first, I opposed it because it was clear that the atmospheric voices provision was of great benefit to the producers and I questioned whether we were getting anything of value in return. After looking at the details and history of this, I’m convinced that we are getting more and giving less than many of us have been led to believe.

We get: contracts that end together and that only last 15 months.

Synchronized contracts that end in less than a year and a half may not be glamorous, but they are HUGE benefits to us. They keep the unions from continuing to be played against each other. Also, we can start to see the effect of this atmospheric voice category and address any problems in 15 months instead of 2 or 3 years.

Now, some people in both unions are floating the idea that we can make adjustments to the atmos. voice provision or vote it down then tweak it. Unfortunately, that is not true. SAG was negotiating alone and they hit a wall. At that point SAG, AFTRA and the producers decided to have a joint OFF-THE-RECORD discussion and the producers agreed that this was an all-or-nothing deal. If we vote “Yes” it becomes “on-the-record.” If we say “NO” this goes away – completely. SAG goes back to the terms that were on the table when they halted their talks (including an Atmos. VO proposal asking for non-union actors and unlimited word counts) and they try to bargain up from there.

As for the plan that we vote this down then start joint SAG-AFTRA negotiations – that’s a fantastic idea except the producers have to agree to negotiate these two separate contracts together. They might, but why would they? They wouldn’t agree to it BEFORE we rejected the result of 5 mos. of negotiations – why would they now? They want us staggered and imbalanced, I think the only reason they agreed to joint off-the-record talks was for the chance to get the atmos. VO provision into the AFTRA contract 6 months early.

That is all pretty complex so I’ll put it more simply – if we walk away from this we walk into separate negotiations with even WORSE terms.

Now, the other thing that made me consider ratifying this was taking a closer look at the Atmospheric Voice Proposal.

A lot of people are unaware of the protections included. There’s seems to be some confusion about the 300 word limit. People are multiplying by 20 characters and conveniently forgetting that the character has to be able to say a maximum of 300 words WITHOUT advancing the story. These are minor, incidental characters – the hooker in the car in GTA. If you’re voicing a major character they can’t tack on atmospheric ones, they have to bring you in for a separate session. And if somehow you’re able to do 20 distinct characters who have 300 words each the producers still have to fit that into ONE FOUR HOUR SESSION. And if they want “unlimited” voices? STILL ONE FOUR HOUR SESSION. I think they’re creating a category that they will be hard-pressed to maximize.

Some people have expressed reservations about vagueness and potential abuses – that’s the same thing we deal with now. When I voice a palace guard who THEN happens to go to the village inn and get drunk and THEN gets really scared when the market is attacked, who’s kidding who? Those are effectively 3 different characters – I’m being “abused.” At least now it’ll be above board.

And frankly, there’s nothing in this agreement with as much potential for lowering our collective earnings as the 1 hr/ 1 voice & 6 hr/ 6-10 voice clauses that have been in our current agreement for years. We managed those and I have faith that we can manage the difficulties in this new category too. Especially with this many of us active and engaged.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. My aim is not that people agree with my conclusions but that they have all the facts when they come to their own.
If anyone has any questions, corrections or comments please feel free to email me at

Have fun storming the castle!

Phil LaMarr


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