GTA IV Actors Complain on Salaries -

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GTA IV Actors Complain on Salaries

In very inventive ways...

By Jarrod Sarafin     May 22, 2008

The next urban experience is coming with GRAND THEFT AUTO IV(2008).
© Take-Two Interactive
With the SAG contract talks coming up very soon, this might become a frequence voice of concern for voice actors in the video game industry. It seems that the top two voices of the recent smash hit Grand Theft Auto IV are not pleased with their salaries, given the game's high publicity (trailers all over the net), high sales and lack of residuals. For their parts, they're not so much blaming Take-Two and Rockstar as their own SAG contract.

Here's what
voice actor Michael Hollick, who voiced Niko Bellic, had to say about the issue to The New York Times after being paid $100,000 for 15 months of work with no residuals.

"Obviously, I'm incredibly thankful to Rockstar for the opportunity to be in this game when I was just a nobody, an unknown quantity," said Hollick. "But it's tough, when you see Grand Theft Auto IV out there as the biggest thing going right now, when they're making hundreds of millions of dollars, and we don't see any of it." But he goes on: "I don't blame Rockstar. I blame our union for not having the agreements in place to protect the creative people who drive the sales of these games. Yes, the technology is important, but it's the human performances within them that people really connect to, and I hope actors will get more respect for the work they do within those technologies."

"The first GTA4 trailer generated something like 40 million hits online, and that's my voice all over it, and I get nothing. If that were a radio spot, I would have," he said. "Same thing for the TV ads. I recorded those lines for the game, but now they're all over television. It's another gray area."

Michael isn't the only wondering about the missing residuals. Jason Zumwalt, who voiced Niko's cousin Roman, also chose to raise "awareness" on the SAG issue. His method of bringing the issue on the table was a bit more humorous. Watch below and decide if you want to chip into the cause.


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stupidmania 5/22/2008 4:15:55 AM
Dude's funny. I'd hire him for my indie films.
scytheofluna 5/22/2008 5:16:54 AM
Get these people paid SAG. Rockstar is known for great games, and Take Two is being dangled a two billion dollar carrot by EA. I think it's safe to say there's a paycheque for them somewhere. I've been enjoying the fruits of their labour on a daily basis.
ponyboy76 5/22/2008 5:45:45 AM
Hey, i totally get where he`s coming from and they should get some sort of residuals from it, especially when their voices are being used for advertising and such. I do have to disagree with what he said about the connection that people feel with the voice acting in the games. I was actually surprised that they got mostly no names for the voices because Rockstar has used real actors and celebs in the past from Burt Reynolds to freaking the Game, to Jenna Jameson and Ray Liota. I guess they wanted to put more money into the technology which is totally understandable. The voice I recognize so far is that crazy Russian dude who is always playing a bad guy in movies,like 15 minutes, Bulletproof Monk and Hellboy.
isgrimner 5/22/2008 8:53:32 AM
I don't know if I have much sympathy for the guy. GTA4 was going to sell like gang busters regardless of who did the voice work. There have been other games with steller voice acting, the Legacy of Kain series comes to mind, that weren't as succesfull, and it would be curious to see what those voice actors got paid for the sequels where they had become integral to the series. I feel the guy got paid well for what he contributed, and he is getting recognition on top of that. Perhaps he should have tried for a better deal up front.
kneelbeforezod 5/22/2008 10:35:37 AM
I agree with isgrimner ... This dude (Zumwalt) was on a radio station in Kansas City last week and told everyone that this was just a joke and that he was paid very well for the project. Zumwalt went on to mention that there would be a stir up over residuals and stuff, but common, $100,000 for 15 months ... sounds good to me. Sorry Hollick didn't have the for-site to negotiate it into a contract beforehand, but don't upset now.
Wiseguy 5/22/2008 11:25:26 AM
Let me third that motion. $100,000 for 15 months is more than most by far. And it isn't like he's programming the game or making up ideas as far as I know and I bet it wasn't grueling work either. I'm not a gamer but the times I've played the voice work can be done by anybody and it wouldn't affect how I felt about the game. This is just greed IMO. These companies have to invest large amounts of money and time to develop these games and just like movies a lot of them bomb.
Wufei05_home 5/22/2008 12:52:22 PM
Wait a minute hold on.... 100,000 thousand dollars for fifteen months!! Thats a year and a half folks. This means he got paid less than a hundred grand in one year. Yeah this might be good money be an everyday Joes stand point but were talking about actors who dont get the job security of knowing what they'll be doing year-to-year. This year you were a big baddie in Indiana Jones the next your doing commercials for Radio Shack, get my drift. Second, these actors live out in So Cal, SO CAL! Its cost more to buy a jug of milk than it is to buy a gallon of gas. These actors may not have been the most important thing in the game but they still had a major role. So yeah I hear the argument 'they could've got someone else to play those characters if needed to', but these arent people begging for any kind of work like maybe an illegal from the Ukraine. Plus, Rockstarr just did have the biggest opening in entertainment history so I dont think it was pre-emptive to think that GRAND THEFT AUTO 4 was gonna fail in ANYway so it couldnt hurt to spread the wealth maybe just a little.
Dodgyb2001 5/22/2008 4:39:53 PM
$100,000 for 15 months. $80,000 for a years work on one of the best selling games of all time. This is when Tom Cruise earns 10million a film for what he does, working for what, 4 months? 6? It's an alright sum, but not even remotely comparable to TC's paycheck. I bet even the minor speaking parts in a TC movie get about the same as the lead roles in GTA. Maybe they aren't worth 10 mill, but it's gotta be better than 40,000 pounds....
NotAFan 5/22/2008 8:48:37 PM
These are some whiny F***ing Babies! They get paid 100,000 and they are complaining. And it's not like they were working 8 hours a day for 15 months straight. They are full of s#! ! I've seen interviews of many people who work in animation, and they all usually say how ridiculously easy and non-time consuming it was. For example: The guy who played Terry from Batman Beyond said that he taped his part during his lunch break from taping "Boy Meets World". They probably only called these guys once every three months to record and they acting they worked for 15 months straight. If they didn't think to try to and work out a back end deal ahead of time then F*** them for being stupid. They say they should get paid more cuz the game made money, but answer me this if the game flopped were they gonna give back the money they already got paid?.....Michael Hollick nobody knows who you are or cares if you dropped dead tomorrow so STFU and just be happy that they didn't get Anthony Cumia to do it for free!
TheLastCleric 5/23/2008 10:18:34 AM
His contribution to the success and quality of GTAIV, at least critically, is substantial. And if you read carefully you will notice he doesn't blame Rockstar but rather SAG for not taking better care of voice actors. Residual income is a big issue in the entertainment industry and it's getting bigger because for decades companies basically paid their actors and creators once , then generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue through syndication and other distribution methods. The bottom line is that no company will pay you residuals out of the goodness of their own heart, which is why actors need better contracts.
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