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GTA IV main character voice actor: low pay - wants respect
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Sat May 24, 2008 6:10 pm Reply and quote this post
Michael Hollick, the voice actor who portrayed NikoBellic in Grand Theft Auto IV, blames his union for not protecting thetalent.
According to a New York Timesarticle, Hollick was paid roughly USD 100,000 over 15 months for hisvoice acting and motion-capture work on GTA IV. He takes issue with thefact that he will not receive royalties or residuals as he would forwork on television programs, films, radio shows or albums.
"Thefirst GTA IV trailer generated something like 40 million hits online,and that's my voice all over it, and I get nothing," Hollick said. "Ifthat were a radio spot, I would have. Same thing for the TV ads."
Contractsbetween the actors' union and the entertainment industry make little orno provision for electronic media like videogames and the Internet.
"ObviouslyI'm incredibly thankful to Rockstar for the opportunity to be in thisgame when I was just a nobody, an unknown quantity," said Hollick.
"Butit's tough, when you see Grand Theft Auto IV out there as the biggestthing going right now, when they're making hundreds of millions ofdollars, and we don't see any of it.
"I don't blame Rockstar. Iblame our union for not having the agreements in place to protect thecreative people who drive the sales of these games."
Hollick saidthat it is the human performances within the games that people reallyconnect to, and he hopes actors will get more respect for the work theydo within those technologies.
"What drives videogames is notTracy and Hepburn; what drives it is the conception of the creativedirector," said Ezra J. Doner - a former Hollywood executive who is nowan entertainment lawyer.
"The actor whose appearance or voice isused is more analogous to a session musician for a band. The sessionmusicians don't get residuals on the sales of the CD. They get paid asession fee," he told the New York Times.
"It's not like the star quality of Tom Cruise that's getting people to buy that videogame."
RyanJohnston, the voice actor who portrayed Irish hood Patrick McReary inGrand Theft Auto IV - at a pay rate of USD 1,050 a day, about 50 percent higher than the general guild-negotiated rate - said he believedit was just a matter of time before actors' financial participation ingames caught up with their popularity.
The discrepancy betweenpayment for traditional entertainment media and electronic media isexpected to dominate negotiations between Hollywood and the actors'guild this summer, with many predicting an actors’ strike to parallelthe writers’ strike last year. That strike revolved around similarissues.

Hollick,who was an unknown quantity before the game's blockbuster success, hasmixed opinions on whether or not he was given a reasonable amount forhis role in the biggest entertainment product of all time.

"Obviously I'm incredibly thankful to Rockstar for the opportunity tobe in this game when I was just a nobody, an unknown quantity," he saidlast week according to the New York Times.

But it's tough, when you see Grand Theft Auto IV out there as thebiggest thing going right now, when they're making hundreds of millionsof dollars, and we don't see any of it.


"I don't blameRockstar," he was quick to add. "I blame our union for not having theagreements in place to protect the creative people who drive the salesof these games. Yes, the technology is important, but it's the humanperformances within them that people really connect to, and I hopeactors will get more respect for the work they do within thosetechnologies."

In most other mediums, Hollick would have beenpaid royalties for his voice appearing in the product. He said that he"asked about residuals when we negotiated, but I was told that was nota possibility."

The issue is further clouded by the inclusionof his voice in other media outlets advertising the game, includingtelevision, film, radio and the internet.

Unsurprisingly, othervoice-actors in the game earned significantly less than Hollick. RyanJohnston, who played Patrick McReary, said that he was paid $1,050 aday.

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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