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Niko Bellic vs Niko Bellic

LionLion Registered User regular
edited June 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
Michael Hollick is the voice of Niko Bellic in Grand Theft Auto 4. I think the game grossed about a half billion dollars in the first week. The game has been rumoured (or reported, I don't know) to cost $100 million to make. Mr. Hollick is being paid $100,000 over 15 months.

Kotaku wrote:
“Obviously I’m incredibly thankful to Rockstar for the opportunity to be in this game when I was just a nobody, an unknown quantity,” Mr. Hollick, 35, said last week...“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.

Full article here

He is the voice of Niko Bellic and, arguably, added much of who Niko is as a character. But what about the animators, writers, people doing mo-cap, programmers, and the scores of other people, including the other actors, who worked on GTA4? Don't they equally or more so determine who Niko is? How do you quantify someones contribution to something this big?

Please keep this to video games. A SAG vs WGA vs DGA vs MPAA is hairy enough as is.

PSN: WingedLion | XBL: Winged Lion
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  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    Maybe he should have asked for more in his contract if he thought it was unfair. Basically, quit crying about it if you agreed to the terms.

    I say the same thing about people who buy something for $40, then complain when it drops in price the next week to $30. If you are happy paying $40 for a product, why do you care what other people are paying?

    Doc on
  • MedopineMedopine __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2008
    Needed a better lawyer.

    Medopine on
  • Dark MoonDark Moon Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I have to wonder about Hollick's intelligence. He does voice acting for something that even an amoeba could predict will make big, heaping dump trucks of money, negotiates a contract for a goodly sum, and then whines about it to a blog?

    What did he expect from Rockstar? "Oh, we made as much money as we expected. 500% bonuses for all of our external contractors!"

    Dark Moon on
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  • Rabid_LlamaRabid_Llama Registered User
    edited May 2008
    It's too bad really, he did a fantastic job. I don't know how much his salary is compared to other similar voice over stuff but $100,000 and the recognition of being the voice of a potential classic video game character doesn't sound too bad. He shouldn't have trouble finding future voice over work.

    Maybe he should have negotiated to have a salary based on sales?

    edit* Does anyone know how much Ray Liotta got for doing Vice City?

    Rabid_Llama on
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  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    His complaint is really that if he were an actor on TV or in a Movie, he'd be making residuals.

    So maybe he should try to be on TV or in a movie, I guess. Still no room for complaint. He knew the terms, and he could have been replaced by another guy who was probably just as good and willing to take $110,000.

    If your talent is worth $100,000 (ie, that's what others will pay for it, and that's what you will accept for it), then why do you expect people to give you more? People like this guy have a fucked up view of worth. It's like the housing market. People thought their homes were "worth" whatever Zillow.com told them. Fuck that; worth is determined by two people: buyer and seller. Not some website. A lot of people found out the hard way that buyers aren't really interested in what Zillow has to say.

    It's a gem on your resume. Treat it as such and quit whining about terms you agreed to.

    Doc on
  • LionLion Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Dark Moon wrote: »
    I have to wonder about Hollick's intelligence. He does voice acting for something that even an amoeba could predict will make big, heaping dump trucks of money, negotiates a contract for a goodly sum, and then whines about it to a blog?

    What did he expect from Rockstar? "Oh, we made as much money as we expected. 500% bonuses for all of our external contractors!"

    His comments were actually to the New York Times

    I should link this in the OP because kotaku took the most jack-assed part of the article. That's what I get from not checking the source.

    Lion on
    PSN: WingedLion | XBL: Winged Lion
  • AegeriAegeri Plateau of LengRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Man, he gets an excellent thing to put on his resume, $100,000 dollars when he was a completely unknown and he thinks this is bad somehow?

    Aegeri on
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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    We all know he didn't ask for more in the contract because he knew he was an unknown and that this would be a huge boost to him because fuck, GTA is so big it really could spillover to other media.

    That said, if you knew you were negotiating for GTA then you probably could've asked for more. Or tried to. The OP is right - there's a fuckload of people here who were instrumental in making it what it is outside the voice actors.

    electricitylikesme on
  • chasmchasm Ill-tempered Texan Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Couldn't he be funny about it like Jason Zumwalt?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH2nirEuO-k

    chasm on
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  • TheBlackWindTheBlackWind Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Hahaha oh my god that video. They oughta pay him more just for that.

    TheBlackWind on
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  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    One thing I'm actually okay with is that they want to raise awareness of the fact that video game voice actors don't get residuals. Just don't complain about a specific job and its compensation when you agreed that it was fair going into it.

    Similarly, I supported the writers strike. They thought something wasn't fair, so they didn't accept the terms.

    Doc on
  • SenjutsuSenjutsu thot enthusiast Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Hire a better agent next time?

    Senjutsu on
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  • AngrySpoonAngrySpoon Registered User
    edited May 2008
    Doc wrote: »
    One thing I'm actually okay with is that they want to raise awareness of the fact that video game voice actors don't get residuals. Just don't complain about a specific job and its compensation when you agreed that it was fair going into it.

    Similarly, I supported the writers strike. They thought something wasn't fair, so they didn't accept the terms.

    I really don't see any reason why voice actors should get residuals any more than programmers do.And no matter how huge the game is they can't give them to everyone who worked on it and still expect to make a profit..so it seems a moot point to me.

    AngrySpoon on
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    AngrySpoon wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    One thing I'm actually okay with is that they want to raise awareness of the fact that video game voice actors don't get residuals. Just don't complain about a specific job and its compensation when you agreed that it was fair going into it.

    Similarly, I supported the writers strike. They thought something wasn't fair, so they didn't accept the terms.

    I really don't see any reason why voice actors should get residuals any more than programmers do.And no matter how huge the game is they can't give them to everyone who worked on it and still expect to make a profit..so it seems a moot point to me.

    I guess it's more a matter of trying to maximize bargaining power.

    Doc on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    AngrySpoon wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    One thing I'm actually okay with is that they want to raise awareness of the fact that video game voice actors don't get residuals. Just don't complain about a specific job and its compensation when you agreed that it was fair going into it.

    Similarly, I supported the writers strike. They thought something wasn't fair, so they didn't accept the terms.

    I really don't see any reason why voice actors should get residuals any more than programmers do.And no matter how huge the game is they can't give them to everyone who worked on it and still expect to make a profit..so it seems a moot point to me.
    Actors get residuals because the nature of their job means they're working "job-to-job" which isn't so different to voice actors for computer games, so it wouldn't exactly be a disasterous precedent to be set. Just stupid to complain about after you sign the contract.

    electricitylikesme on
  • Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited May 2008
    To be clear: star actors are able to demand favorable contracts that often include profit-sharing. o are star musicians. This is not because they're talented (though many are). It's because they are celebrities - their presence in the endeavor is expected to be profitable by the executors of the project, and they can negotiate from a position of strength.

    The guy who voiced Nico Bellic did a great job, but he was in no position to negotiate strongly for the job. Voice actors seldom are, simply because there's (theoretically) a wide pool of talent, and consumers rarely buy products on the basis of the voice acting being done by particular voice actors (with some exception for "real" celebrities filling in as voice actors).

    Irond Will on
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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    This is actually what I thought of immediately after I posted that comment actually, although I was thinking more along the lines of "actor choice can make or break TV and movie productions in terms of watchability" whereas for computer games this is not nearly the case - games are defined very much by a montage of things, of which gameplay and graphics (probably) feature more prominently.

    electricitylikesme on
  • HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I don't think he was underpaid. If anything I think he was given an opportunity most established voice actors would have killed for and payed 100k on top of it.

    On the other hand things other people have pointed out in this thread are why, despite being told by numerous people that I should do some demo tapes for voice over/acting that I'm not really interested in it at all. While I apparently have some sort of talent for it, it's not something I'm interested in because it's, well I guess, "show-biz".

    This shit isn't a guarenteed income. It's a crap-shoot where the deciding factors aren't even random. They're how much people in charge like you and your talent and the fickleness of the general public. Fuck that noise. I'd rather work in a call center for $15/hour and know that I'm getting a paycheck next week.

    HappylilElf on
  • HozHoz Cool Cat Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Over 15 months? What vague fucking terminology. I bet he didn't put more than one month of work into this (5 days a week, 12 hours a day).

    Hoz on
  • HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Hard to say. Actually, really hard to say. Depends on how the sessions were run and how much work they wanted put into each scene.

    HappylilElf on
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Why should Niko's voice actor get residuals and not, say, the people who wrote the fuckawesome Euphoria character animation engine, or the people who designed the city layout, or the writers? A fuck-tonne of people made that game what it is, and you can't give them all money out of each sale.

    Daedalus on
  • HozHoz Cool Cat Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I can't imagine the producers of this game wasting 15 total months on one voice actor. So he's obviously trying to be misleading by saying "over 15 months". He probably came at the middle of the production, did some work, then came at the end, finished his work.

    While there's a hundred people that actually did more than 15 months of work on this game. Not only don't they get residuals, but if the game does poorly they probably lose their jobs. Of course this game was going to do well, but that's the reward side of taking risks on new franchises and cultivating them.

    And most games don't do well. So actors depending on residuals would get fucked if they put in work in a game that's one of the majority that fails.

    He doesn't take the risks, doesn't put in as much work as the majority of everyone that works on the game, doesn't even sell the game with his name, and he expects a reward for its success (after the game is released and he finds out it's a hit).

    Hoz on
  • djklaydjklay Registered User
    edited May 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Why should Niko's voice actor get residuals and not, say, the people who wrote the fuckawesome Euphoria character animation engine, or the people who designed the city layout, or the writers? A fuck-tonne of people made that game what it is, and you can't give them all money out of each sale.

    Pretty much sums up my thoughts on it too. If your voice sells games then great, you can probably get something like that thrown in there. They fight for residuals now but if they get residuals then their initial pay would probably be lower correct (I really don't know but it's what my gut tells me)?However this is what, the quickest selling game of all time at the moment? So what about all the games that tank? Sure there's some games out there that would make a killing with residuals but I don't think those would beat out the amount of games where a set paycheque allows the voice actors to make a living.

    Also $100k over 15 months is about $6700 a month, deal with it. Sure voice acting can be difficult (I couldn't do it) but that seems like a decent wage to me.

    djklay on
  • amateurhouramateurhour One day I'll be professionalhour The woods somewhere in TennesseeRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    There's a lot of talk about "why don't the programmers get residuals" in here, and some people have tried to sum it up, but that's like asking why the set painters and electricians in hollywood don't get residuals.

    These guys work full time for video game companies or movie studios. They work on several games and movies and once and just keep switching.

    Actors and voice actors work when there's work, and if they're lucky enough to get hired.

    Their unions set up a residual system (well, not voice actors, but that's coming), and labor unions (okay, so programmers don't have one, but after the EA bullshit I could see it down the road) don't.

    It's really that simple. In a perfect world everyone who was part of a project would get something off of the profits, but then there would be no profits.

    amateurhour on

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  • MedopineMedopine __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2008
    Hoz, I understood the OP to mean that his $100,000 would be paid out to him over a period of 15 months, not that he was working for 15 months.

    Medopine on
  • SithDrummerSithDrummer Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Aegeri wrote: »
    Man, he gets an excellent thing to put on his resume, $100,000 dollars when he was a completely unknown and he thinks this is bad somehow?
    I think he could have gotten more, but as an unknown you really don't have much negotiating power. What you said is dead right though.

    SithDrummer on
    It's an easy game to hate
  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Speaking as a guy who will hopefully have a job one day programming stuff, fuck this guy. I'd be willing to bet almost all the behind-the-scenes guys worked harder than this dude, and I'd also bet few of them got paid so well. You could hire the bum from the alley outside to talk into a microphone for a case of beer, he might be somewhat more talented than that but he's got no basis to feel deserving of a million bucks.

    Scooter on
  • SageinaRageSageinaRage Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Speaking as an actor who'd love to do voice acting, I would have taken far less for this gig. That's a huge amount of money for a non-celebrity, especially for a VOICE acting job. I also agree with the sentiment that actors don't 'make' a game in the same sense that they do tv or movies, so I agree with them not getting as much of the money. It's also a somewhat easier job in my opinion than tv, movies, or stage.

    SageinaRage on
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    As for voice actors making or breaking a game, it certainly is possible. Without GladOS, Portal would have fallen under the heading of "neat tech demo." Instead, a three hour game was considered one of the top five (two?) of the year. That was largely due to the strong writing as well as superb voice work by Ellen McLain.

    I think someone who can really bring value to a game should be compensated fairly for it. If they are one of a few qualified people for the job, they will be able to demand much more in their contracts. If not, welcome to capitalist society.

    Doc on
  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Eh, McLain's voice was heavily altered to become GladOS, I'd give more credit to the sound techs than her.
    And the woman barely even knows what a video game is, so she's not ranking real high in my Book of Cool People anyways.

    Scooter on
  • SithDrummerSithDrummer Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Sound techs can add metallic intonation & vocal distortion, but hardly personality, emotion, or eccentricity, all of which GladOS had in spades.

    SithDrummer on
    It's an easy game to hate
  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    The unedited vocals weren't anything special though, just a woman talking in a stilted, imitation robotic voice.

    Note that I'm not saying GladOS didn't make the game. I'm just saying Ellen McLain didn't make the game. It wouldn't have been hard to have someone else do the same thing, as opposed to the techs and programmers who took years to learn how to do what they do and months/years to make the game work versus a woman who did maybe a week or so of talking into a mike.


    Edit: I'd even give Jonathan Coulton more credit, for having the skill to write the song and do the instrumentals. Maybe I'm unjustly looking down on voice actors but I'm not easily impressed by them.

    Scooter on
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    edited May 2008
    And the only reason they picked her for the voice was that they needed someone that could also do the vocals in Still Alive.

    Echo on
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  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    Scooter wrote: »
    The unedited vocals weren't anything special though, just a woman talking in a stilted, imitation robotic voice.

    Note that I'm not saying GladOS didn't make the game. I'm just saying Ellen McLain didn't make the game. It wouldn't have been hard to have someone else do the same thing, as opposed to the techs and programmers who took years to learn how to do what they do and months/years to make the game work versus a woman who did maybe a week or so of talking into a mike.

    What I really mean is this: she has put something on her resume that will allow her more room to negotiate payment for her next voiceover job. She did an outstanding job in Portal, and not only was she compensated for it, she became very well-known in the video game community, and she's likely to find more work as a result.

    It's kind of how careers work, and it's irritating when people don't get that. (That isn't directed at Scooter or Ellen McLain, but rather at people who actually don't get it.)

    Doc on
  • SithDrummerSithDrummer Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I think there is much more skill involved in voice acting than you give it credit for - I've played many games on both ends of the spectrum that I can't help but realize how necessary skilled, or at the very least competent, voice work is to the success of a game. It can hardly be boiled down to "a week or so of talking into a mike".

    It also seems to me that the technical side of things can be trained much more easily than someone's voice or acting ability can be trained, because it seems like the latter would need to build off of at least a little bit of natural talent. I would tentatively agree that Coulton's work was more skilled though.

    SithDrummer on
    It's an easy game to hate
  • Rabid_LlamaRabid_Llama Registered User
    edited May 2008
    Scooter wrote: »
    Speaking as a guy who will hopefully have a job one day programming stuff, fuck this guy. I'd be willing to bet almost all the behind-the-scenes guys worked harder than this dude, and I'd also bet few of them got paid so well. You could hire the bum from the alley outside to talk into a microphone for a case of beer, he might be somewhat more talented than that but he's got no basis to feel deserving of a million bucks.

    Well, he isn't asking for a million is he? He just wants residual compensation.

    What you are failing to see is that after he finishes this job, he might not get work for a few months, whereas all of those programmers still have a steady job of programming the next big thing.

    Plus, anyone can be a code monkey. Regardless of what you might think, learning to code is not that hard. Talented actors are far rarer than talented coders.

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  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I agree that she'll become more well-known and probably more well-paid in the future and she does deserve it. I just disagree that she personally made the game successful, and that generally voice actors should start asking for 10% of the game's profits and eternal residues and all that stuff movie stars get. Because imo the majority of the talent behind a game like GTA or Portal resides in the guys sitting at the computers, and I'd hate to see their pay go down because of prima donna actors.

    Scooter on
  • SithDrummerSithDrummer Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I agree with that.

    SithDrummer on
    It's an easy game to hate
  • KalTorakKalTorak Way up inside your butthole, Morty. WAAAAY up inside there.Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Doc wrote: »
    Scooter wrote: »
    The unedited vocals weren't anything special though, just a woman talking in a stilted, imitation robotic voice.

    Note that I'm not saying GladOS didn't make the game. I'm just saying Ellen McLain didn't make the game. It wouldn't have been hard to have someone else do the same thing, as opposed to the techs and programmers who took years to learn how to do what they do and months/years to make the game work versus a woman who did maybe a week or so of talking into a mike.

    What I really mean is this: she has put something on her resume that will allow her more room to negotiate payment for her next voiceover job. She did an outstanding job in Portal, and not only was she compensated for it, she became very well-known in the video game community, and she's likely to find more work as a result.

    It's kind of how careers work, and it's irritating when people don't get that. (That isn't directed at Scooter or Ellen McLain, but rather at people who actually don't get it.)

    Pretty much this; cast as an unknown, Al Pacino got $35,000 for "The Godfather" (according to imdb.com). But that was the base for his multimillion dollar career.

    As far as residuals go, I'm all for voice-actors getting some kind of system going to get them, as residuals are a pretty important part of that kind of career.

    KalTorak on
  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Well, he isn't asking for a million is he? He just wants residual compensation.

    What you are failing to see is that after he finishes this job, he might not get work for a few months, whereas all of those programmers still have a steady job of programming the next big thing.


    The dude got paid $100,000 for what, a couple weeks, maybe a couple months worth of work? Let's say he spent 3 months of 5 day, 40 hour/weeks worth of recording (which I think is a very generous estimate but I could be wrong), and he didn't do a single thing the other 9 months of the year. The dude still got paid more than the majority of the coders who all worked all 12 months. I would love to not be able to find work for 75% of the time if it meant the other parts of the year I got more than people working 100%.

    I'm not going to begrudge the guy his 100k, but he got paid generously imo and asking for more is just greed.

    Scooter on
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