Sunday, July 20, 2014

Emmanuel Howell, face of The Purge Anarchy posters, learns a tough lesson about Hollywood

On Friday, I posted an article about how Michelle Phan is getting sued by Ultra Records for using Ultra's music without permission, and I provided some tips on how other creators can protect themselves from sharing a similar fate to the Youtube star. Well, now a new story published by TMZ inspired me to talk about the flip side of the coin, being the talent and getting taken advantage of.

Emmanuel Howell worked as an extra for the film "The Purge Anarchy", and he expected to only be in the background. Later, he was shocked to find that his face was used prominently on the posters. According to TMZ, he felt "hoodwinked," and now he wants to be compensated. He said that as an extra, he only worked five days and made less than $1,000.

Emmanuel Howell and The Purge Anarchy photo. Courtesy of TMZ
Howell reached out to the production company to ask for more money, and they offered him some movie posters but no dough. Howell then contacted some lawyers, but no one would take the case because obviously he's going to lose. After all, Howell was paid for his likeness and the original terms between the parties had been met. Howell may not have liked how much money he made, but then he shouldn't have agreed to take the job then.

The hard thing about being talent is that they are essentially trusting the creators to treat their images with respect, but the talent should realize that whoever is paying them needs their likeness for their own purposes. The creators could really care less about the talent's embarrassment. A perfect example of this is a scene from Friends where actor Joey (Matt LeBlanc) models for a campaign, but he's horrified to discover later that he had modeled to be the face of a STD poster.

Modelling is hard. Photo courtesy of Crushable.
Could Joey sue and ask the company to take the photo down? Of course not. Did the company mislead or withhold information to Joey, the model? Probably, but they also probably got him to sign a release that gave the company all rights to his likeness in exchange for compensation.

Many people think that being a model or actor is glamorous, but they don't seem to realize how much crap the model or actor has to do before they make it to the top. Jennifer Aniston, for instance, may be rich and beautiful and playing fun parts now, but when she started out for example, she had to play roles in movies like Leprechaun. I'm sure she'd like to forget her Leprechaun days, but you know that she's the first star listed now and into perpetuity anytime that movie appears on TV.
Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun (Courtesy of EW)
Howell wanting to sue for more money makes less sense when you think about how being on screen has actually ruined the lives of some people, mainly reality stars. Those folks also signed contracts giving companies all the rights to use their likeness, and those stars had no idea how they would be edited. Some stars have even complained that the editing vastly altered what had happened, but they can't do anything about it besides return to their ruined lives and try to explain to their loved ones that they're really not racists, bigots, or evil assholes.
Big Brother 15's bitchy racist Aaryn Gries can't undo her reality appearance. Photo courtesy of Zap2It

Career-wise, it's unwise of Howell to seek legal action for being used as the face of the movie poster because as a model/actor he was given huge exposure. Sure, he didn't make big bucks for the campaign, but he could have used that poster in his portfolio, and who knew what opportunities that could have led to. Secondly, in real life, most actors and models don't get paid much. For instance, a model in a Vogue editorial only makes $125 a day. Think about that before you quit your day job.

All in all, the only way one can really protect himself is to just not be on camera. Otherwise all one can do is accept his compensation and move on.

No comments:

Post a Comment