Guy Cihi, the original voice and motion capture actor for James Sutherland in Silent Hill 2, has written an open letter to Konami Digital Entertainment on his Facebook page regarding the voice acting recast controversy from the upcoming release of Silent Hill HD Collection. In addition to giving his side of the story as to why Konami decided to go with new voice actors instead of paying residuals, he also revealed that he will waive all his rights in hopes that the original voice track would be included in Silent Hill 2 HD and other feature re-releases. You can check out some screens from the Silent Hill HD Collection in the slideshow to the left of this article and the open letter below:
Open letter to Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
[There has been a great deal of discussion and speculation about the decision to recast the voice acting for the forthcoming Silent Hill 2 re-release. Certain comments and accusations have been made and the situation has become a mess. I issue this statement with hope that it will help set things right.]
To Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
Amazing as it may seem, neither I nor to my knowledge any of the other voice actors involved in the creation of Silent Hill 2 received written agreements for our work. All I have is a verbal agreement based on the various negotiations that took place between me and Konami’s representatives. I was told that I would receive a written contract but I never did. I invite anyone claiming the existence of a contract to produce a copy of it. My verbal agreements with Konami management covered the release of SH2 on the PlayStation 2 consoles. No other console releases were discussed between us, and none was agreed to.
Californian law which, under the circumstances, governs the agreement between Konami and me provides that voice actors in videogames retain all rights for reproductions and re-uses of their vocal recordings and motion-capture work unless the artist specifically conveys those rights to a second party. The implications ought to be clear enough regarding the releases and reuses of my performances on consoles other than PlayStation 2. Obviously Konami’s legal department agreed with the strength of my position or they would not have supported the significant expense undertaken to rerecord voices in advance of the HD collection re-release. It would have been much easier if someone responsible at Konami had simply talked to me and sought to resolve this amicably.
Recently some things have been said by people acting as if they are part of the Konami organization, for example, that an attempt was made to reach out to me to help get things straightened out. This isn’t true. After the production work wrapped, only one person connected to Konami has ever attempted contact me and that was Michael Ranja, Director of Licensing at Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. in California. On October 6, 2010 Mr. Ranja sent me the following message: “Per the voice acting done for the videogame Silent Hill 2 (your role as James Sunderland), I understand that in the past it was agreed that Konami would purchase and own all rights to the voice acting. As we don’t have paperwork for this, would it be possible for you to fill out the attachment and email or fax back to me?” His second email, and the last time I have ever heard from Konami, was on October 22, 2010 when Mr. Ranja replied to my email saying that he would do his best to contact me again shortly regarding a settlement.
Let me be clear about something: my problem with Konami has never been about money. It’s always been about the thoughtless way that those involved in the production have been treated. The reuse of my material without asking me and without having a written agreement that provides for it is one example. Another example is how my contributions to the game, and my face, were purposefully erased from the ‘making of’ video. Why was that done? These are some of the issues I asked Konami to settle with me on before making any new agreements. To this day Konami has never offered any explanation.
Like everyone else, I feel it is a real shame we have come to this point. The original cast, writers, and directors of Silent Hill 2 all felt we were making something great, but I don’t think any of us realized just how successful and respected it would become. I am eternally grateful to have been selected by Team Silent to portray James Sunderland. I am equally grateful to the dedicated SH2 fans who enlightened me to fact that SH2 is much more than just an intellectual property to be bought, sold and repackaged.
After thinking it through carefully I have come to realize that I am unwilling to be part of any legal barrier or excuse which prevents a new generation from experiencing Silent Hill 2 the way the original Team Silent created it. The only way to do this appears to be for me to relinquish all my rights to Konami and so I hereby completely waive all rights to my motion capture and vocal performances in the Silent Hill 2 production without demand for additional consideration. Have your lawyer send me the proper documents required so that we can put this fiasco behind us.
I call on Konami to release the HD versions of SH2, and all subsequent re-releases, with the original vocal tracks intact. If you desire, I welcome you to include the new vocal tracks so that fans can choose which version they prefer.