I was watching one of the latest videos on VOBuzzWeekly that highlighted the career of the great voiceover actor Don Le Fontaine. (He did practically every movie trailer and was driven around town in a limo to go on auditions and jobs – sometimes 12 sessions a day) One of the participants was my former agent, Steve Tisherman, who was Don’s agent for his entire career. By the way, I love VOBuzzWeekly. It’s a site that features people I actually know, or have heard of, who seriously work professionally in the voiceover business and the interviews are fabulous!
One of the most intriguing parts of the interview was listening to the guests relate how the voiceover business has changed as far as relationship building is concerned. Now that so many auditions are done at home and online, it’s rare for a voiceover actor to go visit their agent and even rarer to go to a studio to audition. It was always fun for me to go to a casting director’s office to audition because I would usually see my friends and cohorts. I also got to know some of the casting directors, directors, engineers, etc.
For auditions I would often get called to go to my agent’s office (Steve) and lay down a track. We would go into a booth and record our auditions. Then the agency would send the auditions to whomever had requested them. That was still a little impersonal. The times that I was actually sent to a casting office, I would more often than not book the gig. Hopefully it was because they liked my voice and me personally.
Nowadays it’s basically a crap shoot. Granted, I’ve gotten very busy of late with my Online Empire and haven’t made as big of an effort to put myself out there. I live in Los Angeles, up a very steep hill, and it’s not very convenient to drive across town to audition for a job I may or may not get. Not to mention schlepping to a studio to record. It’s so much easier to do it from home. I have a microphone setup, however, I was never trained to be an engineer. I was trained to be an actor. I love to be directed as well. It’s very helpful to get another person’s perspective. Not to mention the fact that because actors must have home studios to compete, it’s put A LOT of people out of work. (engineers, casting people, etc.)
Recently I got an email from someone in India that wanted to pay me some really decent bucks to record an educational project. After giving them some info, I probably shouldn’t have, they disappeared off the face of the earth. Maybe they found some cheap labor outside the main voiceover markets. That happens all the time too. The cheaper people work, the worse it makes it for everyone. Thank you Texas. Unfortunately, you can’t stop it. People are so desperate to be seen or heard as actors, they take what they can get. For instance, in LA, your agent gets 10% of what you earn AFTER you work. NOT BEFORE. And that’s scale PLUS 10%. Why would you want to pay up front?
Oh well. I guess we all have to adjust to the times in order to keep busy. I’ve been doing voiceovers for over 30 years and have many other interests outside of acting. I feel for those who are much younger than me though. Everything that was put in place for them, by actors who insisted on fair wages, is now being lost.
All that being said, I’m still very up to being flown somewhere for a convention though. They’re fun and I always meet great people. Hey, I can’t help it. I’m a slut for vacations. Anyone need me in Australia, London, Paris or Argentina? Let me know. Interestingly, I have a ton of fans in Argentina and Chili. I could do Buenos Aires. Come on! Richard Epcar and Steve Blum can’t do every single convention. Give the old broad a shot. Why not?