JSG asked in Arts & HumanitiesPerforming Arts · 4 months ago

How do pro voice actors end up working on multiple projects and for more than one studio at once?

Hi. I am curious about this. There are a lot of big-name pro voice actors, past and present. Many of them work or have worked on more than one project at once and sometimes for more than one studio at once.

For example, Mel Blanc, who was nicknamed "The Man Of A Thousand Voices", was perhaps the most prolific pro voice actor in history. He was well known for voicing most of the Looney Tunes characters (on occasion he voiced Elmer Fudd) for most of his career. He also did voice work for other studios like Hanna-Barbera and Disney.

The Jetsons Movie and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? were two of the last animated projects he provided voice work for before he passed.

As another example, Jim Cummings has provided voice work for a number of Disney and Warner Bros. cartoon shows in the '90s. He was the only voice actor to work on all classic Disney Afternoon shows at the same time, and around the same time he also worked on classic WB cartoon shows like Tiny Toons and Taz Mania.

How do pro voice actors work on multiple projects at once and also moonlight for more than one studio at once?

I don't know all the particulars but I assume agents are involved? Agents help book gigs and find work? Agents help work out contract negotiations for voice actors?

Please help. Thank you.

1 Answer

  • 4 months ago
    Favourite answer

    A studio no longer keep actors on staff (the studio system was abolished around 1948). Actors are more free agents now and are contracted to work project by project.

    Production companies hire a casting director (CD) to find actors.  If the CD knows someone who would be good for a role, they contact the agent to have the actor submit an audition/demo tape.  Or the CD will contact agents with information about a role and the agents will submit actors to audition.  If the company is interested in hiring the actor, they contact the agent who negotiates the contract 

    In the US most professional productions are union, meaning the production company has an agreement with the SAG-AFTRA union so preference are given to actors who are members of the union.  The union also sets things like the minimum pay for actors and specifics work conditions and other reimbursement.  Agents can negotiate beyond those minimums.  But companies do not hold open auditions that anyone can go to.  They are looking for actors who have demonstrated they can work at a professional level.

    As for working multiple projects - a production company has people whose job is to schedule things.  If an actor is working multiple projects then the production schedule is set up to accommodate them.  If there is a scheduling conflict, then they company hires another actor.  With advances in technology, many voice actors have their own studio set-up so they can record audition and demo tapes themselves and maybe even produce work for a project themselves. This may make it easier to work multiple projects.  And there's a lot of additional work that goes into a project besides just recording the voices.

    Remember this is show business.  People are in it to make money, not reward the “right” person with a voice over career.  Companies invest a lot of money in their projects so they are looking for trained and experienced professionals. 

    Professional voice actors are basically starting and running a company where they are the product being marketed and sold.  They need to understand the industry And how they fit in.  They need to understand legal issues (contracts, unions, taxes); marketing (demo reels, websites, show reels); networking and the like.  People are not just discovered and given a career.  It’s a huge investment of time, effort and money. 

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