An Education in Money from 1967

Share

An Education in Money from 1967

Scrooge McDuck explains many of the basic concepts of money in this short Disney film from 1967.

Although it’s a bit out of date, I’d wager that there’s a lot of folks who don’t have a good understanding of the concepts presented here.

One of the main points I believe has been forgotten: “Money’s gotta circulate!

Arm yourselves with knowledge!

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

The Union’s VO Problem (or not…)

Share

The Union’s VO Problem (or not…)

There’s been a lot of talk in the voice over community about where the industry is headed. Unions, Pay-to-Play sites, Casting.

To be fair, the industry is changing. But that’s to be expected. There are many questions this raises…

How will the change affect us? What can we do about it? Should I even be concerned?

In this post, I will give my thoughts on three different perspectives on the changing voice over landscape. Read on below:

Perspective 1: Voice Talent
The voice talent’s perspective may be the most complicated. There are a wide range of genres, markets, and opportunities for work. Opinions vary on benefits of union membership, the role of pay-to-play sites, how to market (or not), etc. Each person’s situation is different, and because of that, it’s hard to present a unified perspective.

This also gets to the heart of a related issue: As a group, we can’t get what we want unless we can agree on what exactly that is. Some would appear to be easy. Fair pay. Safe work environment. Professionalism on all sides.

But even on the agreed items, there is no clear consensus. What does “fair pay” mean to each person? In each market? Are some willing to do work others would consider unsafe or unprofessional?

Because of all of these factors, it may be more beneficial to look at perspectives outside our own.

After all, we are selling something. It may be better to focus on what the market wants, and how we can best deliver it to them.

Perspective 2: The Union
For The Union (Sag/Aftra in the USA), the view is much broader than for any individual.

I am grateful for the benefits and standards that the union offers. And I’m grateful that we have some union folks as advocates for us all, but it seems like they are fighting an uphill battle on many issues.

Voice Acting is only a small part of what the union’s business is about. And even then, the lion’s share of their focus will understandably be on the largest prizes. These are often big budget features and high power talent. For the average working Joe, this often means not being heard at all.

Think about it: if given the choice to focus on one $10,000,000 project or ten-thousand $1,000 projects, which would you choose?

This isn’t an excuse, but it is a reason. There’s only so much time in a day. In order to keep up, the union has to stay relevant in the bigger game.

We do benefit indirectly from this. There are always roles in the big projects for the average working Joe. But we’ve got to be honest with ourselves: If you’re not famous, the union is less focused on your concerns.

It is about business, after all. As is voice acting.

Perspective 3: The Client
Although individual clients may vary, there are many common things they all want.

A voice that matches their ideas for the product or service. Professional behavior. A good price.

In some cases, they may know exactly what they want and how much they’re willing to pay. Others may require a bit more work on our part. Customer service has to include discovering the customer’s needs and fulfilling them to the best of our ability.

All customer’s time is valuable. They don’t want it wasted with idle chatter or by having to track you down for the job.

Hiring union talent may be important to some. To others, it may represent a hassle. Knowing the difference is crucial to landing the job, and getting continuing work.

Overall, customers want the whole process to be as easy as possible. It’s up to us to find out what that means for each one.

So… What Can I Do?

  • Be professional.
  • Deliver a solid product.
  • Quote fair rates for the work, and stick to them.
  • Focus on the client’s needs.
  • Take direction well.
  • Be friendly and easy to work with.
  • Work with other voice actors on the larger issues. Together, we are stronger.

Other Perspectives
Below is a recent town hall event sponsored by the VO Agent Alliance, Global Voice Acting Academy, and WOVO.

Lots of great stuff discussed, and great groups to follow if you’d like to work together to make a difference. #VoiceStrong

Enjoy:

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Voice 2012: Joe’s Full Presentation

Share

Voice 2012: Joe’s Full Presentation

Agents, Demos, Marketing, Networking, VO Work, P2P, Unions…

Hear how I got into voice over, my philosophy on business, acting, much, much more!

The full 86 minute presentation is yours FREE!

(and stay for the questions at the end… very informative 😉 )

Thanks to everyone who attended, and those who asked questions at the end.

Joe J Thomas: Banana Baby

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Persistence

Share

Persistence by Joe's Dump

Persistence:
We Aspire to it in Ourselves,
Admire it in Our Friends,
and Abhor it in Our Foes.

But when is it appropriate?

As the saying goes, nothing feels better than when you stop banging your head against the wall.

Sometimes, knowing when to quit can be just as important as knowing when to push on in spite of the odds.

Only you can make the decision on if you should persevere or throw in the towel. Take the advice of trusted loved ones, friends and mentors into account. If they’re all saying the same thing, maybe it’s time to listen.

If you’re stubborn like me, that can be the hardest part.

Besides, that wall will always be there. Maybe just a bit of a break to clear your head…

Adapt, Adopt and Improve,
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

The Path of the (Yodeling) Pickle

Share

The Path of the (Yodeling) Pickle

*** UPDATED 4/30/2018 STEPHEN FRY TWEET! (at the bottom) ***

Yodelling Pickle by Archie McPhee

      Joe's Yodel (Joe J Thomas)

How did learning to yodel lead to Weird Al, George Takei, The Today Show and Gorillaz?

It all began in 2006, with a contest by the Seattle novelty company Archie McPhee.

They were searching for a yodel.

I was a singer, but had never yodeled. So I consulted the internet and found YodelCourse.org

After some free lessons, I submitted my contest entry and forgot about it.

… until 100 rubber chickens showed up on my doorstep!
Archie McPhee - Deluxe Rubber Chicken

I’d won the contest, and the prize was 100 rubber chickens, plus my yodel in a toy.

Now, the first toy (Feb, 2007) was not the Yodeling Pickle, but instead was the “Remote Control Hopping Yodeling Lederhosen” (with a knockwurst remote, of course):
Remote Control, Hopping, Yodeling Lederhosen

Then in April of 2007 came the now famous “Yodeling Pickle”:
Yodelling Pickle by Archie McPhee

In December of 2008, the Today Show with Cathy Lee and Hoda reviewed the pickle:
Yodeling Pickle - Kathy Lee Gifford
Kathy Lee Gifford sang with it and said “Nothin’ beats the Singin’ Pickle!”

Sales of the Yodeling Pickle were great, and soon they came out with other yodeling products (more on those below).

On December 26, 2010, the Grammy winning band “Gorillaz” album “The Fall” featured the yodel on track 15: “Seattle Yodel”:
Gorillaz - The Fall - Front Cover

You can download the whole album for free at: Gorillaz – The Fall (at Archive.Org)

      Gorillaz - Seattle Yodel

 
On August 5, 2011, Archie McPhee released their own video of the track:

On March 26, 2013: Archie McPhee announced “International Yodeling Pickle Day“!!!

On May 22, 2013: George Takei posted his comedic review of the Yodeling Pickle on Amazon:

My latest Wednsday Weview. This item was NOT what I thought it was. At all. http://amzn.to/14Rz5aU

Posted by George Takei on Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Yodeling Pickle - George Takei + Weird Al Reviews

And on June 17, 2015: Weird Al Yankovic tweeted this (along with a review on Amazon)
“You can have my electronic yodeling pickle WHEN YOU PRY IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD FINGERS.”
Yodeling Pickle - Weird Al Yankovic

On June 2, 2017: Gizmodo posted an article on Gorillaz and the Seattle Yodel Track:

On July 16, 2017, George Takei included the Yodeling Pickle in a video review from Knowable:

Weird Products From Amazon

Because who couldn't use a yodeling pickle? via Knowable

Posted by George Takei on Sunday, July 16, 2017

And on April 30, 2018: Stephen Fry tweeted:
 
“I don’t know what a Yodelling Pickle is, all I know is that I want one. And in an instant absolute and foot-stamping Veruca Salt kind of way”
Yodeling Pickle - Stephen Fry Tweet 20180430

Other Yodeling products from Archie McPhee:

Gerkin for a living,
Joe “Yodelling Pickle” Thomas

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Additional Voices

Share

Additional Voices

If you look through my IMdB page you might notice a couple of roles that just say “Additional Voices”. Believe it or not, those are some of my favorite gigs. The other cast members on these productions usually tend toward the stellar. Here’s a few examples where you’ll only see “Additional Voices” in the credits:

  • Walla Work
    When movies and TV shows need filler voices and miscellaneous noises in the background, that’s called Walla. A group of people known as a “Loop Group” are all in one session and become all of the people in a restaurant, or at a county fair, or even running from a Kaiju. (Yeah… It’s a lot of fun!)
  • Minor Characters
    These may be characters in the script with only a handful of lines. They interact with the main characters and move the story along. The shopkeeper. The waiter. Old artist at the park. It’s a great way to play a variety of roles in one session.
  • Voice Matching
    When the original actor is not available for pickups in the post-production phase of movies and TV, an impersonator may be hired to fill in. This also happens when studios want to try a variety of different dialog as scratch tracks before calling in the star to record. It is a very niche field, to be sure. Always a challenge and really exciting to perform. Since the original actor gets the credit for the main role, the impersonator is often credited as “Additional Voices”

So… I’m proud to be “Mr Additional Voices”!

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

The Improv Trick

Share

The Improv Trick

Hey Voice Actor gang!

I’m always recommending Improv as a great tool for voice acting. It helps you to quickly interpret copy, build characters, react to situations and more.

So, if you’re near Los Angeles, check out “The Improv Trick“. It’s run by Second City alum Bill Chott (IMDB page here), and has classes in Sherman Oaks and Pasadena.

Anyone can take the sample class for $20 to try it out. PLUS! If you sign up for the Lifetime class and showcase you can take it again whenever you’d like FREE!

They also have periodic Improv Jam sessions that you can jump in on to practice.

Check out the website for more info at: www.TheImprovTrick.com

… and if you’re not in LA, be sure to look into Rebecca’s Improv for VO (ImproVO), run via Skype at: LoveThatImproVO.com

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Artistic Erosion

Share

Artistic Erosion

Voices.com recently acquired VoiceBank.net.
Now, if you’re not in the voiceover industry, that probably doesn’t mean anything. The upshot is that VoiceBank was a professional clearing house for VO demos and gigs through agencies, whereas Voices is a Pay-To-Play service with questionable business practices that will let anyone with the yearly fee in the door. Not exactly the news a professional VO wants to wake up to.

But let me spell out how it is the continuation of a disturbing trend. Not only in the US, but in many Western cultures around the globe.

One of humanity’s greatest traits is our adaptability… But it can also be our greatest pitfall. It allows us to change when adverse scenarios are thrust upon us. We normalize to them. And that allows us to continue with our lives. However, when presented with a series of ever worsening scenarios, we may adapt so well that we lose the big picture. We forget what it was like when things were better. Therein lies the danger… (more about adaptability here)

In this case, we’ve allowed art, in many forms, to be eroded in our culture. From the defunding of artistic institutions, foundations and museums, to the devaluation of arts in our schools and communities. As a people, it seems we value money, objects, sports, and junk food much more than artistic pursuits.

So, why does this matter? After all, we can get along without the arts, can’t we?

I would argue that arts and science are essential to the continued well-being of any civilization. Art feeds the soul, and science fuels the mind. Both are tied together to create innovation and advancement in society.

By stripping Art and Science out of our culture, we’re left with a teeming mass of consumers… ones who will rely on others to innovate, create, and produce what they are buying. They are easily controlled and ripe for being conned into whatever those in power want them to believe.

The solution lies in our own hands. Create. Innovate. Stand up for yourselves as artists or scientists. Don’t bow to the cut-rate offers and five-dollar sites that are growing like mold online. Have some pride and self-respect for your talents and creations. Spread Art and Science where you can. Dispel hoaxes and nay-sayers.

Becoming a “Great Country” depends on the citizens and what they value. Time to be the change you want to see…

There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other. Without art, science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science, art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery. The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.
— “Great Thought” (19 February 1938), published in The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler (1976)

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Vacation Time

Share

Vacation Time

When’s the last time you took a real vacation?

I know it’s been way too long for me. But based on my history, that’s par for the course. I’ve never been one to regularly take weeks off. Just the occasional long weekend.

So, I’ve got a real vacation coming up in a short while add thought it would be good to think about it in advance…

How much work? That’s a tough question when you are an independent contractor. I work whenever there is work to do. That being said, I also need balance. Time to relax. I’ll be letting anyone I regularly work with when I’ll be off, and when they can expect me back. I’ll also limit my work time to twice per day. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon, to check emails, record and reply. If possible, auditions only. Work can wait!

What to do on vacay? I’ll look into local sites and restaurants in case there are a few I really want to go to, but overall I’ll relax and play it by ear. Go with the flow, baby!

Other plans? I do have a few appointments setup to handle some personal business at my destination. Most of these will be planned well in advance. This will allow for the maximum amount of free time between, and avoid any rushing around. I hope!

Equipment? For your VO Pros, you’re probably wondering what I take along for recording. Well, I’ll be reviewing a great mic choice and software for your phone in a future post. As for room noise and echo, it’s the pillow fort or rental car for me. No need to cart around an expensive extra piece of luggage, IMO.

So, how do you handle your vacation time?

Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Talent and Training vs Tools

Share

Talent and Training vs Tools

I’ve seen way too many newbies to the world of Voice Acting ask the following questions:

  • “Which microphone should I buy?”
  • “Do I need ISDN?”
  • “What’s the best porta-booth?”
  • “How can I make my first VO demo?”
  • “Who knows a good agency looking for new talent?”

Arrrrggghhh!!!

First things first: Know the capabilities and limits of your own talents.

Second things second: Get the training need to fully utilize all your skills.

Before you spend a dime on tools, booths, mics, mixers, demos, etc… Put in the work needed to be an excellent Voice Actor. Theatre. Improv. Singing. Coaches, classes and even conferences.

Many people find that the answers to many questions will reveal themselves if you’re​ on the right path.

Shortcuts are extremely rare. Take the time to build a solid foundation and you’ll greatly increase your odds of success.

Measure Twice, Cut Once.

Joe

PS: here are all the answers…

  • The one that works best for your voice and space.
  • No.
  • Pillow fort, or rental car.
  • Hire a pro… Only when you’re ready.
  • All agencies want new talent, if you have something they need.

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share