The Union’s VO Problem (or not…)

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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

 

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America’s “Enough” Problem

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Amerca’s “Enough” Problem

America's "ENOUGH" Problem (logo)

Enough. It’s counter to much of the way America operates. We’re a country of excess… and it’s literally killing us. Here’s just a few examples:

Food
Obesity is a major health problem in the United States. It contributes to heart disease, diabetes, vascular issues, and more. Although we probably don’t get enough exercise, a large factor is the sheer amount and types of food we eat.

Processed foods. Excess salt, sugar, and fats. And the ridiculous portion sizes we’ve come to think of as normal. It doesn’t help that the cheaper food (dollar menu anyone?) is often not the best for you.

My wife and I will routinely split one (1) entree, and add a couple salads or an appetizer. That is where our “enough” is. Other things we do to avoid this food trap are cooking more at home, avoiding fast foods and overly processed foods, and of course plenty of exercise. Add in adequate water and sleep.

Money
It’s easiest to see our lust for money in the salaries of CEO’s compared to workers… and in Wall Street… and in our worship of billionaires.

But the problem is much more pervasive. People are working multiple jobs in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Granted, some of it is a necessity due to wealth inequality. But that too is caused by others hoarding the money for themselves. Where is enough? 1 million? 10 million? 10 billion? How many cars can you drive? How many houses can you live in?

Perhaps we don’t all need a house. Or a $50,000 car to show off our status. Maybe each of us can get by with less. Maybe our kids can fund their own way through college.

There has to be a work/family balance. Otherwise, what are you working for?

Money is also way too much of a factor in our election and elected officials. The way to “enough” there is to remove the money all together. Get corporations and billionaires out of our politics. Give it back to “We The People”.

Drugs
Drugs, both over-the-counter and prescription, definitely play a role in our overall health. But when is it too much?

With the rise of the opioid epidemic, drug-resistant bacteria, and general over-prescription, America has a legal drug problem.

I’ve had my share of pain, for example. But some amount should be tolerable without popping a pill. Pain is an indicator that something is wrong and needs attention. There are longer-term solutions to many of our problems, but all too often we just want a quick fix. It’s when we rely on it as a crutch that the chance of becoming addicted rises.

Guns
Some people in America like guns. Some don’t. I get it. I’ve shot guns for target practice and used them in outdoor shows. They’re fun. And for many, they use them for fun, or hunting, or feel that they need them to protect themselves and their loved ones.

But where is the line? When do we have enough? Enough guns. Enough firepower. Does anyone need a weapon that could take out a dozen people at the press of the trigger? If you live in an area where that’s needed, it’s a war-zone… and that’s a bigger problem.

Much of the “need” for the higher power guns, the semi-automatics, the illegally altered fully-automatics, the high capacity magazines… it all comes from one thing: Fear. People are afraid. Afraid of other people with guns. Afraid that the government will come and take their guns. Afraid of liberals and media and people who think differently, or look differently, of believe differently.

There are some simple paths to enough. Enforce the existing laws. Close the loopholes. Ban weapons that nobody needs for protection or hunting or target practice.

If most of America wants these things, and our representatives are not enacting them, then maybe our government isn’t much of a representative democracy.

Possesions
How many things do you need? Want? Have?

In our disposable society we often tire of things before their useful life is really spent. Smartphones are a prime example. As are clothes. Accessories. Electronics.

For those with even more money it may be houses, cars, motorcycles, boats, jewelry.

Even “essentials” are not that essential in truth.

Overall, we can be very wasteful. And that leads to a lack of appreciation for the things we have. And maybe a blurring of the understanding of what should really matter to us long term.

It may be difficult, but for anything you think you need – do you really *need* it?

Entertainment
How may channels can you watch? How many games can you play? How many movies need to be made (most of them in a handful of derivative series)?

With the rise of social networking came the competitive response. What’s popular? I have to see it! I have to play it! I don’t want to feel left out!

Pause. Take a break. In a year, a month, or even an hour, there’ll be something else you can miss out on instead. Maybe “enough” entertainment should be determined by what you want to spend your free time on. Not what’s popular with everyone else.

And On, And On, And On
… and the “enough” list goes on and on: Diets, Fads, Commemorative Plates.

But there’s one thing I’m certain I’ve had enough of. And that’s Fools.

 

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

 

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Murder on the Justice League Express

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Murder on the Justice League Express

Murder on the Justice League Express - Movie Poster
Today’s post is a two-for-one Movie Review.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, my wife and I went to see “Justice League” and “Murder on the Orient Express”.

Rather than review each on their own, here’s a side-by-side, blow-by-blow, step-by-step rundown of our opinions (no real spoilers, but avert your eyes if you feel the need):

(review section) Justice League Orient Express
Acting The main heroes should have been the best actors. That’s not what we got. Instead of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, we got the Cardboard Knight, Wooden Woman, and the Man of Plastic.

I will say that many of the supporting characters were much better actors, and more interesting. These included Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman. Also Martha Kent, Lois Lane and Cyborg’s father.

A very balanced cast. All very good actors in their individual roles. Nobody stood out as markedly better than anyone else, and each shone in different ways.

Overall, a wonderfully cast ensemble movie.

 Plot The plot was pretty thin, but this is more of an action movie, so I’ll let that slide.  The movie version stays kind of close to the original book. I only wish they had more character interaction and less one-on-one vignettes. Made it seem like they had problems scheduling so many stars.
 Villain(s) Uh, yeah… Way too simplistic for my tastes. Felt like a placeholder for the real villain. Or maybe just a setup for the next in the series. Plenty of villainy to go around here, with some very complicated and implausible back-stories. So, suspend some of your beliefs…
 Ending No surprises here. It ends just like you’d suspect. I could even tell you and it wouldn’t be considered a spoiler.  … and this is where the train runs completely off the rails.

Rather than stick to the ending in the book, the movie goes for an extra twist. One that, in my opinion, doesn’t fit the plot or the characters at all.

Special FX Phenomenal special effects. Well done and seamless. Makeup could have used a bit of help, though. The special effects were invisible, which for this type of film is very important. I never felt like any of it knocked me out of the film’s reality.
 Final

Judgement!

Despite the above, it was a fun action movie. Worth seeing, but not worth paying full theater pricing for.

Plus, you’ll probably need to know the plot for the next one. And the next one. And the next…

Great acting, a mostly by-the-book plot, and interesting special effects.

So… why didn’t I like this movie more? In the end, it all didn’t flow very well or hold my interest throughout.

Wait until it comes to streaming or cable. And that’s a wrap!

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

 

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What’s Wrong (with everyone else)?

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What’s Wrong (with everyone else)?

Unaware.
That’s what’s wrong.
Unaware of others.
Of themselves.

Of their own needs, wants, drives.

Flaws and strengths.

Unaware of time…
And of time’s precious, fleeting nature.

Tragic.
Watching them led through life by those who are only slightly more aware.
Those with ill intent.

It’s time to wake the fuck up.

Own your life.
Own your future.

Become aware.

Maybe then you’ll stop bothering me.

~~~ end ~~~

 

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

 

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Trump Feelings via Dr Otto

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My Feelings on Trump, as Expressed by Dr. Otto

Only the amazing Jim Varney as Dr. Otto can truly sum up my feelings about Donald Trump:

Treat yourself! Be sure to Buy or Rent “Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam” on Amazon here!

Bonus!!! Watch my review of “Dr. Otto”, and “Captain Invincible” here:

 

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

 

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Artistic Erosion

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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

 

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Vacation Time

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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

 

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Memorial for Decency

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Memorial for Decency

Make America Great … Again?

It can be… But it will take all of us, and involve some serious changes.

I’m not taking about government, parties, economy, jobs or health care.

I’m taking about us. Changing.

With the rise of insults, violence, anger, finger pointing, praise of bullies, fakes and con-men, we’ve all gone down the wrong path. A dangerous path.

According to Wikipedia:

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

This Memorial Day, I’m remembering what America had, and can have again…
Memorial for Decency
(here’s the list, in alphabetic order: Beauty of Spirit, Caring, Civic Pride, Civility, Class, Common Sense, Community, Courtesy, Curiosity, Decency, Dignity, Honor, Humility, Innovation, Kindness, Knowledge, Love, Loyalty, Morals, Personal Responsibility, Pride in one’s work, Respect, Sense of Duty, Thriftiness, Truth)

Perhaps we all just need to follow the example of the Boy Scout Law: A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

… And if you find yourself blaming others, try reaching out to them instead.

Together, regardless of who’s in power, We The People are the only ones who can Make America Great.

E Plebnista.

 

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

 

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Political Opinions

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Political Opinions

In a recent Facebook post, people were debating the merits and issues with stating your political views on a public forum. The primary concern seemed to be how it might affect their business. Here is my posted reply:

Now is not the time to remain silent. No job, paycheck or client is worth giving up our freedoms. And that’s what’s at stake. Everyone must do what they’re comfortable with, but I will not stand idly by while the underpinnings of our nation are eroded. If anyone, including a client, doesn’t like my stance on issues of this importance then I wouldn’t want them anyway. So far, I’ve only lost one connection here, and he went way off the deep end. My two cents. Your mileage may vary.

After all, what good is having the right to freedom of speech if you never exercise it?

The Role of the Jester
Although I do speak my mind plainly at times, I also often use humor to convey messages. Like the King’s Jester, some truths are easier to deliver with a bit of comedy. The laughter (or lack thereof) can tell you a lot about the audience. And make no mistake – I’ve mocked both sides of the political aisle (but one side is usually a lot more of a comedy gold mine 😉 )

Here are my latest set of short historical propaganda films – Enjoy!

Join The Republican Party: The Party of THE FUTURE!

Dead Presidents on Trump (5 short videos)
What would dead presidents have to say about Donald J. Trump?
Wonder no more!
Here’s 10-15 seconds each of alternative history for you!




Copyright 2017 Joe’s Dump
www.JoesDump.com
Not a Quinn-Martin Production

 

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

 

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We Need A Carl Sagan

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We Need A Carl Sagan

I just finished watching the first episode of “Bill Nye Saves The World” on NetFlix. The episode’s about climate change. Bill presents some good information. Bill’s excited. Bill’s upset that more isn’t being done. Bill has an audience and guests and lab coats.

But… Bill Nye failed to connect with me. Period. And I’m in the choir he’s preaching to.

This is a part of the problem. Why it’s so easy for science denial to thrive.

We don’t have a Carl Sagan.

Carl Sagan had a very unique ability to connect with a wide audience. He made the topics he covered interesting, inspiring, fun. It was like he was talking to you directly. Having tea and cookies in your living room.

So… Who’s out there now? Who’s our “Science Communicator”?

Bill Nye? No.

Neil deGrasse Tyson? No.

Al Gore? Hell No.

It’s not that any of these guys lack the knowledge or foundation to speak on a whole host of science topics. It’s that they’re not reaching their target audience. In fact, they may be pushing them away even further.

Like many intellectuals, there is a belief that if they just explain something to you in enough detail, that you’ll have to agree with them.

That ain’t the case.

As an actor, I can tell you that in order to connect with your audience, you’ve got to go where they are. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

In their homes. Having tea and cookies. A one-on-one conversation.

Even if it’s broadcast to millions of people.

We. Need. A. Carl Sagan.

… and that person hasn’t shown up yet.

 

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

 

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