To get work as a
voice actor, you must have an agent. Casting directors will not
even consider you if you are not represented. (In the US, you
can get a list of agent from AFTRA and SAG, the two actors'
unions. Equally important is that you really should live where
the jobs are; in North America, this means Los Angeles, where
most of the cartoon voice work is cast and recorded. Some actors
such as David Kaye and Stephanie Morganstern are based in
Canada, but they are exceptions. No one will hire you if you
live in New Jersey or Texas, no matter how talented you are.
When a casting call comes, you need to be there, sometimes
within the hour.
In order to get a good agent, you need a great demo tape. Bob
Bergen feels, "As far as the demo tape process goes, I don't
believe in telling a story. Each segment should sound like it's
a clip from a cartoon, where your character is involved and
doing some kind of action. You should never repeat a voice on
your demo tape. Each clip should have a totally different scene;
perhaps one is jet fighter pilot, another a nerdy kid trying to
ask a girl out, but scenes that contrast. You want to leave the
listener asking for more. The average length of a demo tape is
two-and-a-half minutes. I recommend one-and-a-half, because you
are asking someone to take one-and-a-half minutes of their life
for your life. And chances are you are one of 20 or 30 tapes
they have to listen to that day...
today are faced with a number of stumbling blocks to creating
truly original character voices. The studios want the familiar,
not the new. Most of the great voices actors, such as Mel Blanc,
Daws Butler, and Paul Frees are gone now, and the studios need
sound-alikes to keep their cartoon franchises going...
original character voices, it is important to put yourself into
it entirely. The physical aspects of a character are as
important as the voice. When I perform my characters for my Willoughby and the Professor radio cartoon show, I don't
just stand still in front of the microphone and speak. I put my
full body into the perfomance just as I would on stage. People
who watch me perform find it as enjoyable as hearing the
finished recording. For example, I flail my arms a lot when
speaking since I find that this movement gives my performance an
extra "hmmph". For naïve 12-year old Willoughby, I raise my
eyebrows up, open my eye as wide as I can and stand very
straight. This gives me a brighter young alert sound for
Willoughby. My Professor character has very large jowls but I
have a thin face with no jowls, so to get a "hollow" jowl sound
for him I hold the sides of my face with my thumb and forefinger
and pull my cheeks out as far as I can and hold them there
everytime I speak as the Professor. All good voice actors work
from the physical.