Looking to get the inside scoop on what makes voiceover agents tick? Want to know why they haven’t returned your calls? Do they really listen to all those CDs you have been sending in over the years? Is it true they feast on the blood of the innocent and will only sign talent who have given their souls to Satan?1
The next guest on The Erik And Ember Show will be hotshot talent agent Billy Serow from Abrams Artists Agency in New York which, for those who may not know, is a particularly prestigious rep to have in these parts and many a young talent have tear stained pillow cases from staying up late dreaming about walking into their gleaming offices.
The question asking thingy over on the right (under the podcast player) has been reopened for the occasion so here is your chance to suggest your question and Ember and I will in turn ask Mr. Serow. Got it? Good. Use this opportunity wisely young ones. If your question is particularly stupid feel free to submit it anonymously to avoid bringing shame to your family.
Recently a certain someone cajoled me into a late-night at-home double-feature1 animation festival that consisted of copious amounts of Jiffy Pop2 and a back to back showing of WALL-E and Ratatouille. Don’t tell her but I kind of enjoyed it. With the exception of two or three character voices I whip out for commercials I do not do animation work and rarely even throw my hat into the ring. Unless Pixar wants to cast my “stoner guy” (who I ripped off of Tommy Chong) or my “creepy guy” (who I ripped off of Vincent Price), chances are we will not be working together any time soon.
Nonetheless, my recent experience has piqued my interest once again in feature length animation so I was happy to come across an article in Time Magazine this morning about “Up” slated for release May 29th, 2009. No doubt I will be dragged into the theater anyway so I might as well try to look forward to the thing. Aaanywho, along with the usual (although exhaustive) synopsis there was some great passages concerning the voice talent. From Time:
Every Pixar production involves some 300 artists, but the actors come first; they have to, because the dialogue is recorded to guide the animators. Asner, 79, who used his slow burn brilliantly on the great Mary Tyler Moore ’70s sitcom, had the gruffness and deadpan comic timing to bring Carl to vocal life. As Docter recalls, “When we first met Ed and showed him a small sculpture we’d made of Carl, he said [growling], ‘I don’t look anything like that.’ And we thought, O.K., this is gonna be perfect.” Docter and Peterson then tailored the dialogue to the actor’s speech patterns. “We looked for words that had more consonants and shortened the sentences,” Docter says.
Interesting enough but this was the part I really wanted to share:
Nagai, the nonprofessional kid chosen for Russell, needed a bit of coaching. “When he had to be excited,” Docter says, “he would get maybe 50%. So I’d tell him, ‘Run around the room, run back here and say the line — ready, set, go!’ We’d do it one line at a time like that.” For a scene in which Russell is cradled and tickled by a giant South American bird, “I actually lifted him upside down and tickled him,” Docter says, “which you probably wouldn’t do with Ed.”
Cool huh? The talent was just a kid but I still like the way they went above and beyond to push him and get a real and (presumably) believable performance. How many of us have used similar tricks on ourselves to really nail a part? A few years back I ate potato chips while auditioning for a part that required a heightened sense of nonchalance by a college kid. I thought it was brilliant3 but I didn’t get the part and it scared me off from going out on a limb like that again. Perhaps I should rethink things. Any thoughts? Leave them in the comments.
The full article can be found HERE. (Possible spoiler alert)
1. What? I like dashes.
2. It’s as much fun to make as it is to eat!
3. I initially think all of my stupid ideas are brilliant.
Seriously, check these puppies out. Much cooler than yours:
Now unfortunately you can’t get these amazing clear cards for yourself because that would make you a copycat and I would have to hunt you down and break your kneecaps1 but I have found some links where you might be able to find some inspiration to design a concept that might be nearly as incredibly awesome. Those cards you have been passing around that you printed out on your home computer just aren’t cutting it anymore and it might be time to step it up a notch.