Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bob Bergen's Views On Celebrity Voice Overs

Bob Bergen, the voice of Porky Pig:

      Hi all! Many of you have forwarded me that article in the LA Times regarding how much VO work has gone to celebrities. For those who didn't see it I'm posting the link at the bottom of the article.

      This trend in celebrity VO is indeed true, and can be frustrating to those of us who are trained, have great track records, and rely on VO for our livelihood. However, I choose to look at the glass half full!

     Let me elaborate: -When I got into the business 30 years ago, there were 3 networks. Today, there are 500 plus cable networks, all needing promo voices, narration, and commercials. -When I got into the business there were only Saturday morning cartoons, occupying 3-5 hours of programming per network/per week. Today, there are complete networks/channels devoted to animation. From Disney Channel, to Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, etc. - Home studios were for the wealthiest and most successful voice actors 30 years ago. Today, for under $500 you have a broadcast quality home studio. And, you can travel with your studio enabling you to keep working/auditioning. -30 years ago Disney released an animated feature every 5-7 years. Today, every major animation studio has a thriving animation department, releasing dozens of animated features a year.

     Since the 90s I've been fortunate to have worked on almost every Disney/Pixar feature, as well as features for Sony, FOX, Dreamworks, etc. Never the lead, but as a utility player able to provide a variety of characters and voices that celebs cannot do. Would I like to play the lead? My ego says yes. But the guy who loves what he does is creatively fulfilled. And, the residuals are splendid! So, should I be worried about celebrities taking vo gigs? For me, it's a waste of time worrying about what I cannot control. Which leaves me a slew of time being positive and proactive as I pursue all that IS available to me. There have never been more opportunities for voice actors than today.

     Now, the REAL threat is the fact that many pros estimate that 40% of what was union vo work 30 years ago is now non union. The bright side of that, at least in animation, IS (or is it are??) celebrities. Since animation uses celebs so often, animation is relatively safe from the erosion of non union.