Wednesday, July 23, 2008


That was my line in a commercial today. I was "Mr. Farmer." The kids were goats. (There was no romance involved in a backstory.) The commercial was for urological and gynecological robot-assisted surgery in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. What's it got to do with goats? Good question. It has to do with answering the question of what people live for. I will probably never hear the assembled commercial which involved a cast of four. None of the others were at the session.

I used to do commercials and other voicework for a living. This is when I lived on the west coast - I had 3 agents - San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles... and they kept me busy and nicely employed. Even then, it was a career move full of rejection. Many auditions, considerably fewer jobs. All too often I would drive 125miles to LA, fight traffic, audition for one line or two, then haul ass back down the freeway.

It's worse today. I am told that each job requires about 200 auditions. Agencies search for the perfect voice (of course it's all subjective) and maybe pad their hours worked by doing so. Beats me. I am far down the line.

What really changed everything was the internet. Now anyone anywhere can be 'invited' to audition by agents or paid services. You have to have a home studio and be able to send the audio via email. So what was once a smaller large group is a virtual huge group all competing for the same work.

Those lucky enough to be at or near the top of the food voice chain are hired by those who know them. The rest of us struggle. I doubt I could survive very nicely on this today, the way I did back in the 80s.

Today's session required a drive to the studio (about a gallon away.) After a nice chat with the engineer, he hooked me by telephone line to the ad agency in Madison Wisconsin, and, as standard practise, I began 'doing' my line so he could set up levels, etc.

"That's terrible" came back the voice from Wisconsin. Wow. Immediate bad feeling. The producer then explained gruffly that he meant the quality of the connection. But to an actor, when you hear those words, it's tough to recover. Sensitive folks, we are, after all the rejection we get just in the auditioning process.

Well, I gave them the line this way and that and that and then with direction another dozen times, never ever feeling I really nailed it. Who knows?

Mr. Farmer and his goats won't likely even be noticed by those preoccupied by or suffering from urological or gynecological problems in Cedar Rapids anyway.

No comments: