It's Just a Job to Mike…

When the denizens of social media ask me to discuss specific minute details about a particular project on which I've worked, others are quick to jump in and point out, "Oh, Mike wouldn't know. It's just a job to him. He only does it for the money."

Well, that really fries my (Evil) ham. Please allow me to explain.

When I was a kid and realized I loved acting, I was lucky enough to audition for, and get cast in, school plays. I'd rehearse for hours after school, month after month, all for a weekend or two of performances, and all for the sheer joy of doing it. It was my passion.

When I graduated from college and had my first radio gig, I was lucky enough to audition for, and get cast in, community theater plays. Again, I'd rehearse for hours after work, month after month, all for a weekend or two of performances, and again, all for the sheer joy of doing it. I was still passionate about it. The only difference being that by then I had bills to pay, and a job providing funds with which to pay them. As I'm fond of saying, "When you're an adult, food, clothing and shelter aren't free."

Eventually, the radio industry decided it had had enough of me and kicked me to the curb for the last time, at least so far. After years of moonlighting on my day job by doing voice over work, including dubbing some of the cartoons you knew and loved as a child, I decided to take the plunge and let voice acting become my day job, and it has been ever since. I still find joy doing it. I'm still passionate about it. But now it also pays for my food, clothing and shelter, which still aren't free.

Contrary to popular opinion, not all of the world's jobs are synonymous with drudgery. I love my job. No matter what I'm voicing at any given time, it's almost guaranteed to be more fun than humans are allowed to have.

Now, as for the details you expect me to know but I usually don't, let me share my feelings on that topic. One thing I've learned over the years in this business is: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. You've probably heard about film actors extensively researching a rôle. In voice acting, that's really not practical for a few reasons. If you're voicing a newly created character, there's nothing to research because the character hasn't existed before. If you're voicing a pre-existing character, especially when dubbing a foreign language piece, the producers may be adapting the project in a way that may not exactly reflect the story-line of the original, so bringing your own researched knowledge of the previous backstory to a recording session may put you in conflict with the desires of the production team, and that's not going to end well. And as is most often the case, there's simply no time for research. Much of the time I won't even see a full script until I get to the studio to record, and I rely on the director to tell me what I need to know. And if I'm dubbing something, I'll probably only be reading my own lines and not the entire script, so I won't have all the details of the story behind me. Recording sessions are usually structured for maximum economic efficiency rather than maximum talent-entertainment value.

Remember, clients don't book me to be a fan. They book me to be a good performer. If companies only hired fans you might not get the best performances, that's why they cast professional actors.