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Voice castring considerations and options




There are few subjects in our business that get folks excited more than the question of whether or not to use union talent (SAG) for your voice tracks.  As in politics, sports, economics or art, opinions differ and often can be hardened and immutable on the topic.  

I have been on both sides of this question and come down squarely on the fence.

There can be no argument that the largest and most talented pool of voice over artists is the world (at least English speaking world) is represented and controlled by the Screen Actor’s Guild.  This is a big Duh!.  If you are able you go with SAG you have a great selection of talent to work with and that’s what you do…. You’re blessed; you get to work with some wonderfully creative and gifted professionals and given competent casting and direction you most certainly will get great tracks. 

But wait, there may be an occasion that for any number of reasons, you can’t sign a

SAG contract even though you wished you could so what do you do?

Well, you do what many others have done, you find union people that will work non-union as long as their names are not used in the credits, you cast non-union actors for the parts or you go North and cast and record in Canada or if you fancy a trip abroad, go to London.

Before you get all bothered and start looking for your slingshot, I am not advocating any of these options, I merely point out that they exist and people have gone this route when need demanded.

What should the deciding factors be?  Simple, there is really only one for a producer; you must always do everything you can to get best performances possible.  That means SAG if you are able and if not, than you must work a lot harder and have a bit of luck to get good, solid tracks. 

For those of you that feel there is a moral and or ethical question here, you are wrong.  I would always advise working union if possible, not on moral grounds but because you will have a far better chance to get what you need and want.  I've been in the Union and got screwed by producers and I was a producer and got screwed by the Union - It's a two way street so better to be realistic. 

I’ll have more to say about all of this in a future post but for now I’ll close by advising anyone weighing this question to consider everything carefully.  Get all the information you can, check the SAG and AFTRA sites and see what you are facing currently.  The big issue normally is the availability of a buyout.  Both Toronto and Vancouver have very active and professional recording industries and the Internet has lots of information. 

The best animation and script can be easily be marginalized by a weak or sloppy track.  Be careful here – a great track can save weak animation but not the other way around.