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Jamie Thomason: Casting and
Directing Disney Television

by Heather Kenyon

Jamie Thomason. Courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

As Director of Casting at Walt Disney Television Animation, Jamie Thomason not only casts, but also performs the majority of the voice directing for Disney's animated televisions shows. He arguably directs more episodes (and actors) of television animation than any current director in the industry. His credits include virtually every series Walt Disney Television Animation has produced since 1991, including Disney's Hercules, noted as the largest single-season voice cast in the history of television animation with 166 voices.

Animation World was lucky enough to get a few moments of this busy man's time...

Heather Kenyon: How did you get this job? It seems like the job everyone would want.

Jamie Thomason: My experience includes working in casting at Hanna-Barbara, working as a voice agent, and directing for theatre and some independent films. Disney had been freelancing the casting of its television animation, and the company was looking to start a department. I was brought aboard to create the Walt Disney Television Animation casting department.

It was a golden opportunity for me in that I wanted to direct, and it was a real fast track to directing. Within a few months I was directing a top-rated series, and I haven't stopped directing since. I like directing in all mediums, but directing voices is great because it's a very free way to work and there's an immediate gratification for both the director and actor. There's no hot lights, no make-up or wardrobe -- you just walk in and start having fun.

HK: How do you determine a person is correct for a part?

JT: It's just like casting for anything else. There are a variety of factors that make one person better than another. In voice-over, specifically, the way a voice sounds is important, but it also has a lot to do with the person's acting, and their take on the character. Sometimes you'll have one thing in mind for a character, but an actor goes a completely different direction, maybe doing something that hadn't even occurred to you. If it's a great take on the character, then you have the flexibility to make that choice in casting.

HK: What are the key aspects of a performance that you strive to capture?

JT: Ultimately my choices are based more on acting than it is about the sound. The sound is important, but when I go into the booth, I'm much more concerned about capturing the emotion of the scene, whether it's heavy drama or wacky slapstick.

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