Frank Welker: Master of Many Voices
(continued from page 7)

Advice From The Master
For those who do want to be voiceover actors, and compete with the likes of June Foray, Tress MacNeille, Rob Paulsen, Jeff Bennett, Maurice LaMarche, Jim Cummings, Will Ryan, Billy West, Joe Alaskey and himself, Frank Welker offers several suggestions.

"Believe in yourself and you can do anything that you want to do, if you allow yourself to do it, if you have the talent to do it.

"But be realistic. Set your goals high, but understand what your limitations are -- and then go beyond those.

"Technically, you should practice reading. Try to have the widest range possible because now, more than ever, animation directors and producers are looking for people who can do multiple voices, to save time and help out on their budgets.

"That's not to say that you can't have a really unique voice, just one voice, and work all the time. Because there's people who do that, too. Such as Lorenzo Music. He's known for his unique voice, even though he does other voices. He's typecast as himself. Go figure.

"It's good to be able to do impressions of other people and of other characters, but, you've got to start developing your own style, your own voices. If you do an old person, it's going to sound like you’re doing an old person. But if you do Daffy Duck, it's going to be you trying to sound like Mel Blanc (or now, Joe Alaskey) doing Daffy Duck. You don't want to do that. You may want to do that for fun, but you don't want to do that for business. Do as many characters and people that you can do yourself.

"Studios will have a drawing of a character they're trying to find a voice for. That's when you create the voice. You become the new Mel Blanc, or Joe Alaskey, or whoever."

Welker reveals that he has never had any formal acting lessons, having been trained on the job. Moreover, he says, "I didn't like acting schools for on-camera or off-camera. I always felt that that would tend to interfere with your basic instincts. If your instincts weren't correct, you know that on your own.

"If you got some teacher piddling with you, then you really start worrying about, 'Gee, I'd better not do it that way because it'll be wrong.' What's ‘wrong?’

"I think, technically, if you don't know how to perform in front of a microphone or how to use a microphone, you learn those things with time.

"If I was going to recommend something to somebody, I'd say, 'Stay away from acting coaches. Stay away from classes. Go for the plays. Read for everything that you can get your hands on, and work. Go to the middle theater and go to auditions. Just let yourself come out.’

"Voiceover classes are a different deal, because you can learn technique, how to work on a mike, how to use your voice, as opposed to how to act. As soon as somebody tells you how to act, then I would say, 'Get a bus ticket out of town.'"

Once a budding young actor feels he's ready to "break in," Welker advises preparing a demo tape.

"The first step would be to get a demo tape. It doesn't have to be slick. It should sound professional, though. Don't just use a hand-held tape recorder. Make it so it's legible to the ear. If you can do a tape that shows your versatility and your sound, it doesn't have to be your final demo tape. It just has to be an introduction to your agent.

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