The VO Meter Episode 43, Bob Bergen
[00:00:00] Female announcer: The VO meter, measuring your voiceover progress. The VO meter is brought to you by voice actor websites,vocal booth to go, podcasts, demos.com global voice acting Academy, J M C demos and IP DTL, and now your host, Paul Stefano and Sean Daeley.
Paul Stefano: Hello everyone, and welcome to episode 43 of the vo meter,
Sean Daeley: measuring your voice over progress.
Paul Stefano: We are extremely excited about today’s guests because I’ve been chasing him since probably the first day I ever. Started talking to a microphone, or maybe professionally at least, but we’re, we’re pleased to welcome the one and only pig himself, Bob Bergen, who you may know as the voice of Porky pig for the last several decades, but has a number of other things as well.
And we’re so happy to have him on the show,
[00:01:00] Sean Daeley: but he had video video. That’s all folks actually know. We have an entire episode coming up, but yes, thank you so much, Bob, preemptively for joining us on our podcast. We are so excited to have you.
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Sean Daeley: We’ll have Bob on the podcast soon. But before that, and we wanted to talk about some of our sponsors. First off, vocal booth to go. All right, so if you have been listening to the podcast for awhile, you know that we’re huge fans of Voco boot to go vocal. Two goes patented. Acoustic blankets are an effective alternative to expensive soundproofing, often used by vocal and voiceover professionals, engineers and studios is an affordable soundproofing and absorption solution.
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Paul Stefano: Thanks to all the fine folks at Boca booth to go once again, uh, as you’ve seen on all the social media channels, I’m always promoting their products whenever I can, cause I just love him that much. So thanks again to Boca with to go. So before we get to our esteemed guests, Bob Bergen, we’re actually going to go into our.
Bob Bergen: Voiceover extra brings you [00:03:00] the VO meter reference levels. Uh, seriously, guys, that’s the best you could come up with. Hey, it’s your show.
Paul Stefano: So Sean, what’s going on in your BL world? Oh
Sean Daeley: my gosh, a lot. It has been a crazy month. I’m been doing a lot of stuff for my own, uh, VO career and for global voice acting Academy.
Uh, I just represented them at VO North in Toronto about two weeks ago. Met a lot of wonderful new voice talent. Got to reconnect with some, uh, some industry professionals that we’ve seen at a few of the other larger conferences like VO Atlanta or, uh, Mevo. The mid Atlantic voiceover conference, uh, had a wonderful time.
And then I had an amazing training opportunity, right in my own hometown in Seattle called the vio road show with, uh, some amazing, uh, voiceover coaches and various genres with us, Scott Parkin, going over the importance of improv and, um, in theater training. And then Marilyn Wisner working on commercials, [00:04:00] uh, and then working on promo and narration with Jeff Howe.
Uh, it was just. Uh, it was just so packed with VO knowledge and insight and just so many wonderful tips and techniques, but it’s just an amazing day.
Paul Stefano: Tom Pinto was there too, right?
Sean Daeley: And now he wasn’t an . So Tom does work with the VO road show, but the, the lineup changes depending on their schedule and where they’re going.
So, uh, but yeah, so it’s usually like it’s held by Marilyn Wister, and then depending on who else can go, um, the lineup will change. Like I said, so, but if you ever have the chance, like this is some of the best training in the country, if not the world that you can get. So keep an ear out for the VO road show coming.
Like they do workshops throughout . The United States. So definitely keep your eyes, ears posted for that. I just finished my, uh, my monthly e-learning projects and Paula, you actually helped me out quite a bit this month. Like not only did he voice some, uh, scripts for me this month, but he also helped do some [00:05:00] sizable editing for me and my, my tendinitis.
Thanks you very much.
Paul Stefano: I appreciate the opportunity. Oh,
Sean Daeley: Hey, you’re a good, reliable talent and you, you’ve got quick turnaround when I needed it. So thank you again. And then last but not least, I was helping a good friend of the podcast, Steven rieseberg, he’s a booth director out of Hollywood, California.
And he’s doing his introduction to commercial voiceover class with global voice acting Academy. So I was just kind of moderating that and making sure everyone got equal time at the mic and just kind of helping field in questions for Steven. So I guess the theme of the month has been education all around.
Paul Stefano: You’re never, you should never stop learning if you’re doing it
Sean Daeley: right. Definitely not. And I’ve actually been talking with some people like, uh, with a friend of mine who is kind of. I couldn’t help but notice that like he had kind of not really progressed in the last year or two and
Paul Stefano: a bit . No,
Sean Daeley: no, not at all, man.
You don’t sit on your laurels like [00:06:00] you’re a, you’re a rune stone. But, um, but anyways, and, and that was the thing. He’s like, he hadn’t really invested anything like, and unfortunately it was kind of the thing that was holding him back. Like he wasn’t like, he wasn’t investing in training or like any kind of, uh, workshops or classes or anything like that.
And he felt stuck. And so I was just kind of like, you just, you have to get back to basics. Like you can’t cut corners or take shortcuts because you’re just shortchanging yourself and you’re not going to get the results you want if you don’t have a competitive product that you’re selling. So, uh, I think a lot of people kind of.
They enjoy some initial success due to their own, their own talent and their own persistence and perseverance, but then eventually you hit plateaus. And when those happen, I think it’s more important than ever to kind of get back to fundamentals and maybe get an outside opinion on your reads and make sure that they are as competitive as you think, and if they’re not, then train [00:07:00] accordingly.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, we’ve talked about it before, but I like to make a lot of sports analogies and every, every major league baseball team has a specific hitting coach because even though they’re the best players in the world, they still need to tweak their, their technique every once in a while actually, they take, they took a daily’s in some cases to make sure they’re on top of their game, and that’s the way we should really approach it too.
Sean Daeley: Definitely. I mean, once you get bitten by the vio bug, I think you’re kind of like. You’re stuck for life pretty much. There’s always more things to learn and more ways to improve.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, absolutely.
Sean Daeley: Well, anyways, I’ve been written about my current events for awhile. What about you, Paul?
Paul Stefano: I have a couple of cool things going on.
Mostly on the audio book front. Which is why I’ve been spending most of my time. I just wrapped production on the sixth book in a series for my pseudonym and a nother title also for the pseudonym, the fourth book in that series, and I’m about to embark on the fifth for the same author. So that’s rolling well.
[00:08:00] And I also signed with a new agent, a local agent, sort of, it’s in Philadelphia. As just listeners may know. I live in Baltimore, but I’m from Philadelphia, so I was lucky enough to be introduced to an agency in Philadelphia by Lisa lettered, who’s been on the show. We interviewed her at Mevo last year, and I’m now proud to be part of the Reinhard agency in Philadelphia.
They do some on camera. I do print and, and film and TV, but also a voiceover. So I’m really excited to be working with them and looking forward to some cool auditions from
Sean Daeley: them. Very cool. Congratulations.
Paul Stefano: Thank you. Yeah, it’s something I was talking to another, another talent. Speaking of events, uh, uncle Roy’s barbecue is recently, and I was talking to John Henry Krauss there who’s also on that roster.
And the main thing I really wanted to have was representation and why still sort of consider my hometown. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, so having that on my website. Yeah. So having that on my website as, as [00:09:00] being represented in my home city, it makes me feel pretty good. So excited about that.
Sean Daeley: Well. Very cool. Well, speaking of, uh, reaching out to agencies and stuff like that, I actually was able, I was actually training to, or I’m kind of soliciting one agency that I’ve had in mind for a while, but they have a very stringent submission process, including two scripts that they have on their website that they want.
Talent to submit. And so since I worked with Steve and Reese Berg recently, I was like, Hey Steven, do you mind if I book some time with you? And we can kind of look at these things and make sure I’m giving them what they want. And so, and that’s another thing I recommend when you have an important audition or like in a a submission script like this, getting outside opinion, like a trusted coach or colleague or someone like that to kind of help you through it.
So. Like I feel, I felt pretty confident about my reads before, but now, now I’m extremely confident about my rates and I’m not really worried about submitting, so I’m just going to set it and forget it and hope for the best.
Paul Stefano: That’s great. And some coaches we, we’ve [00:10:00] worked with or talked to in the past actually have a service, whether it for us a fee, but a really reasonable fee.
They will do auditions, specific coaching. Every Oliver’s when it comes to mind, he, he still has that surface. At my booth, director.com and I’ve used it a lot for really important auditions where he gets you ready for that one specific read and you feel much more confident afterward.
Sean Daeley: I mean, it’s all about confidence.
It just comes across in the reads and then you just feel like whether you get it or not, you feel good about the performance
Paul Stefano: right. And then two more event-based things we want to talk about. I was at the vocation conference, the inaugural vocation conference, and hopefully some of our listeners, I listened to some of the mini sows I’ve put out over the last couple of weeks.
That was really good, a great experience. I really want to thank Jamie. Moffitt and carne Gill free for allowing the VO meter, first of all, to be present there and then also allowing me to present at the conference. We’ll have a whole episode devoted to that and be on North vice. What to mention if you haven’t already, go and check out some of those mini episodes because like I have to say, not to toot my own [00:11:00] horn, but I got some really good.
Interviews with some of the people there.
Sean Daeley: Definitely. I highly recommend it. And then could have been there too.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, but it was the week before and be on North and I really wanted to be in Toronto, but I really couldn’t do both and I know you couldn’t either, so it was good. We can divide and conquer like that and, and get to both events.
Sean Daeley: Exactly. That’s great. We’ll have to reconnect in Virginia or something. Who knows. Here we go.
Paul Stefano: And the last event based thing I want to mention is I have been invited to be a presenter again at the. Camp VL conference, which is happening April 30th through May 3rd it’s going to be in Texas. It’s being put on by Liz Atherton at cast voices, and some of the people you mentioned actually are going to be there.
Scott Parkin is going to be the MC and presenting. Um, Everett is going to be there too. Uncle Roy is going to be there and a bunch of other coaches and, and talent all at an actual camp, which is gonna be fantastic. So everything’s going to be camp theme, y’all right? A campfire singing campfire songs and [00:12:00] roasting s’mores and sleeping in bunks.
Sean Daeley: It’s going to be an obstacle course.
Paul Stefano: Maybe. Uh, maybe some canoeing and kayaking. I dunno. It’s gonna be, it’s gonna be really exciting. I can’t wait settling. So registration is open now if you want, look up on Facebook and there was an event page there. Um, if not, contact me and I’ll send you the information how to register.
There’s only 150 participants capped. So if you want to get in and get in now and we’ll see you, it can’t be L
Sean Daeley: very cool looking graduations on that too, man. Sounds like it’s been a big month for you.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, it’s been fun. So we’ll get to the interview with Bob Bergen in just a moment. But before we do, I want to tell you about our sponsor Tim page and podcast demos.com now, Tim seam has produced over 1000 podcast intros for some of the biggest podcasts on the planet.
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Sean Daeley: All right. Thanks again, Tim and podcast demos.com so we’ll get into our interview with Bob in just a few minutes, but before that, it’s time for course.
Bob Bergen: Oh,
Sean Daeley: through pitch. Do you have any GPS this month? Paul?
Paul Stefano: I do on, unfortunately,
Sean Daeley: I was joking.
Paul Stefano: We talked about this might be a transitional point for us on the podcast [00:14:00] maybe. I mean, seriously, I doubt it
Sean Daeley: if I can take it seriously, but maybe we should tell them what we’re talking about first before they’re too confused.
Paul Stefano: Yeah. So you brought up, she brought up the topic, so why don’t you introduce it?
Sean Daeley: So I was joking with Paul the other day and like, let, let me just preface it this by saying I am very happy and blessed to have all the equipment I have. I’ve got like, I’m very happy with the microphones I have. I’m happy with the setup.
I have. But even so, I was like looking on all the usual spots on eBay and reverb and the Sweetwater use gear marketplace and what have you, and it was like, Oh, look at all those TLM one Oh threes for $600 and then Paul was like, no, Sean,
Bob Bergen: walk off the ledge. What’s wrong with you man?
Sean Daeley: I was like, I’m just looking at Paul.
Paul Stefano: This is me talking.
Sean Daeley: I know. And that was the weirdest thing is like we just kind of, it’s like a freaky Friday kind of moment. And, and so I think that’s part of it, is that, I [00:15:00] mean, I’ve been using the same setup now for probably like the last, at least half a year, if not like eight months or so.
And then like, I think the only other thing I’ve bought since then was the Apogee mic that I mentioned a few episodes ago. And again, that serves a pretty specific purpose, but it was just funny to me is like this idea that you. Even though you’re completely happy with your setup. I mean, you’ve got like you’ve, you’ve got all of your knobs dialed in and you’ve got all of your plugins or what have you or everything is kind of adjusted to you.
There’s still that little shoulder devil, that little voice in the back of your head that’s like. What if you had that one Oh three again. You used to love it. You have the sound shot. Why did you let it go?
Bob Bergen: Um,
Sean Daeley: it distance stuff, make the heart grow fonder. I does and, but I mean, there comes a point where, I mean, you just have to put the practical hat back on and be like, no, you’re fine.
It was, it was too [00:16:00] sensitive. It was not meant to be maybe another time. And so luckily I was able to kind of prevent, I talked or thanks to Paul, like kind of, we talked me off of the cliff and I didn’t make any questionable gear purchases this time.
Paul Stefano: So yeah, we basically are thinking maybe we might have to sunset the segment again.
I don’t trust myself nor Shawn to really do that, but. The idea is we think we’ve hit the point of diminishing returns and, uh, I’ll go out with a bang with this, this last hurrah in a segment I’m now using for the third time a road Procast air dynamic, Mike. And the weird thing is I actually think about a defective one before and didn’t realize it.
I ended up returning it because I. Didn’t like the way it sounded, but what happened was when I plugged it in, it had no gain whatsoever. And I thought that was just the way it sounded. But it turns out that I must’ve had the fact that one, because I plug this one in and it was just sweet and I have enough, [00:17:00] uh, it’s a dynamic, but I have enough gain from my ago six that I can power it without any distortion whatsoever.
And it’s kind of exactly what I needed for the audio books in long form narration. And honestly, I’ve been using it for most everything lately. We had an interview. Um, that’s coming up in a couple of weeks, maybe a month with, um, the folks at Lotus. And they said. Hey, that sounds great. So if they think it sounds great, who might argue?
And that’s my, the point that come through right now is that I need to stop because I’ve hit the point of diminishing returns. At some point you have to be happy with what you have and know that because you’re booking work and people are paying you for it, you probably don’t need to mess with it.
Sean Daeley: Next month on questionable gear purchases.
Paul goes off the deep end, but
Paul Stefano: I make no guarantees.
Sean Daeley: I know, I know. I’m just, I’m just teasing. But that’s the thing is it’s like, it’s so easy and, and people go through this at all stages of their career. This idea that the equipment will somehow give [00:18:00] you, like, we’ll give you an edge or give you the edge.
You know? And it’s not true. I mean, just yesterday I was helping. A colleague of mine, Sunday news is this wonderful animation actress who works out of Canada and LA, and there was somebody there who’s just like, what do I like? What is the best animation, Mike, do I need that? And I was like, no, you don’t need the most expensive Mike.
Not everyone is going to benefit from a UAT seven or a one Oh three and I was like, there’s plenty of Mike’s in the like the 300 200 and now sub 200 category that will be just fine for wherever you’re at. And. And if you get to that point, and like we also talked about like whether or not an isolation booth, like a whisper room or a studio bricks was necessary.
And I really feel like you will know, like you will be able to answer for yourself these questions when they. Become an issue for you because if you realize I need quiet 24 seven yes, you [00:19:00] need a controlled space, which might be an ISO booth or a purpose built room. Like if you are, if a studio asks you, do you have a one Oh three or four 16 then maybe you need those things to work with those people, but until you’re being presented with those questions.
Whatever you have, whatever you can afford is probably doing you just fine.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, absolutely. So hang in there with whatever you have. Um, we’ve, we’ve. We quoted our friends at VOB asked quite a bit, but I’ll say it again, Dan Leonard likes to say the best mic for VO is the one you have with a few exceptions
Sean Daeley: with a few exceptions.
Paul Stefano: Yeah. So check back next next month where it will be absolute liars,
Sean Daeley: completely contradict
Paul Stefano: ourselves, but hopefully we’ll come up with something else to, to fill this hole in the, in the, uh, in the episodes,
Sean Daeley: sensible gear purchases.
Paul Stefano: Maybe.
Sean Daeley: Maybe so that wraps up this month. Questionable gear purchases. Before we jump into our interview with Bob, [00:20:00] I just want to tell you about our, one of our great sponsors, IP DTL.
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They’re expensive. You have limited or no control, and it takes forever to get one built and go live. So what’s the best way to get you online? In no time go to voice actor websites.com like our name implies, voice actor websites.com just does websites for voice actors. We believe in creating fast, mobile [00:21:00] friendly, responsive, highly functional designs that are easy to read and easy to use.
You have full control. No need to hire someone every time you want to make a change and are upfront pricing means you know exactly what your costs are ahead of time. You can get your voiceover website going for as little as $700 so if you want your voice actor website without the hassle of complexity and dealing with too many options, go to a voice actor websites.com where your VO website shouldn’t be a pain in the, you know what?
Sean Daeley: Hi everybody, and welcome to this interview portion of the VO meter. Our guest today really needs no introduction, but his list of credits is so impressive. I’m going to do one anyway, so you probably know him as the voice of Porky pig, but not only has he also voiced Tweety bird, speedy Gonzalez, and numerous other iconic characters from the Looney tunes franchise.
He’s provided countless voices for commercials or tunes, video games, anime and animated features for the last 40 years, including my [00:22:00] personal favorite Bucky, the squirrel from the emperor’s new groove. In addition to this impressive list of credits Bob has spent the last 30 years teaching and mentoring aspiring talent from all ages and walks of life.
Ladies and gentlemen, our guest today is the incredible Bob Bergen. How are you doing,
Paul Stefano: Bob? That was
Bob Bergen: a little booming. I’m just kidding.
Paul Stefano: thanks Bob. Thanks for being here
Bob Bergen: guys. Fight over me. We’re doing it.
Paul Stefano: Bob, before we get started, I just wanted to say thanks because you may not know this, but I’ve talked about this on the show health or a certain few people that I really credit with launching my career, a career as fledgling as it is, but you were one of those people that.
Took me under their wing virtually early on and gave me some great advice. It really set me on the right path and I want to thank you too in person to all of our listeners for, for doing that and being such a great mentor.
Bob Bergen: Well, I appreciate that. And let me just say that you are one of those people who I saw just [00:23:00] asking the smart questions and got an asking.
Those of us who work, guys, what do I need to do? How can I make this better? So I appreciate that you were so driven.
Paul Stefano: Well. Again, it’s, it’s, it’s mostly due to your expert to tillage along with the other people I’ve mentioned in the show. But just want to thank you again,
Bob Bergen: Mike letter.
Paul Stefano: So
Sean Daeley: in just tacky or nevermind, go ahead.
It’s going to be too long if we just spend the next hour just talking about how great Bob is. Yeah.
Paul Stefano: Although we could
Sean Daeley: do this one. A tech, my thinks on DePaul’s. Oh,
Bob Bergen: my pleasure guys.
Paul Stefano: So, Bob, uh, we have a lot of new talent that are listeners and subscribers to the podcast and as such, that the first thing we want to ask you is.
Now in, in the year 2019, how would you suggest people go about starting their career in voiceover?
Bob Bergen: Uh, I think they need to answer that question by asking themselves another question. What do they want out of their career in voiceover? Because the answer of how you started, uh, is based on what you want out of it.
Paul Stefano: Okay, fair enough. So let’s say someone [00:24:00] started their, their journey and they’re looking for information or maybe even started jumping in, doing some recording. What’s the biggest mistake people make when jumping into VL?
Bob Bergen: They’re starting to record you don’t record because you want to, you, you study acting, you study improv, you become.
The best actor you possibly can. Then you study voiceover and you allow this process to happen organically. You know, those of us who are working in the business, and those of us who started when I did, didn’t just buy home studio equipment and say, now I’m ready to record. It might be ready to push buttons, but you’re not necessarily ready to go out there and show your wares.
So my suggestion to anybody, no matter what you want out of your voiceover career, is study acting, become a really, really, really good actor. Study improv. Then you study voiceover and you figure out where you fit into the industry and that’ll, that’ll also happen organically as you hit the copy. As you take different classes, you might find, Oh my gosh, well everybody has to do commercials.
But you might go, Hey, [00:25:00] I love doing commercials. I hate doing promo. I love doing from, Oh, I hate doing their ration. I can’t stand audio books, but I love games. So that just happens with time and experience, but it has nothing to do with having a home studio.
Sean Daeley: So do you find that’s what, since you’ve worked with so many different acting students, do you find that’s what they struggle with the most, is just lacking that foundation.
Bob Bergen: Uh, yes and no. Uh, for what I do, I don’t allow anybody to take my class unless they’ve got an acting foundation. Um, what I found is, and this has happened with, I can had Emmy and Oscar winning and nominated actors take my class and I found, Oh, they can’t do it to a microphone. They’re wonderful actors for a camera, but they have a difficult time adjusting technically for the mic.
So that’s, that’s what they need to learn is how to do the technical aspects of voiceover and still keep their acting authentic. But the majority of the people pursuing at least animation today are actors. And they come to the [00:26:00] mic, they come to the class. With a solid acting background. Now, when I say solid acting background, for me, that could be college drama.
That could be high school drama. But you can’t use my class as your introduction to voiceover because you’re going to be spinning your wheels and wasting your money. I can’t take your check if I’m your first class, cause it’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s a disservice to you.
Paul Stefano: Wow. That’s great to hear. So you actually turn people away if they’re not a right fit for your, for your styling and coaching curriculum.
Bob Bergen: Oh. Almost every day of my life. Someone will contact me and say, I’m interested in your class, and my class does have a long wait list. So if they don’t have any experience, I’ll still put them on my list and say, now you’ve got three years to study acting. So though, if they’re really interested in doing this, they’ll take my advice.
If what I’m advising them to do, which is to become a good actor, turns them off. They’re not right for this to begin with. Wow.
Sean Daeley: So you were talking a little bit about sort of technical adjustments, like how, uh, on camera have difficulty [00:27:00] or on camera actors have difficulty transitioning to voiceover. You have this longevity to you cause I feel like you have this adaptability when it comes to different genres and mediums.
So do you really approach, say like an animated feature differently from a video game or a commercial. Not
Bob Bergen: in the acting, but I do technically because in an animated feature. Well, you know, it’s interesting you use those as the comparisons because an animated feature as well as a game. You’re working solo, not Han solo by yourself.
So, so you’re seeing partners are rarely, if ever, in the room with you. You mentioned the emperor’s new groove. I never in my life have been in a studio with Patrick Warburton, but we have fabulous chemistry together on screen because I have a really good director. For a game. You’re working all by yourself.
The acting choices are identical. You’re still looking at the script and you’re still thinking to yourself all of those acting choices that we have to do be at voiceover or on camera. Who am I talking to? What’s our [00:28:00] relationship? Where are we in this scene? And how you deliver that, that performance is based on those choices.
The differences you’re seeing partner’s not there. The difference in on-camera is you can’t rely on a glance, Oh, look, that eye contact to convey your acting at all has to be done vocally. But as far as your acting technique, it’s exactly the
Paul Stefano: same. So Bob, I’m curious, you mentioned turning people away who aren’t, don’t have an acting background for your, for your courses.
I’m curious how many people, or what percentage of people that you’ve done that with, do you actually see stick around and maybe pop up a year or two later versus how many just, uh, put their head down between their legs and say, Oh, well, I’m just going to give up. Then.
Bob Bergen: I don’t know. I mean, I can tell you that I’m in the 30 plus years I’ve been teaching.
You know, and I, and I vet people pretty well when they call me about my class or they email me just to find out what their background is. I think I can count on [00:29:00] just one hand. The people who, the first time I saw them at the Mike realized, Oh, they’re not nearly as advanced as they think they are and refunded their money right there.
And then I’ve only had one other person, one person during that process who begged to stay in the class. And I said, okay. And it was a huge mistake. Because they wasted their money. They were not, they didn’t have the skillset to make choices and take direction. Without that skillset, you know, I can’t advance you.
I can’t take you from point a to point B. My goal is to take it, take it a point M if I can, but if I can’t take you a few steps more than one, which came in with, it was just not a good fit. So now on a little bit more specific and strict with my own rule that, I’m sorry, I just, I cannot. In, in good conscience, take your money if I don’t think that you’re going to grow in this class, but those who contact me, I would say the majority of the people that contacted me really do have an acting background.
First of all, I teach my eight week class [00:30:00] in LA, so the people pursuing voiceover in Los Angeles have more of an actor’s philosophy. Then people who study voiceover outside of Los Angeles, and because animation is primarily done in LA, there’s a perceived, uh, I guess a pecking order, uh, in pursuing animation voiceover in, in LA.
So there’s more actors, more of a, of a serious actor, a mindset here than, than elsewhere. And I do teach weekend classes around the country for my weekend classes. I’m a little bit more lenient. Because you know, my eight week class in Los Angeles is an entree. The weekend classes around the country.
That’s an appetizer. I’m teaching those classes for the person who goes, Oh my God, I want to do this and how do I do it? Well, you’ve got to move to LA. I’m booked. I’m, I’m, I’m teaching the weekend and the convention panels to look for that one person. I’m looking for me. I’m looking for the person that mirrors who I [00:31:00] was when I was starting out.
And everybody else is going to decide kind of nation’s not right for me. I don’t have it in me to move to LA. I don’t want to work that hard. I just want to do what I’m doing right here in my home studio. I’m loving my e-learning. I’m loving my audio books, and that’s fine with me, but sometimes you don’t even know if what you’re doing is what you want until you try their things.
No. For our
Paul Stefano: listeners to hear that, I want you to know that this is not Bob being mean or, or not wanting to help people. This is a sign of a good coach, someone that will actually turn you away if they don’t think you’re a good fit. So take those words to
Bob Bergen: heart. I also think that a really good demo producer won’t take somebody’s money if they don’t think that they’re.
They’re at demo level and any good demo producer can make any lousy actor sound brilliant with enough direction and some super editing, but it’s a disservice to the actor. Also a disservice to the demo producer when that actor tries to get noticed from that demo, gets a meeting with that [00:32:00] agent. Gets up to the microphone to fresh copy and can’t live up to that demo because that agent is going to say, who did your demo?
Because that agent or that casting director is going to make a mental note, or even sometimes a written note to avoid that demo producer because they’re sharks. They will take a a dollar from anybody who has a checkbook, and that’s, that to me is unethical.
Paul Stefano: Absolutely. Wonderful.
Sean Daeley: So we talked a little bit about skillset and can you give us some basic idea of what you feel skills in mindset wise are important for a successful animation voice actor.
Bob Bergen: Well, I will say that, you know, it is to your advantage to be versatile vocally, but it’s not necessary. You have to be a brilliant actor. The script is a skeleton. Your job is to give it a body. You need to be able to see that script. And if it’s a, if it’s a full writer’s script, which has exposition and the other characters dialogue, that’s gold.
We don’t always have. Well, writers scripts, oftentimes we just had the dialogue scripts. [00:33:00] But if you have the full writer’s script, you’ve got things to act and react to. So the really well trained actor is going to see between the lines and find intent to react to where the untrained actor or the mediocre actor is just going to see their lines and read their lines even by making choices in a funny voice, or just try to give it variety without the layers.
And there are. Many layers of specific intent. That’s your storytelling that you’re reacting to, that you, you make choices of what your character’s intent was before the scene ever started, which is what makes your audition interesting, which is what gets you a call back. These are the difficult parts of doing animation that.
Dee Bradley Baker and Billy West and Debbie dairy Berry. I can go on and on and on. Candy Milo do without thinking it’s instincts because they’re so brilliant at what they do. It’s, it’s how Streisand [00:34:00] approaches a song. It’s in her soul. It’s in her DNA. I don’t think she has to sit around and go, how do I tell this story accurately?
She just does it well and she’s been doing it well since she did nightclub performing back in the 60s. I think you’re born with this skill, but I think what acting classes do is they teach you or they bring to you very specific techniques so you can recreate these skills at well consistently.
Paul Stefano: When you get to that point where it becomes muscle memory, right?
Or even brain muscle memory, if you get to that point, you’re much better off focusing on your performance than having to focus on every nuance in the script.
Bob Bergen: When you’re at that point, your demo ready. It’s not, do I have enough voices for a character demo? When you’re at that point where you can take any script.
And give it a contemporary, believable read. Here’s the other thing that people need to understand about cartoons. Well, I’ll ask you guys that you guys do various genres of voiceover, correct? Yes, sir. So you both do commercials? Yep. Okay. So when it comes to your commercial demo, you want to make a [00:35:00] commercial demo that reflects commercials in 2019 you’re not going to take a piece of copy from 1980 right?
Paul Stefano: Yeah.
Bob Bergen: Same with promos. You’re going to do a promo. Uh, for your promo demo that reflects programming today, and that’s something that was on ABC in 1990, correct? Correct. Here’s the mistake. People make an animation, demos. They want to show off how many voices they can do, how many different characters they can do.
Here’s what they’re not thinking about. It’s the same thing that we think about for other demos. Where do I fit into today’s animation landscape? How do I fit into adult swim mate? Let’s say, let’s say robot chicken at midnight on cartoon network. As opposed to PBS kids at 7:00 AM as opposed to Bob’s burgers on Fox network as opposed to cartoon network at 3:00 PM as opposed to Disney XD and who directs those shows and who casts those shows and who produces those shows.
Because you’re going to know. If you [00:36:00] want to do a state farm commercial on your commercial demo, you’re going to research online. What is the state farms current flavor? Who is our intended audience? What are they advertising, and who are they advertising to? This is the layer to the character demo and the game demo.
That people don’t think about the ones that think about it, get an agent from their demo because they’re one step ahead of the herd who are just going, but I’ve got great voices. It’s not a back. How many voices do you do? How do you fit into the landscape of today’s animation industry?
Paul Stefano: That’s brilliant.
Sean Daeley: I hope our audience is taking notes cause it’s just first they got a masterclass on acting and now the guy went on marketing. So where to next? Wherever you guys want to go. All right.
Paul Stefano: Well Bob, you mentioned how demo production has changed in, in animation. What has changed most about the industry in general since you started, uh, several decades ago.
Bob Bergen: Uh, when I started out, it was so much more difficult to break into voiceover. When I started out, I took my [00:37:00] first class in 1978 I got my first cartoon in 1982 at that time, we had three networks. These networks, all they had was Saturday morning cartoons, a three to four hour block. The people working in animation, who were Janet Waldo Daws Butler, uh, June foray, Frank Welker, Michael , they had everybody they needed.
The opportunity to break in and play with these heavy hitters who could cover, and they didn’t hire kids back then. They hired adults to do kids’ voices. It was, and there were no animated features, maybe one every five to seven years. It was so much more difficult to break into animation back then. Cut to today we have 24 seven.
Animation networks. We have every major studio in Hollywood with a thriving animation department. We have primetime animation on multiple networks. There is, we have games. We have a webisodes. We have Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, that are producing animation both for children [00:38:00] and adults. There are more opportunities to break into animation today.
Then ever before for people to complain that it’s difficult to break into animation, should it try in 1982?
Paul Stefano: How does that make it easier or harder for someone who’s looking just to get started? For instance, can there be a paralysis by, by, uh, by analysis or an embarrassment of riches where they say, well, I just don’t know who to start with because there are so many networks.
Whereas when you were coming up, you just had a contact three producers or three, um, heads of a network,
Bob Bergen: and how did I find them?
Paul Stefano: Probably physically locking their doors.
Bob Bergen: Um, I actually had to wait to get an agent to introduce me to them. Now, I was fortunate that a family friend introduced me to Casey Casey , who introduced me to his agent.
I called Mel blank at home. I called Hanna-Barbera and they introduced me to Dawes Butler. I had a phone book, but people today, they’ve got the internet. You can from LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook to Instagram. [00:39:00] There is not one person from the studio head to the working actor who is not accessible. The least people can do today is decide what they want out of their career, let’s say, what they want out of their career.
I use robot chicken as an example before, because I worked on the show. So let’s say that’s their, their goal in life is to work on robot chicken. You go to IMD DB and you see that list of credits from writers to actors who’s worked on that show, and you see those lists, the list of actors, and you cross-referenced who their agents are, and you’re going to see the same agents, Atlas, DPM, CSD, SBV, AVO Abrams, artists.
Logic tells you you’ve got to be. With one of those agents, if you’re gonna get called for this show, and when these actors working on this show are called, if you’re with the same agent, that agent can pitch you along with that other actor being booked. So then you go to that agent’s website and you listen to their demos.
The availability to research what you want out of your animation [00:40:00] career is so accessible and available to every human being on the planet. Now, you might also look at that information and go. All these people live in Los Angeles. Hey, the logical brain side of my head says, I got to live in Los Angeles, da, da, da, da, da.
So I’m telling you right now, it is so much easier to prepare and plan. I’ll tell you what else you can do. If your goal in life is to do, let’s say, a Marvel animated series. Well, just research every Marvel animated series over the last five years. Who cast it? Who voice directed it, who acted in it, who are their agents.
You will see a casting director’s voice directors like Colette Sundermann, Kristy Reed. Um, those are the two that come to my mind right now. Cause those are the two I’ve worked on with Marvel. Well, so let’s say you get to the point where you are ready for representation. How, let’s say you’ve got an agent.
And you could get that audition from your agent for a brand new iron man series, and you say to your agent, whose was, whose voice directing and who’s gassing it? Is [00:41:00] Colette Sunderman. Go back to your research. Okay. She did three super Spiderman series. She did Marvel’s Avengers assemble. Let me watch a few episodes.
I get the feel. Let’s see who’s producing this show that I’m auditioning for. Ask your agent. Let’s see who produced these past shows. Ooh, a couple of the same producers. I know. The feel I know the style. So you can prepare your audition based on what they’ve done before. Is that what they’re looking for?
You don’t know. But odds are pretty good. So my point is people, there’s no excuse not to know how to pursue this business today. There was a huge excuse back when I started because I didn’t know. But I’ll tell you what I did do, guys. I made sure that I met and rubbed elbows with Don LA Fontaine, Danny dark, Ernie Anderson.
Um, uh, Frank Welker, uh, Don Messick, uh, June foray, I made sure that I, for what I wanted out of my career, which was the top, I did not associate with anybody who was below the top, whether [00:42:00] it was socially or through business. I worked my ass off. I didn’t want my name associated with anything less than what I really wanted out of my career because that was a waste of my time.
Sean Daeley: This is gold. It’s so, I mean, it’s so incredibly valuable and so refreshing to hear because even though. The, the, obviously the means of research have changed with the internet. Like that mindset of initiative and confidence in your own ability to find this information is a rarity these days. So I think it’s really important for people to take note of that and understand that they can, especially in this age of social media where you see people trying to reach out to the wisdom of the crowd to try and kind of help them plot out the point that they should be deciding for themselves.
Bob Bergen: Well, I will say this, and I’m not patting myself on the back, but I do think my kind of tenacity is a rarity, but it always has, since the very beginning of show business, this kind of nothing will stop me. I know what I want out of my [00:43:00] career, and I will do anything to get. It has always been there for the likes of Meryl Streep.
Jay Leno, David Letterman, Robin Williams. I could go on and on. Dustin Hoffman with the people who did not get into this to make a dime got into this to be the best. There’s a difference to this day. I don’t wake up everyday auditioning hoping to book it. I don’t wake up everyday hoping to make money at it.
I wake up every day, blessed that I can act and if I could get a booking out of it, that’s icing on the cake. I had a, I was at a Christmas party a few years ago at an agent’s office, and I was talking with Rob Paulson at the buffet table, and I said, buddy, did you get into this to make money? He goes, I’m still not into it to make money.
I never think about making a dime at this. Unfortunate. I said, that’s unfortunate byproduct to make money at this. And I said, but buddy. Everybody’s getting into this to make money. He goes, well, I know. And that’s, that’s, that’s a shame because that’s why [00:44:00] people settle. That’s why people do Fiverr because they just want to get paid at it.
They don’t want a career and they don’t want to be the best. And when, when Rob and I got into this business, I wanted to be was the best, the best actor you could possibly be.
Sean Daeley: So I believe we know the answer to this. I mean, you’ve got this, like we said, this incredible drive and your were wonderful at researching the, uh, your goals and kind of working toward them with this laser light focus.
But aside from being a great self-promoter, you seem to have an incredible relationship with your agents. So, uh, I wonder, do you feel that they’re still important today? And do you think they will still have that level of importance in the next five or 10 years?
Bob Bergen: Depends on what you want out of your career.
Um, I was told early on in my career, do not base the kind of representation and respect you get from your agent on your income. If your agent says, yes, I want to represent you, you have as much value as the actor is making seven figures. But what you need to do cause your agents are not [00:45:00] psychic, is to know exactly what you want out of your career and give your agent the very specific tools.
To be able to agent you. I’ll give you an example. Here’s something I teach my students. If you’re interested in working in animation to tell your agent, I want to work in animation, who doesn’t? Everybody does, but, but if you want anything out of your voiceover career, the more specific your goals, the more.
Specific in your results. So for people at the level of having a voiceover agent for animation in Los Angeles, they’ve, they’ve, they’ve, they’ve done certain things. They’ve probably trained, they probably have a great demo. They’re probably SAG-AFTRA and they’ve probably met a handful of the animation casting directors and buyers.
So what I, what I tell my students is, so let’s say you are with, I’m going to make up an agent right now, just for sake of conversation. You’re with AVO. Sandy Schneider, who’s the animation agent. Look at Sandy’s roster [00:46:00] of actors, and you’ll see names like candy Milo. You’ll see, uh, grey Griffin. Uh, you’ll see some really just brilliant animation actors and go to their eye MDB and see where they’ve worked.
Cross reference to who you’ve worked with, who you’ve had auditions for, who you’ve had callbacks for, and have a sit down with your agent. And say, now, listen, I’ve met Colette Sunderman. I’ve met West Gleason, I’ve worked for Charlie Adler. I’ve had final callbacks with Kristy Reed. You represent Greg Griffin who was on this series with Kristy Reed.
You work with candy Milo, who was on this series of this series and this series of the Colette Sunderman when they, when your actors get called for their series regular, please pitch me as an incidental. In fact, last week I just did a cold reading workshop. With Kristy Reed and it went really, really well.
So the actor represented by the agent has to sit down [00:47:00] and give them a body of work and goals to represent most actors. The moment they get that agent, they’ll pop on Facebook. Congratulate me. I just got an agent. Who cares? That’s not a reason to post. That’s a, that’s an ego brag, by the way, if you want to talk about.
How do you, how to ruin your career on social media. Ask me that later, but I don’t care if you have an agent. I don’t care if you’re with J E or stars in San Francisco. I don’t care if you’re with somebody in Orlando. You do the same thing for your career. You sign with a regional agent, you’re living in Dayton, and you sign with an agent in Portland.
You fly out to Portland and you have a dent. You take that agent to dinner and you. Give that agent a roadmap for what you want out of your career. 99% of her actors or his actors will not be doing this. The cream floats to the top, and if you really want to have a career in mind, give that same information to every agent you’ve got.
Paul Stefano: amazing how many people forget this as [00:48:00] a relationship business. I’ve, I’ve talked to so many people about contacting their agents and they say, well, I don’t know if I should be bothering them. Should I? Should I be asking my agent this. I remember one time I sent a, I put a note on Facebook, which you’ll probably not like that.
I send all my agents Christmas gifts and somebody said, wow, what a great idea. I said, that was not, it’s just common courtesy, huge to be a human being. It’s a relationship business. When it comes down to
Bob Bergen: me, it is a relationship business. I mean, that’s all actually it is, is, is just a series of relationships I just posted on my Facebook page.
Um, ways to get. An agent’s attention when submitting and you know you don’t put seeking representation in a subject line because that’s what everybody says, who won’t get representation. You don’t do a laundry list of, of jobs you’ve done because who cares? You give a list of the ad agencies, the commercial buyers, the casting directors, the relationships that you bring to the table, because that’s what you [00:49:00] have.
That’s, that has value. If the agent represent a rather, uh, has the same relationships with the same buyers, you’re a very easy sale. If you bring a relationship, the agent doesn’t know you bring an added value, but you nailed it. It is all about relationships. Certainly talent, certainly your skillset, but there’s so many talented people out there that cannot get arrested in this business because they have absolutely no idea how to put the business in the term show business.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, it really is amazing. So Bobby talked about how living in LA is still a must for doing animation. Do you think that will ever change? And if so,
Sean Daeley: how?
Bob Bergen: I do think it’ll change. And here’s why. Uh, 30 years ago, if you had told me that the majority of voiceover would be non-union, people could make a decent living non-union, and they would be living outside the major markets.
Auditioning for. Major products. I would have said, you crazy girl today. Today, that’s the reality. [00:50:00] So I can remember a few years ago, I was working at Disney and I asked the executive producer on a feature, would you ever consider hiring a voiceover actor outside of Los Angeles? And he said, not today. But he said, he goes, look through that glass.
What is the difference between looking through that glass at the actor in the booth or looking at a big screen TV over some technical Marvel where we could direct them remotely if they’re what we need, we’ll do that. But fortunately we have enough actors here today to do this. Now they will go to go to New York.
To hire, you know, that Broadway actor who can’t get, who can’t fly to LA to sing the song and the animated feature. But I think we’re many, many, many, many years away from that technical reality. But I would be arrogant to say that will never happen. Wonderful.
Sean Daeley: So Bob, I find, uh, we talked about this a little bit and you see it on social media [00:51:00] all the time.
This almost this resistance sometimes even bordering on animosity of sort of pursuing the traditional channels of going through agents and going to the union to become a successful working actor. So. I feel like a lot of people just don’t understand how the union can benefit their career and feel like they don’t know.
Always have our best interests in mind. So I know you have been a huge proponent for the union and have actively worked within it to try and make more positive changes for the voiceover industry. Would you mind telling us a little bit about that?
Bob Bergen: Well, I mean, I’ll also be the first one to say that I do understand and appreciate why the unit is not for everybody, but that’s only because over the last 20 years, the union has allowed the non-union, uh, landscape to grow.
Why is the union important to me? Well, um, I, again, I didn’t go into this to make money. I went into this for, to have a career. I could make money. Selling burgers, you know, flipping burgers, selling shirts. I can make [00:52:00] money. I had, I had four years of day jobs, night jobs, seven days a week, seven nights a week to pay my bills so I could pursue acting in what was considered a professional way.
What is professional? It’s not getting paid for it. See, that’s the difference in today’s world. People will call themselves a working actor if somebody cuts them a check because they acted . That’s not what I consider professional acting. I consider professional acting with professional standards, which comes with pension and health and residuals.
You’re, you’re vested in your pension. If you’re a union actor, if you make benefits in 10 years and benefits means you, you make a certain minimum every year. That was important to me because at 18 I knew someday I’m going to be 65 I knew that I needed health health plans and, and, and whatnot. That’s.
That’s any smart business person. I needed legal representation in case I wasn’t paid. And that’s what, that’s what comes with working union. But [00:53:00] we’re, we’re generations in with actors making a fabulous living at voiceover without the need of, of a union to supply their pension because they’re, they’re investing in stocks like most Americans do, and they’ve got private health care and they’ve got Obamacare, whatever.
So I totally understand people not wanting. Or needing the union. But here’s the thing, guys. It was always difficult to join the union. It was always hard to get vested. It was always difficult to make the minimum for health benefits. Nothing has changed there, but only differences. There are more people today going, eh, I don’t wanna work that hard.
I just want to make a living at voice, doing what I love in the privacy of my own home, and I’m happy making any kind of money and Oh my gosh, now I’m making six figures doing this, and I still don’t need the union. Well. That’s great. So mazal Tov, that’s terrific. But I will tell you guys, I get emailed every day of my life.
I’m doing really well in nonunion. I’m [00:54:00] making a lot of money. I’m supporting my family. I’m living outside the major markets, and my cost of living is less, but I really want to do cartoons. Okay? You got to walk away from all that and come to LA. Yeah, well, I can’t do that. What’s dark? Do not give me that excuse.
I attended a taping of inside the actor’s studio years ago, and Jay Leno was, the, was the, was the guest, and he was asked about, you know, how difficult was it to, you know, to get the tonight show and Jaylin was rolling his eyes. It’s always been difficult. It’s never the comedy. So
Guys, it’s no, it’s no different today. It’s just actually there’s more opportunities if you do want it. But why is the union important to me? Can I touch upon why there’s animosity? Yes,
Sean Daeley: absolutely. Yeah.
Bob Bergen: Okay, so here’s what a lot of nonunion people don’t understand. So when we see, Oh my God, this paid. Is it called GVA?
Is that what [00:55:00] it’s called?
Paul Stefano: Yes. They’re a sponsor of the show. Actually.
Bob Bergen: I got,
Sean Daeley: and my employers,
Bob Bergen: well, when people say, Hey, it needs the GVA rates, that is good. That’s a great thing. People don’t understand. We don’t give a shit. Can I say shit?
Sean Daeley: Sure.
Bob Bergen: We don’t give a shit water session fees are, that is not the value that we have on this voiceover job.
It’s that this pays into our pension and health. Is that it might pay residuals. We don’t make them. We don’t make a living on session fees. We make a living on an residuals. Now, over the last 20 years, 80% of voiceovers gone non-union. Let’s go back 20 years ago, 80% of this work, 80% more in this work was union, which meant that 80% of this work paid into our P and H.
now, every time an actor works in a union job, a portion of what the producer pays goes into the pension pool. Now for that actor. For the entire union. When I got into this business, if you made benefits, you had zero monthly [00:56:00] premiums. Once you made a minimum, you just got health benefits for a year for you and your family.
As the work started to erode going more and more non-union, I can remember that that first premium payment we had to pay was 50 bucks a month. Now, the average working Americans going, I wish. I only had to pay 50 bucks a month. When you go from paying zero to 50 that was a punch in the gut, but it was, it was, it was going away.
The, the union work was going away. It was being taken by these nonunion actors and as much as we begged them, please don’t do this to us. We wouldn’t do this to you. See, before the internet, very few people worked nonunion cause they didn’t want to hurt their, their, their fellow actor. They didn’t want to drive.
The work non-union, they don’t want to give buyers more nonunion options to hire. And as an Amman, anonymity took, took, took hold because you’re working in the privacy of your own home. [00:57:00] And as we got further and further away, both technically and geographically from what a union actor was, people don’t relate to each other anymore.
But it’s still, the outcome is the same. Less of the work is union is much harder to get union opportunities. I mean, let’s, let’s be, let’s be honest guys, if you live in Dayton, how many union auditions will you see a day? You can’t just walk away from your thriving nonunion career and go, I’m only gonna work union, but we let that happen organically.
Now, I will tell you that I do have a proposal in play at the union to reclaim the union work. But part of my proposal allows today’s none union industry to join the union and continue working with their nonunion buyers for a period of time. It’s radical.
Paul Stefano: It’s huge.
Bob Bergen: It’s huge. I’ve got, I, I’ve, it’s, it’s, it’s been approved by two major committees.
I’m waiting to hear about more. I’m not holding my breath, I’ll be honest with you. But, [00:58:00] uh, to me it’s the only way, the only way we’re going to reclaim some of this work. And it is too. We cannot ask people to walk away from a five and six figure non union income for the luxury to try to compete in the union world, especially when they just don’t see a lot of auditions.
It’s asinine to ask anybody to walk away from that. Again, these are smart business people. They have created a really great business life and we have a very arrogant group at the union who don’t a know. What kind of money people are making in the nonunion landscape and don’t realize that they like it and they appreciate it and they’re having fun.
People forget that, and this is something I’ve argued online. People are bitching and moaning about fiber and the $50 job. I laugh because it’s, it’s relative. It’s the same conversation that union people have with the nonunion people 20 years ago. Please don’t do this. Well, the [00:59:00] nonunion people. Who are doing the GVA rates and their good rates.
By the way, I’ve seen it. They’re good rates are begging. Please don’t do fiber. Please don’t do these tiny little pay pay to play things. People wake up and smell 20 years ago, this is the same repeat of history that we had with the union and nonunion world, but when you make minimum wage and you’re flipping burgers, and all of a sudden somebody’s offering you 50 bucks to talk in your pajamas and you get to hear your voice come out of the television or the radio.
You hit the lottery. It’s all relative and you can’t fight it cause you need one person to say yes. Sadly. There’s millions who will say yes to this deal. Just like there became millions who are happy to take a voiceover job that should pay $1,000 pension, health and residuals and they’re ha, they were happy to take $500 even a thousand for that session fee and for go residuals.
P and H and it [01:00:00] has snowballed into what we now have as an 80% nonunion voiceover industry. But it’s all relative guys. Well, I
Paul Stefano: appreciate your frankness on that, Bob, and the way you framed it actually makes a lot more sense to me because I’ve seen these arguments online a lot of times with you. I’m arguing for this, for the union, and I really, the way you framed it makes a lot of sense and hopefully it’ll, it’ll make sense to our listeners as well.
Bob Bergen: And by the way, I do appreciate. 100% there are a few people, I used to be one of them who would be like, I won’t even discuss an nonunion. I won’t even discuss FICOR. I won’t even talk you. You guys have hurt me and my industry so badly. I remember the first time I went to, I taught a workshop in st Louis and I never talk about union.
I never talk about what you can make in cartoons because a, either union and B, there’s a minimum scale. There’s no reason to talk about it. But the first time I ever heard about a voiceover job. Being referred to as a client, and I was like, what do you mean client a voiceover PR PR. That’s not a client.
You’re a client. [01:01:00] The the, the, the advertising agency has a client that’s, that’s the person that owns the company they’re advertising for. But your job, that’s not a client that’s like, that’s like a plumber has a client that’s like, you’re not a client. They’re not a client. And I, and I had to get educated that people today when they’re hired just one time for a voiceover job, they now call that.
A client that doesn’t happen in the major markets, and here’s why it’s hurting people in the nonunion markets. So let’s say that you guys do a job for McDonald’s. Let’s say you do a corporate narration for McDonald’s. You’ll put on your website. Recent clients include McDonald’s. Well, we’ve gotten to the point where you submit your demo to Buchwald, paradigm, Atlas, et cetera, cause you want to take your career to the next step.
That client list means nothing to the agents anymore because they know that any job you have, you call a client. And it could be corporate narration for 300 bucks in my day. And I hate [01:02:00] saying in my day because it makes me feel like I’m a hundred but in my day,
Sean Daeley: exactly
Bob Bergen: in my, in my day, a client was. A contracted gig.
You were the voice of, you are the voice of McDonald’s. You are the corporate, a branded voice. So there’s no weight to a list of clients to the major markets, the major agents. It means nothing to them. And I really think it means nothing to the smaller markets either, but it’s an ego brag for the voiceover actor.
They just don’t realize. They’ve taken the value away from it by calling it a client, but they do treat their job and I get it now. It took me years to get they, they, they, they seek out, they do cold calling. They actually invoice. Well, when you’ve got a small business, those are called clients. As a professional actor, I don’t do any of that stuff.
I just act. My agent does all that stuff, but I do understand the business mindset of today’s. Well, we suffer [01:03:00] actor who considers their hire a client. I get it. It took me a long time to get it. I had to be kicked in the face by a horse.
Paul Stefano: Well, Bob, you, you’ve, you’ve come around.
Bob Bergen: Well, I come around, but I can also voice the damn horse.
So there you go.
Paul Stefano: There you go. Well, moving away from the business. Talk for a little while. We want to end the, or at the end of it, the interview. Really, we want to end by talking a little more philosophically. So you had this laser light focus, as Sean talked about wanting to be the voice of Porky pig. Now.
And now we’ve, we’ve, you’ve accomplished that is, and looking back, is there a genre you wish you had studied more or even now could book more of?
Bob Bergen: Okay. Uh, when you, when Shondra of animation or voiceover in general,
Paul Stefano: voiceover in general, let’s say you always want to do audio books and you just never got around to it.
Is there a genre like that?
Bob Bergen: It’s really, really good question. No, I can tell they’re the only genre. A voiceover that I’ve never had a desire to do, nor will I ever have a desire to do is audio books. Um, I would rather sit and watch a grapefruit growth than sit and read a book. I would [01:04:00] not read for enjoyment and whoever was the schmuck years ago who said, let’s take a fee based on our finished edited hour, screwed it up for everybody.
Nowhere in the history of show business voiceover. Did anybody say, Oh yeah, it should be based on the edited hour. Cause can you imagine actors being paid for 30 minutes worth of work when they do a sitcom? Oh boy. I just don’t enjoy the process of audio books. I’ve got many friends who are great at it and love it.
I know many people who wake up everyday going, that’s what I want to do. Bless you. Because I love listening to them. And when I hear an actor who is a brilliant audio book narrator and takes those characters and makes them real. I have such admiration for that skill. I don’t have it and I don’t want to learn it.
Everything else I do, I do because I worked my ass off to get to it and to do it and I trained for it and I still trained for it. I worked out with coaches. I have a major audition for a trailer. Or a promo [01:05:00] I will work with a coach, uh, is that it’s a contracted job and I really want that contract. You bet.
I’m gonna hire somebody to get me out of my head and take me to the next level, but there is not, there’s not a genre of voiceover or an area that I sit back and go, God, I wish I’d gotten that because I’ve, I’ve, I’ve done it all. Wonderful.
Sean Daeley: So since you managed to accomplish all of your previous goals, what are some of your new ones for the future of your VO career?
Bob Bergen: To keep doing exactly what I’m doing. Honestly. I mean, the nice thing about what I do is I wake up every morning and there are those new auditions and they’re new, and one of those cartoons might be the next SpongeBob. And one of those commercials might be the branding voice of a, of Toyota. And I might be the voice of a brand new network that has never launched.
So what I love about this business is everything I’ve done for the last almost 40 years, I can continue doing, if you know, knock, if I knock wood for another 30 or 40. Um, with the same enthusiasm, guys, I [01:06:00] approach every audition with I get to do this again. I drive onto a studio lot and go, really? Me still, I have not lost that same giddy.
Oh my God, I’m doing this that I had when I started out when I was 18. It has not changed one bit, which is why I still enjoy talking to new people. And I still get so excited when I talk to somebody who still has that starting out that same Holy crud. I still get this. And I’ve talked to famous actors who still have it.
I mean, you know, I’ve had some famous actors take my glass, Lily Tomlin took my class of years ago because she wanted to learn and grow, and she, and I’ve had many, a conversation that she’s still, to this day when she works on a film, is just as giddy and excited as she was when she first did. Nine to five and Nashville and some of those early films.
So nothing has changed in my approach, in my, in my philosophy and in my enthusiasm and passion for this.
[01:07:00] Paul Stefano: That’s fantastic. I have to thank this. Probably the people who are still doing it successfully at a high level, they probably mostly have that same attitude. We are our last episode featured Kay Bess, and she just went back to acting classes a few years ago to, to, uh, to tighten up her skills even at her advanced career stage.
And I think if you had that attitude, it’s probably what, what keeps you young and keeps you working.
Bob Bergen: You know what’s interesting is that people on Broadway during the day, they’re in dance class, their voice glass. Uh, there are, there are people. Pursuing voiceover. Rarely are they. The people in the major markets eat.
It’s usually in the flyover States who get to this. I’m, I’m above training. I’m above acting classes. I’m above improv classes where those of us who are still striving to be better than we are. W w we’re still trying to be better than we are. So again, it’s not about making more money and it’s not about booking more.
It’s about being great. It’s about excellence. And I cannot [01:08:00] stress enough that whether it’s an on-camera actor or a theater actor, a Broadway actress, so backer or a voice actor, those of us at a certain level just want to be better. Yeah.
Paul Stefano: We’ve compared on the show frequently to, to professional athletes.
I’m not sure if you’re a big sports fan, but every professional golfer from tiger was the Roy Malka Roy. They still have a swing coach they work with pretty much every day, and it’s a very similar way that we approach being a great voice actor. Of
Bob Bergen: course, of course. But that word actor, that’s the most important word.
Paul Stefano: There you go. Well, Bob, you’ve been so gracious in the way you’ve helped the vio community. Fought for union rights. And you’ve been so gracious with us today. We really appreciate your time. I can’t thank you enough for coming on the VO meter. Well,
Bob Bergen: thank you for dealing with my, uh, technical issues because emails went back and forth.
Yeah. My sources not connected on my, I S is not Dan and I have no idea how to record this on my end. So bless you guys.
Sean Daeley: No worries. We’re happy to do all the hard work for you. I mean, you have, you’ve given [01:09:00] such like you have such an admirable and inspiring perspective into the industry and that striving for excellence, that laser like focus and drive, and you are true gem and resource for the voiceover community, whether it be through your, uh, through your direct teaching or your mentorship or just your example.
So we’re truly honored to have had you on the podcast today.
Bob Bergen: How many times has this happened to you? You’re listening to the radio when this commercial comes on, not unlike this one, and this guy starts talking, not unlike myself, or maybe it’s a woman that starts talking, not unlike myself.
Sean Daeley: And you think to yourself, jeez,
Bob Bergen: I could do that.
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Paul Stefano: Thanks again to Bob for joining us on the interview portion. Like I said, during the interview, I’ve been so held by him and so blessed and he’s been a friend and mentor to me and I’m so happy he was finally able to join us on the podcast.
Sean Daeley: So, yes.
Thank you, Bob. And amazingly, he’s been extremely helpful in my own career. Uh, we mentioned during the interview, we both met Bob through the, the VO bulletin board, and he both just kind of took us aside and gave us words of encouragement and kindness, put us on the right, gave us the right mindset, and set us on the right path to do this in a professional way with integrity.
And I know he’s done the exact same thing for hundreds, if not. Thousands of voice talent everywhere. So, uh, before we [01:11:00] leave today, I just want to remind you all to check out Bob Bergen’s site, Bob bergen.com, where he actually has a whole voice acting FAQ page where he talks about a lot of the things he mentioned in the podcast and the same kind of professional mindset and pursuing voice, acting with integrity that, um, that he preaches in, in all of his, uh, his online.
Paul Stefano: And don’t forget to checkout, ask the pig or he hosts a Facebook live event. Uh, I think it’s, I think it’s weekly actually, but check that out and you can ask some questions. Anything that’s on your mind, and as long as he has time, he’ll answer it. Okay. With that, it’s time to wrap up. Episode 43 of the VO meter,
Sean Daeley: measuring your voice over progress.
Paul Stefano: Coming up. We have interviews with Debbie Hurghada boys talent out of your neck of the woods. Sean.
Sean Daeley: Yeah, she’s fantastic. I met her at a a, at a documentary narration workshop hosted by Pat Fraley, so she was previously a student of his, and then she kind of went onto her own to carve her own path and achieve her own success.
And she’s a [01:12:00] multifocal. You’re a multi award winning voice talent. She’s been awarded the Sovos awards and numerous times in numerous genres. And so we’re going to talk about whether it takes to have that kind of versatility and longevity and voiceover.
Paul Stefano: And then following that, we have Jim Connelley and Sam from Lotus productions in New York city.
And then finally on the docket is Tracy Lindley, who will tell you about the LinkedIn edge program. She has.
Sean Daeley: Very cool, very excited to learn more about that.
Paul Stefano: So that’s it for this episode. We’ll see you next time.
Sean Daeley: Bye guys. Thanks for listening to the VO meter, measuring your voiceover progress. To follow along, please visit www.vometer.com. The VO Meter is powered by ipDTL