What’s your Flavor?
First order of business: survival.
The question was recently posed on Facebook: “You wake up and you’re the last person on earth. What’s the first thing you do? Crying isn’t an option.” Fortunately for me, I'm part Lumberjack with a Sam Elliott voice and a sexy Jack Palance confidence. And as my tear ducts have actually themselves evaporated, there's really only one obvious answer:
Raid the nearest Taco Bell.
What? No, Josh. Really?
Really. I mean why not? A Voice Talent’s gotta eat. And when I wake up in the morning, I’m hungry. I’m not the kind of naturist who forages for nuts and berries…or the kind who had a grape last April and am still burping that up, so I’m good for now. No, I’m a Food Eater, capital F, capital E. To verify this, I examined our family tree through Ancestry.com, and it’s true: I am a direct descendant from a dinosaur named Carnivorous Maximus Expandicus Rex. I am not kidding. I have an appetite. Don’t judge me or I’ll gnaw on your femur.
Captain Kirk was once asked by Dr. McCoy in Star Trek II: “How can you think of food at a time like this?” To which Kirk responds, “First order of business: survival.” And it’s true. For some particular persons, it’s also the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, twenty-first, etc., order of survival. I am a particular person, and am currently on my 29,327,412th order of business. Stop judging me.
What would you do if you woke up and you were the only person on Earth? Would you wonder why Jesus took everyone else and left you behind? Would you yawn, scratch your bum and say “Hmmm! That’s odd”? Would you pop in “I Am Legend” for pointers on handling zombies? Or would you heed those grumbles from down under and seek out the nearest source of sustenance?
Now, hold on there. I never insinuated that Taco Bell is actual sustenance. They serve wonderful hamster there! I’m kidding. Their, ahem, “meat” is at least Grade Double-Q. And those tortillas! O those tortillas: the ones that taste like that delightful combination of dough and flannel. I’m salivating as I write this.
But lest I digress, this blog isn’t about diet choices. It’s not about food at all. It’s about what we do to make ends meet. It’s about where and how we cut corners of principles in order to put bread on our table. Is it a subject I’ve covered before? Indeed. Should we all hear it again? Yes, because if we’re willing to hear the same on-hold music from our favorite customer service company until Jesus returns, surely we can tolerate another sermon on principles. Besides, someone slapped a sign on your back that says “Dead Horse”, and it’s my turn to beat you.
So here it is: how do we maintain our honor while combating the evil forces of compromise and settling-for? *insert Transformers cartoon theme here*. How do we rise up and stand for truth, justice, and the Voiceover Way? How do we find our sustenance without losing our standards? *stirring soundtrack builds to a crescendo here* How do I stand valiantly in all proud nobility and integrity, desperately shielding myself from the wicked and rampant malignant forces of malevolent malice seeking unswervingly to sway this noble, victorious knight to the sinful and treacherous dark side full of sinful treacherous darkness!?!?!? *music screeches to a halt*
And how much does it cost to get a counterfeiter to make a fake Costco ID so I can still sneak free samples? Anyone? Anyone?
Honor. For me, personally, it’s through upholding those beloved GVAA rates. Just this week I enjoyed the following conversation with a would-be customer.
- Them: “We’d like to hire you!”
- Me: “Great, thanks! It’ll be the $500 that I quoted on Voice123 for the digital buyout.” *sends contract accordingly, reflecting this usage*
- Them: “Oh, we’ll need a full buyout in case we want to use it on TV, radio, and event as well.”
- Me: “OK, that will be more.”
- Them: “Oh, it shouldn’t be any more than what you quoted. Be a good lad and just pop that full-buyout-in-perpetuity clause in there, yeah?” *pats my head condescendingly*
- Me: *fires client, continues eating Taco Bell flannel*
If you’ve come to this blog expecting me to cater to the Fiverr community and to applaud you for lowering your rates and thus launching an all-out thermonuclear assault on the entire voiceover community by setting unfair precedents in the expectations of our buyers, thy applause cometh not. If however thou hast come here seeking wisdom and knowledge on all things Mexican food, then victory is now thine.
Case in point: last week I auditioned for a Wyndham Vacation script on VOPlanet that paid $450. Then I saw the same thing on Voice123 and auditioned for it: it had a fixed rate of $400 there. No big deal on the marginal difference. Then I saw it the other morning on VDC as a managed job for $100 - $249. Did I bother auditioning for that?
YES. I auditioned, sending them my previous audition from the other sites, and quoted $400 accompanied by a friendly, pleasant little observation that said “Funny how this job was posted on VO Planet for $450, $400 on Voice123, and yet $100-$249 here on Voices.com. Hmmm.” Do I think I’ll arouse the wrath of VDC for shaming them? No. Will they repent in tears, rip their robes, grovel in the dust and change their ways? Again, no. Will I continue eating this burrito? Most definitely. I just wanted to send them a message that I was aware of their schemes. Yes, this Voice Talent’s gotta eat. But not if it means I only get one flannel instead of five.
Sustenance is something that sustains you. The comedian Brian Regan joked that his luggage was once lost on a flight. In the meantime, to help him get by, the airline attendant gave him an “essentials kit.” He was incredulous that he was given something that would not remotely meet his needs. He said “Oh, these are the essentials! Then I overpack! I thought I needed all those things I meticulously put in my suitcase.” But he opened it up and it was filled with food, shelter, and love! I’m sorry, but until my essentials kits start containing an endless supply of Bottle Caps candy and reruns of Whale Wars, I will continue dying, thank you.
Careless Corner-Cutting Causes Constant Consternation
So what’s to be done? How do we survive this pandemic and not compromise our values in order to survive?
As always, the solution lies right before us. I believe we can solve everything with a humble Voiceover Pledge of Allegiance. I was going to suggest a simple canned mist that we can spray on people and things that bother us, but I won’t go back to jail. Additionally, I’m not sure I’ll ever actually get to meet Michael Bolton, much less spray him with any anti-irritant. I will however test it on my wife’s cat repeatedly.
So here goes. This is what I believe will enable all of us to remain firmly rooted in the traditions and pride that:
- define who we are
- reflect the very goodness inherent in each and every one of us Voice Talent (well, except for that one guy who keeps stealing my voiceover jobs: you know who you are).
- call us to Greatness.
It goes something like this:
I pledge allegiance to myself
And to all of the other Voice Talent
And to the community through which we grow:
One Network, Under God, Unassailable
With Right Pricing and Ethics for All.
There. Recite that every morning and you should be fine. I have all of your addresses, and the new Voiceover Flags will be mailed out shortly, along with full-length masts. There will also be a small packet in the box that contains a complimentary Taco Bell flannel and some mild sauce.
NOTE: This blog is purely for commentary / educational purposes. I make no money from these blogs; though I do not refuse large cash gifts if it means I can pretend I'm a church.
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