In the earliest days of radio, a big basso voice would come on the air telling you where he was emanating from. That was common fare in the early forties when this young man was introduced to the true marvel of conviction that could be sent over the airwaves by the human voice. Those experiences were in truth, the beginning of this book.
Commercials, as we know them today, didn’t really take hold until the late fifties. As an aside… the very first dedicated commercial talent agencies didn’t open offices until the early 1960s. Before the sixties, actors didn’t have a need for a commercial talent agent to represent them. Today, of course almost all the union casting goes through an agent.
Agents and casting companies are two completely different entities. The agent is the employee of the actor. Agents earn their income on a commission basis, determined by the relationship that exists between the agent and the actor. The agent, dependent on the state labor boards, may charge various commissions. As an example, the state of California allows an agent to charge up to an amount not to exceed twenty-five percent of the actors’ gross from any one job. If said agent operates under the auspices of a guild (or union) affiliation, then said commissions may not exceed the parameters of the guild or union contract. As an example, the Screen Actors Guild permits a commission to be paid by the actor to the agent, not to exceed ten percent. Most of the time, a check for the actor’s services comes directly to that actor’s agent’s office. The agent, who has the actor’s “power of attorney”, deposits the check into their own trust account and then issues a check to the actor in an amount that is compiled by subtracting ten percent from the actors’ gross and forwarding the balance (90%) to the actor.
In actuality, the situation that exists between the actor, the union, and the advertising agencies is unique in that they all are supposedly tied together by the Screen Actors Guild (in one way or another). The actor as a member of the guild; the producer as a signatory of the guild. These participants have agreed, in theory, to only perform services that are governed by the ruling guild. A similar situation applies under the guidelines of the American Federation of Television, and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
Note: At the time of this writing, the two aforementioned unions had not yet joined forces.
On our side of the fence as a casting company, there is the buyer who elects to use our paid services. And the actors we choose to call in, to either audition or perform as a talent on the commercial we happen to be contracted to provide talent for. We are recognized as an independent entity. We are not governed by any union or guild affiliation.
Simply stated, an advertising agency hires us for a pre-established fee to bring actors into our studios and lay down (record) a voice track of the actors reading the sponsor’s commercial script. This of course is called an audition. We cast union and non-union jobs, and are not under contract to any entity other than the company that hires us to perform our casting service.
So, with all that said, here I sit, the co-owner of Kalmenson & Kalmenson, arguably the most prominent voice casting service in the country, most likely the world. Couple that assertion with our unchallenged leadership in the field of Voice Over education and your sharing with an author rendering from close to fifty years of working experience in every venue known under the guise of voice-over.
Try this on for size, our company has done just about everything having to do with selling product, vocally that is. Additionally, in just about every foreign language our planet communicates in. From beer-selling talking frogs to singing and dancing germs being readied for a toxic spray killer. If it speaks, sings, belches, or makes any form of sound, no matter what the requested language may be, there’s a good chance Kalmenson & Kalmenson has cast the voices for it through the years.
What follows will be my compilation of gatherings referencing just about every aspect the professional voice actor may face. In the event that a human being portending to be an actor happens on, or into the pages of this documentary, and that person doesn’t know what the term “voice over” means, then hear this: If you are able to hear the voice, regardless from whence it may come; radio, TV, curbside announcements at the airport, voices in animation, or whatever you can name. If you can hear it, just refer to it as a voice-over. No one out there is going to correct you.
– HK –