how NOT to make it

notes from a working actor

The trials and tribulations
of Mike Vaughn

(this guy)

Admittedly, I receive promotional emails from Voices.com so I can quickly peer over the fence to see what’s-what on that side of the voiceover world.

Most of the time I roll my eyes at the self-hype and promises of success to new/wannabe VO talent that seems to involve more paying for seminars and conferences sponsored by voices.com than it does any sort of proper training or real world advice. But to each his own I guess.  I see the email, I get the gist, I sigh, I delete it.

That’s been my experience for years now, but today’s email has me all like Popeye, with a “Dat’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!!!” Then popping a can of kale since canned spinach is risky these days.

Here’s the highlight from the Voices.com email that sent me over the edge:

We have 10 speakers and panelists that are going to be there, including Joe Zieja! Joe is a voice actor, author, and veteran from the LA area. His voice has been in literally thousands of projects from video games to elearning – and on Saturday he’s going to teach you to knock out 2 auditions a minute (among other workflow tips).”

Did you read that? “Literally THOUSANDS of projects!”

That’s amazing because I’ve literally never heard of this guy.
Apparently, Hollywood hasn’t really heard of him either:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5650061/

Yep… that’s his IMDB page with a whopping 12 credits.

Look, nothing against Joe here. He could be a fairly successful actor who has done 988 elearning projects that can’t be credited on IMDB and who might happen to advocate, aka: pay, for Voices.com for all I know. The real beef here is Voices.com trying so hard, albeit poorly, to make attendees feel like this is actual advice and not just a money grab from talent.

[side note… wouldn’t getting 2 auditions out per minute depend more on the auditions and the actor’s actual ability? No? It’s about a workflow? Oh, ok. Show’s what I don’t know.]

Woah, check out the event:
voices.com/upcoming/levelup/sanfrancisco

I’m not seeing any recognizable voiceover artist, casting, coach, or producer names in there, but then I did just get new Warby Parkers and it’s hard to see past my own vanity.

But hell, all it takes to attend this invaluable one-day event…. is ONLY $325!
(parking, lunch and starbucks not included)

Wow. A bargain, right?
Guess now I know where to learn how I can get my auditions turned-out in 30-seconds each! Take that stupid YouTube helpful instructional videos!

I’ll let the commenters below talk about Voices.com’s more controversial practices of charging very high fees for improved access to the “bigger” auditions, and taking a percentage cut from the talent fee. I’m not a member, so I can’t speak directly to those issues.

Getting my ticket to SFO now.

 

the book

2016 marks the 12th and final round for my self-produced Holiday Card campaign.

When I started I think I had about 40 people on my holiday list, and now it’s closer to 400. I’m not getting any younger and my new kid is likely going to be the focus of future holiday greetings anyway.

But I did put together all the cards and the stories behind them into a neat little book at Blurb if you want the full hard-copy, print experience here.

There’s also a free PDF version of the book here if that’s more your speed.

AND…that’s not all. I also have this nifty Wall Calendar for 2017, but if you want one, let me know and I’ll order you a copy.

wall calendar

[Warning: this is overwritten, messy and filled with my stupidity… so get a nice cup of camomile tea and settle in for a long ride.]

Just got Esai Morales’ election email and in one sentence he says:

“…our union apparently is facing difficult financial challenges, including three years of deficit spending.”

Then, two sentences later adds:

“I believe [in] the hiring of part-time employees to drastically shorten the time it takes to receive residual checks will help to restore members’ confidence in the union, reducing the reported 16% – 20% drop-off in timely dues payments.”

Huh? So, HIRING more staff doesn’t add to deficit spending? I could use some freebie employees. Can someone let me know where Esai gets these employees? …. oh, right, I could just label the job as Modified ULB. Cool. Got it.

Actually, to “restore members’ confidence in the “union” (ps: it’s a guild), we could look at a few (ok, 8) minor things:

1. Allow ALL funds earned regardless of the type of contract to be applied to health benefits in total. I mean as fun as it is to try and qualify for TWO health plans, wasn’t this one of the primary points of the merger? Why the three-year delay? Or is SAG-AFTRA hoping everyone just gets on the upcoming government sponsored plan?

2. Cut the fricking mass numbers of reps on the national, local, and delegate boards. When’s the last time that many cooks in the kitchen ever did anything useful (ie: see US Congress or NBC for example). Idea: how about one to two reps for all locals, and two or so reps for each type of contract? I know, crazy radical idea right).

3. Educate ALL actors and performers about proper etiquette in “the biz” including educating everyone (producers included) on fair working wages. And how about a public campaign explaining to producers why they should hire union talent vs. non. Hey, yeah.. what are the benefits? What’s in it for them? You know, we could create DESIRE to use SAG-AFTRA talent rather than try to scare them into using unionized talent. Which brings me to….

4. How about a level/certification rating on union talent, so there’s less confusion about a talent’s experience and ability? Just a thought. I mean it’s not like there are SAG Conservatory classes, or a way to track actual work to figure out some sort of rank and rating. But then I’m sure NO ONE has ever seen a card carrying member who only does background work make other members look bad. Noooo never happens, right?

5. An actual functional database of members that could be used to assist those looking to cast quality actors and performers. Like a Facebook thing, or Google-whatcha-call-it… oooh, I’ve got it, Let’s call it iActor.com, but this time have it actually work and not sell out to Gary Marsh. A functional database should run between $40k to $150K depending. What did iActor cost us again?

6. No more voting on contracts you’ve never worked on! Pretty sure Stunt Performers don’t need me voting on their contracts, as much as I’m sure I need want ANYONE who hasn’t voiced or mo-capped a videogame, even talking about the interactive contract. How about this: you work a certain contract, and you’re automatically in the system to vote on those contracts, and if you’re really passionate about a category, then once you have a union audition in that category, then you’re free to vote in that area with a brief letter of explanation. Fair, right? Or we could just do what we did at the last interactive contract negotiations, and ask those who actually work the contract what they think, and when they disapprove at a 97.5% rate, just turn a blind eye and call all the actors outside of LA and tell them to vote for the new (crappier) contract cause it’s such a good deal. And continue the drop in overall earnings from videogames (thanks for that.. all you who DON’T work in games).

7. Assist others in getting fair wages and guilds. For example: NCAA athletes’ exact likenesses are used in games and they are paid a whopping: $0. Sure glad guys like Madden are stepping up and speaking out (oh, wait, he’s not? bummer). Also, when vo actors talk about games being union, they are met with blank stares from game developers who have been known to work 90 hours a week for an average of $30k a year, with little job security. Uhh, maybe they need a union, no?

8. And finally… open the oh-so secret P&H Board wide open. Make that shit transparent. We don’t need an anonymous group of bankers, producers, lawyers, and couple actors making these crappy health plan and retirement fund decisions. Unless, we ALL get free breast implants (see: http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/sag-members-push-pension-plan-independent-investigation-embezzlement-charges-33881 )

So, Esai, (or anyone else working at SAG-AFTRA)
Is anyone into these issues or is it just about getting those $0.17 residual checks faster and fun divisional rhetoric?

With love and a grin.
-Mike V

and it’s not spam!

August 1st, 2012

I won’t say who specifically sent me this email this morning, but it is REAL despite the Nigerian Scam feel to the whole thing. Crazy, right? Let’s just say this guy is involved in our life, but probably for just about 30 more days. Here’s what I got (see if anything smells fishy to you):

This message is coming to you with great depression due to my state of discomfort. I came down here to (Dubai,United Arab Emirates) with my family for a short vacation but unfortunately, we were mugged and robbed at the park of the hotel where we stayed. All cash, credit cards and cell phones were stolen off us but we still have our lives and passports.

We’ve been to the embassy and the police here and they have done the best they can. Our flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now but we are having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills which is ($2,550). I am contacting you to ask for a short loan which I will refund immediately I get my family back home safely.
Write me so I can let you know how to send it..

 

Sounds legit to me. But since I’m saving up to pay for luxuries like food, health insurance, and a Voice123 membership, I decided to take a page from what seems to be working for others on FaceBook, so I prayed for him.

 

 

Fill my Bucketz

July 27th, 2012

Working actors do (and have done) a lot of jobs that never see the light of day. But this is not one of those jobs. I’m very happy to share this quirky but fun casual game called Bucketz!

new Bucketz game

Only on the iTunes store for the moment.

You’ll hear my voice A LOT (maybe too much) in this game, but I really am super proud to be on this one. I know everyone worked their ass off putting this together, so my fingers are crossed for all you guys (especially you Bora and Serdar). Thanks again for actually bringing Bucketz to life and making it so well! -mv

 

 

anonymous talent?

July 27th, 2012

Thought this little tidbit might be interesting for VO talent who may or may not know that their last names aren’t always given.

Background:
One of my regional agents/reps, asked me to remove my full name from the audio file data (you know, where in iTunes you can see the name of the artist, album, etc.). Well, now hang on a minute, I thought. I like my name on my auditions because the person listening will A: know who specifically who to book, and B: might even do a little search and bump up my imdb rating from 42,345 to 42,346.

Sadly, I’m a coward who does what my agents’ tell me, so I re-labeled my file, but I did manage to ask “why no last names?” The answer sent back was one-part compliment and one-part company statement:

“On our site you are affectionately known as Mike7 (:  I’d like to take a moment to give you a brief history and some of our policies…. [cut to]  I’m sure you have noticed that we provide only first names on our website demos thus insuring that our clients come back to us for all VO services. We do not allow our talents to work directly with our clients or provide contact information during voice over sessions. This ensures the talent relationships stays where they originated.”

Then I decided to grow a pair and be as open and honest I could with my thoughts on this (in my opinion, ‘outdated’) way of thinking:

 Oh… I see why you’re doing that now.. you’ve had talent(s) take client(s) away from you. That’s truly a shame. I hope you let those talent go immediately.  Just so you know, I actually try to NEVER negotiate without a representative involved, and I recommend the same to my fellow talents. Most talents I know agree with me.

But, on the flip side… if I were to put my marketing hat on (I used to be an advertising broadcast producer and copywriter), I might suggest that an ‘air of mystery’ between client/agency/talent, while preventing bad talent from stealing away clients, may also create a brand that works within suspicion and mistrust. It’s too easy to look someone up these days, everyone has a last name, and purposefully leaving out names… well… it just feels shady whether that intention is there or not. If I were back in the ad game again, I can’t honestly say I’d use your agency because I would, in fact, be worried about the anonymity. Not having a last name would also make my job as a producer much harder in terms of bookkeeping and selling that talent to the creative director and/or our end client. Talent with IMDB credits are much easier to sell to the final decision makers, but of course, last names are needed to see their credits. Regardless, A more open policy combined with better behaved talent, might actually increase the number of available jobs sent to you guys. 

Of course, this is just my opinion from my perspective as a producer who used to book talent all the time.

Until then, 

-Mike7

Anyone here good with doing their work anonymously?
Have your say below.

Got this note from my former improv coach:

Mike

I know you’re the one to ask. What’s up with the Aftra-Sag merger? Why is everyone begging us to vote no? Will there really be no pension or health benefits?

Hope you’re well.

I’ve been struggling to keep my sanity around the SAG-AFTRA noise, but I couldn’t contain it anymore. So I replied with the following rant:

Hey there.
Good to hear from you.

I don’t personally know anyone who’s against the merger. I’m for it, everyone (and every working actor) I know is for it. So who is telling you to vote no? Do they have good, solid, factual reasons for doing so? If they do, I’d like to hear them.

I’ve found that all the materials SAG-AFTRA have presented do answer the questions and issues presented by the non-merger people. Which I believe are…

Pension and Health?
Federally protected for those who have been vested. Nothing changes. Nothing. And post merger, those of us who aren’t vested and who struggle to barely make either pool, can now work towards ONE pool and actually get reasonably close to qualifying for those benefits. What a concept.

Not enough research on how to merge the two guilds?
An impossible bar for any company to make. It’s a subjective request that even if entertained, will satisfy no one. Imagine shareholders and workers wanting approval on every aspect when their company buys another business property. Ridiculous. No one has a crystal ball, not even the best market researchers. It’s a stall tactic.

All those AFRTA people (eeewwww gross) getting in the “actors” union?
1. Who cares? 2. More members increase income and the power we’d have as one union. Better for all, right? And 3. one can’t argue that SAG actors are of a higher caliber. Ever meet a background actor with three vouchers? Yeah. Delightful, aren’t they? Just shelling out the money to be in a union is enough of a challenge for most. Paying $1000 to $2000 means that person is serious about being a guild member, which is all you can really ask.

So… Long story short, I just don’t get the anti-merger folks. My best guess is that it might be mix of leftover SAG arrogance, fear of change, or those thinking their p&h will change (which it doesn’t if you’re vested), or maybe a few non-working actors with nothing better to do.

I sincerely hope we merge, because the status quo is unsustainable.
Again, I would like to hear rational, factual arguments against merger. Let me know if you hear any.

-mv

I think what I really wanted to say was “there are way too many stupid people in sag and aftra,” but it may be too much to expect actors to have college degrees, or a basic understanding of business, and be able to deliver a convincing performance as ‘man in background on park bench.’

And she just responded with this today:

Thanks for your reply

You won’t believe it, but Ed Asner did a 6 minute piece on youtube (?) begging everyone not to vote for it.  It would be the end of SAG as we know it.  It would destroy us.  Now, I’ve always adored Ed.  I was more than taken aback when I saw this.  Wish I could remember where exactly I did see it.  There were a couple of other names he bandied about (can’t remember them) but they were impressive.

Still, after reading what you sent, I will vote YES and have faith that everything will fall into place after a while.

 

Really, Ed Asner? Really?!

A fellow talent forwarded me this email from a commercial casting director:

Due to actors CONSTANTLY parking in our neighbors parking spots DESPITE NUMEROUS SIGNS ALL OVER THE PLACE in our lot my landlord is requiring that I PERSONALLY PAY FOR a security Guard which will cost me thousands a month.

I am in a very bad mood.

Please alert your talent if they (OR THEIR MOMS OR GIRLFRIENDS OR BOYFRIENDS)are caught parking in our lot EVER, their agent will be getting a call from me and it will be a cold day in hell when they are called in again.

Thank you,
alyson 

I’ve been to Alyson Horn casting a time or two and the no-parking thing is obvious. You would, in-fact, have to be pretty dense to park in their lot. I’m pretty sure the majority of working actors know that it’s all about the street/metered parking anyway.

But… what makes me giggle about Alyson’s email is the verbal whipping that’s delivered to the wrong audience. Here’s why:

1. There’s this great service called a Tow-Truck that can arrive within minutes with a single phone call. Heck, you could probably just have one waiting nearby like a cab at a hotel if this problem is that immense.

2. If your landlord can’t put up a security gate, better signs, call a tow truck, or figure a reasonable solution, well, maybe you’ve got the wrong landlord.

3. You could have your check-in person ask each talent if they parked in the lot, no?

4. Telling actors it will be “a cold day in hell when they are called in again” seems like a great way to alienate actors who do follow the rules. Besides, what if that perfect 3’4” blonde Hungarian with hazel eyes and Groundlings improv training (a common role to fill by the way) walks in and saves the day, but his chauffeur accidently parked in your lot? I wouldn’t think most casting directors want to miss the opportunity to see anyone who’s right for the job regardless of their driving habits.

Now that I’ve posted this, I’m certain I won’t be in the walls of Alyson Horn casting anytime soon (pending any cold fronts moving into Hades),  but I’m ok with that. I’ve earned the right to be treated with respect and dignity that any working actor deserves. And if you’re calling in people who can’t read parking signs, well.. I’m probably not right for your projects anyway.

First, have a listen at my first attempt to contact the “chiropractor” that denied my surgeon’s treatment request; followed by the last call with his receptionist.

[ CLICK TO PLAY ]

Yes, I’m as confident as you they’ll be calling back. Then again, I’m overly optimistic and naïve. PS: Don’t ask me what’s going on with the first guy, but damn it’s funny. Feel free to call him at (954) 720-1040 to find out.

The background:
Some of you know that I was severely injured on the set of a TV show back in September of 2010. Torn meniscus and some other stuff I can’t spell in the knee, and a busted up ankle.  The workman’s comp insurance company, Broadspire, is doing a fantastic job…for their investors. An amazing job in trying to not pay for anything.

Unfortunately, for them, there’s lawyer in the family and a couple of well-placed referrals later, my stress was passed to my new lawyer. Suddenly I was scheduled for knee surgery with a top LA knee doc. Of course, by “suddenly”, I mean 9 months later.

Surgery went well, and I am getting much better. The standard physical therapy treatment after this kind of surgery is usually 12 visits. Broadspire approved 6. And the game is to go back to your physician and have them request 6 more. Back-and-fourth they go: request? Deny! Request? Deny! Request? Ok. And all while the patient waits patiently.

Here’s where it gets somewhat interesting.

California law allows health insurance companies under workman’s comp claims to have their own “physician” create a diagnosis of you, the patient. This “physician” never actually sees you, only reads the medical reports, is paid by the insurance companies, and is their job to give a “doesn’t need it” denial response. I got several of these counter reports throughout the 9 months while Broadspire simply didn’t want to do the right thing and pay for the necessary MRI, surgery, treatments… and now, physical therapy.

We get it. You’re an insurance company. Your job is to make money. Got it. Doesn’t mean can’t call you on your shit tho.

So, in this most recent denial, it reads: “Determination was based on Bruce Mark, D.C.’s review of a prescription for physical therapy.” Meaning, some dude read a letter from my surgeon who asked for 6 more physical therapy visits, and then concluded that “the request is not medically necessary.”

Interesting, since I’ve never met Bruce Mark, D.C.

Let’s track him down and inquire as to how he came to this conclusion without actually seeing me, knowing anything about me let alone what I may or may not need for my knee/work/life. Hell, I could be a knee model, right?

A quick Google of his name, and we’re looking at a Chiropractor somewhere in Florida. Yep. Florida. Lot’s of great chiropractors there I’m sure. I made 4 calls to find him (you heard two of the 4 above), and wouldn’t you know it… no call back.

My lawyer reminded me most of the physicians that are hired by insurance companies to deny request no longer actually practice medicine, and in some cases, don’t exist. Neat. I want that gig.

So, what did we learn today?
1. Always lawyer-up in workman’s comp.
2. Insurance companies have indeed worked hard to earn the disrespect and ass-fucking they so deserve when legal action is brought upon them.

And what did the insurance company learn?
1. Probably nothing.
But, you know, if Broadspire did the right thing in the first place, I might not have had to get a lawyer period.  Just something for insurance types to think about. 

You may or may not know the following:

  1. You can post on Actors Access (and all the other actor casting sites) for free.
  2. You can conduct your search for actors with a great deal of anonymity.
  3. There is no shortage of actors willing to do anything involving a camera with little to no benefit.

Is this a great world we live in or what?

Here’s the story:

Every year I do a racy/comedic holiday card for friends, family and clients. This year was a jab at The Nutcracker Ballet. I found the perfect ballerina thru my (wonderful) on-camera agent and all was set… until… the model got booked on a real job.

Dang it!
Totally understandable however. I’d do the same thing.

“Maybe I’ll try this Actors Access thing I’m always submitting myself on and see what happens. If anything, I’ll experience what casting people go thru everyday.” I thought.

The post was up in about 2 hours and read: “FEMALE MODEL – BALLERINA TYPE – Early to mid 20’s (great if you ‘play’ younger) ballerina type (you don’t have to be a real dancer). But someone who would be good for the lead girl role in the Nutcracker. Preference given to those who can bring the wardrobe and makeup, which is: Young girls night dress, hair back in a bow, ballet slippers, slight theater makeup.

The only thing Breakdown Services wanted from me was a name and email address.

Within an hour, 20 women had submitted, and by the end it was 72 who submitted for this very low-pay personal project. Most submissions were good and professional listing their agent or manager’s contact info. But the handful of young teens that submitted, the women with personal contact info, and the one with the lingerie pics… well… dear lord, it was a bit much and eye-opening to say the least.

There were 6 women for my final selects, but one stood out because she solved my problem in the notes section by briefly writing, “actual Nutcracker experience…have all things (including shoes) – night gown isn’t exactly the same.” Booked. Done. Called her manager, and the shoot went as planned.

A week after the shoot, I decided to submit myself to see where I would have placed as a 20-something female ballerina.

lookswhosfirst

YEP, THAT’S RIGHT, I’M THE FIRST PICK!
Don’t act surprised, I’ve got killer legs.

Why am I really the first one up there? Because Actors Access (and I’m sure the other sites as well) place you higher up on the submissions once you’ve paid for all those extras – like the video reels, clips, multiple photos, and when you have representation.

So what did we learn today?

  • Creeps like me can cast for free and without any kind of validation.
  • Pay, pay, and pay some more to put up more photos, reels, and clips so you can be at the top of the list.
  • You still need representation when it’s all said and done.
  • I have a slender ballerina body.

Yo. Actors.

You get that mailer from “Unite for Strength” in regards to the upcoming elections?
I did, and I like it.  It seems so simple and logical doesn’t it? One entity for actors = one united front in negotiations = one pool of earned income to qualify for health and pension = one set of dues.

But here’s the thing… there’s another group, “Membership First,” who formerly opposed a merger, but now support one.
See their site.

See my confusion? It seems that the primary difference is U4S wants a merger with everyone involved, while MF wants “actors only.” (Which imho is weird since SAG and some MF members may not be considered actors, right?)

So, I’d love to hear responses to better understand both sides, especially since it seems like we’re all on the same side… pretty much.

Questions to my guilds would be:

  1. Why “actors only?” Wouldn’t the union get more funding with everyone in LA paying dues, and wouldn’t the union have more negotiating power if even “reality stars” had to follow Rule #1?
  2. How would one define acting? Are you sure the talking heads at Fox News aren’t completely exaggerated characters who’s true job is to entertain? And don’t you give membership to background actors? Don’t get me wrong, some background actors are fabulous actors and people, but come on… many more are in desperate need of intensive therapy and medication (please send angry letters to your call-in services, background people).
  3. Is there any truth to the rumors that there’s some secret board of directors on both unions who REALLY make the decisions and have zero interest in merging because they’d loose all those awesome kickbacks they get from the peddlers of health insurance and investment plans?

So, everyone chime in and have your say people. Yes, even non-actors should speak up. Share and learn, right?

Giving you the shirt off our backs

My wonderful tenant, Carsten, is also a type I diabetic and posed a question that always gets me fired up. Below is the conversation.

Hey Mike,
quick question for you.  Since you are diabetic and don’t work for ‘the man’, how are you able to get health insurance?  My new position has a really crappy medical plan and I wanted to get my own health insurance, but, of course, I will be declined across the board due to this wonderful pre-existing condition.  I might elect to take COBRA for 18 months, but I am just curious what other options are out there (there is also the Oregon Medical Insurance Pool, but since you don’t live in Oregon, wondering how you are able to get insurance).

-c

My reply:

So dude.  The health insurance issue is the primary thing that obstructs us from doing what we really want to do.
Ugh, don’t get me started.  Too late…. here goes:

When I was in Oregon, I did two things: 1. I did the Ore Med Ins Pool (and yeah, it sucked… $350/mo. and no coverage for the first 6 months… sucked BALLS). then 2. got a “full-time” freelance gig with one client and paid them to be put on their plan. Same deal tho… $300/mo. and when I made a claim, the small company’s insurance went up 30%.

At that point, I had enough income (luckily) thru some acting work that I “qualified” for my guild’s (SAG) health plan ($600/yr good coverage), only to be bumped off two years later when I didn’t earn enough money, but then went to the OTHER guild’s (AFTRA) plan where I did earn just enough for that plan ($1200/yr… so-so coverage)… but come September, I have no idea if coverage will continue at all.

It’s a fucked system all around.

Oh, and don’t do Cobra unless it’s actually affordable.

Options….

– Check into your Girlfriend’s plan

– Check out http://www.freelancersunion.org

– Check with a client that you have a great relationship with

– Do the OMIP thing

– Or direct negotiate with your doctor(s), look into low-cost/donated supplies, and if you get seriously hurt, just place yourself in your car and hit a telephone pole since your car insurance has some health coverage.

– Or (and surprisingly the most realistic option) you and me get a team of lawyers and sue 5 major medial insurers for creating a hostile, unfairly compensated workplace thru the lack of reasonable health care coverage for self-employed individuals. Then just use the settlement money to pay for the $950/mo. plans they offer us diabetics.

At least that’s my plan.

So… any lawyers interested in a class-action?

…hire someone else.

My old metrosexual friend, Ben, asked if I would do his voicemail message because he believes his voice is a “squeaky ass shity voice.”

Normally, I’d recommend to try talking from the back of your throat, relaxed, while thinking of your happy place (and maybe a little therapy to go with it). But, I always love an opportunity to mess with Mr. Maldonado.

The 5 options for Ben (don’t know which one he’ll use):

Oh, and this also serves as an example to those wanting to do VO work, but complain about not having anything to make a reel from.

Remember the incident with my critique of Voice123 and their interesting response?

Well, below is example of how Voice123 coulda-woulda-shoulda have handled it.
The first message is the automated response you get when you quit the application process at the point they ask for a credit card (two pages in) to “register.”
—————–

Rich Carnahan <rcarnahan@unimediasolutions.com> wrote:

Mike,
Our records show that you began the registration for Audition America but did not upload a monologue. May I ask why you elected to not complete the process? Your feedback can help us shape the future of our competition this season and in the future. I’d love for you to reconsider and come back to www.AuditionAmerica.TV for your shot at national notoriety. I hope to see your audition soon.

Best,
Natalia Gould
Research Assistant | Cync Entertainment  LLC
Audition America ™ – The Search for America’s Favorite New Actors ™
Online @ www.AuditionAmerica.tv

— my response —

Because charging a $42 fee for “registration” is a scummy thing to do.
Actors should NEVER pay outright to audition or be represented.
AuditionAmerica.tv is obviously a scam.

— her response —

From: Cync Entertainment <producers@cyncentertainment.com>

This isn’t an “audition” in the traditional sense of the word. It’s is a competition with “audition” in the title, and most every competition has an entry fee. Even when TV shows are submitted for Emmys or movies for the Oscars, there is an entry fee. Audition America is no different. The fact is, we do not have national sponsors like some of the other reality competitions that have been around for almost a decade. Therefore, we’re asking our contestants to share part of the financial responsibility of running a competition of this magnitude in order to insure the show’s success and warrant its return for seasons to come. I’m sorry you feel we are attempting to be unethical, but that’s unfair. In reality, we’re giving actors – very likely, struggling actors – a chance at national notoriety.

Judging by your distrusting response, it’s probably unlikely that you’ll reconsider and join us. I understand. You may not be right for the competition. Not every singer tries out for American Idol either. I wish you the very best, and thank you for taking the time to write me back. Your opinions are of great value to our team.

Warm regards,
Natalia

———-

So… conclusion: while I still think “Audition America” is a misleading organization (they posted on actor casting websites without mention of having to pay a fee), at least they come clean on their true intentions. -mv

An old friend of mine from Portland wrote me and asked about voiceover work and low-to-no budget projects. I thought my response might also help other aspiring animators and creative types.

The cliff notes version is: I’ll do just about anything if you’re nice to work with and/or if the project is good/fun.

Paul Brian Thomas wrote May 19 at 1:18pm:

Hey Mike,

I wanted to see if you had any info on standard contracts and fees for voice actors for cartoons. I have a slew of upcoming shorts and episodes that I am currently working on and I can only voice so many on my own. I was looking to see if I could find info on contracts and fees so that I could maybe start hiring some talent. It may be awhile before I can pay people, so at the moment I will be relying on friends and family for most of the “free” help. Let me know. Hope you are well man, things seem to be pretty busy and good for you. Take care.

-Paul

Mike Vaughn wrote May 20 at 12:56pm:

Dude!  What up.
Ok, here’s the deal on VO types and low-budget work.
I actually help friends out all the time and do VO work for free, but 1.) I have to actually like you, and 2.) the project has to be either good or easy.

Luckily, you’ve got #1 covered. Heh.

So, show me what you need and I’ll be happy to not only help you out, but I can help book and record other actors that may fit the bill. Yeah, I love my job that much.

But when your stuff takes off, just promise us talent that you’ll make it union (SAG or AFTRA, doesn’t matter) so we can be protected from those evil network producers and maybe (if we’re lucky… get some health insurance).   [note, I’m being sarcastic about network producers, but not the health insurance]

The rates for very low-budget stuff for talent is essentially free, but once the work makes money then it’s pay-up time.

My (limited) understanding is that something like an extremely low-to-no budget short film is $100/day deferred. So if and when you make your first dime on it, you have to pay the actors, but if you never make any money on it, the actors at least get copies for their reels, meals on the shoot day, and not be worked too many hours.

When your work hits the big time, it’s my understanding that animated shows pay about $850 (starting) per 4 hour session (of course, I could be wrong since I hear different rates from the two different unions all the time). Then, if it’s a videogame, there are no residuals, that’s it; if it’s broadcast then there are residuals to be paid based on the airings. Oh, and none of this really applies to Celebs.

That help or just confuse?
Hell, I’m confused.
Anyway, send me anything. Happy to help.
-Mike V
PS: would you mind if I post this response on my blog? Might help others.

Paul Brian Thomas wrote May 20 at 1:12pm:

Mike,
Damn, this is good info!! With all the animated projects on the Horizon I am going to need some serious help. So expect to hear from me soon. It’s amazing the amount of BS that you guys have to put up with. I will have a short done soon and might send it your way to get your input. Trust me, I am no voice-actor, but at the moment I am the cheapest they come. And please, post it on your blog man! I agree, people need to know this stuff.

This gives me a good point to start with, thanks again.
-Paul

Fellow actors sometimes ask me about the pay-to-play voice-over casting sites, and I think my response to Voice123’s email asking why I don’t upgrade my account, pretty much sums up my feelings about these types of sites.

So, if you’re a voice talent who loves these sites and you’re kicking ass, then hats off to you. It’s just not my thing and this is why.

First up is the email I received:


On Apr 15, 2010, at 4:07 PM, Steven Lowell wrote:

Hello Mike,
Steven here from Voice123. I am contacting you because your subscription on Voice123 is currently a Standard Subscription.

Instead of doing a regular survey, I wanted to write you personally, asking for your honest, no-holds-barred opinion, as to why you have not upgraded to Premium, or why you are still standard.

So… Feel free to let us have it! We can take it, and we promise your answer will remain confidential!

Thank you for your honesty!
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager, Voice123

Christ, he just thanked me for my honesty. I guess I better give it to him.
Here’s what I wrote back:

Steven, hi.
Not sure how confidential this is, but then I don’t care anyway.
By the way, didn’t even realize I have a “standard subscription” since I don’t use, pay, audition, or book with Voice123 at all.
So, you want to know why I don’t use Voice123?  Well… here goes:

1. Your service isn’t all that helpful for voice talent with agents and managers. We get plenty of auditions, all of which we can trust are legit and will pay when booked.

2. Your service is WAY overpriced. The majority of responses I’ve heard from those using and booking on Voice123 is, “I almost broke even with the jobs I was able to book on Voice123.” Extra auditions and work just to “almost” make the subscription fee with no protection for non-paying clients? Yeah, no thanks.

3. The Voice123 brand is a determent to whatever semblance of a “brand” I might have. And what I mean by that is because of the numerous active entry-level talent with very limited abilities listed within Voice123, combined with clients posting little-to-no pay jobs, including paying jobs that are consistently well below fair market rates, associating my name on your site actually devalues my accomplishments as an actor. Make sense? And yes, I recognize that there are some talented and very qualified voice talent on Voice123, just… not as many in my humble opinion.

4. I’m hearing more and more stories of clients trying out Voice123, not digging the results, and heading back to trusted agents and managers. I could only imagine the headache of filtering thru hundreds of mediocre auditions as a broadcast producer versus the option of calling a few trusted talent agents and getting them filtered a bit more thoroughly.

Now, critique is easy and cheap; it’s the solutions that are difficult, right?
Here are mine:

1. Instead of charging talent, CHARGE the clients looking for voice talent. You listening, Breakdown Services, LA Casting, and Now Casting? This also has the wonderful side-effect of better filtering out the illegitimate clients who have no intention of paying for work anyway. Yes, I’m talking about “clients” who use demos as the final product without pay (don’t pretend like this doesn’t happen).

2. Better yet, don’t charge anything. Just get tons of traffic and make moolah via ad sales and sponsorships. Maybe have your site be the catalyst to some giant yearly event filled with people and services willing to gauge the naive wanna-be voice actor. Oh, wait, that’s already covered.

3. What about pre-screening talent and guaranty a minimum level of quality to clients. Then also, pre-screening clients and guaranty a minimum level of legitimacy and security to voice talent? You listening SAG? AFTRA? No, they aren’t are they?

4. Show Google, Microsoft, or Breakdown Services how awesome you are currently, and see if you can’t enjoy a buy-out. The retire to Baja. I hear the property goes for cheap these days.

You asked for it.
Oh, and you’re welcome.
-Mike

A new voice-over adventure?

January 16th, 2010

Look, I’ve never been comfortable charging actual money for things that help my friends. But then three people who I respect tremendously (Megan, Wendy, and Stacey) pointed out that 1. I’m just giving away my expertise in this voice-over business-game thing when I share my experiences, advice, and cut demos; 2. Helping a fellow actor with their voice demos, auditions, and marketing is something that should be paid for (or it’s perceived as not worth anything); and 3. I’m a former copywriter and producer who now works the other side of the mic fairly successfully. I guess that just means I know my shit… I guess.

So, as I look over at a rather large pile of bills, I think they might be on to something. Maybe it’s time to get over it and make some beer money. Aka, health insurance premiums… the dia-dia-dia-betus ain’t free as Wilford Brimley would say.

Here’s my idea and I’d love to know what you guys think. Also, what would you name this adventure?

  1. Open up my home studio to actors wanting to get into voice-over work.
  2. Focus on people with little-to-no voice-acting experience, and give them candid info on things like current industry trends, requirements, my actual experiences, and where this person may or may not fit in the scheme of things.
  3. Offer candid reviews of their current voice-demos (if they have them) for free. Tip jar?
  4. Offer three private hours of custom consultation, time in the booth and walk away with the recordings for $95 total (maybe do the initial chatting on the balcony with wine and/or cigars… might be fun).
  5. Offer three hours to three people (max I fit in the studio) for a lower-cost group session at $50 each.
  6. For actors with decent voice demos, but just need a tune-up with new lines: $50 hr.
  7. Need a quick audition and you don’t have a home studio: $10 for 30 min. (includes editing, submission and direction if they want it… heh).
  8. Source-Connect Session: $75 hr.

Fire away!
What would you guys call this little business adventure?
Any other advice is also super-welcome.

xoxo
-mv

Apparently my feet are D-cups.

January 8th, 2010

Since part of this acting thing is about trying to be healthy, or at least the appearance thereof, I figured I’d share a bit of my trials and tribulations.

First up: running with some neat new shoes.
My awesome girlfriend got me these Vibram FiveFingers
Since I don’t feel like typing and since I do VO for a living, here’s a little “stream-of-consciousness-slash-audio review” for ya:

———————————

Ok, update time… (2/23/10)
Now with 30% less “after-running soreness,” I am officially in love with these babies! I actually sorta crave getting out there and seeing how much of the 3.5 mile “around Silver Lake” run I can do. Last time out, I only walked about 3-5% of the time. Also, a few less glaring stares (except you, Redhead with funny looking bull dog), and I’m slowly figuring out how to handle downhill sections. Now if someone at Vibram would kindly tell me why running uphill is so much easier (dare I say fun) and what I’m doing wrong when the trail goes downhill, well… that would be just swell.

PS: semi-hard pack dirt trails are where it’s at for sure.

and funky shoes

Yummmy

Sam’s Birthday Song

January 4th, 2010

The best part about this voicemail left from my fellow improv actor and friend, Samwise Arron, is the last bit about, “…I will deny that I did it.”
Apparently, someone forgot that I have a professional vo booth at home. Ha. 

This weeks best quote:

December 22nd, 2009

“Yeah, yeah, you’ve got it going on Mr. Vaughn.”
– Casting director for a spoof web series that pokes fun at the porn industry.

I love this quote because the role I was auditioning for was that of a failed porn director.
Touche, world. Touche.

———————————————————-

Caught this clip a couple of weeks ago on G4 and was happily surprised by Amy Henning (creative director) and Naughty Dog’s approach to the voice acting in Uncharted 2.

Check it out – specifically around 4:10:
http://g4tv.com/videos/43254/Best-of-2009-Game-of-the-Year-Acceptance-Speech/

Quick background: About two years ago I got up the nerve in a VG voice session to ask why lines are read lines from a spreadsheet (versus a script) with an occasional short description of what the line should sound like. The answer, “because the engineers programming the game need the audio clips individually and in ‘blocks’ to work in the interactive environment” made total sense to me. Got it. Cool. Ok, back to work…. 300 Spidey lines later and I’m done for that day.

I always wondered and hoped that somehow the tools of good acting (pre- reads, full scripts, rehearsals, actors in the scene together recording in the same the room, improvisation, etc.) would merge with what programmers and game designers need to make it all work.

Then hearing Amy Henning talk about how they did exactly just that, makes me very, very excited for the things to come in the interactive world. I’m also super psyched that some AVO cohorts are in that game. Congratz, Mr. Horan, Mr. Gough, and Mr. Atkin Downes. You too Mr. Blum. Nice.

I truly enjoy working on videogames. Ok, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. 1. They can be a challenge, 2. the results can be quite fun to watch, and 3. I’m a dorky Atari kid from the 70’s. What did ya expect? But to be 100% honest, the union contracts could use a little tweaking (pssssst… the rates are a little low).

Whoah… hang on… did you just hear the part about how the goal is to make a game that’s more of a cinematic experience? Seems like it sure is getting close. Oooooh! Just got an IDEA: what if our Acting guild reps (SAG, AFTRA) could come up with contracts that are similar to the ones in TV and Film since games are already headed in that direction? Naw, they’re probably too busy fighting each other and being afraid to think that far ahead. Oh well.

For more on that issue…. Well… there’s this:
A Video Game Star and His Less-Than-Stellar Pay

———————————————————-

I fought the law… and I won?

December 22nd, 2009

LA parking: 1  Me: 1

Now it’s tied bitches.

This_almost_makes up for when the city posted temporary “no parking” signs after 11:59 pm for the LA half-marathon then towed my car at 1:15 am. And yes, I even had proof there were no signs posted earlier that day. Actual quote from the city representative who “tried” the case: “With the City of Los Angeles Parking, you are assumed guilty before your hearing and you must prove your case to me.” I guess that excel spreadsheet he had was better proof than the photos and statements I had.

———————————————————-

Ego stroked.

December 22nd, 2009

Wow. I’m humbled and honored by this little write-up.
http://su.pr/5fA7ZJ

Jeremy Michael Cohen, you rule.
Can’t wait to 1. see the film, 2. work with you again, 3. take you up on that game of Risk challenge.

Everyone else,
I suggest you keep up with this up-and-comer: http://twitter.com/jeremymcohen

———————————————————-

It’s funny cause it’s true.

December 22nd, 2009

Best sign seen while running:

“Beware of dog.
Cat is not trustworthy either.”

Love it.

———————————————————-

[Megan and I are always on the lookout for a great home rental and we found a deal that was too good to be true. In fact, I assumed the owner meant to say, it’s one room for that amount, but I figured I’d double check anyway]

—————————————————–
From: Mike Vaughn
Subject: $1000 / 3br – 1990 Traditional in the heart of Silver Lake.. Large master bedroom
To: hous-yzysu-1482948047@craigslist.org
Date: Saturday, November 28, 2009, 11:14 PM

Hi.
Quick question: is this a shared room, or the entire home that’s for rent..
Thanks.
-Mike Vaughn

—————————————————–
From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: November 29, 2009 5:20:15 AM

Thanks for the mail. The house is still available for rent… Total move in cost:$1300 (includes first month rent).All Utilities are already included in the rent.I would love to show you round the place and the inside, but am sorry we are presently out of town. I am one of the coordinator of United State Missionary Organization and decided to rent/lease our property because i have been posted to New York City by the United State Christain Organization for (Worldwide Missionary Outreach). We are now in New York City for the Missionary work.We wanted to sell it before and later changed our mind to rent it out for investment purposes since we might still come back some time three years or more to come.So we have ordered them to stop all advertisement and remove it from the market about the home for sale and that will be effective asap. So i wouldnt want that to bother you at all..We could not find an honest agent to hand over the place to before leaving so i and my family decided to post the advert online.Here is our rental application form that you will have to fill if you are still interested in this rent.

RENTAL APPLICATION FORM
TENANT’S PERSONAL INFORMATION
FIRST NAME: __________________
MIDDLE NAME: __________________
LAST NAME: __________________
PROFESSION: ________________
CELL PHONE:______________________
HOME PHONE:______________________
DO YOU HAVE A PET:____________________________
DO YOU HAVE A CAR____________________________
OCCUPATION:____________________________
PRESENT ADDRESS: ___________________________
WHY ARE YOU LEAVING: ____________________________________________________
PREVIOUS ADDRESS: ___________________________
PREVIOUS RENT: _______
HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND STAYING: ____________
WHEN DO YOU INTEND MOVING IN: ______________
HOW SOON CAN YOU HAVE THE TOTAL MOVE IN COST SENT TO ME?

I CERTIFY that answers given herein are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I authorize investigation of all statements contained in this application for tenant screening as may be necessary in arriving at a tenant decision. I understand that the landlord may terminate any rental agreement entered into for any misrepresentation made above.

Thanks and Remain Blessed

—————————————————–

[NOTE: at this point it’s obviously a scam, and since we live near the house we decided to jog the neighborhood and see the place along the way. We ended up meeting the owner who said he had his house listed on Zillow and the scammers used that listing to create the Craig’s List ad. We had a laugh and moved on. ….Then I decided to fuck with this guy]

—————————————————–
From: Mike Vaughn
Date: November 29, 2009 11:22 AM

Hi Johnson.

We have a few things it common it seems. I too own a home in Oregon and I live here in LA for work. I also have renters in my home, and I’m keeping the house for investment purposes as well. How funny.
Also, we know what you mean when you talk about the difficulty in finding honest representatives in this area. Whew boy. Don’t get me started. Everyone needs some money I suppose.

Anyway, I’ve filled out the application below.
If we qualify, what would be the next step and how would we see the place?
Thanks so much and continued success to you in New York (we love that city).
-Mike and Megan

—————————————————–
From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: November 30, 2009 9:34 AM

Hello,

You have a nice application filled out and now you are approved to be our new tenant.So i will have to send the keys to you but before that i will have to confirm your total move in cost(1300) which would be sent to my solicitor.I and my family would like to send the following documents to you via Fedex courier company to the address you provided in the rent application form after your payment has been confirmed.You will be receiving the entrance and the rooms Keys,Paper/Permanent house form(Containing your reference details),house documentary file and Payment Receipt inside the package.The tracking number of the delivery status would be sent to you and other details of delivery so that you can possible occupy the house asap.The money would be wired to my solicitor in here in Escondido,CA via western union money transfer.Get back to me asap for the western union details required to use to make the payment

Thanks

—————————————————–
From: Mike Vaughn
Date: November 30, 2009 10:53 AM

Oh, that is wonderful, blessed news.
I ran to my local Western Union place today and they said they needed your solicitor’s name and information in order for him to receive the $1,300.
We drove by the place and we just love it. We’re very excited.
Anyway, my Western Union office needs the Solicitor’s name, home address and phone number, and that should do it.
Thanks again.
-Mike

—————————————————–
From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: December 1, 2009 12:31 PM

Below is the details you need to use to send the money via western union money transfer

Receivers Name:Shannon Renfro
Receivers Address:1800 N. Broadway
City:Escondido,
Zip code:CA 92026

So Get back to me with the following details ……..

Senders Name:
Senders Address:
Amount Sent:
MTCN #(Ten Digit Number):

Hope to read from you today with the details…

—————————————————–
From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 1, 2009 3:18 PM

Hi again Johnson.

We’re so excited.
We’ve already got most of our house packed up and ready to go. Boy, those U-Haul boxes are expensive aren’t they? Moving to NY, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
So I have more exciting news for you….

My close friend, Richard (Dick) Gosenya, works as the branch manager at the Chase Bank in Ranch Santa Fe, CA. He said he would process a cashier’s check for us for free. Just come in and it’s yours. Because it’s not in your town, I’m going to send you $150 extra, or $1450 total for your trouble (Western Union just wanted to charge too much and I’d rather you, or your solicitor, get the extra money. Use it for gas or lunch or whatever). Plus, you also get to meet Richard. He’s a good guy even if he likes to poke at ya once in a while heh.

Anyway, the cashiers check is ready for you to pick up at:
Chase Bank
6041 La Flecha, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
(858) 756-3777
Ask for Richard (his favorite co-workers and friends call him Dick – you should too) and he’ll hand you the check.

I look forward to getting your package with the papers shortly after you cash the cashiers check.

Thanks again.
-Mike

—————————————————–
From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: December 2, 2009 8:13 AM

I really appreciate your quick response and i am very much excited about that….I appreciate the fact that you will take care of my home for me and i am happy that my home will be in save hands.. I just dont feel comfortable with the cashier check stuff because my solicitor is a very busy person and dont think she likes that when i called her…I am very sorry for any inconvinience but that is how she wants to do it for me.. She only prefers western union because its the fastest and safest way of sending and receiving money worldwide… So now get the money and send it via western union wirh the details i gave to you AND DEDUCT THE WESTERN UNION CHARGES FROM THE MONEY and send the rest and get back to me with the details required from you.

Thanks

—————————————————–
From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 2, 2009 1:25 PM

Sorry, my mistake.
_What I meant to say is that because Richard works there, he can also just cash it for you, no charge, if you prefer. I just thought you’d prefer a cashiers check so that it can be safely sent to your address in NY. I’m glad that you have so much trust in your Solicitor.
Just talked to Richard and he already has my payment waiting for you, and said cash is no problem if you just head into the Chase Bank in Rancho Santa Fe.
You can give him a call on his cell to set up a time if you prefer. His cell phone is (323) 540-4658. Just say “Hi Dick!” and he’ll set you right up. He even knows a little Español. But don’t make any Polish jokes, he HATES Polish jokes. Which we always found strange since he’s half Irish and half Portuguese. He’s a funny guy.

Anyway, feel free to give your solicitor the extra $150 to cover gas, her time, and may_be even a nice lunch at Chilis Restaurant where she can get some fantastic Baby-Back Ribs and Pepper in Some Flavor (their new tag line, not bad, huh?). Yeha, we just love our Chilis.

Since the money is already sent and waiting we’ll just keep packing up and keep getting more and more excited about the move.
FYI, we’ve already moved our patio furniture, grill, and other outdoor stuff to the backyard. Hope you don’t mind.
Thanks again.
-Mike

—————————————————–
From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: December 3, 2009 9:52 AM

Sorry about all this…. I am not accepting checks at all from you as she doesnt want to do it that way.. I HAVE TOLD YOU TO DEDUCT THE WESTERN UNION TRANSFER CHARGES FROM THE MONEY AND THEN SEND THE REST TO THE DETAILS I GAVE TO YOU….NO CHECKS …. if you cant use western union with the offer i gave to you by deducting the charges and then send the rest,Then forget about renting my home.. This is my last decision……

Thanks

—————————————————–
From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: December 4, 2009 2:13 PM
Hi Martin,

I still havent read from you ..Please let me know if you are still very much interested in my home.

Thanks

—————————————————–
From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: December 4, 2009 2:15 PM

sorry to say in previous mail… Mike and not Martin

—————————————————–

[NOTE: Nice. I’ve got him feeling a bit desperate.]

—————————————————–
From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 4, 2009 7:19 PM

Johnson.

My apologies for the delay in my response.
But there’s a very good reason – just got out of the hospital this morning.
I think you should know what an interesting and amazing thing that happened yesterday. All I know is that I’m blessed and that I’m confident you’ll be quite proud of me for defending your beautiful home. And I also managed to sent your money via Western Union today!

Here’s the full story from yesterday:
Megan and I went ahead and had our friend, Cermak, drill out the current door locks (they were kind of ugly anyway) put in BRAND NEW electronic key-padded, platinum door hardware. It looks amazing (I think you’ll be quite happy with the improvement on the new locks). So anyway, since we were able to open the doors, we just went ahead and moved all your furniture to the back yard and garage. By the way, don’t be mad, but we cracked that stained-glass lamp with Jesus on it. So sorry. By the end of the day, we got all our stuff moved in and we were unpacking our grow lights and hydroponic gear when this couple pulls into our driveway. I’m guessing you might have accidentally left the rental ad on Craig’s List cause this guy was screaming something about this being HIS house. He didn’t understand that I got there first and he was very upset and wouldn’t calm down. Now see, I don’t take kindly to people who can’t talk calmly and rationally, and unfortunately, neither does my 85 lbs. Mastiff/Bulldog named Monkey. Anyway, I tried to explain to this guy that you, Johnson Aladney, owned the house and that you were in NY doing God’s great work. So now this guy gets super-duper angry (Guess I would be too if I saw such an awesome house in Silver Lake for $1000 and someone beat me too it – can’t blame him, right?), but then he ATTACKS ME with his Corona Light beer bottle! Must have been the alcohol. I’ll admit, I was very scared when this guy started cutting my face with the now broken bottle. Luckily, Monkey got at him before I completely bled-out. Monkey was able to get a good chunk of the guy’s neck, left arm, and lower back. He ran off bleeding, but Meg called the cops. The police found guy passed out and he’s now in critical condition at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. They not sure if he’s ever going to be able to talk again. What’s really crazy about this guy is that he wanted your place sooo bad that he had a fake identification card made with YOUR HOME’S ADDRESS ON IT. Amazing! The lengths people will go to in getting an awesome house like yours. I’m just glad this guy didn’t die on your property. That would suck (pardon my French).

Ok, so attached is the picture of what happened to me before I got stitches at the hospital. Thought you might get a kick out of it. But don’t worry, I certainly don’t hold you responsible at all, even though my Uncle, “Mr. Lawyer” as we call him, thinks you might be at fault for not taking down the post. I don’t like legal stuff, so don’t worry, I’m just going to ignore the hospital bill and allow God in all his good graces to take care of us.

And lastly, the money!
Dick was very, very sad that no one came to pick up the money. I think when he heard that your solicitor was a female, he may have gotten a little exited and was probably hoping for a lunch date. Which, ironically, would have been paid for by me! Ha ha. I reassured him that he’s an attractive guy and asked if he would send the money to you via Western Union (by the way, I’m going to send you $1596.46 now for the delay to cover interest, the broken Jesus lamp, the old locks and such. Hope that’s ok with you). Attached is the screen shot of the Western Union transfer.

I sent: $1596.46 to
Shannon Renfro
at 1800 N. Broadway
Escondido, CA 92026

From:
DickGoesinya
1329 Silver Lake Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026 (he uses our old address cause he’s embarrassed about his apartment).
MTCN #(Ten Digit Number): 2112651450
(I’ve attached the receipt).

Yummmm

ouch

—————————————————–

[NOTE: Ok, so what I did was attempt to send $1.59 with Western Union, but not hit the final “send” button, then just screen capture everything and photoshop the receipt. The gory photos are from a short film I did.]

—————————————————–
From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: December 5, 2009 8:37 AM

Hi Mike,

I am very happy to see your mail and now i am happy that you are truly interested in my home… I just wanted you to know that there are little problems here with the transfer you made.The fund as said by western union will be available for pick up by the next 72hours which was meant to be available for pick up in just minutes,so you made that mistake and i want you to correct it right now so the money would be picked up right away..All you need do is call western union right now and tell them to activate it right now for pick up.. Also,i called my solicitor is California which is Shannon and she is not available at the moment to help me get the money and so i just want you to go to any western union location and lodge this problem with that and also tell them to help you change the address you sent the money to and the name also…… So go to any western union location or call them and tell them to change the receivers details to the below details

Receivers name:Tracy Reid
Receivers address:1479 Morse Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43229

I am very sorry for any inconvinience here but since the money wont be ready for pick up till the next 72hours,there will be problems with that and also my solicitor in CA is not around anymore to pick the money she travelled anyway to let you know and now i request to change the details of the receiver to my other solicitor in Columbus,Ohio who is very much available right now to pick the funds.

Get back to me asap today as soon as the receivers details are changed and also make sure you call them so they can activate it and the money would be available for pick up in the next few minutes and not 72hours..

Thanks and God Bless You

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[NOTE: Sure am glad he’s happy about my face being cut open. Heh.]

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From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 5, 2009 5:55 PM

Hi blessed Johnson.

I’m so very glad you’re happy. Also, we’re more than interested in your home, WE’RE ALREADY MOVED IN! Praise the lord!
We love the house so much we unpacked and got settled in very quickly.

I personally, however, am still feeling some pain from the attack. While the comfort of knowing Jesus will eventually heal me, I sure wish my faith was as least as strong as Percocet pills.
I’ve attached a picture of me finally pealing off some of the scabs from the cuts to my face from the crazy guy claiming to be the owner of the house. Warning… it’s pretty gory. I just can’t seem to stop bleeding.

Anyway, I’ve called Western Union and talked to Kate (employee #JK69FU) and she helped me make the change to instant delivery so that your new receiver can pick up the money right now.
Unfortunately, it cost me an extra $15 to make it “instant”, and you said I could deduct Western Union Charges from rent, but since I’ve already transferred the entire $1596.46 I need you to PayPal me back the $15. Just PayPal me the $15 for Western Union fee. Thanks.

Oh, and one other problem – the Western Union website and database are undergoing maintenance, so the change may not show up on the website or over the phone. BUT Kate assured me that if Tracy goes in person to any Western Union store, and whispers the MTCN number to the store clerk, she’ll get the money.

This is very important, so remember: YOU HAVE TO GO TO WESTERN UNION IN PERSON AND WHISPER (yes, a quiet whisper) THE MTCN NUMBER TO THE CLERK!

Kate said if you mess that up, they can’t hand over the cash. It’s their policy.
Seems strange to me, but that’s why I don’t normally use Western Union and why I’d rather send you a check directly. Oh well.
Anyway, Tracy should be good to go once she gets to the Western Union branch where it’s the fastest and safest way to send and receive money worldwide. Heh.

Thanks again and blessed be as blessed does.
-Mike

PS: We found a strange locked cabinet safe up in the attic (picture attached). Hope you don’t mind, but we’re going to open it tomorrow with this new blowtorch we got at Home Depot. Since we’re both followers of Christ, I figured locked cabinets are tools of the devil trying to keep us brothers from having an open and honest relationship. If you’d rather us not damage the safe, let me know what the code is, but hurry, the wife is super anxious to use the blowtorch. Probably cause she’s still got a little of that crazy Atlanta redneck inside her.

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From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: December 6, 2009 1:13 AM

Hi,

I am not sure if you are truly interested in this home because it seems that you are joking with me with the money stuff.The money isnt sent at all and you just dont seem to be serious about my home.. The money isnt tracking at all and its never done like that on phone or website..

Thanks

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[NOTE: Uh oh, is he on to me? Better make sure he knows who’s in charge.]

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From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 6, 2009 6:38 PM

For Shame Johnson!

How dare you question my sincerity in wanting to care for your beautiful home on this, the holiest day of the week!
I’m very angry that you think I’m joking after having my face cut open while DEFENDING YOUR HOUSE!

If someone had gone to Western Union in person, you would have gotten your money. I am a man of my word, sir. I am a good Christian. I tell no lies. I told you the money would NOT be trackable because I called in person. It’s like you’re not even reading my messages. Maybe you are having a hard time reading the computer screen? Don’t feel bad, Dick has the same problem. Says, he’s going to get a big 30″ LCD HDTV for his desk. Can you believe that? 30″ on a 22″ desk from Office Depot? Dick cracks me up.

Anyway, I’m going to cancel the money transfer tomorrow, unless you say you’re sorry right now!!!!
Apologize immediately or we’ll donate the $1596.46 to a good Christian charity like Focus on the Family.
You got that? Once you apologize, I’ll re-send the money, however I’m deducting $296.46 for the fees, my expense in putting in new locks, and a little to calm my anger. That leaves $1300 for you if you apologize now. Thank you very much.

I’m sure you’re also a man of your word and a good Christian, so I’ll wait with baited breath for your atonement.
-Mike

PS: We got the safe open and we found what appears to be some very valuable Cigars, women’s Jewelry, and what I assume is Oregano or Cat Nip. We’ll talk about why a “coordinator of United State Missionary Organization” would have such contraband, but only after you say you’re sorry, ok?

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From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: December 7, 2009 7:05 PM

I am sorry.

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[NOTE: Holy shit! That worked? Wow.]

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From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 7, 2009 5:52 PM

Amen Johnson!

I knew I could trust you, and I knew you are also a man of his word.
Excellent. Thank you.

I’m now going to send you $1425 because of your nice, humble, and succinct apology.
Very, very classy, by the way. No need for excess words I say.

Ok, we have but one final problem before I transfer the full amount. That problem, my friend, is my friend, Dick (the lonely banker in Rancho Santa Fe, California). Dick doesn’t believe that you’re a real person (keep in mind Dick also believes Jews run Hollywood, but you and I both know it’s the Scientologists). Anyway, Dick then told us he wouldn’t do any more free bank transfers and he’d take back our blow-torch unless he was 100% positive you’re real. However Dick also said that if you ARE in fact real he will donate $599 to your United State Christian Organization as an apology for not believing you’re a living, breathing human. Very exciting because I trust you and know that you’re real.

I know the perfect way to prove to Dick that you’re real and so we can both send our $1425 and $599 payments immediately:
Take a picture of yourself holding a sign that reads: “P0ned by Mike Vaughn”
I’ve attached a photo of me as an example. “P0ned,” as you know, is an old latin phrase that loosely translates to, “my trusted friend cares for my nice home.” As you can see, my cuts have healed quite nicely and I’m back at work now. I used to look more like Hugh Grant, but the plastic surgery has turned me into something of a cross between Jeremy Piven and Vince Vaughn. I’m not complaining… I mean have you seen those Hugh Grant movies lately? Ugh. My word.

So, quickly, just take a photo with a sign that says:

“P0ned by:
Mike Vaughn”

Then I’ll show your photo to Dick and immediately transfer your money as God as my witness.

I Look forward to seeing your blessed face with the message!
Jeremiah 2:15: “sWord up, it is thee code word, matter not wherein thou say it, thou knoweth he shall be heard.”
-Mike

Oh, one last thing: I told our congregation about our conversations and they were very happy and impressed with how generous you’ve been in renting the home to us for such a low price and for letting us move in without full payment. Very, very Christian of you. They wanted to show you their gratitude by saluting you on the Church Board for the next two weeks. I’ve attached an image of the sign they made to remind us all that it’s good to believe! I didn’t mention the safe full of valuable Cigars, Jewelry, and Cat Nip because I’m sure you have a reasonable explanation… like maybe you were researching the effects of those material items on devout, God-fearing Christians. Maybe I should just mail you the Cigars, Jewelry, and Cat Nip. Does that interest you, or should we sell them and keep the money?

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From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: December 8, 2009 9:17 PM

ok

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[NOTE: Crap. He’s caught on. Even I can detect the sarcasm in that “ok.” Darn.]

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From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 9, 2009 12:31 PM

Dearest outreacher Johnson.

I’m sad because it’s taking you so long to get a simple photo with a message to me.
I hope Dick isn’t right and I believe that you’re real. I hope you are.
You said you live in NY so I can’t imagine how hard it would be to find a digital camera.

Perhaps you’ve taken your oath of poverty and you just don’t need the money anymore.
Is that the case?

Four hail Mary’s and an Ahmen to you, my trusted friend.
-Mike

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From: johnsonaladney@yahoo.com
Date: December 11, 2009 10:44 PM

Please dont bother mailing me anymore…

Thanks

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[NOTE: One last ditch effort….]

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From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 11, 2009 11:28 PM

Oh, my dearest made-in-God’s-image Johnson.

You really sound depressed. Must be the weather I’m sure. I know how you feel since it’s been nothing but rain around here.

This will be my last email to you since you don’t seem to need or want the money, so we’ll donate the $1400 to the Focus on the Family Charity. Bless you for the home and for allowing the money to go where it is truly needed.

BUT we really need that photo of you with the sign because the man claiming to own your home has come out of his coma and some police detectives are starting to ask questions. I’m sure your photo will clear everything up.

After all this fighting and bloodshed to defend your home, the woman and I have decided that it’s time for a vacation.
We’ve decided to take a month-long trip to the lovely town of Port Louis on the Island of Mauritius. (I also have some business at the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation, but don’t tell the woman, ok?)

I’m going to take your box of Cigars, Jewelry, and Marijuana (yes we had a friend figure out that it wasn’t cat nip at all – truth be told, we’re glad you’re a good Christian with certain flaws. It takes a little pressure off of us) and we’re going to trade your valuables to the highest bidders in Mauritius then donate the money to the nearest Missionary in your blessed name.

Again, we need that photo, or the Detectives said they would be joining us on our trip to Mauritius. I assume just to annoy me, but they wouldn’t say exactly why.
So please, send the photo and I’ll pay whatever you need to hurry the process along.

Thanks and blessed be as blessed does.
-Mike

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[NOTE: Sadly, that was the last I heard from him. Big thank to my friends “the Kidz” who were able to track this guy down to his host “Cyber City” in Ebene on the East African Island of Mauritius. Hence my last jab about going to Mauritius. Google map this island to see how small it is. Wow.]

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Suck it, LA Casting.

October 13th, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the “I’d like to update my profile” forum.

It went something like this:

“LA Casting.”
“Yeah, hi. I’d like to swap out my OLD pictures, reels, and video clips now that I’ve got more exciting and legitimate work to show.”
“Uh huh, Mr. Vaughn. All you need to do is upload the new pictures and videos…. and I’ll need your credit card number. It’s $5 per new video clip, $25 for the first new photo, and $10 for every photo after that.”
“What? But I’m already paying you an extra $5 a month to ‘host’ my media, I’ve already paid more than $60 to get the photos I already have up, and all I’m wanting to do is SWAP out the old for the new.”
“Well, Mr. Vaughn you’ve already used up the slots for the clips and photos and we charge for the new ones.”
“What if I delete the old photos and clips and just add new ones?”
“We’re happy to delete the old ones, you just need to let our billing office know which ones you want deleted.”
“Then I can put in new ones, right?”
“Yes.  …. for $5 a clip, $25 for the first photo and $10 for every photo after that.”

“….AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! You’re killing me! Just swap them out. Jesus fucking christ! Don’t you people know that I post all the photos I want and even full HD-quality video clips on half a dozen sites for FREE?!?”

(silence on the other end, then…)

“So will that be Mastercard or Visa?”
“That will be my fuck-you card. Starting with the expiration date of TODAY. How’s that sound?”
“You’ll need to send a letter to our billing department to cancel any of our services.”
“Done.”

And that’s exactly what I did.
(btw, the email response says, “You can expect a reply within two business days. Thank you, and have a great day!” Love that… 2 business days, nice.)

I’ve noticed that the exact same stuff is now posted on Actors Access, and Now Casting. And the real jobs aren’t “posted” to actors at all (only Agents and Managers paying a fortune to Breakdown Services are getting the real calls). To top it off, I’ve heard many a producer and director complain about LA Casting on their end – it’s their least favorite.  And let’s be honest, there’s a tremendous amount of gouging going on with all these sites, but none more egregious than LA Casting, who, when I activated my account with media clips, never said anything to the effect of  “once you use up the 5 free clips, that’s it – new and updated clips are extra.” Nothing of the sort, not even in a disclaimer.

There are too many online casting services ready to take an actor’s money, with little-to-no difference between them. So if you’re thinking about loading all those clips and photos to LA Casting, just know that your credit card will be dinged for every little change.

Why casting hasn’t moved over to something that operates like Facebook, YouTube, Tribes, I’ll never know. Is building a low-cost, well-functioning database site *that* difficult? Really?

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