how NOT to make it

notes from a working actor

The trials and tribulations
of Mike Vaughn

(this guy)

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.


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:

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.

3 Responses to “How to get free VO talent for your Project”

  1. See! That wasn’t that hard to explain!

    Now if only SAG or AFTRA could start explaining things that easily (and not contentiously) we might actually have MORE newbie producers interested in using union talent…


  2. You gave great points here. I did some research on the subject and have found nearly all people agree with your blog.

    Sent from my iPhone 4G


  3. The status quo sucks.

    tv shows

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