Okay, so... casting.
As I mentioned in my last post, this is one of the most fun parts of making a show. You're listening to a whole bunch of sooper talented (and not so talented) voice actors and actresses breathe life into your characters! They're becoming REAL!
And I don't need to tell you (do I?) that choosing a voice for your character is one of the most important parts of making a successful show!
Now, the great thing about working with a big, well-established, sooper-diversified company like Disney is that they've got a pool of talent eleventy hundred miles deep. EVERY actor wants to work with them because... well, because they're Disney. If your show hits it big, you'll be WORLDWIDE GIHOOGIC!
So, the first part of swimming in this pool of talent is sitting down and talking with your casting director. The guy I'm working with at Disney is named David Wright and he's awesome. It's his job to know EVERYONE. Every actor and actress, their strengths and weaknesses, availability, ability to take direction, their versatility, their energy levels, do they like milk chocolate or dark chocolate, can they do that gross thing some people do where they flip their eyelids inside out, etc.
David knows all that stuff.
So when we talked about my new show, he wanted to know these SAME things about the characters so he could help match the PERFECT voice to each one. And one of the great things about having already produced six seasons of a show is that I happen to have worked with a LOT of the same voice actors he knows. Which leads me to a quick aside:
Being a professional (working) voice actor is VERY HARD work, and because of that it's a very small community. Ever wonder why actors like Tom Kenny, Grey DeLisle, and Candi Milo (to name a few) are the stars of soooooooooooooooo many cartoons?
Answer: Because there aren't enough REALLY GREAT, REALLY VERSATILE voice actors out there to take their place.
But still... ya gotta see who's out there and who's right for the part!
So I came to the table with a bunch of ideas for who I might like to audition for the lead roles of my show, and David gave me suggestions on people I didn't already know. But why stop there? There's always others we didn't think of, or hot new actors on the scene. So we send out our 'sides' to the talent agencies to get even more ideas.
What the heck are SIDES, you ask?
These are one or two page descriptions of the characters, often with pictures, sometimes without, along with a variety of dialogue. These lines are chosen to help the actor get a feel for who the character is. You also want lines that show the actor's versatility. Can they be mad, sad and/or silly? Perhaps all at the same time? Can they yell? Can they yell LOUD? Can they sing? What about fart sounds?
So the folks at the talent agencies then call in the people they think are perfect for the part and have them record the dialogue from the sides, usually in their own recording booth, or increasingly, in the actor's home studios. And then they send Mr. Wright a pile of mp3's to sift through.
So all said and done, we're talking about HUNDREDS of auditions!
Fortunately, I don't have to listen to all these. Mr. Wright is the one who picks up the gems, weeds out the stinkers, and saves interesting new people for his files. Sometimes there's someone who's TOTALLY wrong for the part, but they've got something interesting about their voice we might be able to use later (or for another show).
And often, since the actors are recording their lines without the benefit of Mr. Wright or I directing them- they're barking up the wrong microphone. But we KNOW we can point them in the right direction if we were there!
That's where the next step comes in...