The Playgoer: When the Industrials & Voiceovers Go Away

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Friday, July 23, 2010

When the Industrials & Voiceovers Go Away

Sobering feature in the Minneapolis Star-Trib about the changing fortunes of local AEA actors in what we always assumed would continue to be a thriving theatre town.

The problem is not so much the stage work at the town's fine theatres drying up.  It's those little-known, unglamorous bread-and-butter jobs that get most actors through the year--like industrial films and voiceovers.  As one quoted actor says:

"The market for industrial films and corporate videos is bad. Commercial work is way down. All the things that we generally do to cobble together a living has been affected, so it's harder to live the same middle-class dream as other Americans."
Yes, who knew that actors would be among the greatest sufferers from the exodus of big corporations from mid-size American cities.
And from globalization!
Actors are facing some of the same challenges as Detroit autoworkers and widget-makers nationwide: The labor pool has been globalized. Technology has made it so that you can set up a recording session and do a voice patch with someone anywhere on Earth, said Carol McCormick, a film and TV agent at Moore Creative Talent with 30 years of experience. "So the actor who used to get voice jobs in the Twin Cities is competing against someone in L.A. or London or anywhere English is spoken."
How this potentially impact the Minneapolis theatre scene?  Well aside from being depressed, many actors in this situation might just leave.  And while a big institution like the Guthrie can always job in from New York, the smaller theaters depend on the local pool.  What will they do?
And I suspect this is bigger than just Minneapolis.  Are we going to see this in Seattle? even San Francisco?

Uh, have a nice weekend...


Karen McKevitt said...

We've already seen it in San Francisco. Voice-over work is way down and more competitive because of the globalization. The TV show Trauma employed a lot of local actors (quality of writing aside), but was cancelled. Actors leave SF all the time for LA and NY, in good times and bad.

DC Douglas said...

And voice over work is much slower here in Los Angeles, as well. I think we are the last to feel the shock wave of a bad economy. 2008 was great for me, and 2009 wasn't bad. But this year I've noticed a monthly drying up, even with reliable clients. Though I have seen an increase in resumes being sent to me blindly!

But all is not lost. The paradigm will shift, but we'll all adjust. Sooner or later, it WILL get better. As for actors leaving? Where will they go when work is slow everywhere? Now's the time to get creative with career options and approaches. Join forces with others and CREATE.

That's my 2 cents! ;-)