Want to Audition for Family Guy or The Simpsons?

02.08.2010

This article was originally published 2.08.2010. Please scroll down to read the most recent updates and additions.

On Feb. 1st, Backstage.com published a list of TV Pilot Production Listings. Now, I’ll grant that unless you’re a working actor, that might not be of any interest to you. And for animation fans, the list is worth noting for details on upcoming animated productions.

But both beginning and professional voice actors should find this HUGELY interesting as it includes contact info for the casting directors of such popular animated shows as Family Guy, American Dad and The Simpsons.

But before I share that info, please note Backstage’s preface to their article:

The following listings are not casting notices but instead reflect the best general information available about current casting assignments. Do your homework and use them wisely. Do not phone or visit casting directors’ offices. Unless otherwise instructed, all contact with casting directors should be through the mail. Blind mass mailings are not recommended.

And I must also emphasize that this is not a notice for an “open call” or even an audition, frankly. However, you could *submit* for an audition by sending a demo through the mailing addresses Backstage.com provides. Chances are very small that such a demo would even be heard, but there’s no harm in submitting anyway.

American Dad – Linda Lamontagne, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 325, L.A., CA 90035.

Family Guy – Linda Lamontagne, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 325, L.A., CA 90036.

King of the Hill – Mossberg/Anthony Casting, 4024 Radford Ave., Trailer 800, Studio City, CA 91604

The Simpsons – Bonita Pietila, c/o 20th Century Fox Studios, 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Trailer 730, L.A., CA 90035

You’re likely as surprised as I am to see King of the Hill mentioned, especially since FOX announced August 2009 that the one-hour season finale would effectively end the series. I don’t think fans should take this as any kind of sign — or even a glimmer of hope — that further production for the series is planned. There have been no official announcements to date otherwise.

As an addendum to Backstage’s article, I have a related list for which I have opted to not disclose the source out of professional courtesy since it was from an agency.

Update: 2.11.2010 — I have tracked down what I believe to be the original source of the casting information which I received via an agency in mid-January.

The source is NowCasting.com — a reputable casting site widely used throughout the TV/film industry. Some TV/film productions I’ve worked on personally as background, stand-in and in a featured role have posted casting notices through this site. (Just to name one: Tyler Perry Studios.)

Note that the names of casting directors ARE included, but no direct contact information is given. If you want that info, you’ll have to track it down on your own or “upgrade” to a paid membership with NowCasting as it mentions on the linked pdf file.

The following list (which according to the document was originally published Jan. 7th, 2010) is worth noting not only for the “currently casting” info but also for the current and upcoming animated series and TV specials (aka “MOW” or “movie-of-the-week”) included in the list which are related to productions which air (or will air) on FOX, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. (I did not include any Nick or Disney shows because all the Nick and Disney shows on NowCasting.com’s list are live-action.)

American Dad (FOX): currently casting
Eagleheart – 1/2 hour pilot (CN): currently casting
Family Guy – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
Firebreather – MOW (CN): wrapped
Kamen Rider – 1/2 hour (CN): on hiatus
Robot Chicken – 1/2 hour (CN): on hiatus
The Tiger’s Apprentice – MOW (CN): wrapped
Titan Maximum – 1/2 hour (CN): currently casting
Delocated – 1/2 hour (CN): currently casting
Futurama – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
The Simpsons – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
The Cleveland Show – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
Untitled Green/Root/Senerich Project (FOX) – 1/2 hour pilot: currently casting

Update: 2.09.2010 — Following the feedback on sites which have also carried this news, it seems I must point out they are neither “recasting” nor “replacing” any of the cast members for the recurring series listed. Backstage.com merely provided the contact address for the casting directors. And NowCasting.com’s list which mentions that shows like Family Guy and American Dad are “currently casting” means that they are possibly casting for incidental characters, guest stars, etc. — *not* the main or supporting cast.

Update: 2.11.2010 — According to one of Futurama’s writers, the show “isn’t casting voice actors.”

Update: 4.08.2010 — NowCasting.com published an updated list on 3.09.2010. And my apologies that I am just now updating this article following this new information, but I was in Japan for two weeks when this notice was released and am just now catching up on backlogged messages.

Here’s the updated list:

American Dad (FOX): currently casting
Family Guy – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
Firebreather – MOW (CN): wrapped
Kamen Rider – 1/2 hour (CN): wrapped
Robot Chicken – 1/2 hour (CN): currently casting
The Tiger’s Apprentice – MOW (CN): wrapped
Horrorbots – 1/2 hour (CN): wrapped
Children’s Hospital – 1/2 hour (CN): currently casting
Scooby Doo – MOW (CN): currently casting [This has been confirmed as a live-action TV movie following a March 12th press release.]
Titan Maximum – 1/2 hour (CN): currently casting
Delocated – 1/2 hour (CN): wrapped
Futurama – 1/2 hour (FOX): still listed as “currently casting” [see earlier note from February above]
The Simpsons – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
The Cleveland Show – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
Untitled Green/Root/Senerich Project (FOX) – 1/2 hour pilot: wrapped [This project has now been confirmed — and this is no April Fools — as a Star Wars animated sitcom.]

Note that no animated Disney or Nickelodeon projects are included in NowCasting’s list. If you’d like to see the new and continuing animated productions for each of these networks, toonzone has coverage of Nickelodeon’s Upfront 2010 and Disney Channel/Disney XD’s 2010-2011 Programming Announcements. Cartoon Network’s Upfront 2010 is scheduled for April 21st.

Backstage.com also has a comprehensive list of Animation Production Companies (last updated 6.09.2009), some of which are seeking voiceover demos (as noted). But make sure you not only follow Backstage’s advice for submissions, but also note the note individual studios’ guidelines for submitting demos. And bear in mind that in most cases “demo” refers to a reel of animation samples, not voiceovers.


Craig’s Craigslist Guide for Performers

01.05.2010

The following article was originally published 1.05.2010 and has since been updated to include new info and updates on known scammers who troll for naive people to exploit via Craigslist.

I’ve been publishing this blog for 10 years as a service to my fellow voice actor fans, and I rarely post about my personal life to avoid appearing self-promotional. (If you actually have an interest in reading about me, click the “About the Blogger” tab above or visit my quirky and random VoxInSox personal blog.)

But I have been working solely as a performer since May 2008 (thanks to the “wonderful” U.S. economy) and one of my resources for finding work has been through Craigslist.org.

Now I realize that for some the mere mention of the site causes audible groans, acid reflux and possibly diarrhea too. I’ve heard some dismiss Craigslist outright as crap and/or say it’s nothing more than a giant cave where spammers and scammers lurk and try to lure the foolish and naive to their doom. And to a certain degree, I agree.

However, there is legitimate, paid work on Craigslist. You just have to learn how to filter through the crap, and I have plenty of experience with that… er, with Craigslist, that is. (I leave the physical handling of crap to trained professionals like Mike Rowe.)

The guide that follows was originally developed for performers in general, which I realize is not voice actor-specific and could be taken as somewhat “off-topic” for this blog. However, I know plenty of voice actors who scan Craigslist for VO work, as well as aspiring voice actors/beginners looking to gain more experience (and hopefully extra income). And the primary reason I took the time to write this guide is to help others avoid getting scammed, spammed or exploited via Craigslist.

This guide came about through years of personal experience scanning Craigslist ads to find work. It’s my misfortune that I learned through trial and error, but I’m the wiser for it and now you can benefit from my mistakes.

Craig’s Craigslist Guide for Performers

1. Avoid postings with obvious typos.

In my experience with Craigslist, posts which are full of typos, grammar errors and/or in ALLCAPS usually turn out to be crap. A minor typo or two is forgivable — mistakes do happen.

However, glaringly obvious and repeated errors in a casting notice on Craigslist are just plain tacky and unprofessional. They shouldn’t expect to be taken seriously if they can’t bother to proofread prior to posting.

AND NO ONE WANTS TO FEEL LIKE THEY’RE BEING YELLED AT WHEN THEY READ! Anything posted in ALLCAPS is not only hard on the eyes but to me says that the person who posted it is lazy and oblivious.

Ads with obvious errors like these tend to be common red flags for known scammers and spammers or projects produced by unprofessional people you don’t want to be involved with anyway.

2. Google Search is your friend.

If the post includes a phone number, physical location address, website, e-mail address, company/agency or individual’s full name, use Google Search to verify their legitimacy.

And on a related note: when researching phone numbers and e-mail addresses, if you note duplicate or similar listings in multiple regions, it’s often a sure sign of a spammer/scammer.

3. Do a background check.

If there is a company name and/or website listed, check with the Better Business Bureau — www.BBB.org — to make sure they don’t already have complaints filed against them before you submit. Other similar consumer-resource sites may also help, such as scam.com, ripoffreport.com, and easybackgroundcheck.com.

4. Check the link BEFORE you click.

If there is a website address in the ad, hold your cursor over the link before clicking to see what shows up as the actual URL in the bottom-left corner of your browser. This should work with both Firefox and Internet Explorer web browsers, or you can right-click on the link and scroll down to “Properties” to reveal the actual URL. Spammers and scammers are known to disguise URLs by encoding them with hidden elements or by using a redirect URL.

One site in particular is a repeat offender with this method of deceit: ExploreTalent.com. Just a quick Google search for “Explore Talent Scam” yields over 29,000 results with red flags galore: fraud reports with BBB.org, ripoffreport.com and many related sites and forums, including a well-researched blog report that was created just to warn others about this site and how to avoid getting ripped off by them.

Explore Talent masks their identity in Craigslist postings under many various domains they have registered and other redirect URLs (list compiled by Explore Talent Scam Fraud Reviews):

auditions.com
castingaudition.com
auditionsforfilms.com
actingauditions.net
casting-call.us
freecastingcall.com
explore-talent.net
exploretalent.info
exploretalent.org
explortalent.com
explore-talent.info
explore-talent.biz
exploretalent.mobi

In December 2009, Explore Talent appears to have launched a massive web marketing propaganda campaign via Twitter and every single blog service and social networking site available in attempt to discredit sources which have cited them for fraud and other unscrupulous practices, including BBB.org and ripoffreport.com.

Each “blog” contains the same exact post, and like the ads they post on Craigslist, they’re full of crap.

5. Check with your peeps.

Make inquiry with your fellow performers via message board/forum to verify whether a company/agency/website/casting notice is legitimate…or not. I recommend the following forums (which I am also a member of):

6. Dummy e-mail accounts protect you from dummies.

Create a separate e-mail address (like Gmail) just for submitting for projects via Craigslist, and thus keep your regular, personal e-mail account spam-free.

7. No pay? No duh!

If there’s no mention of pay yet it doesn’t specifically say “no pay,” don’t bother e-mailing them to ask because there probably isn’t any. Trust me on this. My theory is that most notices that don’t mention pay are doing so deliberately so you will contact them to ask, and then they own your contact info to use and abuse.

8. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Yes, I know how clichéd that sounds, but this is also Craigslist we’re talking about here and it’s the truth.

9. Better safe than sorry.

Another cliché, but you really cannot be too cautious submitting via Craigslist for anything. And not just in submitting, but auditioning as well. If the venue turns out to be someone’s home (as has happened with me a few times), ask to meet them first in a very public place like a local coffee shop or food court in a mall. And I’d even suggest taking a friend with you too, just to be safe.

Some ads you’ll I.D. immediately as crazy, like this “Drunk Santa” ad I shared on TSCC. But sometimes Craigslist posts may appear legitimate and turn out to be total wackos, like what members have posted on VO-BB.com here and here about “sneezing” audition scams where fetishists were exploiting female voice talents. No joke. It’s too weird to make this stuff up. Voice actor Bobbin Beam also blogged about this back in March 2008.

That said, looking for work on Craigslist requires lots of caution and a great deal of discernment. And even taking extra precautions, I’ve still gotten spammed on occasion. But I’ll tell you that using the above methods really does help cut through the crap…which is an appropriate transition to my final point.

10. Craigslist is full of crap.

Seriously. I even joke with others that looking for legit acting work on Craigslist is like looking for gold in the sewer: most of it’s crap, but every now and then you find a nugget…which still might turn out to be crap too, or it looks like gold but turns out to be fool’s gold.

Jokes aside, I have booked many paid gigs through Craigslist in the last few years: product demo jobs, event hosting gigs, some decent-paying voiceover work, background work for film/TV, and performing as an entertainer for live events.

Granted, there’s a small percentage of return on your investment of time spent browsing and submitting, but those who audition for projects regularly should be accustomed to those odds anyway. And over time (and using this guide), you’ll find you can filter the crap quickly, especially when you tweak your searches. You just have to decide if it’s worth your time to sort through the crap to find the work. And as my dad liked to say, “It’s not work unless your hands get dirty.”

Closing notes:

I first published a rough draft of this guide on The Southern Casting Call, though it was more like simple suggestions then. I later revised and expanded it for the Shofax Forum on ActorsAccess.com. Afterwards I was asked to make this guide available outside the forums as a linkable resource, so there you go.

Feel free to share this guide with others, and links and pingbacks are both welcome and greatly appreciated, but please do not copy/paste this guide verbatim elsewhere without requesting permission in advance.

~ Craig Crumpton
Publisher, Voice Actors in the News