Crispin Freeman F.A.Q.'s

Age: 37

Birthdate: 2/9/72

Birthplace: Chicago, IL

Star Sign: Aquarius

Hair Color: Brown

Eye Color: Blue

Weight: 180 lbs

Height: 6'2"

Blood Type: O -

Favorite Anime Character: Allen Schezar

Favorite Character You Played: Tsume

Favorite Anime Series: Macross Plus, The Vision of Escaflowne, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke (and most all Studio Ghibli films)

Dream Date (Real): Natalie Portman ('cause she looks like a young Audrey Hepburn)

Dream Date (Anime): Robin from Witch Hunter Robin

Foreign Languages: Spanish

Favorite Foods: Chicago Style Pizza (Giordano's!), Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, Sushi

Favorite Authors: Joseph Campbell, Marshall McLuhan, J.R.R. Tolkein, William Gibson, Hayao Miyazaki, Osamu Tezuka, Shakespeare

Influences: Anime, working on a ranch in Montana, living on the south side of Chicago, smuggling artwork out of Prague, Czechoslovakia with my family during the Iron Curtain Years, living with my siblings.

Music: Yoko Kanno, Portishead, Chemical Brothers, Björk, Arvo Pärt, Giuseppe Verdi, Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, Uakti, Peter Gabriel, Ekova

Dislikes: Smoking, Religious fundamentalists, disrespectful, rude and mean people

Background: B.A. from Williams College. Majored in Theater, minored in Computer Science. M.F.A. from Columbia University in Acting. Performed on Broadway, American Repertory Theater (Cambridge), Mark Taper Forum (LA), Williamstown Theater Festival

Interests / Hobbies: Sleep, Mythology, Sound Design, Computers, my Game Boy Advance and Xbox

Scroll Down for How to Become a Voice Actor!

How do I become a Voice Actor?

This is the most popular question I get. There is no single path to take in order to become a voice actor. If you want to see how I did it, you can read about it in my interview for Animerica. Everyone has got a different story about how they "broke into the business". However, there are three major criteria that I think are necessary in order to have any realistic chance at doing animated voice over work.

1. You must live in a city where animation voice over work is being produced. This is vital. Too many people think they can just plug a microphone into their computer and get work as a voice-over artist from the convenience of their own home. Doesn't work that way. You must live where you can meet people and make connections. Socializing over the internet will not allow any production company to know who you are or what you can do. You must audition, in person. Plus, they're not going to hire you as an out-of-towner unless you're already a film star. You must be available and easily accessible to a production company for work at any time.

2. You must be an actor. People seem to forget this one. You must learn how to act and react believably under a set of imaginary circumstances. This takes a lot of work. Contrary to what the media might like to sell you, actors are not made overnight, nor are they suddenly discovered. Actors are artists who must work to build and improve their craft at truthfully portraying a person other than just themselves in a fictional situation. Some movie stars can work solely off their personality, but they rarely make good actors. I think the best place to learn how to act is in the theater. The theater is an actor's medium and so therefore the emphasis is on the talent and skill of the actor to carry a performance. I find theatrical training invaluable, especially in voice acting for animation. Learn how to act. Take classes, work on shows, be in student films. Some people think voice acting would be easier than normal acting because it's just your voice and you don't have to get up in front of people. Dead wrong. Voice acting for animation takes place in a little booth, usually with no other actors there to work off of, with little or no script preparation time and with very little knowledge of the story as a whole. Your imagination must be working overtime to fill in the gaps and your skill must be consummate in order to deliver truthful and dynamic readings time after time. On top of that, there is usually a crew of people in the control room listening to your every word deciding whether or not the take was good. They will direct you and usually want many different interpretations and readings of the same material. You must be confident in your skills in order to feel comfortable and productive in those surroundings.

3. You should have a demo reel. A demo reel is an audio recording of your voice that allows casting people who are not familiar with your work to hear what you can do. There are commercial demos, character demos, promotional demos and narration demos. I'm sure there are even others that I haven't mentioned. You can listen to my commercial audio demo and listen to my character audio demo. As an animated voice actor, you are most concerned with making a character demo. A demo should be no longer than a minute and a half and should showcase your range and your ability to play different characters. In order to make a competitive demo, you need to get coaching from someone who knows the industry and who can guide you to highlight your strengths in voice acting. Again, take class from someone who is experienced and working in the field. After you have perfected your craft as an actor, after you have set up shop in the production town of your choice and after you have a demo reel in your hand to give to casting directors and producers, you're now ready to audition for roles that will pay you money to voice act.

Okay, I've done all of the above, now what?

That's the $24 million dollar question. Now, you have to look for an opening. Check the trade papers for audition opportunities. Backstage and Backstage West sometimes list opportunities for auditioning for animation roles. Contact production companies in you area that are working on animated projects and ask them how to go about submitting your character demo for casting consideration. Try to meet people in the industry and ask them for advice. Most people are willing to give advice. If they feel comfortable about recommending you to someone, they may even offer to help you meet someone they know in the industry, agent, casting director, voice director, producer, etc.

Don't I need an agent? How do I get one?

You do not need an agent in order to work as an English dub actor in Japanese Animation. Anime is different from most other animation done in America because the voices are put in after the animation has already been filmed. It is much more technically demanding therefore, because you must match the lip flap of the characters on the screen as opposed to an animator matching your vocal performance. Because of that, a small number of people work in the anime circuit. These people tend to know each other and recommend each other around to work on projects. The production companies that work on anime are always looking for more talented voice acting talent and usually accept demo reels of people's work. What they really want to know is if you can match lip flap on the screen. You may do a great character voice, but if that voice can't match the lip flap on screen, it's not useful to them. This is not the kind of work that the more famous voice actors tend to do, although there are exceptions. So for Anime, no, you don't need an agent. You need to contact your local anime production or licensing company and ask to whom you should submit your character demo. You do have a character demo, right?
For domestic animation, however, an agent is almost a necessity. American production companies work through agencies to get their talent and usually do not have the time or inclination to develop relationships with individual actors. There are many wonderful books on how to get a talent agent and so I will leave that to others who are more experienced than I am. The Los Angeles Agent Book by K. Callan is a wonderful resource for finding agents. I recommend it. I'm sure there are others. Check your theatrical or performing bookstore to see what they recommend. You can also check online at such bookstores as Drama Books and Applause. Don't have a theatrical bookstore in your town? You're probably in the wrong city for voice acting.