Saturday, August 08, 2015

SpongeBob VoiceWork

Bill Faberbakke expounds on voicing the sidekick on Spongebob Squarepants.

... Part of the appeal of [Spongebob], it works so well in 11 minute segments, so to take it to 85 minutes of whatever, the cuffs are off! To really get to go with every goofy impulse... That's what you get from the movie. The writers are so good. It was really a treat for us to have Stephen Hillenburg, the creator, back in the fold. ...

[The feature Sponge Out of Water] wasn't as enjoyable as the series, where we all are together and it's like doing a radio play. We have so much fun. We did very often work together on the film, but so much of creating an animated film is bits and pieces. It seemed endless, because we're used to the television pace. We'd stopped doing the TV series so they could do the film. We were down for almost two and a half years, so it was kind of agony. We were more accustomed to the different pace. ...

In the last few decades, big-name actors have gotten cast in animated features. Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, Will Ferrell, Robin Williams (etc.) among a few. The artists who put the images and characters onto the screen labor in anonymity; the voice actors sell the product and get the large coin.

This isn't usually the case with TV voice talent, but even there the actors -- who show up for the occasional recording session -- get questioned more than the creative staff who live with the shows week in and week out, sometimes for years on end. (See "Simpsons, The" to see what I mean. Harry Shearer, voice actor, gets a lot more news copy by holding out on a new contract than a veteran director who gets fired or demoted.)

I shrink from labeling anything "fair" or "unfair", and I get how the actors are visible and therefore better agents for publicizing this show or that. But I do like to point out the dynamic: the actors have the visibility and therefore the ability to leverage more money; the artistic talent have their skills, talent and capacity for work. In this culture, it's clear where the leverage lies.


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