Hey friends!

I'm Andrew Racho! I started out my career in animation a decade ago by moving to Los Angeles and answering an ad on Craigslist. That listing turned out to be an internship for a show called Robot Chicken, where I worked on over 100 episodes. I went from intern to digital effects artist to behind-the-scenes video maker. I also worked on other shows such as Moral Orel, Frankenhole, and Titan Maximum. While working in stop-motion, I discovered acting and put myself through acting school.

I've since pursued a career in voice over and have been in cartoons that I know Reddit loves.

I hopped on a few shows with a really great guy named Adam de la Peña, who cast me alongside him and Felicia Day in a cartoon called Outlands. Later I wrote, acted, and directed for a series called TripTank.

And all the while, I've been making my own cartoons on the side.

My latest project is a cartoon based off of characters from my web comic, Convenience Store Diet. It's about three characters navigating their late 20's and falling behind the times.

I'm Kickstarting the project here and hope you can back, share, and support it!

Since I've worked in nearly every part of this business, let's talk about making cartoons, writing for animation, doing voice over, visual effects, Kickstarter, careers, life, thriving in the arts industry, making comics, and the DIY nature of indie productions.

My Proof: https://twitter.com/CSDwebcomic/status/581485398821474304

EDIT: Thank you all so much for stopping by for this AMA and chatting! This was fun! Be sure to check the Kickstarter to my new animated show Convenience Store Diet and back it! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1648801663/convenience-store-diet-an-awesome-animated-show

Comments: 123 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

glitzyjan6 karma

Do you ever think back to the ad you replied to and get amazed that you could have missed your chance that day if you had just a moment of doubt?

ConvenienceStoreDiet8 karma

So I was video game testing at the time for a company while trying to find entertainment industry work. Testing companies tend to keep you around only if there are projects builds for you to work on. I was released with no project, no way to pay rent, and just broke. So I saw the listing, faxed in my resume figuring why not, sat on my bed, and asked myself, "what the hell do I do now?" About a minute later I got a call to come in and interview.

ConvenienceStoreDiet7 karma

I also was thinking, "I don't even know what stop motion is. Should I send my resume?" I did have that moment of doubt. And I sent it anyway, because why not. Nothing to lose if I don't, right? Sometimes just saying yes to things you think will be a guaranteed no will surprise you in pleasant ways. That sounds like something that should be written on a fortune cookie.

glitzyjan5 karma

It's kind of amazing when the stars align for someone. Congratulations on your success and mad respect for your abilities. Good luck with your newest endeavor. I'm sure it'll be just as successful.

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

Thanks! And be sure to share and back it! Every little bit helps.

glitzyjan1 karma

You can count on me for that. Best of luck!

Frajer5 karma

What was it like working with Seth Green ?

ConvenienceStoreDiet3 karma

YES! I knew this one was coming! Seth is an awesome guy. But I'm sure you guys already knew that.

AmeliaMedia3 karma

Have you ever been fired from a job? If so why? - from an aspiring actor/film maker

ConvenienceStoreDiet3 karma

Yes! I got fired bussing tables at a restaurant. Incompetence? Probably. I got fired my first day after "training." They sent me to work a new part of the restaurant with a new boss who didn't like that I didn't know everything there (new part of the restaurant for me), then let me go and said it wasn't going to work out. Half the staff was cool, and the other half was rude. The whole time I felt like most staffers were working there for money at all costs, so if someone didn't like me for any reason I'd be fired. The environment felt very cut throat and had zero room for any mistakes. And those were going to happen on my third day. Maybe it's a good thing I didn't stay there.

From that, I took away a few important things: I have a huge respect for anyone who works in food service and always make sure they get tipped. Because they work hard and I couldn't even do what they do. And also, when I lead a team on a project, I do my best to get good work done AND keep the staff happy and honest. We all don't get to work easy jobs or have fun on them in the same ways. But they don't have to feel like that one ever did. Attitude reflects leadership, and I don't want my teams to feel like those kinds of attitudes are okay.

iseiji2 karma

Hello Andrew My name is Rob, I'm from Taiwan, I'm also an 3D artist, and I do freelance voice over from time to time, I've also shot a few short videos and music video. Thing is I was never good at it, I've never had any formal training on any of this, just kinda learn along the way. Now I am about 30 years old, I'm very lost and confused whether I should change career or I should pursue a formal training on one of the related fields in the entertainment industry. May I ask what kind of training or education background you have? Do you think it is necessary to take training in schools? I am thinking of applying for schools in the States, but at the same time I thought I am a little old for it now...

Thank you.

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Hey Rob. I do a lot of After Effects work. Heck, I developed the style of animation for my cartoon and have ZERO schooling in it. It's all stuff I learned along the way, too. I studied Communications, the most general and broad degree in media making. It helped in many ways to understand the media critically, but didn't fully prepare me for my more specialized work. I discovered acting through classes while I was working and transitioned to do more of it over the years.

You are never too old to learn or change careers. We all don't have the ability to change careers easily. Realistic things might hold us back: family obligations, debt, etc. Fear shouldn't be one of those. If you don't know, that's okay. Use that uncertainty to propel you to find answers.

So it depends on what you want to transition your career to. With acting in the US, don't quit your day job. It's an oversaturated market with fewer and fewer decent-paying jobs. A buddy of mine started around 30 and was grinding multiple jobs at it for 20 years until he could do it full time. Another friend of mine did it in about 3. It's a crapshoot, but it's constantly taking classes while auditioning AND having steady work to pay the bills. We don't do it for the fame or really the glory. We do it because doing anything else doesn't make sense. It's built in us to do it.

Think of transitioning like this: would you hire an aspiring contractor to build your house, or a professionally trained one? Same with the entertainment field. You'll have to study a bit and take classes in MOST of the disciplined. That could be taking number of courses or formal schooling, depending on your discipline. You can transition from 3D to VFX or any of the other 3D disciplines fairly easy. Or even storyboards if you can draw. But if you want to move to sound design/mixing, acting, or any of the performance arts, find classes and take them. A lot of the jobs you can learn on-set and on your own: live action camera operations, coordinating, editing, working at a talent agency, etc. And you can learn a lot by doing your own projects and failing along the way. That's also a great way to learn, as long as you continue to open your process and collaborative circle to better yourself.

Ask yourself some tough questions at this point: do you want to do your current job or follow it's career path for a long time? Where do you want to live in 5 years? What interests you? If you don't know, take classes in a lot of things to get a taste of it and see if you like it. Maybe you find that you don't like storyboards, but love character design or motion graphics or graphic design. Then you pursue that and see where it takes you.

Good luck! I hope you find what you're looking for!

ExtraAndroid2 karma

What's the funniest voice you can do?

ConvenienceStoreDiet6 karma

I do pretty well at playing characters in massive amounts of pain. Those usually get the biggest laughs in cartoons (not real life).

But I also am great at playing really creepy characters, which are fun. They give you a freedom to say the most ridiculous things in deceptively charming ways.

mitsubachi882 karma

My niece desperately wants to get into voice acting. She's currently in high school. Any hints? Tips? Random thoughts?

ConvenienceStoreDiet3 karma

What part of the world are you guys in?

mitsubachi882 karma

The US. Dallas, TX to be precise.

ConvenienceStoreDiet6 karma

I don't know the Dallas market, unfortunately. I do know the LA market. But I'll throw out some ideas to explore.

Voice over is acting, first and foremost. I suggest she take acting classes and get involved with her school's theater. If she is good and likes it, get in touch with a voice over agent in Dallas and ask the agent or the agent's assistant if they have youth talent and what they look for in them. That might give you some ideas and get you on the agent's good side. Also, have her look at where she can study acting after high school. Research the big acting schools and get in dialogues with the staff there. Vet them, do some research on techniques and methods that she can learn from, get reviews, have her read the Stanislavski books, and have her try out for plays. Maybe she's a fan of some cartoon series online from places like Frederator and can pick the brains of the creators. Though the VO world is really spread out and you can work from "anywhere" technically, the biggest casting still happens in LA and NY. Entertainment is still mainly cast out of LA. Also, she can explore what she likes. Audiobooks? Cartoons? Narration? Promos? Radio imaging? Commercials? If she likes doing audiobooks, Audible is a solid place to explore, too.

People can get into acting/voice over at any age because you will be cast because of your age group, characteristics, and ability. Maybe there's a voice over class there. If she's into radio, maybe she can intern at a radio station.

PastelFlamingo1502 karma

How hot is Tara Strong in person?

ConvenienceStoreDiet3 karma

I only saw her once in passing at an audition, but she seemed pretty cool.

  • Edit: I just re-read this and it seemed insulting. She's attractive and also seemed like a nice person. I have no information outside of that.

eraptor62 karma

I dig the title, Convenience Store Diet! If you could only eat at a convenience store, what would your ideal breakfast, lunch, and dinner be?

ConvenienceStoreDiet5 karma

Thanks! For breakfast, I'd go to a Japanese convenience store and do some Peach Nectar, Hokkaido Cream soft bread, Mentos, and a cold pack for my head. Lunch, I'd do 7-11 and get fresh fruit, water (maybe a Hank's Root Beer if they had it), and an energy bar. Dinner, I'd do the Honey Bun and a sandwich that looks mildly edible. And for dessert, I'd die of diabetes and a heart attack from such a shitty diet.

sheeptaku2 karma

I'm 21 and interested in animation, voice acting, directing, and making comics...the thing is, I lack the talent to do any of those things. I'm constantly daydreaming about the many story ideas I have and being able to be part of the film & animation industry. I feel the need to get out there and I really want to share my vision with the world...but I feel as if I'm "trapped". I feel like its too late for me, I feel like I should have already been drawing, writing, and acting pretty well by now. I lack the talent necessary to do any of those things. I can't draw well because I ended up drawing less and less and have not progressed since then. I feel like my voice is very undesirable, I can't even really do different voice...not much at least. Even though I have all these ideas I have no clue how to properly get them on paper. I want to get back into it all, but Is it too late for me to start?

ConvenienceStoreDiet6 karma

Too late for you? Tell the part of you who is saying that to shut the fuck up and give it the middle finger. Then look at the part of you that says "you can do this if you try. I believe in you," and give that part a handjob because it deserves it!

That "trapped" voice? That's your own fear of succeeding getting in the way of you doing what you want to do. It's not because you aren't good enough or even enough of a person to be good. It's because you're good and you're afraid of the journey that comes ahead when you have to commit to something hard. I wasted a good chunk of my youth on not knowing what I want to do. I could have learned guitar or singing rather than wasting time self-doubting. You have a great tool on your side: youth. If you spend the next 10 years devoted to pursuing your passion in comics, writing, acting, etc. and doing so in a researched and disciplined way, you'll be solid. You'll do your first animation weeks from now, a bouncing ball in a flip book or on a computer, and you'll look back and you'll still question yourself. In a few years, you'll finish an animated short you spent your weekends toiling over, and you'll look back with pride. You'll finish your next one the year after and look back and laugh. And then you won't even think about the doubt because it's just a voice you've learned can sit in the corner of your brain and just hang out.

I started my quest into acting at 22. I'm still failing and haven't "risen to the top" at 32. Every day, that voice tells me "don't put yourself out there. You'll fail." It's probably right. My Kickstarter that I've been planning for months might fail because no one knows about it or is too broke to back it. Kids 10 years younger than me are getting shows and rising to the top and I'm still stuck somewhere in the middle. But I give zero fucks about that because I'm doing what I want to do and don't have to live in comparisons. I'm just doing my thing because I like doing it.

I had a conversation with my buddy, who at 28 and at 32 has said the same thing. "I'm too old." He'll say the same thing the rest of his life until he gets that he isn't. You never are too old to do what you want to do. Maybe you can't be the next Michael Jordan at 21 with no practice, but you can be good at drawing. Take a class. Draw for 3 hours a day and take classes. There are books and websites. Find them. Write goals and milestones that you want to achieve. Realistic goals. 2 youtube videos a day. 4 characters a day. I don't know, whatever works. And just do it. And just outlast everyone else. The people who succeed are the ones who just stay in the game long enough to succeed.

Your voice is undesirable? That's self doubt again. Read aloud every day. Embrace yourself. Embrace who you are. If you love acting, take an acting class. Take an acting class just to build your confidence.

You don't know how to express your ideas? You're 21, you're just describing 21! Write! Write every day! Pick up The Artists Way, write your morning pages, get all the bullshit, self-involved ideas out of your head and onto paper and make room for your brain to be open to the world! The ideas will flow. Just write them. Write all of them. The more you do it, the more you will be able to do it quickly. You're learning. Embrace it. You'll be learning the rest of your life, and that's a very good and very fun thing.

The thing is, you believe in yourself. I'm sure everyone around you believes in you, too. You're growing into a point where you have to accept that and live up to it. Developing talent is just work. Just do the work. The rest will follow.

TL;DR: You are good enough to be you. Pursue your passions. You have PLENTY of time. Start now so at 32, you're an animation rock star and you're not saying the same thing. And even at 32, you're never too late. Just do the work. The rest will follow.

rocksong2 karma

Really useful response for a lot of people, and good of you to be this thoughtful and thorough in your response. Props!

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Thanks! I just hope that whatever he does, he embraces it and grows.

Byooooo1 karma

Robot chicken was one of my favorite shows! What is your favorite show that you worked on?

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Apple and oranges, each holds pleasant memories. But I'm very excited for my newest endeavor I'm Kickstarting. It's a whole different approach in making it. Check it out!


mattkin221 karma

Hi Andrew,

What do you tell aspiring voice-over actors who want to get their foot in the door? Where is the best place to start?

On an aside, I'm a huge fan of a lot of your work, just didn't know it until today! Thanks!

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I hope you checked out the Kickstarter for my latest animated project!

Aspiring VO actors: Take an improv/acting class. See if you like it. If you do, take more classes and you'll figure out if this is your life passion and you want to compete in the major leagues or if it's just a hobby you enjoy doing on your own, and that's great too! It took me two years before I earned my first paycheck in acting. It was $20 to work on a short film from my friend in acting class. Then, I booked a big-ass commercial. Then a lot of everything in between.

Acting seems deceptively easy because we see so much of it. But we want to hire the pros because, much like hiring a professional contractor over an aspiring contractor to build the structure under which we live, we want a guarantee that the work will be high quality and exactly what we want. So for the big jobs, those are much more competitive and you have to be VERY good. But that doesn't mean that small jobs aren't available, or that you can't make your own cartoon or work on your friends' projects until you get so good that you become competitive.

alwayswithglee1 karma

I'm just a lowly graphic designer living in LA who would love to begin work in voice acting. Do you have any suggestions in how I can start?

ConvenienceStoreDiet3 karma

Yes Take a class at a place called Kalmenson & Kalmenson to get your feet in the pool. See if you like it and want to pursue it as a career, then go from there.

alwayswithglee1 karma

Awesome! Thanks for being so specific. :)

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Of course!

JollyRogey1 karma

What is your process as far as writing? I'm asking because currently I am working on launching my YouTube channel, just trying to get my foot in the industry. I am starting out with more of a fast paced-jump cut feel typical of vloggers on that platform and trying to move into comedic writing for webisodes, as well as stand up comedy. Any advice you wish you had heard by the time you knew that the entertainment industry was something you wanted to pursue?

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Lots of questions, lots of answers.

STANDUP: Trial by fire and learning from mentor comedians. That's what my standup buddies tell me.

OBSERVE/DIGEST THE WORLD: Take a notepad with you everywhere and write your observations and thoughts, much like an artist carries a sketch book and draws things. Those people who order coffee in silly ways become characters you develop, who tell your stories for you. And write what makes you laugh. I saw a squirrel that looked homeless once. I thought it was funny. Maybe that'll be a short one day.

WHAT I WISH I HAD EARLIER: I wish I had discovered technique-based acting when I was a lot younger. The thing that helped me the most in writing was actually my Meisner technique acting training. It taught me the structure of scene work better than anything. That and a takeaway from a class with Stephen Tobolowsky, who points out that a lot of comedy comes from understanding and changing character's priorities.

oreosteaks1 karma

with the progression of technology, what comes to mind surrounding the entertainment industry (movies,games,etc.)? Has it hindered or improved your experience?

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

CASTING: Voice over changed dramatically from the moment I started in it almost 8 years ago to today. The calls were smaller, the casting houses more relevant, and we would audition for everything. Now, because most people audition from home and the agencies, with digital recording, can turn in more auditions, you're up against more people. It opened the VO world and saturated it. But there are a lot of smaller non-union jobs that people can compete for as well. And, audiobooks opened up more to everyone.

GAMES: I don't know about you, but games are so much better to listen to now since the days of the original Silent Hill. It's no longer just the programmers and industry insiders doing the voices. You have to be very well trained to get cast in them and do them well. And the stories are just much more in-depth and intense from the earliest days. It requires us to be VERY GOOD at what we do, and I like the challenge of it.

ANIMATION: There's more of it, especially online! It's great because there's more that actors can be a part of! And, we can make our own!

Burt_Macdangler1 karma

What would you say to some one who grew up wanting to do voice overs and acting as a career, spent countless hours in the barroom in front of a mirror practice characters rather than making friends who feels they missed their chance? I had plans to go to college and start make connections, get trained and "make it" but due to some family tragedies those dreams were cut short and I found myself just working any job to help make ends meet. Now that the dust has settled, I some times feel as though I have as well. Working dead end jobs with no education, I haven't acted in years (I used to do community plays) and yet there is this passion still inside me. Even now as a grown ass adult when my wife isn't home I find myself in the bathroom in front of the mirror still talking to myself and making weird faces just to see if I can. Is it really just a right place, right time, hope you don't miss your opportunity sort of thing or is there something that I can be doing proactively to fulfill my dreams? I don't have the most time or money these days but I just feel like there has to be something I can do. I just don't know what. Sorry for the sob story. I admire your work very much thanks for doing this AMA and sharing all your characters with us!

Edit- I just realized that almost everyone is using this AMA as a get advice/get your foot in the door sort of thing so ignore my first quest and try this one on for size instead. Have you ever considered how much wearing contact lenses is just like Anal Sex? I feel the majority of people, if you asked them "hey do you want to stick something in your eyeball?" Would answer something akin to ".... No. thanks" but there is always that one guy who is like "Trust me you just got to try it, sure it may be uncomfortable now but you are going to love it. It's all I want now, I'll never wear regular boring glasses ever again" Ideally you should be using a special solution for both.... I don't know I am running out of comparisons this seemed like a better question when I first started writing it.

ConvenienceStoreDiet3 karma

You're never too old to do what you're passionate about. I implore everyone to find their passion and do it. If you make money, don't make money, who cares? You're doing what you want to do! Money isn't the win or the result. The process is where you find fulfillment.

Take a class. Save up some cash and take acting classes. Get comfortable being yourself and playing again, to the point where you don't have to hide from your wife and she can experience the weird and fun side of you and love you for it. And just have fun. Maybe you do some commercials or cartoons. Maybe you do some jobs on one of the online casting places. Maybe you make your own podcast. Just get your acting out there and see where it takes you.

And second, anal sex is awesome, but I was always weary of the poo situation that I couldn't fully enjoy it. I feared looking down and seeing what would be the equivalent of my beard after eating a snicker doodle.

Burt_Macdangler2 karma

thank you so much for the encouragement! I live in the San Diego area now so LA isn't too far for me and in about 6 months my wife is transferring jobs so I will be moving to Seattle... any suggestions of reputable classes or instructors to look into? There seem to be so many online and I just am so wary of not scams necessarily but well.... yeah.... I guess scams.

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Take a class up at Kalmenson & Kalmenson in LA while you're still in SoCal. People do it all the time from there, just take a Saturday morning class up there for like 6 weeks, daytrip in the mornings. Can't say much to the SD or Seattle areas.

DKCLVR1 karma

Wow! That's my dream. As someone who has completed college with a certificate in animation (3 years ago...), what do you suggest I do from here? Just put myself out there and cross my fingers? I'm interested in concept art, story boarding, and voice acting. Should I move to a coast? I had a crush on Seth Green when I was in middle school and when he was Dr. Evil's son. Just throwing that in there.

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

Ha! I have dated many women who had crushes on Seth! It's always funny.

If you want to work in the arts professionally or animate professionally, go where the jobs are. A metric ton of it for 2D is in LA, 3D is LA and I think Blue Sky is still in NY. You can storyboard for animated shows or on films.

Start at the bottom and work your way up. It's very doable at a studio if you're a talented artist, or are developing your talent. I was an intern and a temporary sales associate for Motorola when I was on Robot Chicken. That's how you work your way in. No one will owe you anything and it's not a guarantee of a job. You just have to continue to do your thing.

Then, be good. Work late. Be enjoyable and kind to everyone around you. Improve your craft. Rise to the top by being good. If it's not there, then one of your friends from the studio will eventually hire you somewhere else. Find mentors. People will want to help you how they can. It won't always be what you need, but take what you can get. Just don't give up. The people who make it are the ones who outlast the quitters. Get a good portfolio, get a good reel, put great drawings up on your site, and go to events like CTN and meet people.

And if you want to do VO, take acting classes wherever you end up going and make your own cartoons!

Potato_Patriot1 karma

As a long time voice actor, how do you feel about the trend over the last two decades of big name celebrities getting voice acting roles? It seems that these roles are often just the celebrity reading lines in their ordinary voice. I love voice actors because of the amazing talents they have with voicing. Keep up the great work!

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

Many things to say here! Producers are easy to convince with celebrities. They feel more confident if celebs are in the role because they think that they're guaranteed the product will be good and that their twitter followers and agency standing will mean more eyes. Agents and casting directors can push celeb clients because it's easy to say nowadays, instead of "let's get someone like Brad Pitt," "Let's get Brad Pitt."

I know many directors who want the best talent. And while celebs are a hot commodity, they can't guarantee the best performances from them. If you watch the Laika behind-the-scenes for Paranorman, I believe Travis Knight outs that he had trouble working with the celebs at first because they didn't understand voice over. They did a great job in the end, but hiring Famous Person X is not a guarantee of good. And I know a few directors who would rather hire the best VO guys over the biggest names because the VO actors just get it and get it fast.

My experience with hiring celebs is that they're fun to direct, great people, and all very nice. But in terms of sales they really don't do that much to attract attention to your project by virtue of hiring them.

Ultimately animation fans don't care who's cast in it. They care if it's good. But entertainment is still a business and celebrity is an easy sell of quality assurance, so it's here and we should embrace it and work with it.

Potato_Patriot1 karma

Thank you for the response! I agree that this is a business and that needs to be considered especially as a fan of animation. I had not considered that the quality of the performance will depend largely on how well the director does at getting his actors to commit to the roles. Thanks for the new perspective!

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Time is another issue. You don't always get the luxury of time to direct celebrities and craft a performance like a theater piece. Sometimes you get that one-hour block and that's all you get, and you have to make sure you're at the top of your game. You don't always get a ton of time to explore. You have to know exactly what you want and how to ask for it, and then get it.

Potato_Patriot1 karma

As the director, how do you work towards understanding exactly what you want from that exchange? In other words, how do you prepare yourself with the exact vision of what you want from the scene or performance?

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

You gotta prepare. I can see the scene playing a specific way. I'll listen to the take and often it's just needs a little nudge, changing the relationship or feeling the character comes into the line with. Or, it's just getting specific. "That punch sounds like a tap in the ear. Make it a sharp uppercut to the stomach that makes you feel queasy and ready to vomit."

And if I know I don't have a lot of time, I'll action out the script ahead of time and write down emotional preparations to solidify it clearly.

A lot of times, the actor comes in with something different or better. At that point, I throw my game plan out the window and allow the collaboration to build something bigger.

jlappylap91 karma

Hello! I am an aspiring voice actor who lives in the midwest. Do you have any advice on obtaining voice over roles for someone living outside of the coast? Also do you have any recommendations on voice demo's. I don't have a great quality one but I am kind of going at it blindly.
Demo: https://soundcloud.com/jlvoices/voice-demo-character-voices

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

So it's tough to do big-time animation like for AAA games, series, anime, etc. because most of it requires you to be in LA for auditions and sessions on a daily basis. I only know of one actor who can live in Kansas because he's been doing it for decades. But there is a ton of work online and via regional agents where you can find a lot of commercial work. 90% of what VO actors audition for typically is commercial, and you can find that via the online casting services easily if you stay in the Mid-West. Or, maybe you can do audio books via audible or you do radio imaging. That's very doable from anywhere in the USA. You won't likely get cast as the next voice of Toyota. But, you might get cast in a dozen local car commercial spots.

With your demo, you have range and it sounds like you've been doing those characters for a while. Now just work on your acting technique and learn to put more emotional weight behind those characters and be more specific. Also, it sounds like you recorded it at home because of all of the popping on your microphone. You may have to go to a producer, get a pop filter, and get a better sound. Also, keep in mind that if you put your demo out there, people might expect your home studio to sound that good. Make sure your set up at home sounds awesome!

And also, make a commercial demo. Take acting classes and incorporate that into your commercial reads. It's hard for me to be able to guide you in the midwest as to how to get good, but get good, get an agent, get better, get a better agent, keep at it, and you'll probably out-earn me by doing a lot of small roles rather than a few medium ones like I do.

jlappylap91 karma

Thank you!!! This is very helpful, I'll definitely keep at it and maybe I will get an opportunity someday to relocate should I gain the experience! I will definitely be working to get better recording equipment and training. Thanks again and keep up the awesome work!

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

I'll throw this out to you: in the major markets, your experience in regional and online won't be a resume builder. It's like trying to work at Merill Lynch and citing your experience selling magazine subscriptions. It's a perception thing. The small jobs aren't as attractive to the agencies who deal with bigger numbers. It's like how if I wanted to do a cartoon, I would look at the talent pool in a place with people who have been doing it for 10+ years on big projects, not scouring youtube to see who the funniest untrained VO people from outside my work zone are. Are they out there? Yes. But it's not a justifiable expense to try and find people that way for big-project VO.

The coasts are currently where it's at for the big jobs.

So you're probably not going to do yourself a favor if you try to build yourself up in the mid west to get ready for LA or NY. Obviously there are bigger considerations (family, friends, money, lifestyle, future planning). But you can do commercial work and do animated projects and audio books from your place on a smaller scale and make that work for you. And that's okay, too.

RadicalDreamer891 karma

You mentioned in another response that you could technically do VO work from 'anywhere', but most casting is still done in the major markets. I studied acting in NYC with a very well respected teacher (who encouraged me to go into voice acting), and worked on stage and in film in the New York area before familial obligations caused me to move to the middle of nowhere.

Having built up a professional resume, would it be possible for me to create a demo reel and submit myself for VO representation with an agency in a larger market?

B question: Without any professional VO work on record, what would one put into an eye (or ear) catching demo?

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

Head onto voicebank.net and click on "voice over demos and clients." Listen to a lot of them. A lot. From the big agencies like WME, CESD, SBV, Atlas, I7, VOX, etc. And listen to the smaller agencies. Make one that showcases your acting, defines your casting (warm, friendly, strong, earthy, storyteller, bitchy, snotty, intelligent, dorky, whatever adjectives positive or negative that describe your voice and attitudes in a castable way), look for scripts in magazines that sound like real ads, then record at a professional studio. You want to sound like someone who works regularly and records ads like these for a living. So what's important? Be a good actor. Have a good-sounding demo production wise. Have scripts that sound like you can handle big, non-spokesperson products and not just local commercials. Swing big so you can hit medium with ease.

You can definitely do work from home. I know a lot of LA people who can get agency work in NY without being there. It's harder to get LA representation from the outside, but maybe it's doable. The big jobs are still on the coasts. Regional work is online and via regional agents, and you can have a VO agent in each city AND work remotely for Atlanta, Seattle, etc.

So for you as an actor, take VO classes somehow. Read up on lectures. Maybe get a coach who can Skype with you. VoiceOverResourceGuide.com On-stage is very different from behind a mic. You have to use similar techniques, but it's different. A lot of the work requires you to be intimate and quiet. Some of it requires you to be big and bold. It's having that ability to stretch. You can get work via the online casting sites and some people do well on there. I did okay. Not great, but okay. Some people I hear are on those calls like hawks and make 5 figure salaries off of them. Different strokes for different folks.

lordmalifico1 karma

How did you get started in voice work?

I think I have the talent to do it, and I'd like to try. If I don't, I don't want to look back in fifty years wondering what might have been.

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

I took an acting class in high school and felt it was a lot of performing scenes and getting judged. I took another one in college and the teacher barely showed up. I was pretty interested in it, but nothing really pushed me to do it. Then I just wanted to do something that wasn't what I was doing. I took a hard look at my life and career and had to propel it into something that I found creatively satisfying. I took a voice over class because, like everyone, wouldn't it be cool to be in a video game? And there, a teacher taught me that acting is more than just performing and being judged. There's a whole method and world behind how you tell interesting stories and perform them. And how to be real and emotionally available. I was hooked. I took more and more classes and just stuck with it.

If you're interested in it, just take a class and see how you feel about it. Most people I meet don't follow through after a class or two. Life gets in the way. But some do. And the ones who stay in the game the longest are the ones who eventually do well.

lordmalifico2 karma

Thank you, Mr. Racho.

I'll see if there's any voice coaches in my area (I doubt it) but it's worth a try.

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

One thing you can try, and I can't speak to whether this will work or not, is go to voiceoverresourceguide.com. That has the listings for everything VO on the coasts: demo producers, coaches, producing houses, etc. Look up classes and coaches, vet them to see if they're worthwhile, and see if they do seminars in your area or are willing to do private skype classes with you. That could be a way to try it out. I think there's something to being able to be in a classroom of peers from whom you can learn, but if you're off in Antarctica, the VORG idea could be useful. I dunno. And/or, just find local theater and acting classes and take those.

GangstarWilde1 karma

Great to have you Andrew!

As someone who would like to learn animation, how did you get your start? Did you just pick up animation and fiddle around with it or was it something you went to school for? Any advice?

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

There are a lot of books on how to do it. I can't draw well in the least, but somehow I've managed to make a lot of cartoons. But, learn to draw, learn programs like Harmony, Flash, and After Effects, and make stuff! Take art classes, figure drawing, read books on animation. Animator's Survival Kit. If you are good at art, go to an art school like SCAD or CalArts. The networking there will help you get jobs later in life and you might learn how to do it better from your peers.

Then, just make your own stuff. Play around. Explore. Experiment. Fail. Fail bigger. Fail a lot. And eventually make something you like.

Gbakhbgla1 karma

Oh man I LOVE Titan Maximum ( I go to school for stop motion) what did you do on that show?

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Digital Effects. Ate many Indian food lunches. Finished I think my first year of Meisner training around that time.

casamundo1 karma

Robot Chicken is one of my favorite shows. How long does it take to make one of those episodes? Because it's stop-motion correct? That takes a lot of time from what I understand. Also, where do you see the future of cartoons going? Any changes that you can see coming as someone on the inside of the business?

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

I haven't been there in years, but I imagine it still takes a long time. You've got set builders, character fabricators, animators, effects artists, editors. A single episode can take a long time on its own. I did a behind-the-scenes DVD featurette about it on the Season 2 DVD of Robot Chicken that probably explains it best.

Future of cartoons? It's tough to say. Movies will still be doing their current CG model for a while. If I know capitalism, they'll want bigger profits, thus faster productions. So it'll probably bubble/burst or just inflate/deflate/inflate. Stop motion is surprisingly strong considering how expensive it can get. 2D is thriving on TV. And we'll see what happens to the internet. Maybe with cable companies losing power and younger people preferring to watch online, we'll see more serious web-based models pop up.

NobleMinnesota1 karma

Hi Andrew,

What challenges are you facing, or have you faced, to strike out on your own with this project? What type of financial planning and production planning have you done to ensure your're as successful as possible in this endeavor?

Best of luck and I'll keep sharing your project on Facebook with my friends.

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

Thank you so much!

The biggest challenge in doing my own project is telling the story that I want to tell AND getting people interested. And a lot of people are!

Right now, my Kickstarter is on track to fail. With Kickstarters, the best advice I got was to guarantee your backer numbers before it launches so that way you don't fail. I thought I did that right. Whoops. If it doesn't go through, I'll have to figure out how to fund the additional parts, which means waiting on this project longer.

So everyone please support the project, indie animation, and the work of a lot of talented people by backing the project!


NobleMinnesota1 karma

How can you guarantee your backers prior to launching your Kickstarter project? Also, it would seem that you'd be doing well with your project since it is a Staff Pick. Does being a staff pick aid your likelihood of success at all? Lastly, how did you decide which prizes to offer?

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Staff pick gets it recognized for a few days and helps with that, which is great! But crowdfunding is still like getting people to see your improv show. You can get your friends and family to fill the seats only so much. The rest is getting strangers who don't give a shit about you to care. Unless someone else important suddenly cares. And then another. And it blows up for some Zeitgeist reason.

And, it's getting everyone to see that they NEED to back it if they want it to succeed, even though it looks like it's doing well. Kicktraq has it projecting at less than funding, and I think reasonably so.

You can guarantee your backers by asking each one how much they'll back for and making sure they do so the first day. I just asked my friends if they'll back. I didn't anticipate for, "fuck yeahs!" vs the "okay sure buddy. No, really, I'll back it if you're not doing great. I'll toss in a fiver" backers, thus didn't solidify my numbers beforehand. Basically, you hold people accountable to their word and don't rely on strangers or the good will of the internet.

Unfortunately, I won't have nearly as many people reading anything I say ahead of the Trailer Park Boys today, just out of name recognition. Nor will I have anyone passionately loving my career at its current stage that so much so that they HAVE to have that signed Code Monkeys DVD or getting drawn into my cartoon. It's one at a time getting people to want to support what I do and making that case as much as possible.

FootGoesInMouth1 karma

How did you go about developing your various "characters"/voices? Recommendations/suggestions for somebody currently doing so themselves?

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

It's the same as anything theatrical. It's acting technique. I use Meisner technique to ask the questions of the scene work, and ask as many questions to understand the character's point of view. Then, with a lot of cartoons, I figure out how to exaggerate it enough to make it play and be believable and real and create a humanity to Stapler #17. I typically play similar roles, so it's not always a huge stretch each time.

For VO, when I get a stack of 30 auditions due in 2 hours, I try to sink into certain things: point of view, relationship, etc. Is it a game (realistic), a kid's cartoon (I might be grander and more deliberate), a superhero project (grander)? Some actors talk about using a set of "stock" voices they do for nerds, drug dealers, etc and using those as a starting point. Sometimes we bastardize celebrity impersonations and come up with something funny. Sometimes it's doing impressions of our friends or people that we can jump into easily because we know it. If you can discover a character through whom you can do mundane things and big things while never breaking character, you'll hit a good starting point.

And sometimes you just have to think on your feet. I once booked a role that I prepped the shit out of, only to realize I prepped the wrong role as soon as I stepped behind the microphone. I had to make choices fast.

FootGoesInMouth1 karma

Thats a more complete answer than I expected. Thank you very much.

some actors talk about using a set of "stock" voices

Do you have your own set of such boiler-plate voices? If so, approximately how many are there, and what general sorts of archetypes you think of them fitting?

Again: thanks.

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

There are old guys, lisp-nerds, nasally nerds, 50's house dads, superheroes, mythic heroes, young soldiers, young heroes, bright-eyed wanderers, beatnik poets, scrappy toadies, punks, bullies, big gruff meanies, creeps, dudes, bros, stoners, generals, camp counselors, aliens, professors, robots, idiots... it goes on and on for the common archetypes. I do my versions of them, and will often put a twist if it seems appropriate for the audition. Maybe they want a "robot" and while Hal 9000 seems like a good prototype, maybe I do a robot who's a rickety, wirey piece of junk who panics about everything. Or maybe my soldier is a wuss, like Ben in Outlands.

FootGoesInMouth1 karma

Damn. That's one hell of a repetoire of ready-to-go characters. And to think I was feeling pretty good about my half-dozen or so mostly-fleshed-out voices. I guess that's why you're making a living doing this, and I'm just a chump hoping for his own $20 "big break." :)

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

After every job, I'm constantly looking for my "big break." It never stops. You just get better and better with time. Then beg everyone you know to back your Kickstarter like a desperate fool until the realization of being a desperate fool sets in. Then you just work past it.


FootGoesInMouth2 karma

Alright, alright, you money-grubbing bastard. I suppose the advice is worth the $10 buy-in.

Good luck on the new gig, man.

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Thanks, man! Likewise on your endeavors!

eargoggles1 karma

Combos or Cheez-its?

eargoggles1 karma

Skittles or Starburst?

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

Skittles! The green ones look like my teeth then they fall out from eating too many Skittles.

BrickfilmsFounder1 karma

Hi Andrew!

I started a stop-motion film site, Brickfilms.com. Other things took me away from entertainment for a while, but I was just asked to start something up again by a friend of mine in LA.

I'm moving to Los Angeles this summer to do several things, one of which is starting a stop-motion animation studio and stop-motion animation workshop for kids. We are likely going to be in the Anaheim/OC area.

Mind if I look you up once I get out there to chat? Would love to talk to another stop-motion animator, there are very few of us left! Have you seen the Harryhausen documentary talking about his life? Really wish I coudl have met him before he passed, he was a huge inspiration to me.

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

I'll be at WonderCon, just look for Convenience Store Diet there. Just hit me up when you're out here and maybe I can point you in the right direction.

Also, look up a company called Stoopid Buddy. They do a popular show involving a non-cyborg/non-turkey. And, they do stop-motion classes. They'll be a better resource than I am about starting studios and doing the actual craft. And there's a magazine called Stop Motion Animation Magazine. Check it out!

  • EDIT: Also, look up a company called Screen Novelties.

creedthoughtsdotgov1 karma

Hi!! Thanks for doing an AMA!! What do I do with my cartoon pilot????? I've been pouring over it for months but have no idea where to pitch it or where to go with it.

ConvenienceStoreDiet3 karma

No real answer to that. Put it online and build a following? Use it to get a manager or agent? Submit it to the networks via online? Use it to get a studio job and pitch through that production company? Use it to get a better job or make the next one better? Submit it to festivals and get discovered? I like that one the best. Show it off to attract better talent? Use what you learned to make more, and ones focused toward what audiences want?

None of those are answers, but they're all paths that have led others to succeed in getting their work seen and making a living.

gavino2451 karma

What was your most favorite episode of Robot Chicken you worked on?

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

All the ones with the 8-bit gags.

fmguts1 karma

I'm also named Andrew but I've always hated my name. I don't know why.

Do you like your name? If so, why?

ConvenienceStoreDiet0 karma

Yeah, it's pretty dope and easy to figure out.

Flawfinger1 karma

Are you a fan of David Firth?

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Silly, I'm a human of Andrew! Clearly I don't fit on a ceiling or oscillate side to side while standing in the corner of a room, nor am I named David.

Never met him. I'm guessing that's you?

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

And if you guys fans of what I do or want to know more about my projects, be sure to check out and support my latest project on my Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1648801663/convenience-store-diet-an-awesome-animated-show

diamondbutcher1 karma

Do you like popsicles?

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

I've got some in the freezer in my basement! Call me!

Kakosch1 karma

Hey thank you for the Ama! I've got one year of school left and I'm also really interested in doing something within the entertainment industry, but I always get the impression that you have to be really good at a certain profession, like voice acting or script writing, to find a decent job. So how do you manage to be good at so many things at the same time and how difficult was it to attain the required skills?

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

It's a lifetime to master these things and I'm not perfect at all of them. No one is. Sometimes you do one thing great and 10 shitty things. It's getting better so you're consistently doing good work and inconsistently doing shitty work.

Two ways to look at it.

1: Watch this whole video and take Mark Duplass's advice.

2: Move to a city that has the industry you're looking for. New York. LA. Work on sets. Be around people who do what you want to do and discover what it is you want to do. Make your own stuff. Never stop. Then go from there.

RamsesThePigeon1 karma

If one were so inclined, how could they go about becoming a writer for an animated television show? Would this hypothetical person benefit from showing off previous things that they'd done, or is it better to simply cite the experience and offer what they can?

I'm... I'm asking for a friend. He's a cool guy.

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

Ha! I'm sure he's a totally cool dude.

No one's route is the same. I'm living by Mark Duplass's keynote at the moment and can give you my thoughts from my experience.

The best thing you can do is to write every day. That's how you build experience. Write observations. Pick up a book called The Artist's Way or The Right to Write to get disciplined about it. Write your morning pages. I found acting class taught me the most about writing. That was my discovery because I used to write scenes for all the students who were too forgetful/lazy to figure out their own, and ended up being a winner by doing everyone else's homework.

Then make your own stuff. Maybe you write a novel. Maybe a comic. Maybe you just write scripts for television. You get good. Then you put yourself out there. You will have to go to events to meet people doing the same as you. Form groups and surround yourself with motivated people who keep you on your toes. You will have to get good at being social. You will come off like a needy tool until you prove yourself. Everyone doesn't become someone who can help you. Everyone becomes your friend. You do favors for them. They for you. It's a lot of work, but you'll make a lot of like-minded friends.

Someone will take a chance on you eventually. Don't wait on it. That was where I made my biggest mistakes.

Just make your own stuff. Find your own way. Meet youtubers who need content and write stuff for free for them. Earn money and make your own animated shorts and submit them into film festivals. You will win awards. Go to those festivals and meet new people. Your network will expand. Rinse and repeat. Maybe you get an agent or a manager off of one of your things. Maybe you meet a professional writer who likes your writing and is willing to mentor you. Maybe you don't.

If you do this and never hit the "major leagues," then you've already won. Because you made the content you wanted to make with no apologies for who you are.

Do good work and never stop writing.

cPHILIPzarina1 karma

Howdy! Whys it like working with Dino Stamoptoplopolous? I've enjoyed quite a bit of his work over the years but he seems to fly under many people's radar.

What's been your favorite gig in the industry so far?

Thanks for doing this!

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

Why is it like working with Dino? I agree that it's "like" when working with Dino. Why? I'd say it's probably because he's an honest and straightforward dude who looks out for a lot of people around him :)

Favorite industry gig? Hmmmm........ too many that were great. I am a fan of my current Kickstarter project because it's a little different from what I've done before and I think people will like it.

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

Oh, I once had a voice over gig and I wasn't sure what it was. My guess to this day is that I was recording voices for a woman who either had an interesting non-profit project or who wanted to make her parents or friends think she had a boyfriend overseas, and it hints to the latter.

Brim48891 karma

2 part question here: how does one get into voice acting, and would you rather have sex with a mermaid that was top half human or bottom half human?

ConvenienceStoreDiet2 karma

  1. Take acting classes, get good, don't give up, go from there.

  2. Oooh, I had a crush on Ariel when I was younger. But past high school I learned that she's 16 and that's far from appropriate or attractive anymore. I'm going with the top half. I'm a face guy and I don't think I have the choice of the fish part being Salmon or Mackerel in this situation.

TotallyNotARapist691 karma

What is the craziest thing you have ever done drunk?

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

The Kook-Aid on the idea of getting "save Screech's house" t-shirts about 8 years ago.

shamblingman1 karma

How does someone get into voice acting if they live in Los Angeles, CA? This is a very serious question and I'd love to know where to start.

ConvenienceStoreDiet1 karma

Take a class at Kalmenson & Kalmenson. See if you like it and go from there.