In this podcast interview Marc Cashman talks about how wearing several hats makes him a member of the 1% club (nb he is not a milliner!), and how he progressed to this point. We discuss the importance of acting, and above all, the enjoyment of his work.
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Transcript of conversation with Marc Cashman
Andy: VOICE 2010 has been a wonderful experience for me because I’ve got to meet many people whose names I’ve seen on the internet over the last 18 months, and whose voices I’ve occasionally heard on podcasts from Voices.com and also teleseminars, and so on. And it’s a delight to be sitting here with Marc Cashman. Hi Marc.
Marc: How you doing Andy?
Andy: I’m great, thanks. Marc, before we start talking about what you’re… the sort of work you are doing now, I wonder if we could just go way back into the past, before you actually got your first job. How did you get interested in voice overs?
Marc: I kind of sideways got into voice overs.
Andy: OK. Were you doing anything… were you working anywhere before voice overs?
Marc: Yeah, oh yes. Absolutely. I started… actually started out as a commercial producer. I decided way back – a long time ago, about 30 years ago – that I wanted to be a radio writer and producer of advertising. So I would just create radio advertising, radio production. And so that’s why I came out to Los Angeles, was to be a radio, advertising production person. And I did that. And throughout the years of producing, writing and producing spots, and also casting of voice actors – I worked with tons and tons and tons of great voice actors – invariably some of my clients would say, “Marc, why don’t you do the vo?”. And I would say initially, “Oh, no, no, no. There are much better people than I am”. And they said, “No, no, no, no, you’d really be fine”. And so I did a little bit, and then a little bit more, and then a little bit more, and then I realised – after I’d been doing it for about five or ten years – that, hey, I pretty much know what I’m doing here.
Andy: You were good at it.
Marc: Exactly. So, I made a demo and I got an agent…
Andy: Sorry, you were doing it for five or ten years before you got an agent?
Marc: Yes. Yes, exactly. Just because, again, I was just part of my production. So I didn’t even think about it, because I was very, very busy doing writing and producing advertising.
Andy: So for you, the voice work that you were doing was kind of… was initially periphery, it was accidental. It wasn’t something you were pursuing.
Marc: No. That’s right. I was just part of the project, and I was just helping the client out, and I was getting the project done. And I didn’t charge myself anything for it since, you know, it was me! So I didn’t have to pay me to do it. I was just part of the project. But then after a while I started getting work just as a voice actor, where I was able to take off my producer hat, and be a voice actor.
Andy: OK, and as we can see from the picture you’ve got a – which I’ll put on the blog – you’ve got a great hat on right now.
Marc: I do have a great hat on right now. It’s one of my favourite hats! But then, after I was writing, and producing, and I was voicing a lot of stuff, a number of my people said, “Why aren’t you teaching?”. And I said, “Oh my gosh. There are so many teachers in Los Angeles. There are more teachers in Los Angeles than anywhere else in the world”. And I said, “What can I possibly have to offer that hasn’t been done, or hasn’t been…”. And so I resisted it for a number of years, and then finally somebody in the industry asked me to substitute for them for a few months, and take over their classes. They were going out of town. And it turned out that they were a little disorganised, and I could teach anything I wanted, and had all these different levels, and I realised, “Wait a minute. This is crazy. I could do this, but I need to do this right”. And so I took six months off and designed a whole syllabus, and that was ten years ago. So I started teaching ten years ago, so that was my third hat. So my first hat was writing and producing, my second hat was voice talent, my third hat was as an instructor, and actually I have a fourth hat, and that is – because of my background in production and in voice – I do a lot of public speaking.
Andy: Oh really?
Marc: So I speak just like here at the VOICE 2010 Conference, I’m a public speaker here, but I also am a speaker at radio conventions for the radio industry, as well. So those are the four hats, really, that I wear, and they’re interchangeable. Every day… so every day is different. Every day is fun, and I really can take off the hat. I love taking off my Producer hat and going behind the microphone as an actor. I just love it. And working with other people who can direct me, and I have no… I become just an actor, just like everybody else. So this way, when I am teaching I understand both sides of the glass. I understand it form an actor’s point of view, and I understand it from a directors point of view, so I think I can give a little… I can give some good balance.
Andy: Yeah, yeah. That’s obviously tremendous experience for those people that are recording in home studios. They are having to… they are having to learn those skills…
Marc: Oh? Self direction?
Andy: Self direction… for me, many times even if I am in a studio, the sound engineer or maybe somebody from the agency doesn’t speak English, so…
Marc: That’s even harder.
Andy: I’m having to self direct as well.
Marc: You bet.
Andy: But… So obviously the more experience one gets, the better one’s abilities.
Marc: Oh. I think that’s with everything. I really think that’s with anything that you do. The more experience you have… providing you’re doing it right. You know, you could be doing it yourself, but you’ve been doing it all wrong, constantly you know, reinforcing all your bad habits.
Andy: Of course, yes. That’s the fear.
Marc: That would be bad. But I see so many people, like again, the main reason all of these people are at the VOICE 2010 Conference, the convention, is because they want to be better. They want to better themselves. They want to learn the proper way to do things, because yes, eventually they are going to go home, and they are going to be behind the microphone, directing themselves. They just want to make sure that they’re directing themselves right.
Andy: You mentioned that you’ve been recording voice for 20 years, and I’m sure over that period of time you’ve recorded many different types of copy. Do you have a preference for a particular genre, or do you just love whatever you do?
Marc: I’m pretty much cool with… Well, no. I can honestly say that I like almost everything that I do, but the stuff that’s really, really dry… text that’s really, really dry is a real, real challenge to make it sound interesting. And I do. We do our best.
Andy: How do you do that?
Marc: You have to sound interested with what it is you are talking about.
Andy: For example, James Alburger talks about the character in the copy, Bob Souer talks about the story…
Marc: Yes. Well, the thing is there is a story. But if the spot… if the copy is really, really dry… Let’s just take an instructional piece, eLearning type of thing. I once did an eLearning course for power transformers, for people who were studying to get their certification in power transformer maintenance. Probably the most boring, dry stuff you could possibly imagine. Drier than dust.
Andy: Well, otherwise there’d be a short circuit.
Marc: Yes, there would, that’s right. And of which I knew nothing about, whatsoever. But as a narrator, you’re supposed to sound like you know everything. You know exactly what it is you are talking about. And you have to sound interested. You have to sound connected. You have to sound like it’s just as important to you as it is to the person who’s listening.
Andy: So that’s about using imagination, I guess.
Marc: That’s just a matter of just being genuinely enthusiastic about what it is you’re talking about, even if you are not. And if you’re not enthuse… if you’re not genuinely enthusiastic, but you sound it, you know what they call that? Acting. It’s acting. So even on the driest narration, you still have to act. You still have to act like you are interested, and enthusiastic about what it is you are talking about.
Marc: And that’s it. So if I had to say there is one genre that I wasn’t so crazy about, it would be the stuff that I’m not particularly interested in doing, or talking about, but I’ll still do it anyway. I will still make it sound interesting, and compelling… as compelling as I possibly can, because I know that there are people listening to it for a reason.
Andy: Yes, it’s people who are listening, and…
Marc: They are listening to it because they are learning something, they want to advance. They’re paying for it. They’re paying me to talk. So the least I can do is make it sound compelling, and interesting. But in terms of whether I like doing it, it’s probably my least favourite, but I’ll still do a dam good job.
Andy: If I was to hold out half a dozen different offers, each offer was a different genre, which genre would you pick?
Marc: Well, you know, the thing is what’s really…
Andy: You can do one job.
Marc: It would probably be a national network TV commercial where I spoke for about five or ten seconds, and it was tacked on to every radio and TV spot for a year.
Andy: I wonder why that would be interesting.
Marc: It wouldn’t be interesting at all. What would be interesting would be what I would buy with the paychecks. That would be interesting.
Andy: OK. Yes.
Marc: It would probably be one major house, with probably one or two vacation homes.
Andy: OK. So at that stage you’d change your name to Marc Loadsofcashman.
Marc: I would change my name to that, that’s right. That job would put the cash in Cashman.
Andy: That’s terrific.
Marc: But in terms of what’s really fun for me… What’s really fun for me is… are… animation projects, where I’m doing characters; video games where I’m doing different characters – where I’m acting; audiobooks where I’m acting multiple, multiple parts, and doing the narration, as well. Jobs that are fun and challenging, at the same time. Those are the ones… those are the jobs that I like.
Andy: OK. OK, and I see you’ve won an award for audiobooks, that’s the…
Marc: Yes. Well the Clio is for advertising. That’s for advertising production, and I’ve won three Earphone Awards from Audiophile Magazine, for a number of books that I’ve done. And I’m still seeking the elusive Audie, and one of these days – since I’ve recorded over 60 books – one of these days I’ll get nominated, hopefully, and do that. But the awards, they come as a result of you doing, but it’s the doing that’s the most important thing. And it’s also the camaraderie. You know, meeting people like you, who’s come half way around the world.
Andy: Well, nearly.
Marc: … to be – literally, you’re half way around the world. It’s absolutely fabulous. All the camaraderie. All my colleagues. The entire industry. I’m so blessed, I’m so fortunate to be part of it.
Andy: I think one thing that’s remarkable about the voice over community is that it really is that… and I can’t think of any other grouping in which somebody who has many years of experience is so open to share their information.
Marc: And that’s with everybody.
Andy: But everybody is like that… it’s just wonderful, and that’s why I’m here, in Los Angeles at the moment. It’s just great to be meeting everybody.
Marc: It is, and it’s great to be meeting you, that you came all the way… because I remember a few months ago everybody was getting together to “get Andy to Los Angeles!”.
Andy: I should… as you mention that, I should say thank you to everybody, because it really has been such… people gave me tremendous help – people I’d never met – gave me help, and encouragement. I could have been anybody, but people believed in me – they didn’t know me, and that. I think that’s what it is: voice artists want each other to succeed.
Marc: They do. They really do.
Andy: Because although in one sense we’re all after work, we can’t… we’re not all after the same job.
Marc: That’s right.
Andy: Because we’re not qualified.
Andy: Each job has just… has a unique qualification…
Marc: Well, you know what I call that? You know the theory, if you boil that theory down to its essence. In the car business, when somebody comes on to the lot, the salesman has a mantra. And that mantra is, “There is an ass for every seat”.
Andy: What more can I say?
Marc: And that’s the way it is in show business. This is show business. This may be an anonymous part of show business, but it’s show business. And there’s an ass for every seat. There is one person to fit each role.
Marc: And somebody’s going to get it, and somebody is the perfect person for that role. Most of the time, sometimes there is a little bit of miscasting… that’s OK. But most of the time, there’s one person who’s uniquely qualified for that role.
Andy: So, that suggests that there’s no such thing as a “good voice” and a… there’s no such thing as a… “Oh! You’ve got a good voice!”.
Marc: No. As a matter of fact – I tell my students all the time – you could have the most beautiful voice inthe world, but if you don’t know what to do with it, it’s useless. Useless! Absolutely. You could have the most unique voice in the world, and if you do have a really unique voice – depending on how unique it is – you might, actually, not be versatile enough to do a number of different things. So… but it’s utilising – utilising, hate that word – it’s using your voice to its fullest extent. That’s the key. And learning as much as possible on how to use it.
Andy: And enjoying what you can do with it.
Marc: Well, enjoying it, I think, is part and parcel. I think that that’s part of the thing. Everybody… anybody who is in voice acting, and voice over, and is doing it for a living loves it. They consider themselves blessed, and feel very, very fortunate to be able to do it. And I’ve always said that 97% of the people in the world do what they have to do for a living; 2% do what they like to do; and 1% do what they love to do. If you can be among that exclusive membership of 1%, then you are a lucky person, because everything comes from that. If you love doing what you do, you will have good relationships, you will feel good about yourself, good self-esteem, you will have… everything: good health. Everything will come from it.
Andy: And voice acting puts you in that 1%, I think.
Marc: I’m very lucky. I’m very… I’m blessed that this business that I’ve been able to sustain… it’s voice acting, it’s voice production, it’s voice coaching and teaching, but basically it’s everything involved with voice over and voice acting that I’ve been very fortunate enough to make a living from.
Andy: Well, Marc, it’s been a great pleasure speaking with you, this afternoon.
Marc: A pleasure, Andy.
Andy: Thank you very much.
Marc: A pleasure. Thank you very much.
Andy: OK, the wind’s getting up now.
Marc: It is.
Andy: So I think we need to get inside.
Marc: OK. Let’s do it!
About Marc Cashman
Marc Cashman is one of the few voice-acting instructors in the U.S. who is on “both sides of the glass” – as a Clio-winning Radio and TV commercial producer, casting director and as a working voice actor.
Marc was voted Best Voice of the Year in Non-Fiction and Culture by AudioFile Magazine, and has also won the Listen Up! Award from Publishers Weekly, plus two Earphones awards from AudioFile. A veteran voice actor with over 25 years of studio experience and 50 audiobooks to his credit, he has been heard locally, regionally, nationally and internationally on Radio, TV, film, documentaries, radio plays, video games and audio books. He has voiced thousands of Radio and TV commercials, dubbed foreign films, narrated dozens of audio books, and created the voices of many CD-Rom, online and videogame characters. Marc is currently represented by the Osbrink Agency in Los Angeles, California, plus many other local talent agencies around the country. He brings a high level of professionalism, humor, energy and creativity to every voice acting session.
As President and Creative Director of Cashman Commercials/L.A., Marc creates and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television. His client roster includes Kroger, Charles Schwab, Quizno’s, Pella Windows and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer among many, many others. Over the past fifteen years, Marc has won over 150 local, regional, national and international advertising awards, which include the ADDY, IBA, SUNNY (So. California Broadcasters), INTERNATIONAL RADIO FESTIVAL OF NY, SILVER MICROPHONE, LOS ANGELES BELDING, LONDON INT’L ADVERTISING, and the prestigious CLIO, on behalf of hundreds of ad agencies and clients across the country.
In addition to his production schedule, Marc instructs voice-acting of all levels through his online and tele-coaching programs, his V-O classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in Los Angeles, CA, and produces voice demos. He also writes a monthly online column, Ask the VoiceCat, plus blogs and podcasts through Voices.com, VoiceOverXtra.com and NowCasting.com.
Marc is a guest speaker at dozens of Advertising Clubs and Broadcasters Associations throughout the U.S. and other countries, and has been a Keynote Speaker and Instructor at the VOICE 2008, and VOICE 2010 Conventions in Los Angeles, CA. Listed in Who’s Who in California, he’s been interviewed in trade magazines and newspapers and on numerous radio and television programs.