A career doing voiceovers? Like it, you will, Tom Kane found.
Lending his voice to everything from movie trailers to every "Star Wars" game ever made, Kane has done more than 30,000 jobs -- for commercials, films, TV shows and movie trailers.
"I do more of this in one month than most copy writers will produce in a year," he says by phone. "I used to keep a rough estimate of jobs I had done and I stopped counting at 25,000."
Now, it's just a matter of keeping up with the demand.
Because his voice is so right for movie trailers, he's busy every day. Thanks to a home studio (and two 3-year-olds), he can handle three to five recording sessions a day.
"If I didn't have that studio," Kane says, "it would be physically impossible for me to do that many. I can stay in my house and work with clients all over the country."
"Clone Wars," the award-winning animated series that extends the "Star Wars" legend, is among his most notable credits. He voices Yoda, a job he got after working on the "Star Wars" games. "I did Boba Fett, Admiral Ackbar, C-3PO when Anthony Daniels didn't want to do it, and they knew I was a good mimic."
Goofing around, Kane also captured Yoda. Because Frank Oz was busy shooting a film, they recorded Kane doing the part, sent the tape to "Star Wars" creator George Lucas and he gave his blessing.
Now, Kane's part of the family, working on various "Star Wars" projects when needed. A role in the upcoming live-action sequels? It's always possible, Kane says, "but Yoda died. He could always come back as a ghost. But I'd be surprised if they didn't go back to Frank Oz if that happened."
No problem. Kane has often had to fill in for actors like Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson when they weren't able to re-record dialogue for films.
Additionally, he has served as announcer for several Academy Awards broadcasts.
"There's a bit of nervousness there," he admits."You rehearse for three days, but until that envelope is ripped open you have no clue who you'll need to announce. There's a script supervisor next to me and she quickly flips to the right page. We have from the moment the presenter says the name until the winner gets to the end of the row for me to start talking."
Unique names like Quvenzhane Wallis and Martin Scorsese have to be pronounced correctly. To make sure there is no error, Academy officials have the nominee or someone who works with him or her pronounce the name in a tape recorder. "We get proof so we don't make a mistake."
Often, actors will provide their own verbal clues. Kim Basinger, for example, told them her name is pronounced "like someone who sings -- a bass." So it's BASE-inger, not BASS-inger.
Because he has had so much experience, Kane doesn't slip up on names. Occasionally, though, a word will prove troublesome -- like "Saturday." "I'd say it and it kept coming out 'Sat-a-day.' When you do a lot of network promos, that can be a problem."
Kane, a Kansas City native, has sped through so much copy it's unlikely he hasn't voiced just about any possible word combination.
"As brilliant as a script may be, I've probably read it before for a similar ad or a similar product."
The gig started when he was 15.
"I was the class clown and now I get paid for it. If I was in grade school today, I'd be on ADD medicine up to my eyeballs. A teacher once tied me to my chair with jumpropes."
A good mimic (he could nail his grandfather's German accent), he could could just about any voice. By the time he graduated from high school, Kane had done 80 commercials.
Oddly, he hasn't had any musical training. "And that has cost me jobs, particularly with Disney cartoons. Almost all of their characters burst into song at some point. If you're a celebrity, they'll hire someone else to do the singing."
The influx of celebrities in the animation market has limited opportunities for folks like Kand "and some voiceover people are not happy about it.
"There are times when some on-camera folks do a great job -- Mark Hamill is a phenomenally talented voiceover guy. No one begrudges him from taking a part. But you'll hear others who are horrendously inappropriate. It kicks you right out of the movie."
Though fun, voiceover work isn't always lucrative. "I'm not typical," Kane says. "The average voiceover performer is lucky to break $100,00 a year. Not getting one of those jobs could be the difference in making the mortgage payment."
The future? For Kane, it's bright. "For men, the more you abuse your voice the better it sounds," he says with a laugh. "In the movie trailer world there are a lot of deep voices."