Voice-acting tips from
"The Art of Voice Acting Workshop"


Cheeko Adams writes: "Hi James, Can you tell me where I might be able to find legal contracts for voice-over/commercials production?"

Here's my reply:

I'm not sure if you're asking about contracts in terms of you as a voice-artist or you as a production company, so I'll touch on both.

To my knowledge there are no set forms for contracts for freelance voice-over work in commercial production. Many voice artists work on a verbal agreement, while others use a simple letter of agreement that states the terms and conditions of what each party is responsible for. For example, a simple agreement might state that John Smith will be providing voice-over talent services for XYZ Productions and will be compensated at $000.00 as a buy-out talent fee for the project. I have some examples of agreement letters in my book, The Art of Voice Acting. All the letter of agreement needs to include is the name or PO# of the project, the amount of compensation and the payment terms (ie: net 60 days). Many producers will simply provide talent with a voucher or a purchase order number. At that point talent simply writes up an invoice for the amount agreed upon and either sends it in, or brings it to the session if the fees and details are known in advance. In this case, the voucher or purchase order becomes the contract.

If you have an agent, they will handle the paperwork for your voice-over work, which is often in the form of a voucher that you complete and have signed by the producer at your session. If you are a member of AFTRA or SAG, the paperwork is a bit more extensive, and the agreement terms are more standardized and the details will be worked out between your agent and the producer. Your voucher may or may not indicate the agent's commission on your talent fee, so that is something you will need to keep in mind. Make sure you prepare two copies and that you keep a signed copy of your contract or voucher with your other paperwork for the project.

If you are a producer, creating a contract for a complex project, you may want to create a more detailed agreement. Basically, any format is fine, as long as the specific details of the agreement are clearly stated in a manner that all parties understand and agree to. Once signed, the agreement becomes a legally-binding contract.  As a producer or production company, you may be responsible for reporting taxes or sending out a 1099, so accurate record-keeping is a must.

Contract agreements tend to vary with each project, so many production companies will have a basic form that they will modify for each client or performer. I've worked with contracts as simple as a 1-page voucher with only 3 lines of information to a 15-page highly detailed agreement that we use when producing television commercials or other complex projects.

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