Voice Over Education Blog

December 2013

Getting Rid of the Ghosts of Christmas Past

It seems that each year it’s hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone. Whether you celebrate or not, this time of year is a turning event for many. It is the time we create goals and reflect on the past.

Instead of talking about the future today, I’d like to reflect on the past. My incredible assistant, and fellow voice talent, John Harris, suggested this topic, and I think it is most fitting. Many of us dwell on what isn’t, instead of focusing on what could be. It’s so easy for us as a society to blame, make excuses and focus on the negatives that set us back. I tend to focus on the positive, and this isn’t always easy. There is always something or someone getting in the way of your success. Most importantly, you!

I encourage you to reflect on what you’ve done this year to create success for yourself, and to flesh out what has held you back. Many of us hold finances accountable for slow progression. Whether it’s investing in coaching, demos, equipment, marketing or branding, we are all forced to put significant money and a ton of time into our craft. There are many out there who truly can’t afford to invest further to obtain more productive results, and so they stop investing. But isn’t that the same as saying, “I can’t afford the schooling to be a lawyer, so I’m just gonna wing it?” It’s interesting that if we pursue a conventional career or trade, we make whatever efforts are needed, so we can accomplish the degree or certification that allows us to draw an income from that profession ... yet with Voice Acting, people assume that all they need is a voice and some equipment, and they will just make it work.

A Holiday Message

Happy Holidays!

It’s been an exciting year. With the voice over industry booming, will you find time to enjoy the holiday season? Probably yes, because the end of December and early January are normally (or shall we say “traditionally”?) a little slower.

But just because incoming work slows down a little bit, there is no reason your work should slow down. Use this time to build your VO business in so many ways:

* Work on training

* Practice, practice, practice (and listen, listen, listen)

* Evaluate/update your demos

* Learn more about your software and enhance your editing skills

* Improve your studio’s sound quality

* Train your ears by listening to other voice over performers

* Develop your self-promotion

So enjoy the season, and if incoming auditions and projects slow down, consider it a good thing. Don’t be concerned – the VO industry picks up in mid-January.

We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season, and terrific success in 2014!

Season’s Greetings,

David Goldberg

Chief Edge Officer

For more information about David Goldberg or any other Edge Studio instructor, please call our office at 888-321-3343 or click here.

Are You "ACTING" Like a Professional? (Part 2)

Note: This is part 2 of 2 of Robert's article. Read part 1 here.

If you ask any voice over artist or actor, they will no doubt TELL you that they are a “professional” and that they act professionally at all times. But I know, from my own observation, many of these people are kidding themselves. I’ve lost count of how many actors and voice over artists I’ve seen repeatedly shoot themselves in their foot.

My playing a lead role in a short film recently gave me a chance also to play casting director. This came about because one of the main actors dropped out of the production, so the director asked if I could fill the role with one of my actor friends. That experience was more valuable to me than shooting the film itself!

I posted a notice on my Facebook account, requesting anyone who was experienced and interested to private message me. I cannot tell you how many people responded by PUBLICALLY posting that they were “interested.” That was already a strike against them, as I specifically asked that they message me. Narrowing the candidates down further, more than few of the responses were from people who were not “experienced.” In fact, they had never acted before!

Three responses in particular illustrate what I mean by “shooting yourself in the foot.” One said he would love to do the part but his “daughter had a playoff game that day.” Well, so did mine, and I missed hers. I know actors that have missed funerals for an acting role. The phrase “the show must go on” has long survived because it is so true.

What Your Client Doesn’t Need to Know

My voice over coaching students often ask me: At what point can they start calling themselves a pro? I could give a long answer to that short question, but here’s a hint:

You’re a pro as soon you start acting like one!

Even when your coach believes you’re ready for the Big Leagues, you could still come across as an amateur. One of the biggest signals of amateur standing is when you disclose information clients don’t need to know, or don’t care about.

Here’s the top thing your clients don’t want to hear...

1. “Please bear with me. I’m new at this.”

In our business, there’s no on-the-job learning. Never sign up for something you cannot handle. If you’ve auditioned for a job and were selected, the client assumes that you are qualified to do that job. Playing the newbie card won’t gain you sympathy, won’t get you leeway or anything like that. It will simply undermine the client’s trust.

Professionals are competent and confident. Their equipment (both vocal and technical) is reliable and they’re able to produce studio quality audio. Pros don’t make excuses. They don’t need to.

Running a close second among topics to avoid is...

2. Personal problems.

Life can be tough, unpredictable and stressful. Being self-employed is both an escape from such stress and a cause of it. On the upside, a freelancer is always in the driver’s seat, and with practice you can hold many plates in the air at the same time. If the load become troublesome, don’t burden your clients with your problem. The same holds true if you are going through a rough time as a parent or partner. Whatever Life throws at you, leave your troubles at the studio door and get to work.

Are You "ACTING" Like a Professional?

Note: This is part 1 of 2 of Robert's article. Part 1 deals with the definition of "professional" and part 2 deals with the voice over casting experience.

I am asked quite often by my peers if I would recommended them to my agent for representation. I do not take this request lightly, because I cherish the relationships I’ve established with the professionals that represent me. I will not refer someone unless I am absolutely sure they are a “professional” also. The reason for this is that my referrals are a reflection of me, and I do not want to waste the precious time of the people that represent me -- nor erode their trust in me -- by sending them someone who is not a “professional.”

What does “professional” mean, anyway? Does it mean that the person is a member of the performance union? Does it mean that one gets paid for their work? Does it mean they are top notch in their craft? Well, for me, all of these things are part of what it means to be a “professional.”

But to me, the word means much more. I need to know, for sure, that people I recommend to my agent are not only at the top of their craft, and getting paid for their gigs, and not doing a bunch of “freebies”, or bottom of the barrel “cut-rate” gigs, but also that they take the acting/voice over profession seriously; as seriously as their family, or their “day” job. If they don’t, I won’t recommend them. Why is that? Because I am told time and time again by my agents that I need to be a “professional” at all times when representing the Agency at auditions.

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