I know I promised another article that was inspired from my recent trip, but I had to pass on something I just read that will help you move forward in your voice-over career. It’s a new year, and many people have spent part of the day setting goals and reflecting on events of the past year. Every New Year’s Eve, I write in a special journal about my plans and hopes for the coming year. I have goals for all areas of my life, especially in my voice-over profession.
However, I have learned that I don’t want to spend too
Drew and me in front of the Sphinx and Pyramids
I was shocked and saddened to open my e-mail this evening and find this message from Michele Cobb, president of the Audio Publishers Association:
We are sad to report that Kate Fleming, award-winning audiobook producer and narrator passed away Thursday, December 15, after being trapped in her flooded basement studio. She was a proud member of the audiobook community and will be greatly missed. We offer condolences to her loved ones, colleagues at Cedar House Audio and to all of the members who worked with and were inspired by Kate. Information regarding where you may send condolences will be forthcoming.
-- John Lydgate
As an aside -- when I was researching the correct attribution of this quote, I was interested to learn that, according to Wikipedia, the Oxford English Dictionary cites Lydgate with the earliest record of using the word talent in reference to a gifted state of natural ability.
Lydgate's quote was on my mind because of the first of the trip-related stories that I wanted to write. In your voice-over business, do you have a level of service that you provide to your clients? Do you guarantee your clients' satisfaction with your work? Have you done any contingency planning so that you can provide your voice-over recordings to your clients in the event of unexpected delays?
I have not written terms of service for my voice-over business, but I strive to ensure that every client is totally delighted with the work I perform. Ever heard of the phrase 'the show must go on'? If someone has booked your time, a professional talent doesn't call in sick and leave the client hanging in the face of a deadline.
In contrast, many large corporations have extensive written terms of service that their customers should expect. Human error, mechanical problems and forces of nature can cause the terms of service to decline or sometimes disappear.
The Audio Publishers Association reports that many people get audiobooks when they are traveling. With Thanksgiving a couple days away, you may be thinking of picking up an audiobook for your trip, and, as an audiobook narrator, I applaud your wisdom! 🙂
If you would like some help in making your selection, you will enjoy reading Stephen King’s recent column in Entertainment Weekly titled Hail to the Spoken Word in which he listed his top 10 audiobook recommendations. The discussion from readers is equally lively.
I ran across a fantastic entry on fellow voice-over actor Adam Creighton's blog titled Acting is a lot of work. It's the sort of thing I wish I had written.
I don't know Adam and haven't previously read his blog. However, he strikes me as an extremely talented, goal-oriented guy who can inspire all of us with his tremendous work ethic and fierce determination to live the life of his dreams. I particularly liked the paragraph where he said that if you don't have work, you make your own. I also have used comic books for character voice creation and practice, but Adam takes that method one step further by creating simple animation by taking pictures with his digital camera.
Some of the most stellar ideas for business expansion have come from people making their own work. Hollywood stars often have their own production companies; why shouldn't a voice actor do the same thing? In his most excellent course You Must Act! , actor/writer/director Bob Fraser advises would-be actors to cast yourself in roles that you want. Whether you are acting on stage or in a voice-over booth, his advice is still sound (pardon the pun).
I was fortunate to have a personal consultation with Bob in which we discussed that point. Casting oneself means that you know your strong suit, and you also know the things that you enjoy doing. You therefore actively seek out those opportunities or possibly create them for yourself. Adam knows this secret.
Things happen for a reason. Every moment and decision has meaning -- even if you don't know it at the time.
As I sit in my beautiful soundproof recording studio with its Parisian decorating scheme, I still marvel at the newness of it. A little more than a year ago at this time, my house, my voice-over career and my life were severely disrupted because we were in the midst of building the addition on our house for the studio.
I didn't even make the decision to build the studio until 6 January 2005. Prior to building the studio, I had been using an unventilated, small walk-in closet as my voice-over recording booth. While I could tolerate the many discomforts of the space, it was the surrounding noise that forced me to go to drastic lengths.
If you read my entry from Sunday, you know that I appeared on a TV show called Finding Your Dream Job which aired on Monday night. Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV (Channel 2) had posted a call for entries on its web site. Out of the 100s of submissions, the station selected 6 people to assist in career transitions.
David McCreary was one of the 6 people chosen to participate on the show, and he wants to start a career in voice-over. WSB-TV arranged for him to spend his first time in the recording booth at the fantastic Catspaw Studios under the outstanding direction of studio owner and leading national voice-over talent Doug Paul. Doug called me to perform copy with David for the recording session.
The show focused on how to change careers and land in your dream job. Popular TV/radio personality and author Clark Howard hosted the show and talked with a panel of career advisors and special guests in addition to the people profiled on the show.
David's segment was early in the broadcast. The spot we recorded during the taping wasn't aired on the show. It was a role reversal for me in that it was one of the few times in my life that I was seen but not heard. 🙂
During David's portion of the show, Doug gave him some solid advice specific to starting a career in voice-over. Like many people interested in this profession, David has spent years impersonating other people and cartoon characters. He would like to perform those impersonations for a living. Doug said, "Unfortunately, you won't get a lot of jobs being so many other people like that, so you've got to do straight and character stuff."
Doug recommended that David see if he can find an opportunity to work in broadcasting, such as at a small radio station. He also suggested that David get involved in theatre work. Doug told David that he could start creating some short demonstrations of voice work to use as something to talk about with agents.
The best advice from Doug applies not only to newcomers to voice-over but also to professionals:
"If you really want to get into this business, you've got to work everyday. It's kind of like playing tennis. You've got to play every day."
The information presented on Clark Howard’s TV show about changing careers was terrific. I hope to write a summary about it tomorrow. In the meantime, I thought you would enjoy reading a couple of articles about two very talented character voice-over artists.
In May, I made a new friend with the charming and witty Mary McKitrick when we met during Pat Fraley’s Women in Animation class in New York. Mary has only been working in voice-over for about 2 years, but she already is making a big splash, thanks in part to her tremendous self-discipline and