-- 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.
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."