educational

Get Out of Your Head

You hear that perfect delivery in your head. Maybe it's an echo of something you heard on the radio or TV as a kid, a character in a cartoon or a personality ingrained into your mind. But is it you?  This can be an odd industry to navigate. You can be told, by the same person in the same breath, that you need to find your one true "money voice" and also that you need to be as versatile and far-reaching as possible. And they're both correct statements. However, those qualities may apply more to one area of the industry than another. For example, in animation and video game work, the further away from your own voice you can get and the more truly original, different styles of voices you can make, the more useful you'll be. But, in commercial work, you really only have to be yourself. And be as "yourself" as possible.

But, being yourself doesn't mean "don't try". It means being able to really let your personality shine through in any read, with bold choices that only you would make. I look at voiceover training like karate: you work on the mechanics (script analysis, inflection, diction, posture, and on and on) and when it's game time, you put it all out of mind. You don't want to get in your own way when you step up to the mic. Your money voice is easier to find than you might think. It's really a matter of training yourself up then letting it all flow naturally when it's time to do the work. The next time you read a spot, think to yourself, "Am I reading this as me or as a voice in my head?" The casting directors want to hear you, not you doing an imitation of what you think they want. It may feel weird at first, but trust me: it'll feel more natural, genuine, authentic, and believable in the end. And guess which direction keywords show up way more often than any others?

-Rex

Every Job Feeds Into the Next

I was recently interviewed for a college survey project about my career as a voice actor. This is the first time I've given an interview for something not involving music (I write for and play in Random Battles and Uatu) and I was immensely flattered to be asked. Throughout the interview, I noticed most of my answers had a bent of marketing and advertising. I hope I didn't bore my interviewer too much, but I had made the magical world of VO sound like a business 101 lecture. But there was one point I happened to make to that I wanted to explore.

Every job feeds into the next.

I haven't been a voice actor for very long (I went "full-time" back in October). Aside from this, I've been a wedding DJ (still am, in fact), a maintenance man, audio engineer, server, bartender, HUD appraisal manager, IT tech, and graphic artist. As you may imagine, none of these industries have a ton of crossover. But, I've taken the skills and tricks I've learned from each of these jobs and applied them to my current endeavors.

This is what constructs my unique business approach: You may have sat down to a Pro Tools session in a studio, but have you ever replaced the carpet and tiles in that room? Have you been the delivery guy who brought you lunch? You've been a guest at a wedding, but have you been the valet, server, maitre'd, bartender, or DJ before (being only an attendee at a wedding is a very rare and strange thing for me)? While this may not seem relevant to voiceover, these experiences have shaped my outlook on my new business and informed how I approach its various challenges. I've sold myself as a DJ to brides for years, which taught me first hand how to adapt my skills and shape my words in order to present the best possible product for my client. Improv skills help in that realm just as much as behind the mic, by the way.

I wouldn't have had the confidence to build my own home studio without having been a gopher at my dad's construction sites growing up or been a maintenance man at Meadow Mills, incidentally now about two blocks away from my house and home to theater troupes in my social circle. I certainly wouldn't have appreciated the relative freedom and empowerment running my own business is without having sat in many,  many offices on many, many unbearably boring days. Those memories provide extra catalyst for building a successful business, and let me tell you, it's a hell of a good one.

As I progress in my business, now every job feeds into the next by way of word of mouth or repeat business. As I grow as into voiceover more and more, the type of work is aligning more and more: instead of serving, DJ'ing and interning at a recording studio, I'm performing a school assembly, acting in a short film, producing an awesome podcast, and, well, DJ'ing. In five years, who knows, maybe I'll be discerning between audiobook work and IVR. A guy can dream.

 

-Rex