Category Archives: My Story

My Story: Michael Slemmer

The_Voice_of_Authority-_formated[1]VO work for The Voice of Authority (my “brand”) has continued on a steady and varied pace. I recently had a very interesting experience with a new client. The story begins with a lesson I learned in sales and marketing a long time ago (and one that SAV rightly promotes too): push every button, pull every lever to make yourself known to your market as you try to reach prospects. In this case it was my joining (for only $10!) – New England Actors. Although most of their gigs are for on-camera actors, they do accept voice actors also. The real value I saw, however, was gaining access to their list of audio/video production firms (cloaked until you joined). Cold calling this list of 14 firms has so far resulted in two jobs with 2 different firms, and likely repeat work from both.

Visual ConceptsThe second job, for a production shop called Visual Concepts, is the subject of my experience. I cold called the principal in March and then emailed a link to my SAV personal page and sent demo MP3s. I followed up with him in April, but there was nothing doing. Last week though, I got a call from him saying that he had a client that wanted my voice for a product overview to be introduced in July at a big Las Vegas trade show, to 500 doctors. The product is a kidney dialysis machine made by UltraCare. I won this by ‘electronic audition’ – Visual Concepts presented my narration demo, along with demos of five others to UltraCare, and I was chosen.

I expected to record and FTP the file on my own, as I usually do with jobs like this. But – as both Visual Concepts and UltraCare are local to my office and home studio, my surprise came when the producer said he wanted to come to direct me live. Then, a day later, the end-client at UltraCare, who’d said he wanted to be live by phone patch, announced that he too wanted to be in-studio! While I’ve done studio auditions, this was the first one in my studio. A mad dash ensued to clean my office, remove our dogs and cats, and otherwise “up” the professional image.

I got the scripts an hour in advance, and learned there was ‘politics’ involved – three scripts representing the view of different “factions”. With both men sitting nearby, I read all three and also helped them with some re-writes. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but their direction was minimal as they liked the reads. We were done in a little over an hour, and the best part was that I wasn’t tasked with any edits! The video is in post-production now, so I don’t have access to it yet. Overall, while there were a few ‘curve balls’ thrown along the way, it was a positive learning experience. My sense is that Visual Concepts will be sending me more work.

On my way to my first Voice 2012!

Voice 2012I’m excited to be attending my first VoiceOver International Creative Experience convention (VOICE) at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. The convention officially kicks off with a Red Carpet Reception, Tuesday, June 12th starting at 6pm. VOICE "is an industry-wide convention for anyone involved in voiceover for radio and TV commercials, animation, audio book narration, ADR, film, radio imaging, TV promos, audio production, and the recording arts in general. VOICE brings together performers, coaches, agents, studio engineers, producers, directors, equipment manufacturers and other vendors for the purpose of sharing ideas, enhancing skills and knowledge, and raising awareness of standards and practices of the voiceover industry (voiceacting.com)."

I have been part of the Facebook group VOICE 2012 since December of last year and can tell you that there are a lot of people, both new and past attendees, that are truly excited about coming to this convention so I know I am not alone in having high expectations. I am almost done packing (as a girl can never have too many outfits and shoes) and as I ponder what I’m looking forward to the most, these are the things that stick out:

1) Meeting people who are in the trenches both new and experienced

2) Networking with everyone especially those who hire VO talent

3) Learning! I love to learn and this week proves to have a schedule that will satisfy any mind. The classes I have set out to attend are:

  • Maximizing Your Online Casting Opportunities
  • Branding and Marketing for the VO Professional Voice Actor
  • How to Succeed in Corporate Narration
  • Audio Processing
  • Business: Simplify how you run it
  • Goals and Action Plan: Putting it all together and getting it done

4) Testing out different mics especially the high ends ones so that I know which one is best suited for my voice. I will also get to see what every VO talent does while they are on the road.

Lastly, I am part of the Ambassador team which means that I will be volunteering to help run certain aspects of VOICE. I did this not so much so that I could save a couple hundred dollars on my admission but to be part of a "team" instantly when I arrive.

It is my hope that this upcoming week will prove to be as amazing as I have envisioned it to be for my voice-over career. I also look forward to sharing my insights with you as you take this journey through the eyes of a new attendee of VOICE 2012.

Faith Coons
www.FaithCoons.com

My First Voice Over Job: It Pays To Read

Alecia Batson for Such A Voice

I am a classical singer by training. It is common for bulletin boards in the hallways and corridors of conservatories and schools of music to be papered with recital posters, concert listings, and calls for auditions. So, it’s not unusual to find instrument and score-laden students poring over them interestedly. One day, as I was doing just that, I noticed a rather boring-looking flyer on pink paper calling generically for “3 men and 3 women.” A telephone number was listed at the bottom of the sheet. Perhaps someone is trying to assemble an a cappella or early music ensemble, I thought. I called to discover, in fact, it was a company holding auditions for a radio commercial. Having never done voice over jobs before, I thought, What the heck!, and decided to audition.

The copy was sent in advance so I had time to prepare, and I showed up to the studio at the time and date requested. I landed the job after that lone audition and it turned out to be more than the typical, first-time voice over gig. I was selected to be the first and only National Female Voice for what was then dot-com-phenom CollegeStudent.com. (CollegeStudent.com has since merged with Student Advantage.) Such serendipity led to the recording of multiple national spots over a two-year period for this “local, online campus community,” which was not only wonderful in-studio experience, but also contributed to the beginnings of a high-quality demo reel. (As an aside: the first spot we recorded was deemed so risqué that 50% of the markets in the nation wouldn’t play it!)

Alecia in the recording studioWith this experience under my belt, I used my demo reel to market myself to voice over agents, acquiring my first representation with db Talent. I also contacted recording studios to find out if they maintain their own talent libraries and requested to be placed on file with those that do. Given the types of jobs I began working early on, it became clear to me that my industry niche was quirky, college-cool, but my singing background enabled me to expand that to include foreign languages and accents. Since that initial, unexpected audition, I’ve had the good fortune to record for a variety of corporations, including Time Warner Cable, Reebok, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Gozaic and Adobe, working on varied projects like telephony systems, industrial videos, television commercial demos and, of course, radio spots.

I look back on my entrée into a voice over career in astonishment. Voice over work had certainly never been part of my grand life plan and, truthfully, I had not heard of it when I made that fateful telephone call. However, I cannot deny I am pleased to have been one of those bulletin board-reading students because being so truly changed my life.

Alecia Batson is a professional actress, singer and voice over talent working in Boston, Austin and New York. Visit her web site at www.AleciaBatson.com.


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