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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

Talent Spotlight: Natalie Donegan

Natalie DoneganDespite studying theater and drama in college (and always having an interest in the arts), Natalie never had any desire to be in front of a camera or on stage. At 20 years old, she discovered that voiceovers existed, but didn’t have any space in her busy schedule (she was single, had a mortgage and a very demanding job as a sales manager of a daily newspaper) to pursue a possible career shift into voiceovers. 12 years later, Natalie was married and a stay-at-home mom and she was looking for an outlet that would challenge her creatively. That was when she searched out Such A Voice.

Natalie’s training program focused on technique, visualization, pitch, inflection and lateral reading. "My training combined with the resources that Such A Voice offers in the Members Only Area has all aspects of the industry. It helped me work on developing my voice style, setting up my marketing, a business plan and more! I felt like I had an entire spectrum of knowledge from Such A Voice, I had a plan and knew what I needed to do to get started. I also joined in on the live bi-weekly training sessions, which I found extremely useful in helping guide me as a new voiceover talent".

When Natalie was ready to step into the voiceover booth, she was happy to have a trained producer from Such A Voice by her side "In an area that I knew nothing about I was happy to have someone so well-versed in recording demos. You need to make sure you get the best demo you can, that is what you’ll be selling at the beginning!" From there, Natalie often referred back to the resources provided by the Such A Voice program to set up her website and market herself on various social media and pay-to-play sites. She takes full advantage of web marketing between Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube, Voices.com and Voice123.com!

Being a stay-at-home mom in the voiceover industry, Natalie probably appreciates the flexibility in her schedule most. However, she does say that lack of time is probably her biggest downfall. She loves having the ability to fit her work in around her very busy schedule instead of having a set of strict office hours. "Sometimes I get a big job that my day schedule doesn’t work with, so I stay up late to get the tracks recorded instead. My family will always come first, but with voiceovers I don’t have to choose between the two, there can be a happy balance".

Home studio toolsNatalie did a great job marketing herself, she attributes this to the fact that she was in advertising sales for 9 years when she entered the voiceover industry. "I am determined and I know how to sell, I’m just selling my voice now instead of a product. When I first started in the business I created lists of local potential clients: advertising agencies, marketing agencies, TV stations, radio stations, producers, telephone on-hold companies and more! I had no problem picking up the phone and calling them to sell myself and get my demo’s out to as many people as I could."

Voiceovers have kept Natalie VERY busy since she completed her training with Such A Voice! "Last week I completed my 65th voice over project, the latest that I’m working on is a 70 minute (80 page) educational video for a German university." Her first job came from Voice123.com, it was a two-minute telephone on-hold recording. "I felt like I had won the lottery when I booked that job!"

You may recognize Natalie’s beautiful British accent being used as the voice of such companies as: 45 Degrees Latitude Film and Production, 371 Digital Films, Bandwidth.com, Beam Audio, Cherry Creek Radio, Digital Media Communications, Go On Hold, Griffin Wink Advertising, Legwork Creative, Motion Foundry Inc. and many more!

When we asked Natalie what her advice was for aspiring voiceover artists, we couldn’t help but nod emphatically as we listened to her answer: "If you are getting into the industry, get a professional demo cut! Use every avenue you have to promote your name. Don’t be afraid to offer free work at the beginning, as long as you then have their permission to reference that work on your voiceover resume (and use a recording of it on your website). I found that it was hard to have NO experience and a demo, so I offered a few freebies. I then took those freebies and used them as examples of my work. I requested testimonials from every client I worked with and asked permission to quote their company name. Within a short period of time I had an impressive resume for voiceovers!"

We’re so proud of your many successes, Natalie! We can’t wait to see (or hear) what you do next!