Hey Phillip--I am in Mutt's boat and I have to chime in---I have done a LOT of listening to VO demos and the Me Too factor is so widespread that I was starting to wonder WTF I was doing cutting a demo. The best advice I've seen so far on VO is to take acting classes...but I do wonder about the unions--doesn't a newcomer to freelance VO hurt their chances at the early gigs by hitting a union right off the bat? Of course having a signature sound is a plus, but what's your take on unions for noobs who aren't new to scripts and production work?
Hey Mutt and Co.
Nancy Wolfson has a very compelling interview about how to get an agent....it was on a CD she handed out at Voice 2008. You might be able to get a copy at her Braintracks audio site....or maybe the interview is downloadable. Her proposition was, show a consistant ability to get your own work for yourself. Today, according to Nancy, agents want to see a demonstrable track record of work. It can be non-union national or regional. Mutt you can take Philip's advice and join Aftra....they are an open membership union. Pay the dues and join. SAG is another story. You must do SAG work to join the union. OR If you are a member of AFTRA for a year then you automatically become eligable to join SAG. These are "sister" unions. Right now the sisters are not talking to each other so one wonders if the open door policy offering AFTRA members of one year or more membership eligibility in SAG will stay open much longer. Once you join a union you are expected to adhere to "rule number one". Thou shalt not take non-union work. So without an agent feeding you union auditions, getting the union work once you join may be a challenge. It's kind of a catch 22 eh? The best advice is to do what it takes to peel away the layers of the "radio" onion to get to the essence of your own true voice. That unique voice that only Mutt can offer. I know many radio folks who've had to start from scratch creatively to unlearn all the crutches and habits of radio. it certainly can be done....ask Joe Cipriano or Beau Weaver.....both radio guys who've gone from "personalities" to ACTORS. Did I mention ACTING? Oh yeah ACTING! The acting will help you learn how to interpret and make copy believable.....personal....your own. The way I see acting....it's more about taking off masks than putting them on. It's about revealing yourself. There's a lot to learn about yourself on this journey. 'Glad you're on it with us Mutt.
Great advice, and I thank you for taking the time to share the "big point" about finding your own true voice.
You're very right. I compare it to when after getting my black belt in Taekwondo and then switching to another art I had to unlearn what I knew and rediscover an all new form.
Voice Acting is an all new form for me. Sure I have been banging out commercials for 19 years. But Voice Acting is entirely different animal that I have much respect for. So for now I put on my white belt and humbly move foreword.
After 9 months of putting this work more in the forefront of my career have recently just began to polish off the years of radio rust, and have begun to see what my signature voice might be.
That voice really isn't even on but one track of my demos so far because it is that new to me.
I will for sure try and find the Nancy Wolfson interview and thanks again for the feedback.
An agent here. I agree with John T. in that radio guys have to lose what you've done so well for all these years and get on with the voice acting. There are several great coaches out there. I recommend Bob Bergen, Deb Munro, Julie Williams, Joe Cipriano, Marla Kirban in NY, Marice Tobias in LA, Bettye Zoller in TX.....there are SO many good ones out there and you can learn something different and valuable from each one. The "me too" approach just doesn't get it anymore, so do find your signature style and have fun doing it!
As far as joining the unions, I highly recommend against it if you are a newbie. It's best to get some work under your belt first and then decide what is best for you regarding unions.
Also, as an agent, I would say DON'T CALL and ask if you can send a demo. The best thing really is to get someone reputable to recommend you if possible, in my opinion. And of course your credits and a professionally well-done demo go a long way in saying who you are and what you can do. A note about demos: don't overproduce. Make sure you can actually repeat what you did in the studio the day you cut your demo. Many talent have created bad will with clients by not being able to consistently do what the client heard on the demo.
Be friendly, be flexible, be professional, be accessible. And audition, audition, audition!
It's been said a lot around here...you are your own manager. VO is a lot of leg work (and acting, just ask John). You will spend a lot of time marketing yourself just for one potential gig. But when it goes right, ahhh, sweet freedom. Now go forth and market. And good luck.