Monday, January 31, 2011

International Voice-Overs Bank Group News | LinkedIn

This sounds like a great webcast. I'll finally find out why agencies haven't been calling back. . .as much as they should.

Monday, January 24, 2011

OK, So I Sound, uh, Sensitive (?)

People who have known me for a while are surprised by one of two things: One, that I have a blog about being a voiceover artist, or two; that I talk about my feelings without gratuitous expletives and epithets.  Guess that means I'm multifaceted.

I really want this blog to be an account of what I've learned and what I'm learning as I re-launch this part of my life.  It may also be a place where potential clients may try to find me.  It can also be a place where fellow voice-actors can visit for a sometimes-serious, sometimes-not look at what we do.  I've talked about the frustrations of dealing with agents, traffic, auditions, and waiting.  I've tried to share what tips I've used and which are junk.  All in all, I'm going to keep it professional and not slag anyone unless I think they're ripping people off.  If I link to their sites, it's because I've used their product, I like it, or they linked to me (I dropped one link who did not link back. . .if she links to me, I'll re-add it, but for now. . .no link). 

This is the era of social networks, blogs, and website optimization.  This little blog is just my feeble attempt to get the word out that I like to record my voice for other people for money.  Sorry if you want me to do that for free, but I gave that up back when I was 10 and I would record me doing voices and reading the newspaper.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Better to Plead for Forgiveness than Ask for Permission

This has sort of become my motto of late.  One of my big problems is a lack of patience.  It will likely be my undoing in the world of voiceover, but I'm willing to take that risk.  I realize I've only been on two pay sites for a little over a week, but the fact is I can't wait.

I can't wait for clients to listen to my auditions.
I can't wait for them to book me for the job.
I can't wait to finally get paid for the gig.

See a pattern?

So today, I decided to take matters (again) into my own hands.  Without going into great detail, I circumvented a few steps in the "Standard Way to Get Into The Glamorous World of Voiceover" (yes, I've seen websites using the word "glamorous" with "voiceover" in the same sentence) and used information at my disposal to send some e-mails.  Now, I don't know if this was against any "AUP" or code of conduct, but I decided "what the hell," I wasn't doing much the other way.  So, I may have broken protocol.  What's the worst thing that could happen?  They stop taking my money to be on their site?

Not bloody likely!

Long story short (you read that right), I think I got the gig.  And you know what?  They're going to be real happy with what they get from me.  And I finally don't have to wait any more.  Ask for permission?

Not bloody likely!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Things will change

So, after changing my strategy, I have seen a ton of action.  If you consider answering about 20 auditions as "action."  Getting the auditions is great, and I was completely stoked when they started rolling in.  The problem?

They were rolling in for everyone else on the paysites as well.

Hey, I'm just trying to get my feet back under me after a long layoff from this business.  25 years ago, this is all I wanted to do, but I gave up after hitting roadblock after roadblock (read: nepotism).  Unfortunately now, about 2500x more people are either in the voiceover business or getting in now.  They're all on these sites.  I need a way in that is less crowded and allows me to stand out. My search continues.

In the meantime, I continue to plug along with auditions in hopes of landing a gig.  I may get more training, I may just train myself (I am my own worst critic. . .besides my wife. . .she's brutal).  I'm definitely going to give audiobooks a shot; keep trying telephone messages; get on a podcast, and keep on pushing my voice "out there."

Find me on Voice123.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

When In Doubt, Change Strategy

So I go and complain that I'm not getting any love from the several agents I've sent my demo to when I read something that changed everything.

As I was futzing around the internet, I came across the Voice Over Extra site.  Now, at first, I figured it was just a bunch of advertisements from people who hold themselves out as "coaches," looking to separate me from my hard earned money.  I have to admit, living in Southern California has jaded me a bit in this respect.  I start from a position that if I live in the entertainment capital, those from outside the capital must be a "nobody."  I am quickly discovering the opposite; looks like the "nobody" is writing this blog.  Heh.  Back to the point.  As I am perusing the site, I discover a series of articles for newcomers including this one.  Mind you, I went to the one-day training seminar at the Marc Graue Recording Studio, so I knew everything I needed to know about how to break in to the voiceover biz (note use of hip insider lingo!).  Of course, my notes and recollection of what to do are a bit fuzzy, but I do remember the advice of sending out my demo to as many people as possible (although I seemed to focus on agents only). What could this guy possibly have to say to one so close to voiceover stardom?


The author, Robert Sciglimpaglia, lays out the steps to building your career with brutal honesty. His directions get right to the heart of the matter.  For me, this meant what I was doing was all wrong.  His approach does not involve agents and the endless search for one.  Instead, he advocates a direct marketing approach to getting your foot in the door.  I won't bore you with restating the article here; you really should read it for yourself.  Instead, I'll tell you what I've done since reading it.

First, I went against my better nature and signed up for a premium membership with Voice 123.  I don't plop down $300 without thinking and doing a little research (unless I'm playing video poker, that is).  I looked at other "pay to play" sites, and I think this one fits my needs the best.  If I'm wrong, I won't renew. 

Now, why did I do this?  Easy.  It provides me access to auditions that I would never know about; gives me an excellent resource of hundreds of contacts in the VO world that Google can't help me with; allows me to hone my skills through auditions, and; provides valuable feedback for my efforts.  So far, I have had one audition, but I've only been signed up for one day.  Good record so far.

Next, I'm getting over my fear of putting my name and face out there.  If I want to make money at this, I'm going to have to tell people what I do.  That means sending e-mails to different sources, whether or not I think it's the right place to send it.  Getting on social networking sites and telling them what I do.  Giving feedback to others when asked.  Participating in on-line forums and linking back to my site and blog.  These are just some of the ways I'm changing my strategy and upping the aggression.  If an agent calls, I'll listen. But I'm not just going to keep sending CD's out to people who could give two shits about what I do.

If becoming successful is a "numbers game," then I'm upping the numbers.  So, when my enthusiasm was flagging, one article has given me hope.  I'm reading with the appetite of lion coming off a power fast.  Absorbing what is useful and throwing away that which is not (thanks, Bruce Lee!).

Well see how this goes from here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Keeping that Positive Attitude

A positive attitude can be a tricky thing.  I've read numerous articles, books, treatises, testimonials, and advertisements about "positive attitudes."  Football coaches, cancer survivors, former athletes, people who cut off their own arm in order to get themselves out of a ridiculously harrowing position they put themselves into hundreds of miles from humanity (but I digress); all have a "message" about why you need to keep your chin up.

My message?  It ain't easy.

Now you might want me to elaborate on such a vague statement of the obvious.  Being the generous sort, I'm going to give you the goods.

As stated before in this marvelous collection of my wit and wisdom, I have been sending out copy after copy of my demo to agents.  To date, I have sent over 75 e-mails with the mp3 attached and 12 CD copies to various agents and casting directors.  I have also sent the demo to advertising agencies and at least one radio station.  The response thus far?  Two agents contacted me for interviews.  Of those two interviews, I have signed with exactly zero agents.  Now, I know it's early in the game, but one could begin to resign oneself to failure.  It's not cheap sending CD's to faceless, heartless (unless you sign me), and anonymous agencies.  The CD, the jewel case, the envelopes, the labels, the postage; it all adds up. . .quickly.  So, yeah, it would be easy for me to just give up and forget about living life in the fast lane as America's Newest Voice Talent Sensation. 

No, not me.

I know that finding an agent is a "numbers game" (Thanks to Marc Graue for that one); the more I send out, the better my chances.  Also, I have to realize that agents don't necessarily listen to demos every day, every week, or every month.  It may take weeks to hear back.  Some agencies will keep my CD around and may go back to it sometime in the future when they can't find what they're looking for.  This may sound like "pie in the sky" histrionics, but I believe it to be true.  My life, thus far, has shown me that just when it looks like a good time to cut bait and move on, something comes along to change everything.  I just need to be patient.

Maybe a separate blog about my lack of patience is more appropriate.

So, instead of giving up, I'm looking for other ways to get my voice out there.  Twitter, facebook, Actor's Access, and other internet media.  I'm also getting my headshot done to include in my profile and finding other ways to get my demo in the ether.  In the meantime, I'll take what's available, get my experience, and keep moving forward.

That's my idea of a positive attitude.  Not just words, but actions.  Maybe I should be a motivational speaker. . .

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Another Meeting; Another ??

North Hollywood is slowly becoming my least favorite city in the Valley.  That's a pretty bold statement considering the valley has garden spots like Arleta, Panorama City, and Sylmar.  The difference between them and NoHo?  Freeways access.  That and the fact that I have suffered rejection twice (mostly) in NoHo, whereas the other mentioned cities (I actually think they're all just big chunks of the monster that is LA) have only mildly offended me.  If you're really curious about the freeway access thing, read my other blog here.  For now, on to the agent story.

I got to the agency in the aforementioned Garden Spot about 3:15 (I made record time and expected to as I was going against traffic) and checked into the "office."  There I was greeted by a cute 23 y-o assistant who asked me to take a seat and the agent would be right with me.  I could hear what was going on in the other room (the door was wide open); two actors were reading a scene for the agent.  When they finished, another pair of actors came in, and they read for her (both readings were followed by a conversation).  They finished, and a third pair came in to read and have the follow-up convo.  While waiting, and during the second pair reading, I was given a script and told to go outside to practice with the assistant. Seeing no one else in the parking lot, I accurately surmised it was my turn.

Now, when you're interviewing with an agent (in my limited experience) for a voiceover slot, it seems to me that reading a scene is a little, well, odd.  Still, I read with all the gusto my junior high acting experience could muster.

Side note:  I worked for Safeco Insurance for all of 91 days.  In that time, we had an employee retreat at the Balboa Bay Club where my division, personal lines underwriting, had to write and perform a skit based on an average workday.  I helped write and was lead actor in the skit.  I won the "Oscar" for best performance in a skit at the retreat.  I subsequently quit Safeco a week later and went on to the glamorous world of teaching junior high.  Now back to this one. . .

So the agent is finally done with everyone else and it's 4:15.  All I could think of was the freeways and how they were beginning to resemble Tommy Lasorda's arteries after a large meatball and cheese from Lugi's Deli (in Anaheim!!).  I read with the assistant (nice girl, from Australia, although she had to tell me that since she had little to no accent) and nailed the scene.

Or so I thought.

The agent says, "That was good, but I can tell you're very raw."  To which I reply, "Well I am here for off-camera voice jobs."  She says, "Would you like to do on-camera, too?"  Now, my expectations were a little low going in, so this got me slightly excited.  "Sure!" says I, "When do I sign?"  The next thing she does is ask for a headshot and resume.  When I say I have none as I am, again, seeking off-camera work, she tells me it's impossible to place me without a headshot.  Short story, long:  Looks like I need to get my shit together and get a headshot done and begin padding a resume ASAP.

So, the bottom line here is one more interview in the can, but no real rejection.  This agent planned on signing 5 of the 6 actors who preceded me yesterday (one was already signed and was auditioning today).  She also seems to get her actors auditions, and more importantly, she gets them booked.  I guess having my picture taken and exaggerating about my acting experience is so bad.  Things left off with her telling me that once I get the pic and resume, give her a call.

Now, can I include acting in the Lincoln Savings employee motivation show as relevant acting experience?
I'll take that as a yes.

Oh, and one more thing, the agent loved my commercial demo produced by Marc Graue.  Get yours done here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Best Laid Plans. . .

Things got delayed today by the weather.  Go figure.  Rain causing havoc in Southern California?

Preposterous, I know.  Nonetheless, I'm scheduled to meet with my potential agent on Wednesday.  I still plan on bringing my positive outlook tempered with a dose of reality.  I know I'm one of the new kids on the playground (no way I was going to say "block"), but I have every reason to be confident.  If you've listened to my demo, you know why.  My voice is relaxed and professional.  I can adapt to most any situation.  My grasp of technology is such that I can turn around auditions in minutes, and I can make sure they are free of pops and clicks.

Bottom line:  I'm ready for this to happen.  Happy New Year to all. . .now get me signed!