Archive for April, 2012

Slow, Slow ………

Not a common sight this week

 

It has been, as Garrison Keillor always introduced his Lake Woebegon stories, a quiet week.

This was the first one when I noticed a slow-down in the number of auditions coming through.  I couldn’t pinpoint a specific reason and put it down to it being just one of those weeks.  We all have them, after all.  Plus I was waiting to hear back about a forthcoming piece of work and to hear the finished version of another one so, all in all, things just seemed decidedly slugging.

So what to do with myself while I played the waiting game?  It would have been too easy to plonk myself in front of the TV – and I won’t deny that I did occasionally! – but I felt I should make the effort to use my time productively, especially as I knew that at some stage things would get going again – and, when they did, everything would arrive in a mad rush.   For starters, it gave me the idea for this post …..!

Mailing out my voice reel is an on-going job, so I sent out another batch.  Having covered production companies and TV and radio stations in London and my own locality in Surrey, I cast my net wider and sent it to places within shooting distance – Brighton, Oxford, Reading and their respective counties.  And I set about compiling a list of targets for other cities with a media community: Manchester, with the BBC having moved to Salford, Birmingham and Bristol for starters.  More time- consuming than it sounds.

It meant I could give my website some attention.  Having originally hoped that another page would be in the offing to showcase my work so far, alongside testimonials, I clearly wasn’t quite there yet.  Not because I hadn’t done the work but some of my gigs hadn’t gone public yet, so I didn’t have the finished versions.  The sensible thing to do was to update the existing page with the YouTube clip of the Milfresh commercial, and the testimonial from the agency, and then review it again when the other items had arrived.  An email to my designer got that started.

I also signed up to a brand new site that, hopefully, will produce some more work.  Called MOHActor.com, it’s a global site specialising in voice overs for telephone answering systems.  It’s free to join, which is always welcome, but I can’t comment on how it works until I get my first job.  It’s early days – for the site and for those, like me, who have signed up.

I expected the weekend to be just as quiet, if not more so.  And it was – except for one anticipated email, which arrived on Sunday afternoon.   Back in February, I talked about landing my first paid job, a new mobile phone based service.  It launches soon, so I’ll be able to tell you more about it then, but I’ll be voicing articles from newspapers and magazines – and the email confirmed which one.

Things are starting to move again …………

Fair Shares

Sharing is an integral part of the voice over world

Everybody I spoke to before I plunged into the voice over world left me in no doubt as to how competitive it is.  And they were absolutely right.

Even though everybody’s voice is unique, there are plenty of others going after the same jobs as me.  All of my work comes through web sites at the moment, with varying degrees of success.  But when a voice seeker is asking for 50 or 100 auditions for a gig, or you discover yours is just one of several hundred submitted, you soon get the picture!

But I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how generous other voice overs are when it comes to sharing knowledge and experience.  Yes, it’s a competitive business.  But it’s not cut-throat.

All of the sites I use provide resources to a greater or lesser degree.  From my comparatively short experience, Voice123.com and Voices.com provide the most extensive, the most recent additions being royalty-free music and other additional sounds and royalty-free video.  Both sites actively engage their members through a number of channels: on their sites, it ranges from on-line forums where you can find out more on just about any aspect of being a voice over artist, to regular training newsletters or videos.  More widely, Voice123.com also publicises the work of its members through its own YouTube channel and both sites, as well as others like VoicesPro and Bodalgo, also tweet regularly.

However, access to on-site resources is often only available to subscribers, so for newbies who don’t want to pay up just yet, another way of tapping into the network is via LinkedIn.  Here, most of the voice over websites have a group and they’re free to join, as are other voice over groups, such as London Voiceovers and Voice Over Ninja.  As well as sharing news and knowledge, some of them run discussions on topical subjects, with varying degrees of relevance to the voice over world.  More specialist groups, such as Social Media For Voice Over Actors, can be especially useful when marketing yourself, as can those on associated subjects, such as Twitter and blogging.

If you’re just starting out, or are a comparative new arrival like me, they are all invaluable.  Whatever your career, you never stop learning, even more so if it’s part of the fast-moving media world.  Regardless of whether I stay in this industry for one year or twenty  one, these sites and groups will continue to be a precious source of information.

But none of them would be half as valuable if it wasn’t for the generosity of the voice over artists themselves.  It’s truly remarkable and is probably the most open-minded of all the industries I’ve worked in.  And given that, at any one time, there’s a whole clutch of us going after the same gig, it made me wonder why.

One reason could be the comparatively solitary nature of the job.  Most of us work from home and, to a greater or lesser extent, by ourselves – with as much silence as we can muster!  It’s not like going to the office and interacting with colleagues, nor is there the banter or exchange of ideas that you find in a more conventional working environment.  So its place is taken by a virtual community, where you can build knowledge, keep up to date and develop contacts with other voice over artists.

Staying positive and focussed is one of the biggest challenges of working by yourself at home and contact with others in the same business, even if it is through a virtual community, can help and even inspire.  I resisted working by myself for a long time before finally biting the bullet.  I didn’t think I was disciplined enough and felt that I would seriously miss the company and stimulus of other people.  And there are times when I miss the latter: the sites and groups that I use on-line don’t totally replace them, but they do help.

Given that I’m still new to the industry, I didn’t anticipate being asked for my advice and experience so early on but clearly this culture of sharing is inherent at all levels.  My mentor, Gary Terzza, recently referred an aspiring voice over to me so I could give them an idea of the practicalities involved in setting up and getting work – the real picture, warts and all.  Just as no two voices are the same, no two voice over artists are the same, but I hope what I’ve given them so far helps in making a decision – and I’ve referred them to this blog, of course!