THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD LEADING TO SUCCESS
In a busy voice agency in any major city in the world, probably the biggest problem encountered is the number of people who believe that without any experience they are capable of doing the job.
This piece is designed to help you to both understand the many obstacles and either overcome them or decide on a different career!
To try and dissect the successful voice actor is extremely difficult as they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from just about any background, but usually they’ve been involved for some time in either radio/TV or the acting profession.
Now as we see it, the most important asset is not the voice- it’s the brain. That wonderful organ that allows you to be totally aware of everything going on around you, particularly the directions from the producer. That same brain also lets you interpret the message in the commercial or corporate video so that the listener becomes aware of something special going on. We call it finding the magic and it’s a common quality that each busy artist has, even though in some cases they may do it totally intuitively.
Second in importance to the brain is the ear. This allows you to hear every subtlety and nuance in the script. You’re able to determine whether or not you’re delivering inflection rut, that your emphasis is balanced and that your pauses are properly dramatic or subtle – whichever is appropriate.
You see, we’ve gone through all this stuff about the brain, subtlety, nuance, pausation, inflection, intuition and we haven’t even mentioned the jolly old voice yet. But here it is – third in line after the brain and ear. So the next time someone tells you that you have a great voice and should try voiceover work, don’t forget to ask them their opinion of your brain and ear.
Of course in the larger cities the standard is at its absolute highest and the competition at its toughest. That’s why we usually suggest to anyone with a hint of talent that they should journey to a smaller centre and gain their very important experience in a gentler climate. There, the opposition isn’t usually as professional and there’s a better chance of getting the opportunities for regular work. We’ve actually had people applying to us who we’ve had to disappoint only to take on a couple of years later when they’ve improved to a standard acceptable to our very particular marketplace.
To give some idea of the difficulties involved in this work and to emphasise why it’s impossible to be a player in this league unless you’re totally in harmony with the work. This is what can happen (and often does) in the studio environment:
“Great read but could you do another one just like it but a quarter of a second faster?”
“That’s a really exciting read but we need it to be more so.” (This time with your throat hanging out.)
“Yeeees but I’d like to hear it 6 months younger!”
“That went for 39 seconds, (it’s a 30 second commercial) could you speed it up but make it sound slower?”
“I think we’ve got it – we’ll use the first part of take 31 and couple it with the end of take 85”
“Thank you, that’s fine – next!”
Out of hundreds of voice demos we hear each year we sometimes take on one person. Always someone with experience, in total harmony with the business who’s put in the energy to make it worthwhile to invest time in.
If this is discouraging it’s because very few people are capable of becoming top voice artists, but never forget that everyone who is, also started somewhere down near the bottom of the pile and eventually worked their way to the upper end. Good luck but please – Take heed!