Q. What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
A. Absolutely. The fact is, when it comes right down to it, voiceover folks are actors. And actors take classes. Even the famous ones. The ones who are truly dedicated to their craft are always learning.
For film and theatre actors, they'll go to reading groups and take regular acting classes. The most successful ones keep honing their skills, because, in this world of blink-and-you-miss-them movie and TV actors, it's the ones who continue to grow that have the most longevity.
It's a little different in voiceover, because you don't have the visual medium to lean on in order to emote character traits or 'ticks' or whatever. You're totally in the "theatre of the mind" as has been mentioned for decades.
Because the industry and business of voiceover is changing so much, it's more important than ever to keep learning. There's an art and science to voiceover, on the performance side, and the business side.
Just to give you an idea of how important education is in our industry, I've started a workshop production company called Superhero University, whose sole purpose is to bring the best coaches in the business to the voiceover folks that wouldn't normally have access them. That's how important education, and a well-rounded one at that, is to a person in voiceover.
Q. How did you get started doing this type of work?
A. I always knew that I wanted to do something with my voice. When I was three, I ran around the house singing "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers.
I was always making weird noises and throwing my voice when I was in middle school.
I was All-State Chorus in high school, and I went to college on an opera scholarship.
I entertained at parties by doing impersonations and making funny voices.
It was only natural that I used my college education to learn to get paid to do the stuff that used to get me in trouble in middle school.
But honestly, the decision to really do voiceover as a profession was only after I realized that *people really do this* for a living. I was hooked, and the rest is just a story to tell at parties.
Q. What types of customers have you worked with?
A. Video Games, Animation, TV and Radio spots, Narration, Voicemail greetings.
Those are my bread-and-butter. I can and have done it all, but these are the things that I get most.
Q. What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
A. Don't be satisfied with 'good enough.' That's the first thing I would say to a potential client. Then I would advise them to never hire a vendor that doesn't show a genuine interest in their business or product.
That sets the truly excellent apart from "good enough."
So please. Talk to me. I'm fair, and I'm one of the best. If I can't do it myself, I know at least fifty other people that I would recommend without hesitation.
Q. What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
A. That the voiceover industry has value, like any other commodity. The problem is, that voiceover isn't a normal, everyday commodity to everyone. People don't manage their expectations of value properly when it comes to hiring a voice.
Here's one way to look at it. Say you lock yourself out of your car. When the locksmith arrives, he pulls out a couple of tools and has your car open in twenty-five seconds, then asks for a payment of sixty dollars.
How would you react? Happy that you have such an expert locksmith that you were able to get into your car so quickly? Or would you react like many would, in that he charged sixty dollars for such a short time of work?
I actually saw a locksmith and his customer in this very situation, I happened upon them in the parking lot of a grocery store, and after the customer reacted poorly to the news of the bill and asked how he could charge him so much money for a minute's work, the locksmith said, "You aren't paying for a minute's work. You're paying for a minute's work and fifteen years practice."
And, that's exactly what most voiceover folks have to deal with daily, simply because the perceived value of the work we do is very low. Most people don't know how much work we do in our industry, because of the perceived time of a radio or TV commercial. The assumption is that it's thirty, sixty, ninety, etc. seconds of work, and that's not true.
Add to that the fact that talking is a natural thing for most people to do, and that reduces the perceived value of what we do even more. I've lost count of how many times a potential client said, "How could you possibly charge me that much for talking. I mean *everybody* talks." Have you seen an eyewitness to a news event talk on camera? Yeah. Nobody wants that guy to talk, either.
And thus, we arrive at the point. Don't devalue something that you take for granted. I mean, think about if anyone outside of your industry suggested you do something for a fraction of the pay you deserve, or even free, and then I say, "welcome to my world."