I started my work life many years ago as a Receptionist/Typist and from my very first job I was always told I have a great speaking voice. Employers since then have been reluctant to move me away from the telephone because I apparently sound good on the telephone and interact well with callers.
This got me thinking one day. “Why don’t I become a Voice Over Artist? Of course, there was a lot of self doubt and the negative mind monkeys always questioning me “do you really think you can do this?”
More than fourteen weeks ago I decided to throw myself in at the deep end, found myself a Voice Coach and have been working hard at training for my new found profession. I must tell you, it’s HARD WORK, but, I’ve found myself such a super duper Voice Coach who is so super patient with me and so encouraging.
The bad news is that the Voice Over industry is such a highly competitive industry and voice acting jobs are very difficult to get into – especially when there are professional actors and actresses doing Voice Overs to supplement their income. This means that no matter how good I am at using my voice, I will still face strong competition in the real world.
There are numerous types (genres) of Voice Overs:
• Commercial Voice Overs
• Promotional Voice Overs
• Movie Trailer Voice Overs
• Animation Voice Overs
• Audio Book Voice Overs
• Industrial Voice Overs
The type of Voice Over which suits me depends on my type of voice and performance ability. My lessons focussed on learning various styles of reading to find what style suits my voice best. For example: do I make a good narrator suitable for audio book voice work or do I have a natural “regular” sounding voice best for commercial work? I think my Coach and I have established that I don’t have a big booming voice which would be suitable for movie trailer voice work and I don’t quite have any character voices developed yet for animation voice work. Maybe later?
Many Voice Over Casting Directors offer classes that specialize in each genre of Voice Over. A big advantage of being trained by a casting director is that, if they’re impressed with you in class, you could get called in for Voice Over auditions, and you may even get a referral to a Voice Over Talent Agency.
Now that I have completed my training and based on some honest feedback from my Coach, when I’m ready to move forward, the next step would be to produce a Voice Over demo reel, but before I spend money on a Voice Over demo reel, I need to be certain that I’ve refined my voice acting skills enough to move forward with a career in Voice Overs.
Once I’m ready for my demo reel, I will need to find an audio production company that specializes in producing Voice Over demo reels, preferably one recommended by an experienced Voice Actor (like my Coach for example).
What is a Voice Over demo reel? It is a professional recording of about eight excerpts that feature my voice speaking copy (reading text). There would be a separate demo reel for each and every genre of Voice Over which I will pursue to get work. A demo reel usually runs between 60 – 90 seconds and displays a good vocal and emotional range.
Some people misinterpret this to mean inventing voices or dialects, but that’s not advisable. You really just need to demonstrate enough versatility to be able to perform a variety of Voice Overs.
Voice Over Agents and Casting Directors want to be comfortable knowing that they can throw a lot of different voice scripts at you, from peppy and energetic to solemn and intimate and that you will do a great Voice Over read every time.
Once the Voice Over demo reel is done, I will be ready to start submitting my demo reel to voice Over Talent Agents and Voice Over Casting Directors. A Voice Over Talent Agent is the person who will represent me and help me get Voice Over work. They will find opportunities for me to audition, and if I’m accepted for a job, they will take 10 percent of my earnings. A Voice Over Casting Director is a person hired by an Advertising Agency or Production Company to manage and direct Voice Over auditions.
The main difference between Voice Over acting and other types of film and stage acting is the way you audition. For Voice Overs, you do most of your auditioning at the Talent Agency and only a small percentage with a Casting Director. The Talent Agencies, like the Casting Directors, actually have their own Voice Over booths where auditions are done. If you have a home studio and are good at directing yourself, your Voice Over Agent may permit you to record your Voice Over auditions from home.
The Voice Over business, like all acting, is unionised for most of the major work such as national television commercials, promos and animation. Many local and regional commercials as well as a great deal of non-broadcast narration, are not unionised.
Voice Over work is voice acting, plain and simple. Very few people make an exclusive career of Voice Over work. Like all acting, the Voice Over industry is very up and down and unless you are able to book long-running Voice Over campaigns, or do e-books or an animated movie feature, income from Voice Over work is usually supplementary.
Most Voice Over Artists are also on-camera actors and Voice Overs is just one area where they regularly audition for work. The key is, in order to work as a Voice Over Artist, I will need to work flexible hours that allows me to audition or I will have to find a job where I work at night.
You never know – the next advertisement you hear on the radio or television might just be my voice.
Just watch this space!