Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Play To Your Strengths

There’s been a reoccurring theme that’s been playing through my head lately. Actually, it seems that it has been cropping up everywhere I turn from a narration I recently recorded, to a tele-seminar I attended, to other bits and pieces from all types of media. So, it’s finally gotten my attention. It has to do with playing to your strengths - focusing on the things you do really well or just who your are at this point in your life –what could be described in more folksy terms as “dancin’ with the one who brung ya”. In other words, identifying and then nurturing and capitalizing on the particular things that make you unique. In acting and voice over, we often try to be all things to all people – a daunting task and one that is difficult, if not impossible to achieve. A task that will only bring us frustration and often a sense of failure, because we’re just not going to be the right type, style, or size for every job. One size does not fit all. One style does not fit all. One voice type is not all there is….

In the old days, if you didn’t have the deep resonate perfectly articulated voice, you weren’t in the running for the majority of announcer jobs. Now, it’s shifted to the antithesis of that description. There are lots of requests for young and hip. If you’re neither, there’s really no point in wasting your time trying…..That isn’t to say that you actually HAVE to be young and hip. What I mean is if you don’t DO a credible young and hip, leave those auditions to someone else, and focus on who you are, naturally.

Do I mean that an actor or voice talent shouldn’t stretch themselves to go beyond their comfort zone…No. I think we need to try things to see where we can go, but as far as marketing ourselves, our demos, our “brands”……we’ve got to do some serious, objective soul searching to see where we feel the most comfortable. Because, if we feel best doing certain types of roles both on camera and off, then those are probably the ones we’re best suited for and we should do everything we can to hone those so that we’re the best we can be in that type of role, genre, etc.

Some of us might put off going down this road because we think we’ll wait until we can fit another mold better. For example, an actor not getting updated pictures until he/she loses weight, gets a new hair color, hairdo, or transplant(!), but what might we be missing out on by not promoting ourselves as we are at that time? What we are might be perfect for a role we haven’t imagined. We put off working on a new voice over demo thinking we’ll wait until we can make ourselves sound like someone else….. When who we are and what we sound like is perfect for someone casting and producing the perfect job for us.

Contrary to some who claim performers are insecure, as actors and voice over talent, we have to have a lot of self confidence to put ourselves out there. Second guessing ourselves sometimes goes with the territory but when taken to the extreme, can lead to inertia. We need to be OUR best for us and know where WE feel most comfortable and put ourselves out there with confidence and grace knowing that we are unique and perfect for that perfect role.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Keeping it Interesting

Work is fun. Work is work. Work pays the bills! Really, I enjoy all the voice over work that I'm privileged to do everyday. Along with just being grateful for jobs coming my way, the joy of voice over work often comes from the variety of projects that come my way. It is fun and interesting, and I usually learn something from each and every project. Although I have always done all kinds of voice over work, sometimes, the jobs that come in are heavy in one genre, such as e-learning......for awhile, and then things switch and it maybe something else: corporate narrations, IVR or phone messaging, commercials, promo, imaging, etc.

The past month or so has been especially interesting and varied with all kinds of new and unexpected projects. I recorded a large batch of medical center commercials both for television and radio which were recorded in another studio here in Houston - Audio Bob. This used to be how all my jobs were recorded - driving into town, working in a studio, with an engineer and a producer/director in attendance. It was really fun to work with "real people" again like I used to! The fact that it was such a nice large project was gravy.....

Work that has come directly to me often finds me via my web site. I just never know who will be calling or emailing me with what kind of project. In addition to a slew of large e-learning, commercial, and IVR projects here in my studio, I've had several wonderful and new narration opportunities. I narrated a very well done documentary style production for the American Museum of Natural History in NY, a moving airplane accident case study for AOPA, and several different voices of the women's suffrage movement for a PBS special all via phone patch.

Political commercials are definitely on the upswing, too, as you may have noticed, and I've voiced several in the past week - usually at the last minute - via ISDN. In fact, I missed one, just because I was invited out to lunch!! Note to self, don’t leave the studio during an election year. J

Throw in a variety of smaller market commercials for all kinds of clients, a few radio imaging projects, some regular repeat work for IVR and phone messaging clients and the interest level grows. The variety of clients, producers, and projects open to voice over talent now that we can work from our own studios via the internet is amazing compared to how we used to work... Of course, it all requires more background/non voice over work from us as well. Marketing, bookkeeping, producing, editing, and just generally keeping track of a business all take a lot of time and attention. But that can all be interesting, too. Marketing, alone, is a topic worthy of a great deal of time and attention, and something to be talked about in more detail in another article.

Until we meet again, “Be well and prosper!”