- March 2017
- October 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- June 2015
- April 2015
- October 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- A Child’s Creativity
- Dealing with Rejection
- eLearning logistics – how to create files in seconds
- Character Voiceover Tip: Build a library
- Character Voiceover Tips: Learning an Accent
Exceeded expectations. Lighting speed delivery.
"Jay was amazing to work with. Exceeded expectations. Lighting speed delivery. Easy to work with and a great communicator.
A couple of unique things about Jay. First, his demo reel shows a great selection of voice options to chose from... but none of them were exactly what we were looking for. However, when we told him what we wanted he was able to take our abstract ideas (about being educational, sincere, conversation etc) and transform those directions into EXACTLY what we had in mind.
So if you're thinking about hiring him... tell him what you want... give him a sample to read... I'm sure he can deliver what you want. We're very VERY impressed. Will use Jay's services many more times in the future. Secondly, he delivered our project within a day and made adjustments within the hour. Highly highly recommend."
- John Sweeney - Academy of Mine
"We are now big fans and I'll tell my colleagues about you as well!"
On receiving my read as Arnold Schwarzenegger Barbara had this to say:
"THIS IS GREAT!! Love it already, you are very talented, glad we found you! We are now big fans and I'll tell my colleagues about you as well!
-Barbara Schroeder, Answers Productions
Why do I do this?
So, it’s a Friday night at the end of a busy week and as I sit here reflecting I wanted to share my thoughts with you all. This isn’t a satire piece, it’s not a rant about the state of the industry or that pesky certain $5 website it’s just something about my voiceover journey so far that I wanted to share with a community that I’ve come to respect and admire and maybe, just maybe this may serve as inspiration to someone else.
The reason for this reflection? Well in case you’ve been living in a black hole for the last few weeks (or don’t follow me on Twitter) I’m about to embark on a trip to LA which I have been waiting for since, well, since I was a kid.
Doing character voices and in particular animation was my absolute dream as a kid, right up until I was 16 or so. I idolised the likes of Hank Azaria and Dan Castellaneta and thought impressionists were some mystical beings with magical powers. My dream at that time was to move to LA, work on the most famous cartoons and movies in the world and drive my convertible up and down the coast road.
I wasn’t the smartest kid at school, wasn’t the stupidest, wasn’t the best looking or the ugliest but what I did have was unadulterated passion for performing. I’d do it whenever I got the chance, the corridors, in class, school plays, bands, musicals, everything. I was known in school as the guy who did silly voices and accents, it was and still is without a doubt what makes me, me.
So what happened that meant I’m not writing this blog entry sat on a balcony overlooking the Hollywood sign? Well, it was simple really, money! While I am a performer there is a side of me that is infinitely sensible and even at the tender age of 16 I was concerned with making choices that would lead to a stable income, choices that would keep a roof over my head, choices that would keep food on the table and ultimately choices that would put me on a path in the opposite direction of what would make me happy.
So I didn’t go to drama school, I didn’t take up acting, or musicals, I chose courses that would lead to a “sensible” life and ultimately a career in IT. Now don’t get me wrong, I like IT, I’m very good at what I do and the career that I had led to getting everything that one might consider ingredients for happiness. I had a nice car on the drive, a big house in a nice area, lots of gadgets and gizmo’s, but was I fulfilled, no.
This all struck me right after my wife and I moved into our “family” home, there I was, 28 and I’d achieved everything I’d wanted to when I was 16. I had a rock solid income, roof over my head and food on the table. Why then did I feel so unfulfilled?
The reason is obvious and simple, I was spending the majority of my hours in the day doing something that was, whilst interesting, not my love or my passion.
Thankfully (oh so thankfully) this was the moment of epiphany I had been needing for so many years. My wonderful wife sat me down one night and walked me through what was stopping me going for the voiceover career I’d wanted since I was a kid and when it boiled down to it there was nothing. I was imagining problems that didn’t exist, I was thinking of timelines that hadn’t happened yet and ultimately the fear of failure was in there as well.
Having it laid out so plainly in front of me reminded me of something I had also been adamant about since a teenager, I would not be someone that got to 65 years old, retires and looks back at their life wondering why they spent it doing something they didn’t enjoy. That mourns all the dreams they never pursued. I was determined that wouldn’t be me.
There was another major factor that kicked into gear here as well and that was my son. My son is now 18 months old and having him enter my life has been the most scary, daunting, nerve wracking and wonderful thing ever to have happened. Raising a child can make you ask so many questions of your own life and I don’t want him to grow up with a father that didn’t follow his dreams. I want to be a role model for him, I want to show him that no matter what people say, no matter what the financial implications are, go for your dreams. He is my inspiration.
So now here I am, a voiceover booth in my office, new equipment arriving imminently, coaching sessions ongoing with some of the best talent in the business (Nancy Wolfson and Richard Horvitz) and a trip to LA booked to record 3 new demo’s. I’ve done work for Marvel, Intel, Siemens, Santander, and 888 Poker, I’ve got my own cartoon series about to pilot, a successful YouTube channel and you know what, now I’m starting to feel fulfilled.
I hope the above may serve as inspiration to other people that, like me, were perhaps unhappy with what they were doing in life or just need to see that it can be done.
And so we come to the end of my reminiscing and look to the future instead. I have no idea where this path I’m on will lead me, I’ve no idea if LA and that convertible could still happen but I’d like to leave you with a final thought…
As soon as you take a single step on the path to where you want to be, you are a success. The only failure is to never step foot on the path.
All the best,
Break into voiceover…
The reason I ask this question is that my Twitter feed seemed to be full of statements such as:
- “How to break into Voiceover”
- “Make it in voiceover in 5 easy steps”
- “How to build your VO career with this simple trick”
Now while all these links and courses came from reputable sources is the language we use to describe VO training really doing it justice? We all know that there are a lot more steps to making it in Voiceover than 5 and that there is no one simple trick to building your VO career.
When I entered VO I have to admit I was naive, I thought the fact I could do funny voices and a bucket load of accents would be enough, boy how wrong was I! Only once I’d started training in VO did I come to realise what an art it is and how it is the absolute definition of a “craft”, how it takes years to hone your skills, build your business and learn the dynamics of the industry you have entered in to. I watch hours and hours of interviews with voiceover artists at the top of their game, I read countless blogs and indulge in training from as many different sources as possible all to attempt to grasp the massive undertaking that is becoming a professional voiceover artist.
Perhaps that’s why I take umbrage at seeing it laid out so simply, it just doesn’t do the industry or the people that work in it justice. It also creates another problem, a mass influx of amateur talent. Now I mean amateur talent in the nicest possible way and I’m simply referring to people who fancy giving VO a bash but it’s not really their passion or their work. The internet has already made it easier for anyone and everyone to get a website and a microphone and call themselves a “voiceover artist” so is this something we really want to encourage by advertising in a way that doesn’t give credit to just how hard it is?
The saying goes that “a high tide raises all boats” and I have no issue with competition, in fact I think in the VO world it’s a great thing and actually people are competitive and collaborative all at the same time because we understand that ultimately each of us has an utterly unique product to sell. But if a high tide raises all boats what will a low tide do…
The other impact of this of course, is on the buyers of voiceovers, why would they pay $100 for a VO when someone who on the surface looks just as professional is charging $10? Both client and professional VO’s get a raw deal here as ultimately the customer is most likely going to have to get the VO redone and waste time and money in the process. It reflects badly on us as an industry and damages our reputation as a whole, the last thing we want is to end up being considered in the same vein as second hand car salesmen or estate agents.
However, there is an upside to this and that’s the law of the pendulum (as I call it) meaning when something game changing such as the Internet affects an industry it will always cause a swing one way before going the other. By this I mean after the industry has had it”s influx of new talent and gigs on Fiverr (I’ll cover that in a separate rant!), customers will get tired of getting poor quality and back the pendulum swings.
Let’s just try and hold up our end by advertising these new courses:
“How to break into voiceover in a number of years and significant investment”
“Make it in voice over in 2,356 steps”
“How to build your VO career with hard work, sweat and training, training, training”
All the best!
A blog post about blogging
We’re all supposed to tweet, Facebook, share pictures, produce videos, guides, blog posts, insightful diatribes about the state of our various industries and all while trying to find some time to fit in some work to give you something to talk about in all the aforementioned varieties of media.
Luckily however, I love producing content so here I am starting up a blog. I already tweet and Facebook about my various VoiceOver antics (and my side passion / obsession of video games) and for a while now I’ve had a relatively successfully YouTube channel with around 2,000 subscribers where I share my accent and character tips and occasionally do ridiculous voice challenge videos.
So why a blog? Well two main reasons, first I now feel confident enough in my knowledge of the industry and the points I want to add to discussions to share them with you lovely colleagues out there. I do genuinely mean “lovely colleagues” as well, of all the industries I have worked in Voice Actors, Studio Engineers, Directors and suppliers have been the nicest, sincerest and most welcoming bunch of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of counting myself among.
Secondly, I love to share knowledge. I take great pride and happiness in sharing knowledge so that it may help someone else on their journey through this crazy ride called life. Through my YouTube channel I’ve had messages from people all over the world asking for advice, asking for my opinion on their videos or simply to say thanks for my vids. I’m also hoping to start up an in person course in the near future, so stay tuned about that….
So there you have it, a blog post about starting a blog (Google SEO should love that). I’m hoping some of you reading this now may decide to follow this blog or at least come back to check it from time to time so here’s a taster of some posts I’ve got planned:
- Rejection in VoiceOvers – why it’s great!
- If you’re in to animation you need this podcast!
- Studio upgrades – Kit and thoughts
- My trip to LA and meeting some class A voice talent
- Why I love accents and characters
- Why booking on Pay2Play sites are a massive pat on the back
- My thoughts (read as RANT!) on Fiverr
I hope some of those posts sound intriguing and hope that through this blog I get to interact with more of you lovely people!
All the best!