- March 2017
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- October 2014
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- 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
When ambition meets waiting…
The last few weeks since I got back from LA have been both the best and worst weeks of my voiceover journey and finally tonight I managed to get to the bottom of my recently soaring stress levels – frustration!
Let’s face it, if there’s one thing I’ve got it’s ambition. I know I won’t be satisfied until I’m doing commercials for Nike, video games for 2K and cartoons for Warner Bros. but at times that can make things really difficult. Ambition is a great thing to have as it drives you forward, gives the thick skin to deal with rejection and keeps you going when times are tough but at other times it can be a mighty anchor weighing you down.
In real terms I am still at the very beginning of my voiceover journey, yes I’m a working voice actor, yes I’ve had some big projects and clients but there’s still so much more to do. Since January I’ve been marching towards a major gear change in my Voiceover efforts and the trip to LA was all part of that, as was my new demo with Nancy Wolfson but invariably with any business (because that’s what VO is first and foremost) there will be times where you just can’t do anything but wait!
At the moment I’m chomping at the bit to get on the phone to agents, to contact production houses, to send out newsletters but I’m not quite there yet and when ambition meets waiting, stress is the result! A good example is my new website that is currently in the works (and the final piece before letting myself off the leash), we’ve been through a few design iterations and I’d just hit the “go” button with the designer when it suddenly became apparent that we weren’t going to be able to use the design I wanted (for reasons I won’t bore you with).
I was devastated, not only because I loved what we’d come up with but because it meant another delay and more waiting to get going. Now I could easily have just thought “to hell with it” and gone ahead with the site anyway, or decided to start putting my name out there but that wouldn’t have been my business brain making the decision it would have been my impatient one.
I guess that’s the point of this post really, something you’ll need to have to make it in any sphere is patience. Patience to pay your dues while you wait for your goals to come to you, patience to stand fast when all you really want to do is run head long in to something and patience to build your experience to the point where the goals of your ambition are within your reach.
So, what to do while you’re waiting to take your mind of it………write a blog post of course!
What are you worth?
It’s an interesting question and one that has a multitude of answers dependant upon the context in which the question was asked but I’m specifically thinking about your worth as a Voice actor and in a wider sense all of our worth as a Voiceover industry…
I had an interesting experience recently when I got involved with a potential job via Twitter, the tweet was looking for male voice actors for a TV programme to be broadcast on a major TV network.
“Great” I thought and slung my name into the hat, unfortunately that was where the excitement ended when I got the e-mail through with the details. On initial inspection all seemed interesting, the project sounded cool, the script had potential for some great fun and the broadcast platform was second to none so what was the problem?
It was this “We don’t have a budget for voiceover, but we can offer great exposure”, my heart sank and into the professional dilemma I went. I won’t mention the production company or broadcaster involved but suffice it to say we’re talking major coverage!
Now some of you may not think this deserves to be a dilemma, “It’s XYZ broadcaster, of course do it” and that was in there amongst my initial thoughts, especially as someone relatively “new” to the industry but something I read a long time ago stuck in my mind “Always remember what you are worth”. As an industry, Voiceover has changed enormously over the last 5 years with a massive influx of new talent and an equal explosion of opportunity. My twitter feed is full of “Voiceover Masterclass for $20”, “How to make easy money from home doing VO” and yet that’s not me or most of my colleagues. I’ve spent significant sums investing in kit, going to courses, reading books, training with coaches and hours upon hours perfecting reads, voices and acting so I circle back to “What am I worth?”
Ultimately the conclusion I came to was that I am worth being paid for my craft and actually even more so for such a large broadcaster. To think that a show that was in it’s 4th Season and being broadcast on such a large platform has “no budget for voiceover” is to be quite frank insulting, so ultimately I turned it down, sure it was a difficult choice but my gut says it was the right one and I hold my head up high.
So why to blog about it, well two main reasons; one because the chances are as a VO you’ll come across a scenario like this and second because it’s a very interesting issue that pertains specifically to the “creative” industries.
A quick search on the Internet and you’ll find painters, illustrator’s, photographers, actors all complaining of similar stories of being asked to do work for free in return for (never guaranteed) exposure. At this point it’s worth clarifying however that I will do free work, in fact my very first gig was free and my second for a tiny radio station paid £20. What’s important is what that work is! A charity appeal, sure, a student video, absolutely, a prime time TV programme broadcast nationally…… and the reason for that is simple, if we don’t defend our worth we’re not worth anything.
This appears to only be something that is prevalent in creative industries, perhaps it’s because we all tend to be so passionate it’s easier to take advantage of our desires to please. Think about it, you’d never say to your plumber “I can’t pay you to install that toilet but I’ll tell all my friends about it” so why should we accept that attitude?
As VO is a close knit community I know that other’s received the same e-mail reply that I did almost word for word (including the compliments…). I know that ultimately the production company will probably find another VO to do it for free and that’s the problem, as a whole we need to stand up and shout “We know what we are worth!”
Enjoy the success of now
When I first started contemplating getting into voiceover (something I’d dreamed of since I was a kid – see here) there were 3 bigs aims, my ultimate end goals:
Lofty aims I know but that’s what I wanted (and still want) but these past weeks I’ve come to realise the importance of enjoying the success of “now”. What exactly do I mean by “enjoying the success of now”? Well it simply means ensuring that you appreciate the achievements you make without analysing them in the shadow of your bigger dreams.
I’m just at the end of what in all honesty has been a stellar week for my VO career, I’ve performed a character voice for a documentary for the History Channel, a case study for the Red Cross, recorded a character voice for an upcoming video game and recorded a new commercial demo with the fabulous coach Nancy Wolfson and the amazing Santisound Studio in Hollywood. It would be all too easy to go “yeah that was great but it wasn’t the Naughty Dog game” and that has two effects; first it reduces your confidence (something killer in a business based on performing) and second you completely miss what’s right under your nose. The things you’re achieving today, no matter how small, are all the building blocks to those dreams you’re aiming for so don’t do them the injustice of belittling them for not being the dream they are leading you to.
My animation coach (Richard Horvitz – also fabulous!) told me a story of someone he knew who applied for the MacArthur genius grant every year for 25 years and didn’t win, he watched colleagues, friends and other prestigious people win it but he was always over looked. When he finally won it and was asked how it felt his response could be summed up in a single word “meh” He had spent so many years maligning the fact that he hadn’t won that he’d completely missed all the successes he had achieved.
The important thing here is to take your achievements in the context of their time, don’t let them live in the shadows of dreams you’re yet to achieve. The best analogy I can think of would be a journey from New York to Los Angeles, if you went that whole way only thinking of the end destination think of all the things you’d miss along the way…