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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
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…
LA here I come!
Richard Horvitz, Rob Paulsen, Donna Grillo, Nancy Wolfson, Chuck Duran!
This time in a week I should be just about to land at Los Angeles International airport for a whirlwind 4 days in the big city.It’s been a long time in the planning (pretty much since I was a kid) but it’s finally here and I can’t wait! For those that haven’t been following the blog or my Twitter feed (it’s alright I forgive you) I’m going to LA to meet with some fantastic people and to record two new demo’s for my voiceover career (Animation and Video Games).
I’ve got a pretty jam packed scheduled over the 4 days I’m in LA and, in reality, with travelling it’s really only two days work but boy what a 2 days it’s going to be! I really want to share this experience with you all and especially anyone out there who has an interest in VO (specifically animation) so have written this blog to let you know what I’ll be up to,when and how you can follow it! I’m going to be tweeting, taking pictures and video blogging the whole thing!
When is this happening? 26th to 29th April
- Arrive in LA Saturday 26th April
- Sunday 27th – Universal Studios (well when in Rome!)
- Monday 28th – Richard Horvitz, Donna Grillo and a dinner date with Nancy Wolfson 🙂
- Tuesday 29th – Rob Paulsen, Chuck Duran and Demo Recording!
How can you follow the trip?
Who am I meeting?
Richard Horvitz – www.richardhorvitz.com
Richard is an extremely well known, award winning actor known for major roles in shows such as Billy and Mandy, Angry Beavers, Invader Zim and many more! I have been studying with Richard for the last month over Skype and can, without equivacation say he is an outstanding teacher who’s insight and knowledge of performance (especially animation) has been key in unlocking my own potential. On Monday I’ll be working with Richard on the copy for my two demo’s and he will in fact be directing the demo’s himself on Tuesday, can’t wait to meet him!
Donna Grillo – www.imdb.com/name/nm0342028/
Donna has been a Casting and Dialogue Director for over fifteen years. She has worked at all of the major studios and independent companies that produce animation. She started at Klasky Csupo on the irreverent USA Network series, Duckman, that featured the vocal talents of Jason Alexander and Nancy Travis. Donna was then hired to head the casting department at Hanna Barbara, overseeing these cartoon series that have aired on Cartoon Network – Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest and Squirrel Boy. When Hanna Barbara was sold to Warner Bros. Donna decided to work freelance. Her next job was casting Nickelodeon’s under the sea adventure, Spongebob Squarepants as well as casting The Angry Beavers, Invader Zim and The Fairly Oddparents. I’m meeting Donna to learn as much as I can from such a wealth of experience and to have a play with some copy with one of THE premier directors in the industry.
Nancy Wolfson – www.braintracksaudio.com
I’ve been studying with Nancy for over 2 years and we recently did my new commercial demo together (you can hear that here) so no way could I go to LA without grabbing her for dinner! Nancy Wolfson is a private Voiceover Teacher, Coach and Consultant and freelance Casting Director for Commercials, Animation, Gaming, Audio Books, Promos and Narration. She also writes, produces, and directs demos for Voiceover talent, and is recommended by top-market talent agents as the premiere “Go To” person in advising talent on Personal Branding
Rob Paulsen – www.robpaulsenlive.com
Well what can I say about Mr. Paulsen? Other than the fact he’s an Emmy winning, super talented actor he’s also the man responsible for bringing many of my childhood characters to life (think Pinky and the Brain, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Biker Mice from Mars and many, many more!)
He’s also the creator of the Talkin Toons podcast and live show which you must listen to / watch if you’re into animation! I’m meeting Rob for a coaching session and to pick his brains about the industry, this is going to be fun!
Chuck is the Owner and Head Producer at World Digital Studios. He has a varied and extensive background in the entertainment business, with hundreds of impressive credits to his name. From producing thousands of commercials for companies such as Nike, Chevrolet, Budweiser and so many others, to having two hit rock albums in the Japanese & European markets, to writing and performing songs in award winning movies like “My Cousin Vinny” for TV and film companies such as Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and Disney. On top of this Chuck is an EXTREMELY nice guy and I can’t wait to meet him and shake his hand, oh, he’s also producing my two demo’s for me!
Booked a gig on a Pay to Play site? Well Done!
Pay to Play sites, love them or hate them are rife within the industry.
For those who may not be aware a Pay to Play site is a website where you pay a yearly fee (usually between $200 and $400) and in return get a profile page and invites to auditions, or a client may engage with you about a booking directly. Further into my VO career work now comes to me from many different avenues; direct marketing, pay to play, cold calls, websites and fellow voiceover artists…
Actually I’m just going to go off on a tangent on that last one, receiving work from other voiceover artists. Unless for some reason you have a slightly maniacal personality, you should always treat other voiceover artists with respect and professional courtesy as this industry is extremely unique. Whilst it’s easy to label other voiceover artists as competition, the reality is that they’re your colleagues. Why? Well it’s because ALL voiceover artists are selling a 100% unique product, my voice sounds entirely individual and is my own to sell. I have a couple of clients who provide me with regular income that have come to me via other voiceover artists that recommended me, in fact some have been as nice to say “No, you don’t want me for this, Jay is the voice you need” so always be considerate of your “competition”. My last point on this comes from the masterful voice talent Rob Paulsen who sums up competition in VO by simply saying “A high tide raises all boats” so keep that in mind!
Now back to P2P……I started on Pay to Play sites so they’ve always been part of my voiceover world. I’ve been on all the major ones; voice123.com, voices.com etc. but something struck me recently that I wanted to share, particularly with people new to voiceover who may be starting out on these sites as I did.
What I wanted to share was that if you manage to book a job on one of these sites…WELL DONE!
Why do I feel that landing a job on a Pay to Play site needs singling out for congratulatory high fives all round? Well, it’s because of the demographic of the people you are up against for the gigs. When you audition for a gig on a Pay to Play site you aren’t just up against the 10 people on your agents books, or the 20 people who found out about the casting call and were free that day, you’re potentially up against 100’s of potential talents (a very quick search on Voices.com for British, Male, Middle Aged voice talent throws up 234 results). Also you’re not only up against people local to you, you’re up against the global stage of voice talent and that means only one thing….. the client WILL find the perfect voice so for you to book it you must be the PERFECT voice!
For example, I do a pretty mean Ian Mckellan impersonation (“YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!!” see sounded great right?) so if you want an older gentleman with a Shakespearean edge to deliver a story opening I’m your man! Except on a Pay to Play site with 100’s of talent the client will find someone who actually is an older gentleman and naturally sounds like Ian McKellan which means I either have to nail the script fantastically or I need to make the wiser decision and pass on that particular audition and save my voice.
It’s easy to get disheartened when auditioning on Pay to Play sites (I know, I’ve been there!) as you may well only book 1 job for every 10 auditions but if you get the right training you can bump that up significantly.
Just remember that you’re never going to be the perfect voice for every job and Pay to Play sites can be a great place to find jobs and get contacts so stick at it!
All the best
BAFTA Games Awards 2014 – A night to remember
For me this day would combine two of my greatest passions in life; voice acting and video games. My interest in video games extends far beyond voice acting and I have been a gamer for around 20 years and (as you’ll soon find out in the video tour of my studio) am something of a collector (in fact I bought a piece whilst at the show!)
I am a firm believer in the power of video games as an entertainment medium and believe they can offer truly unforgettable experiences that are simply unmatched in the likes of Movies or Television because they are not passive experiences, you as a player engage fully with what is happening on screen. They are only going to become more immersive with new technologies such as the Oculus Rift which I got to try out at the show and was, as suspected, amazing!
Video games have provided some of my most memorable and emotive experiences and bought characters to life that I have genuine affection for. In my eyes saying you’ve not played Last of Us or Bioshock Infinite is comparable to saying you’ve not seen the Godfather or Star Wars, they are iconic and seminal parts of our culture.
Anyone who has watched the making of the Last of Us (which picked up a plethora of BAFTA’s last night) will know that the scale and effort involved is similar to your blockbuster movies and that to call Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson “voice actors” is to do them a massive disservice, they are actors, and damn good ones (Ashley picked up best performer). Acting in video games is set to get more and more demanding as technology such as Full Motion Capture (capturing body, voice and face) become more common place which is why it’s key (in my opinion) that if you want to “voice” video games you need to first and foremost be a good actor, the voice comes last!
For me the highlight of the evening was getting to meet both Troy Baker (Joel from the Last of Us and Booker from Bioshock) and Courtnee Draper (Elizabeth from Bioshock). To me they are on a par with Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep, fantastic actors responsible for bringing my favourite characters to life and very nice people too!
Overall though I have to say that the defining moment of the night was simply getting to be in a room with so many people responsible for creating something I have an unadulterated passion for. To be in a room with so many of my peers whose talent and creativity is astonishing just like the work they produce year in, year out. To call the media they produce “games” doesn’t even begin to do them justice, I’m still on a high just from being in that room.
If I can make it far enough in my voice acting that one year I get to be sat with them as a colleague I will be truly, truly grateful.