Coaching

When Each Day in VO Feels Like a Time Loop

I happened to marry a huge Bill Murray fan, and from Quick Change to Groundhog Day, I think I’ve seen all of his top hits, but Groundhog Day is my favorite. As a working mom, having a system to maintain efficiency is really important but What if nothing you did mattered?unfortunately that same system often makes every single day feel the same. I go into my booth and warm up. I do my most pressing auditions first. Next I tend to all booked work. I submit more auditions. I stop and walk the dogs. I typically eat an early lunch then work on client outreach. Then I go back in the booth for more work and to submit more auditions. Every day is pretty much the same. I meet with my accountability group on Thursdays and I blog on Sundays. Days are the same and weeks blend together. So, as a full-time voice over professional who is booking work, you might be asking what is wrong with this? The problem is the rut the I feel like I fall in. With no room for self-checks and no room to make sure that I am submitting the best possible reads, the Groundhog day scenario perpetuates itself. The best way to break this cycle and for a voice over professional to submit bookable auditions is to work on their craft regularly and to work with top coaches who give solid feedback! In voice over we are constantly being asked why we are different than other talents and those of us who book work know that the answer is seldom our voice but rather that we need to work on our craft to stand out!

Why “The Voice Over Study” Class with Kim and Lisa

The First step is a doozy It’s important to pick the right coaches and I’ve been blessed to work with many excellent ones in the years that I’ve been in voice over. Sometimes you want private lessons and sometimes  group classes can meet your training needs. Right now I wanted to shake things up. Kim Handysides and her daughter Lisa Suliteanu book a lot of  work. They understand what is au courant and have created a curriculum across genres to target bookable reads. Kim has been an industry leader for 30 plus years and her talented daughter Lisa has been working steadily since she was 7 years old and has been full-time since finishing university. In case you’re wondering what the vibe of their class is like, it is upbeat, inspirational, clever, and fun. With so many coaches in the industry at the moment, this class is designed to put voice actors on the path to success and enrolling was a great step for me, even so many years into my career!

A Fresh Look at Scripts

Bill Murray playing the piano In Groundhog Day, we see Phill Conners taking piano lessons and becoming an amazing pianist. This did not happen over night. It took lots and lots of practice. Right now in The Voice Over Study, we work on different scripts and then can use those tools to go back and really work on a script. The more we learn to unravel it, the better our reads become. For me, having fresh feedback on my reads is helpful. It is also just as helpful to pay attention to the reads of the other voice actors in the class, listen to how they approach the scripts, and think about the feedback that they are given. I try to incorporate this approach into both my auditions and my booked work and bring some freshness to it all.

Interact with Others

Bill Murray With Andie MacDowellIn Groundhog Day, we see Phil’s relationship with others in the town blossom and develop throughout the film as he gets to relive each day. For me, having an opportunity to meet other voice over actors is really valuable. The other talents in the class are from different parts of the United States and Canada. We are at different points in our careers and we all aspire to focus on different genres of voice over. Still, I think knowing other voice actors is essential to our success, and I am so thankful to be getting to know the other actors in this class as we all learn together.

What’s Current and What is Booking NOW

Phil Conners with News Team Just as we see Phil repeatedly attempting to cover the story about Punxsutawney Phil, there are countless ways each script can be approached, so wouldn’t it save a lot of time and energy to understand which reads are actually booking right now? That is the point of “The Voice Over Study,” the nuances of the bookable read are not necessarily my go to read, so I am so thankful for the first few sessions already! For example, the words to emphasize or blend may not be what I had thought of, so this valuable feedback, and the reinforcement of it, makes Kim and Lisa’s class outstanding. In class last week, Kim directed me to hit words I never word have that to enunciate, and the overall gestalt of the read was just a million times better. Her instincts are amazing. Kim and Lisa book A LOT of work on their own, and my goal is to be as busy as they are!

Read Rate/HW keeps As Honest

Bill Murray reading poetry In class we have homework. We have scripts to prepare and we are also supposed to work on cold reading. I also love this, as both make me more efficient and more effective in my daily work.  These tasks are something that I look forward to, as I feel like I am taking control of my career and determining my own path.

If you have a passion for voice over and you want to make your work stand out, do something different, be bold, and take this class! Unlike Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, in the voice over industry what you do each day does matter so get coaching, do the work, and make your career better!

How I got Started

Years ago when I was an Upper School History Teacher at a prestigious all girls school on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, a popular question higher-ups used to ask faculty was where we saw ourselves in five years. I always answered in the classroom. It was true. I never had administrative ambitions. At 24, it was hard to imagine myself designing curriculum and assigning faculty their courses . When I got into voice over, much the same happened. I had and have longterm goals for myself and for my business, but they typically involve building and maintaining a consistent sustainable income in an industry I am extremely passionate about.

So how then, without looking to build a coaching career, did I suddenly coach three people last week? As a platinum member of Voice123, they asked me to. In the email they asked if I would be interested in working with talents who are premium members new to the platform. I was delighted and excited at this new opportunity on a platform that has helped me build my business. Without betraying the confidence of those I have worked with so far, I will share some interesting lessons I learned from coaching that I think would be useful for those of us who are working professionals and are a few years in.

We all started somewhere

When you surround yourself with the right industry friends, you can share this journey with them!

It is easy to forget that at some point we built our businesses and had to learn about the industry. Some of the talents I worked with had a better understanding than others, but compared to working pros they were clearly at the beginning of their journey. What they all had in common was that they were bringing valuable skills from their prior life with them into voiceover, whether they knew it or not. They also had a shared passion for voice over and a necessary determination to succeed. Yet, they were on a site to book work before even understanding the genres that are on the site, the criterion for professional demos, and some needed to get educated about how to use audio technology in general. Think about where you were when you went into VO? How much research did you do? Were you even aware of what you needed to learn? It was an exciting moment to connect with these aspiring voiceover actors and help to point them towards success, in hopes that they have the stamina to connect all the many dots necessary to build a career. It also brought back so many memories of what it takes to succeed and build a business.

Another Opportunity for Branded Content

As I corresponded with these aspiring VOs before our sessions, I found immediately that many of their questions overlapped. They wanted to know about:

  • How to improve their profile
  • How to submit competitive auditions
  • If their demos were appropriate
  • What DAWs to use
  • How to Market directly to clients

This touched the teacher in me. I was excited to hear about their goals, and I did not want to assume that what I want is what they want. I also was delighted to have a chance to create some of my own branded content to use with my new voice over students. I spent hours making lessons and creating handouts to use in our sessions. I wanted to create meaningful templates that would help start a solid foundation. I also wanted it to reflect my brand and my business values. I was very proud to put my logo on the worksheets I created. I was also very proud to make referrals to my many industry friends who I have connected with over the years who teach social media and marketing classes and produce demos.

Self-Evaluation

So, how did it go? Well each session went differently but all went well. As all of the talents I worked with thus far are at different points in their voice over journey and needed different levels of support, the sessions took very different paths. For example, only one student wanted to work on script analysis and craft. I loved pulling scripts I thought would be right and working on the reads. Another has built an impressive on-camera career and really is building her studio from scratch at the moment. It was exciting to be talking to her at the start of it all. Another had a wonderful acting background on stage and as a working mom is patiently waiting for her kids to go back to school. I sure can relate to that! I think now that I realize how everyone is in such different points, I will do an introductory survey before the session. It will help me better prepare and best meat their needs. I also think I will have even more support resources readily available if I know about their training, demos, and studio in advance.