Voiceover

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.

My Chat This Week With VO Project Managers

An Unusual Opportunity…

This week I had an unusual opportunity to have a zoom sessions with a few folks who do casting. I was on a zoom call with an extremely accomplished male voice actor based in Vancouver named Brent Miller. Brent and I get to spent about 45 minutes chatting with these folks about our background, experience, best clients, niche roles, and the kind of work we book. Here is a summary of what the Project Managers asked me and how I replied:

Did you get your start on Pay to Plays?

I wouldn’t say I got my start on Pay to Plays, I would say that seeing what was available on the various casting sites gave me the confidence to pursue voice over.  When I saw how much opportunity there was on the various casting sites, I was confident that with the right training there was potential to do work and make a sustainable income. I spent years getting coaching, doing demos, and building my website before I had a presence on any of the various pay to plays though. I know some talent just buy a mic and go, but I wanted to be competitive and to put a certain quality out that represented my brand from the start. I wasn’t ready to launch until I was ready to launch.

What advice do you have for other mom’s in VO?

I say this a lot: get a crockpot. It’s hard juggling a lot of balls, and if you still have household responsibilities and you have to work a full work day, it’s hard to do everything. Plan ahead as much as possible.  I do weekly meal planning for all of our dinners.  Another tip for working mom’s is to have patience. When I started I had all of these immediate goals for my voice over career. I have always been very “Type A.” But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and especially when you have a family, you have to realize that there is not overnight success in voiceover. It does take time to build a client base. Lastly, find and report to an accountability group. I meet with mine weekly. We have five touch points that we report on, but we for sure hold each other accountable and lift each other up.

If you could work with another talent, who would it be and why?

Oprah. I have always loved Oprah. I actually came face to face with her once at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C. I was speechless. She looked amazing and said hello and I stood there mouth open and no words could come out. Nothing. Silence. But I have dreamt of speaking to her and collaborating with her and going to her school in Africa. I have dreamt of contributing in any way to one of her many amazing projects. I have fantasized about collaborating in numerous ways.

I have also had similar fantasies of working with Ellen DeGeneres. I think Ellen, like Oprah, uses her celebrity to better the world and to help people. I love the positive energy they put out and I love the giving example that Ellen sets for others. I confess that I watch whatever Facebook poppop comes up of Ellen, and if I could ever contribute to an Ellen project it would mean a lot.

What is a project you’ve booked recently that meant a lot to you?

You know it’s funny, I do a lot of TV and radio commercials, but recently I was cast in a B’Nai Mitzvah video as the voice of the family dogs. If you don’t know, a B’nai mitzvah is a Bar Mitzvah for boy/girl twins, and if you don’t know what a Bar Mitzvah is, it is a coming of age celebration at 13 for Jewish people. Anyway, in the video montage that was to play at the celebration in Long Island, I was the voice of the family dogs. This meant so much to me because I understood that all the people they loved most in the world would be there, and I was really touched be that. We talk so much about usage in the voice over industry, but this is something that hopefully these kids will show their kids in 20 or 30 years, and I hope they love it and it brings the family a lot of joy. It was really special to be a part of such an intimate project.

There are some Questions the Project Managers DID NOT Ask and I Wish They Had:

What kind of work do you want to book more of?

Promos. I spent a really long time coaching with Dave Walsh and I redid my promo demo in 2018. I would LOVE to do more promo work. As a wife and a mother, I would love to book more work related to women’s health issues. Surprisingly I seldom play the mom role, so I would love to do more as a mom in VO.  I also would love to do more work related to pet care. I have done some, but as an animal lover and mom of two dogs, I would love to add more pet brands to my client roster.

How do you feel about rates right now in the industry?

I wish the Project Managers had asked about rates. It’s something we discuss a lot in my accountability group. Particularly during the covid-19 Pandemic, I thinks some voice actors are more willing to take lower rates as work is slow. I think it is more important than ever to maintain industry standards.  Whether it is the GVAA rate guide or the Gravy for the Brain Rate Guide, it is really important that voice actors maintain a unified front and let those casting know what we are worth.

The Talk Began with Armin at One Voice

Yesterday I spent much of the day online in my den enjoying different workshops from the One Voice 2020 conference. I had not planned to fly to London to attend before the pandemic, but since virtual attendance became an option I was excited to participate.  I got so much out of the sessions, from thinking about craft and marketing, to thinking about my feelings about auditions and the work that I book. So, from the start, thanks to Hugh Edwards and the entire team at Gravy for the Brain for this amazing conference!

Each session got my wheels turning for different reasons, but during Armin’s session that was around 11 AM EST, when he spoke of defining quality in the industry. My head was bursting with ideas. If you don’t know Armin Hierstetter, he is the founder and CEO of the online casting platform Bodalgo. Unlike some platforms where you can simply sign up, Bodalgo stands apart because Armin has a screening process to begin with, setting a bar for “quality” from the start. In his talk, Armin spent a bit of time talking about what is going on industry wide in terms of quality, what quality looks like, and how quality could be achieved.

Why does Armin’s chat matter so much? Well, if you recall last week I blogged about Casting Director MaryLynn Wissner and what happens if we take Coaching out of the mix when defining a professional. Yesterday, Armin made a strong argument for why coaching and training matter when defining quality in voiceover. Armin was not alone when he spoke about the importance of coaching, I heard this message from Kay Bess as well. I think any well-established talent in the industry will tell you with pride how much they have invested in working on their craft. Next, Armin also spoke about the importance of audio quality. Again, in order to book work competitively at the moment in the industry, a professional talent must have the “right” equipment in a sound treated space and know how to edit it. But simply having training and buying equipment alone is not enough, these need to combine with an ethical underpinning on platforms that are out to foster the growth of the industry, and all of that together creates a synergy to provide quality work for out clients.

So, inspired by Armin, let’s examine more in depth how we can work together at this unique moment in history to provide outstanding VO quality for our clients:

Training:

It is imperative that in order to be competitive in the voice over industry today a talent must have coaches and continue to work on their craft. When I started I did a combination of one on one coaching in specific genres, online classes, acting and improv. Whether or not you are working towards a demo, a good coach will help you develop your strengths and identify your weaknesses. They will also help you identify next steps and encourage you with other genres of voice over that would likely be a good fit. As MaryLynn mentioned in her blog post, good coaches ideally have a responsibility to give talents both a push in the right direction and a heads up if they are sub parr.

Attending conferences is essential to understanding industry trends. What is current and booking changes. If you are not in touch with other voice actors and involved in current training, how do you know what is booking at the moment? There are also differences by region. For example, I was told at WoVo Con 2019, this year, that when submitting west coast auditions I should add touches of improv but never to do that on auditions being submitted in NYC. Working out and doing line reads in the presence of other voice actors, while humbling, also helps you see where you fit in in the community and if you are in fact up to snuff. It is really important to push yourself to these challenges and participate in such community activities.

Audio Quality:

Audio quality matters. Clients can hear the difference when listening to auditions. I have always been a big proponent of getting WoVo studio approval and when I cast jobs for clients will only cast with talents who have been vetted through this process.

For those wanting to learn as much as possible about studio setups and audio standards, there are lots of great ways to go about it. The VOBS weekly show is really helpful. If you started watching today, you would be busy for a while! Both Dan Leonard and George Whittam are also available to help teach anything related to audio processing and studio set up, as is Tim Tippets, and Roy Yokelson. There are others out there too, but if you want to have competitive audio, the quality of your raw audio needs to be outstanding and then you need to know how to edit it. It’s that simple. Those of use who have been in the business for a while typically attend workshops at conferences on DAW upgrades. For example, I love learning more about Twisted Wav. We also typically make improvements to our travel rigs. If your audio is not pristine, all the coaching in the world won’t save you.

Conclusions

If you want to succeed in voiceover, there are not short cuts to creating quality work. There is an industry standard and the bar is high. That is what books. If you are aware of those of us who continue to book at this time, the answer to what sets them apart is one word: quality.

On this Sunday morning, lets’s grapple with this question:  if there’s a low barrier to entry in voice over, what defines a pro?

Spending more time in Facebook Groups These Days

Like many in the voice over industry, I have been spending more time than ever on social media these days, especially on FaceBook. I long for human connection and to feel part of our beloved community, and frankly I enjoy the banter more than ever. Yesterday this post from highly esteemed coach and casting director MaryLynn Wissner caught my attention:

There’s a lot to this. We work in an industry where you don’t have to come from a career in theater or on camera work to get started, though many did study performing arts in school, pivoted for a first career, then returned to voiceover.  I, myself, was a History teacher. Christian Lanz was an architect. Maria Pendolino worked in finance. Dana Hurley was a pharmacist. The list goes on and on, and there is nothing wrong with changing careers and bringing all of those skills with you into your business in VO. The question that is being asked here, is what is the difference between a guy who buys a plug in mic and a membership on a pay to play and calls himself a “professional” and then has the credit of having some good coaches, the benefit of being in good company, and an actual working professional? To me, if working with the best of the best in coaches is removed as a criteria in defining a pro, than we need to look to a voice over actor’s website, testimonials, bookings/credentials, and social media standing.

The Website

Put simply, the website is our storefront. More than our business card, our website is our calling card. It not only houses our demos, it is the voice actor’s place to showcase actual booked work. We can display our business philosophy. We can post testimonials. We can make it easy for clients to find us. This is how we create a sense of our brand. And a voiceover professional, unlike an amateur, has all of these things: sample of work across genres, a brand, comments from clients. Joe Davis and Karin Barth were recently interviewed on the “Middle-Class VO Podcast” talking about what sets voice over actor’s websites apart, in terms of what makes them professional and what makes them findable by google. The entire podcast can be found here:

 and Joe’s main words of wisdom are that the “website needs to work on whatever device….making sure that they are mobile compliant of mobile responsive….in today’s world more than half of web traffic is mobile.” A telltale sign of an unprofessional talent is one missing key information on their website, missing demos, with demos named improperly, or with a site that is not mobile responsive.

Testimonials:

A professional talent has an abundance of testimonials. Period. They should have them proudly displayed on their website, on LinkedIn, on whatever Pay to Plays they are on, and likely they share them on social media. Testimonials are not difficult to get. Happy clients who have just received pristine audio are typically delighted to provide them. My very first voice coach, Anne Ganguzza, told me how important it was to get testimonials! She asked for one from me about our work and gave me my very fist one. A voice actor without testimonials is likely not a professional voiceover actor.

 

 

Street Cred

Ok, I am talking about a solid client list with proof. What is proof? Samples of actual work that has aired. If a voiceover actor does not have samples of work in the genre or clients in a specific genre they have not likely worked in that genre even if they have a demo for it. The exception to this is likely eLearning as so much eLearning is proprietary content. Where can you find samples of work voice actors have done? Booked and finished work is typically prominently displayed in places like voice actor’s websites, YouTube pages, facebook, LinkedIn, ispot.tv, sometimes imdb, and more. So, a real, actual working professional has a body of produced work that they can easily share with anyone who wants to see it.

Social Media

Typically actual working professionals are active on social media as networking is really important. We typically post finished jobs, especially when these jobs have been done for large, recognizable brands. We love to share these clients on Facebook and Instagram. Often we have large social media connections and followings as well. YouTube is another sign of a voice over professional. Typically we post samples of work here. Many of us have videos about our professional philosophy, showing our studios, discussing our work, and more. A lack of a professional social media presence is a major red flag.

The Flip Side

While I think it is clear how to differentiate a professional voice talent from a wannabe, there is, of course, a flip side to all of this. As there is a low barrier of entry and many do not depend on agents or entry to the union for job sustainability, there is a chance that amongst the many with a plug in mic and a computer our bookings ratios will go down and our community demographics will shift. One of my favorite talents who I had the privilege of spending a day with at a VO Revolution conference in 2016, Dave Fennoy, speaks to exactly this issue as the final thought that I leave you with:

A Lot of Ship Metaphors…

When I went to my very first voice over conference years ago, Bill DeWees’ VO Revolution, Anthony Gettig said something that apparently was a beloved FaffCon phrase “The rising tide lifts all the ships in the harbor.” I loved it when he said it. Times were really different than they are today. I was full of hope. I was out of my house and traveling. And my life in the voiceover world was just beginning. The idea of being part of the community, or tide, of ships, meant so much to me.

I guess I have always been a joiner. In high school I was in A LOT of clubs. In college I was involved in campus life too, and was a proud sister in Alpha Chi Omega. As a teacher I was very involved in student/teacher life. Now, in voice over, I regularly attend conferences both in VO and in fields that I do work like eLearning. So this idea of a rising tide lifting us all sounds great when things are good.

Dissecting it a little more….

I guess I happily took the lovely metaphor at face value. Even if one pictures any harbor and realizes that not all ships are the same, I never really thought about what that meant. Then last night my friend and former agent Liz Atherton posted this:

“WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT …

I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.

For some that live alone they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.

With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.

Some families of 4 just received $3400 from the stimulus while other families of 4 saw $0.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.

Unknown author”

It really got my wheels turning. The tide might life all the boats but some of the boats need it more than others… hmmm. I read it to my family thinking we would have a lengthy discussion. We didn’t. But I guess what really touched me was that if we didn’t go into this pandemic equally, both in terms of what we “have” and how we cope, how can we expect to come through it the same?

But back to voiceover…

I have noticed from the start that there are a lot of differences that put those of us in VO into different boats:

  • We come into voice over from different backgrounds and with different levels of training. Some can afford lots of training. Some find clever ways of getting coaching regardless of their budget. Some find training unnecessary. There are a lot of different approaches.
  • Demos vary greatly. Some of us invest a lot to have them made by the best in the business. For others they either cannot afford this or they chose alternate approaches.  Some know of demo options and others are ignorant and simply chose what they can find.
  • Websites vary greatly from complex, multi page sites exhibiting lots of demos and samples of work to very simple scrolling pages with few samples and graphics.
  • Branding is another area where voice talents show a huge range. Some of is run our business like a business and put a lot of time and energy into branding, others do not emphasize this at all.
  • Social Media is a huge area of variability in voice over. Talents focus on different platforms and spend different amounts of time on each. It’s very, very personal and saying that it varies by generation or genre is an over simplification. It is complicated and talents’ choices are personal.

Reflecting on all of these categories that go into the “ship” that we maintain, Liz is right. We never started in the same boat. So as I ruminate on it, it is amazing that we have overlooked all of these differences and become such a strong community. It is those bonds that are holding us together now. I look forward to daily posts and messages from other voice actors. I think, in the final analysis, it does not matter that we are not in the same boat. It matters that we are all looking out for one another in good times and bad and that we have a good group of folks to toss each other a life preserver when we most needed.

My Chat With Liz…

So last night I was chatting with one of my besties who is not in voice over, Liz. Liz is one of those amazing geniuses and every conversation could go on forever because she is a goddess of her own life. A phd in chemical engineering, she is one of the most grounded people I have ever met despite her super important job at a pharmaceutical company. We were initially chatting about Unorthodox which I just finished watching on Netflix, and then the conversation shifted to work. She had hoped that my work would be positively impacted by the pandemic, and then I think Liz got an earful that she did not really want about my experience as a working creative during the Covid-19 pandemic.

My Bookings…

What I explained to Liz, and what is interesting, is that during the Pandemic I continue to book what I have always booked, there is just less of it. So what am I still booking? Commercials, eLearning, and telephony/IVR. For me, the amount of jobs I typically have in a day or even half a day on some weeks I am having total in a week. I am thankful for every single booking, but the volume of booked work for me during the pandemic has gone down. Typically, I do a lot of radio commercials. The commercials I have booked this month have been radio commercials. They have been from steady clients who continue to send work. Some are for clients here and some have been for clients abroad, as far as New Zealand. 

In terms of eLearning work, again, this is for clients that I had before the pandemic started. They needed me for specific work and we had live sessions booked via source connect. They were not canceled and I was very thankful.

The IVR work that I have had come in, believe it or not, has not been covid specific! This shocked me. It was just companies that needed messages. I gather some companies do not want to invest in temporary phone systems. I would not have predicted this, but this has been the case in the past two weeks.

My Auditions….

There have been some big differences in auditions so I think I should go point by point:

  • Quantity: On the pay to plays that I am on there are significantly fewer auditions. I continue to get a lot of private invitations and I am thankful for that, but in terms of daily numbers of postings, there is dramatically less. There also seem to be a lot of other talents submitting right away. On Friday, for example, I got an invitation for a job that wanted 10 auditions. My kids were off from school last week. Not remote learning, just on Spring Break, so I was giving them lunch. I waited about 40 minutes to submit, which is not so long. By the time I submitted there were already 32 submissions for the listing that wanted 10!
  • Rush Required: I see a lot of jobs, both from agents and on pay to plays, with RUSH in the specs. The turn arounds are very fast and they need availability to record in a very short window. I do not know if expectations have shifted as they know we cannot go anywhere, but I gather a lot of new content is needed and the clients are genuinely in a hurry to put out relevant content that makes sense in light of all that has changed, and the producers just need to accommodate the clients.
  • Source Connect Required: More than any other time in the past 5 years, I have seen Source Connect required when jobs are posted. I am seeing requests specifically for Source Connect more than Zoom, Skype, ISDN, or ipDTL. A lot of specs tell talent not to audition if they do not have the professional, paid for version of Source Connect up and running already.
  • Agent Specs Are Changing: Agent specs are becoming more specific than ever before and there is a sense of no-messing around. All of the above is true of the listings that agents are sending out, and some agents are sending out job listings before they even know the rates. Listings the previously would have been LA only are now open to those of us with Source Connect. Things are shifting…

Feelings About Supporting the Community…

In general it feels like everyone is being very kind and supportive. It feels like it is a time when a lot of people are looking to reconnect. Still, I have gotten my fair share of inquiries from those new to the industry or those looking to move into voice over now. When I started in VO, I never expected free advice, and this does not seem like the time for free advice. After years of working hard to build my business and coming up with clever and innovative ways to get on rosters, with no shortcuts, I find it frustrating when those who have been curious about voiceover for five minutes feel entitled to what the rest of us came by through hard work. This is not the time to expect the keys to the castle for free. I do feel that there is a profound difference between networking and keeping in touch and crossing a line. Let’s all use this time to lift each other up, make the community stronger, and help those in our network already who need it.

It’s Not all Movie Nights and Puppy Snuggles

For those of us solopreneurs who have worked from home for years, some aspects of social distancing surrounding Covid-19 are not new. We are working from home. Well, as a full-time voice over actor I was already doing that. The new challenge is that my entire family is now here. While I am thrilled that we now have the option of spending all of this quality time together, I still am eager to provide the best possible customer service to both my present, existing clients and to folks now in need of voiceover services. To that end, so that you can fully understand the range of what is out there, I have put together this brand new Covid-19 demo for you. It is a multi-genre demo, thematically linked by our present situation. I hope that it supports your present needs. Here is how else I can help you:

New, Informative Phone Messages

Your phone messages are a great way to update all callers of the new changes. Hours, new policies, current procedures all can be added to both greetings, after hours messages, and on hold messages. I have always done a lot of telephony and IVR work and can help with script writing if need-be. It is very important to reassure all clients that business goes on, even if there are changes at the moment. Great phone messages are a huge help, and rush options are certainly available if you need them!

Engaging, Sincere PSAs

After years of doing commercials and PSAs, never did I anticipate voicing them for such a time of need. But maternal emotion aside, our moment has come. I will work with you and your team to bring the nuanced script to life and make your PSA stand out from the rest. Are you looking to emphasize hope right now? Perhaps you want to reassure your base? Maybe you have a solution to the problems your clients are having. I get it and I have the sincere, relatable voice to calm your customers right now.

Helpful Explainers

Explainer videos have always been fundamental to letting customers know what services you provide and how things work. In these uncertain times, now more than ever, updating explainers to make them relevant to today’s current corona virus situation makes sound business sense. Bulk pricing is available if you have a lot of content that needs updated.

In Store Announcements

Does your store have in-store announcements? Some play over the entire store. Some play at checkout. If so, they are likely to change now with the new and constantly evolving virus news. Further, you likely need a full time talent who is in the studio a lot and is available to keep up with the rate of change. I am there to support you in these endeavors.

Updated eLearning

Often companies have spent years creating content libraries that represent their strategy and business practices. In light of current virus concerns, this content is not irrelevant, it just needs tweaking, updates, and revisions to reflect new corporate procedures. With so many working from home, everything from time sheets to pay role to team check-ins is now different. I am here for all of your content needs and can get them to you as soon as you need them. For large eLearning projects, if there is a bulk of work, I offer retainer agreements.

Full Service Production with Industry Partners

This can be an overwhelming time when so much needs to be recorded all at once! Don’t worry, I have you back! Over the years I have built fantastic relationships with industry partners. If you know what you need, your budget, and when you need it, I have a fantastic team who can offer full production. From script writing to video and audio, I can coordinate the entire project for you on time and within budget.

Live Sessions in Broadcast Ready Home Studio

As always, I record everything in my broadcast ready home study on my Neumann TLM 103, Avalon M5 preamp, Steinberg UR12 Interface, and Macbook Air with Twisted Wav. I offer live sessions with flexible hours as I am always in the studio full time via Source Connect, Zoom, and Skype. I am always happy to self direct too, but for jobs over $250, I always offer the option of a live session, so that you have what you want when you want it. Audio recorded in live sessions is final delivery, as is industry standard. I never end a live session into my clients are thrilled with the audio.

 

Making Lemonade

This time of social isolation is hard for everyone, even those of us that work in padded foam booths. It is not easy to stay apart from those that we love, to avoid our favorite people and our favorite places. Most of us have never been told to do something like this before and that our lives depend on it. It is in this most unusual setting that as a working creative I still see meaning in my work, usefulness, and purpose. As a working mom, I am often juggling my home life and my professional life. My son asked my for help with an essay he has to write about Kate Chopin The Awakening. Jack had to read some articles of commentary and react. The articles talked about how Chopin creates a reality that is both a utopia and a dystopia at once. This resonated with me and had so much meaning in light of our present pandemic. I can still do what I love. I am surrounded by the people I love. I have these to precious dogs who I love. Everything looks the same, but everything is different. In the face of this, I prefer to make lemonade.

Who requests RUSH jobs?

As a professional voice over actor, I get requests for RUSH jobs all the time. This is why it is so important to be a full-time voice talent, so that I am always available when clients need me. I get requests from standing clients that I have worked with repeatedly and from new clients who happen to need something right away. Folks need audio in a hurry for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they are just too close to their deadline. Sometimes those in productions were also hired late and the commercial, video, or social media is set to air and the VO is often the last piece of the puzzle. Sometimes it is an eLearning module and new content was created but the rest of the content library is ready to launch. Whatever the scenario, the client needs it when they need it and I am ready and able to get it to them!

What is the DIFFERENCE in turnaround time between RUSH jobs and standard delivery?

When we are talking about standard delivery, typically in voiceover it is assumed that it will be a 24 hour turnaround. Sure, it might be less than that, but if a client does not specify that they need it fast, it is pro forma that it will be within 24 hours.In contrast, a RUSH job is typically done in 4-6 hours and sometimes clients want or need you to stop what you are doing, put it aside, and record right then because they genuinely need you at that moment. The audio is essential and they are in a major RUSH.

Is there an extra fee attached to RUSH jobs?

It depends. It is industry standard to add at least a $50 RUSH FEE to RUSH jobs, especially when you have to put another job aside to do said rush job. Clients should expect to pay the rush fee. On quiet days in my studio when work comes in and I just happen to turn it over fast I never charge a fee. Likewise, if it is a client I work with all the time and they need something and I am not busy, I am always happy to just do it for them without the fee. Should I be away on vacation and having quality time with my

Here is my travel rig, I can even accommodate RUSH jobs on the go!

family and I have to go back to my room, set up my travel rig, and record, I am likely to charge the rush fee because the standard turn around time would have allowed me the convenience of recording when I was set up. I have even had clients in other parts of the world wake me and ask me to record when I was in bed asleep. I’ll accommodate, but this is not the same as a job that was done at 2pm when I was in the booth working. So I will always meet the needs of a client, but if it involves dropping everything and running to the booth they have to pay.

Does the QUALITY of the Audio Change for RUSH jobs?

NO! Never! The quality of a RUSH job should always be exactly the same as any job. It should not sound as if it was done in haste. The audio should be pristine. The editing should be flawless. The client needs what they need. Nothing should suffer. This is an accommodation for the client, and every convenience should be made. The client should be wowed like any other project.

What happens if I need a PICKUP or REVISION with my RUSH job?

I am always prepared that any RUSH job may need a RUSH pickup or revision as well. Assuming that this audio goes through the same internal review and client review as any other audio, it is just as likely to have script changes or adjustments that need to be made. I even had a pickup for a Pandora commercial that was done as a RUSH on Friday. It happens. It’s the nature of our work. My policy on pickups is the same for RUSH jobs as it is for any job. On jobs under $250 or after the first round of revisions I charge $75 per 30 minute revision session. On jobs over $250, I typically include one round of minor revisions which is defined as less than 20% of the script within 48 hours of delivery. After that, they have to pay 50% of the initial fee. I am very clear about all of these terms in the initial booking email.

What is the general tone or tenor of business for a RUSH job?

I understand that the client is in a huge hurray. I try to be as helpful as possible and get them their work as soon as they need it. I offer RUSH services for voiceover to be as helpful as possible and consider the circumstances of my clients before all else.

The Present Situation

It’s flu season and unfortunately it’s apparently also Coronavirus season this year. Different countries have different levels of preparedness, but I never like to leave my wellness, or my families, in the hands of others. I don’t like to wait around like a sitting duck and take action after I am sick. I believe very strongly in preventative care. I have learned that preventative wellness is key to the success of my business. Particularly for those of us who depend on the quality of our voice to make a living, it is best not to get sick in the first place. Here are some best tips, tricks, and best practices that have helped me over the years:

Hand Washing and Wipes

It is really important to both wash your hands frequently AND not touch your face. According to the CDC’s website:

“Teaching people about handwashing helps them and their communities stay healthy. Handwashing education in the community:

  • Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40% 236
  • Reduces diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%  4
  • Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21% 35
  • Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57% 7

Another trick that I have found when out and about is carrying lysol and Clorox wipes. I always do this on trains and airplanes. They come in little travel bags, and you can wipe around your entire personal area which has likely not been cleaned any time recently.  Here is a link to the wipes I am talking about:

or

Supplements That Help

I take a blend of supplements daily to prevent illness. I have been doing this since I got started in voice over full time as any illness stops work. Twice since 2015 I have had to tell clients I was unavailable for several days because of sickness. One client waited for me, one could not and I still regret missing that opportunity. These are some of the supplements that work for me to stay well even when those around me are a hacking mess, perhaps they might help you too:

 

  • Cold Quell https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Poppy-Cold-Quell-caps/dp/B0044U4HVA/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Cold+Quell&qid=1583074607&sr=8-3

 

 

  • Elderberry: https://www.amazon.com/MegaFood-Elderberry-Promotes-Defenses-Servings/dp/B07JYFJMZG/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=1PU99320INAT6&keywords=megafood+elderberry&qid=1583074674&sprefix=mega+food+Elder%2Caps%2C158&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFRWVdUQUVBMzc2VlAmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTAwNjM4MTIxNlNPQVU1QTU3VTE5JmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTAzMjMyNDUzV0pLMlREQjVQWVAmd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl

 

Straight to The Throat  If you are already fighting something and have some symptoms, these are some must haves that I turn to and always keep on hand. They have helped me immensely over the years!

 

  • Vocal Sprays- I have two that I love:

vocal-throat-spray

or

https://www.amazon.com/Thayers-Peppermint-Mouth-Spray-bottle/dp/B008CQCXA4/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1TWG1Q0UFN21F&keywords=thayers+citrus+dry+mouth+spray&qid=1583074872&sprefix=thayers+citru%2Caps%2C142&sr=8-2

Conclusions:

Find practitioners in your area that will help! In my area, these are some that I depend on both for treatments like acupuncture, for medical consultations, and for homeopathic supplements.

I have also found a food regimen that works for me. With the help of the above practitioners, I have learned that sugars feed illness, so I typically avoid sweets. I have also led a gluten and dairy free lifestyle as well which I believe helps fight illness and for me has helped me stay well. I use to get almost monthly sinus infections but those days are long gone. Again, a good medical professional in ADVANCE of illness can help with all of this. We also ALL GET flus shots.  I hope this helps you in time. Wishing you and your family wellness in 2020.

Tru TV: Caught My Attention

On Saturday Morning I came into the kitchen and Harlan had this on the tv:

As a working mom, a full-time professional voice over actor, and a functioning human being, I was blown away. Like most of you, I never in my worst night mares thought I would have to talk about code yellows or drills with my kids where they practice being locked in closets by their teachers. So when those in charge of our policies choose not to create legislation that will protect those most precious to us, and instead publicly speak out again video games, I have a problem with that. Many in my industry will not ever speak of politics or publicly take a side, and I understand their valid concerns. In this moment, my hope is that whatever side of the political spectrum you are on, as artists and creatives we can stand together and say the gun control problem is out of hand. This is not on us as creatives fulfilling our life-ling dreams and providing for our families; instead, this is the government’s weak effort to punt and fail to come up with a reasonable solution to a problem that is growing disproportionately. And while I do not hide that I am liberal at present, I grew up in a conservative state and loved shooting rifles at camp, so I do not have a limited perspective. I will try, as both a mom and a working voice actor, and someone who enjoys and supports video games, to flesh this out a little more.

In the above TruTV clip, Adam and his team chronicles the history of violent games since before I was born! Adam mentions mortal combat. The funny thing is, I have really happy memories of this game. Long before my career in voiceovers, growing up in Philly, my friends and I used to hang out in an arcade and pool hall called Pete Fusco’s. I have no idea if it is still there. The boys in my peer group loved this game. I stood around and watched them play. How did I turn out? I’m super liberal, do not own a gun, and went to an ivy league school for college and graduate school. The countless hours I spent around the video games in no way corrupted me or anyone else in my social circle. My friends went on to become doctors, lawyers, and financial advisors. All of us are non-violent, and if we represent a microcosm of our generation, we were just normal kids, hanging out, playing games.

Jack and WWII

As a parent, my husband and I never thought our son would play with guns. Even though I enjoyed the sport of shooting them, the world has changed and I wanted something different for my own children. Well I will say there was a lot that I did not anticipate.

First, I did not anticipate that my son would love military History, especially that of World War II. Since he was quite young, he made set ups all over our playroom with army miniatures. Where the guns and weapons? Yes. Did he pretend they were firing and shooting? Yes. How else can you re-enact D-Day?  Is Jack a violent person who has or wants a real gun now? No.

Next, he loves video games. He has a PS4 and he lays on the sofa under cozy blankets. He LOVES to play “Call of Duty.” There is a lot of shooting. When I am in my studio he has to put it on mute. But, the flip side is that as a mom who works from home, if he is playing games, he is about four feet from me while I work, and frankly I love that. So yes, he is playing a violent game, but he is right near me and he is relaxed and de-funking from his very over-scheduled life, so it is really quite pleasant. If you had asked me when he was a toddler if I would want him to play such a game I’m sure I would have been horrified, but in truth at almost 17 I don’t mind. And again, is Jack violent? No.

President Trump’s Remarks

Instead of leading our country towards legislative initiatives that would end gun violence, and speaking out against the sale of automatic and semi automatic weapons, President Trump made these remarks: “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now common place. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence.”

This speech was made after the tragic shooting in El Paso. As a mother and a working creative, I strongly feel that this as a vast over-simplification of the present scenario. In lieu of taking responsibility for a failure to regulate guns, it is easier to blame the work of creatives.  Are the games violent? Yes. Do they portray women in ways that I do not like? Yes. If we put the video games aside, I feel that politicians, the President included, are making a huge leap when they skip over all of the legislative and educational opportunities and focus on video games.  It is an absurd travesty.

Let’s look at some hard facts to better understand what is going on:

  • According to game shift, there are 1181019 video games.
  • The top 50 selling games contain violence according to videogames.procon.com
  • According to the Pew Center, violent crime rates are  falling
  • Even though over-all crime is down, mass shootings increase in last 20 years

US Mass Shootings, 1982-2019: Data From Mother Jones’ Investigation

Conclusions:

As the amount of video games increase exponentially, and the industry as a whole booms, the overall crime rates has plummeted. In the United States, we have a specific problem with mass shootings that has gotten markedly worse.

I am proud to thrive in a creative industry, and I celebrate every single booking. The amazing talents who act in our video games are doing an incredible job. To place the blame of this huge problem on the creatives who work in the gaming industry is lunacy.

Let’s take this a step further. When I think about this as a mom in the entertainment industry and I consider who hard I work to help support my family and set a good example for my kids, it would be like saying that for every role I voice I am limiting what other women, including my daughter, can be instead of raising their potential.  If I voice a mermaid, am I telling my daughter this is the height of what she can be or am I fulfilling my creative ambitions as a working artist? I believe it is the latter and I am extremely proud of the roles I have booked. I very much resent the President’s

over-simplifications so he doesn’t have to deal with the real issues that are extremely dangerous for all of us today.