Two Guys for the price of one
I wasn’t sure what it was that made me think about getting into voiceover, but last year I booked a course for a day to try it out. In fact I’d already recorded a voicereel a few years ago, but wasn’t pleased with the results and never pursued it. The course was postponed and I plumbed for another at the beginning of the year. This was a three-hour introduction with Guy Michaels from Round Island.
So a cold and grey January day saw me sit through an interesting and enlightening overview of the industry and what it entails. We were lucky enough to have Guy Harris as a guest and his success was inspirational. We also had an opportunity to record something on the day and get feedback about the quality of our voices – the beginning of awareness.
Impressed by the attitude and friendliness of Guy Michaels I decided to treat myself to a new reel in March as a birthday present to myself. After consultation and working with Guy prior to the session I came fully prepared with more than enough pieces and we whittled these down to the pieces that we thought were best.
The experience was completely different to my previous recording session – friendly, supportive, and, dare I say it, fun. Not hurried, but professional and constructive.
A week later I have a professional reel (in fact three reels) and then…
What Do I Actually Do With My Voice-reel?
What next? Where do I go from here? As an actor I appreciate how hard it can be to get seen, even with an agent, even if you’ve been around for a number of years and here was I completely without experience. Where next?
And this is where I’ve noticed a difference between the voiceover and acting worlds – support. Guy offers, free of charge, a six week Voiceover Kickstart online course. I signed up and every day, for five days a week, for six weeks I read what he had to offer on the technical, the social, the professional and other aspects of the industry. I recorded a sample piece and received feedback from the others on the course and in turn I listened to their pieces and gave them feedback. I started to listen, to recognise and to identify and to develop a critical ear. That’s critical as in ‘discernment’ and not as in to be negative.
The Voiceover Network
And that’s something I’ve noticed. The people I have met in this industry have all been supportive. Not viewing me as a competitor, as someone who’s going to take their work, but seeing me as a new entrant into their world. At the end of the six weeks I have a clearer understanding of who I am and what my voice offers. I am aware of the work that lies ahead of me and the investment in time and money that will be necessary, but also of what can be achieved without building a dedicated studio. I joined groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and I also decided to join the Voiceover Network. Even though I’m starting out I feel supported and encouraged. The rest is up to me and who knows where I’ll end up, but I know I’m not alone and that if I need help that there are people who will willingly and gladly give it. I’m unused to that frankly.
Another aspect that surprised me is quite how broad the industry is. When I started looking into it I naturally thought of commercials and perhaps talking books, but I’ve since discovered that it is that and so much more – animation, games, education, corporate, links, radio. In fact there are few areas in life it seems where a ‘voice’ isn’t required. And the industry is changing all the time with the progress in technology. Some may find this challenging, but I’m finding it exciting, knowing that you can for relatively little investment record good quality material in the comfort of your own home. I’m only at the beginning and I have much to learn, but I’m not alone.
James Hender - May 2015