Other Voice-Over Opportunities

Over the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of voicing:

 

-       3 characters in a friend’s short film (I.e. an inappropriately perky news reporter during a disaster)

-       A vulnerable character’s estranged mother in a series of emotional voicemails during a live play, and

-       A narrator sharing the good news of a medical breakthrough for a web project 

 

Although I specialize in a lovely variety of voice-over skills (commercial, animation, Audiobooks, video games), it’s wonderful when new creative ventures present themselves.

 

When you find yourself having a quiet audition/demo request/self-tape week, think about other ways that you can use your voice – whether it’s volunteering your services for a table read of a friend’s film or play or volunteering your voice services for a Public Service Announcement (only with your agent/union’s permission, of course).

 

This can be a great way to get more experience, to take more risks creatively and to gather material for a future demo reel.

 

Pay attention on your social media platforms for announcements about play reading groups or cold reads. 

 

If the invitation sparks a good feeling, or even an I’m not sure if this is in my comfort zone but it sounds like a cool challenge kind of feeling, trust that impulse and give it a try.

 

This is also a great way to build new relationships and to feel like you’re taking control of your career.

 

Until next time,

 

Tracey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Update on Self-Tapes

An Update on Self-Tapes:

 

We're not just doing them for film, TV and theatre, but for every part of the Voice-Over business, too: Audiobooks, Commercials, Animation and Video Games. Here are some updated pointers for self-directing our auditions.

 

Look for Clues

 

Read the casting notes carefully. Is there a pop culture reference? A YouTube clip? A simple character or announcer description? Have they specified 1 or 2 takes/version? The more info you have, the better. Trust your gut. Don’t overthink it. When in doubt, assume they want you!

 

File Naming & Slating:

 

Read the fine print from your Voice agent regarding labeling the sound file and how to slate your audition. Do not create more work for them or for the production house/agency.

 

Format

 

Respect what has been asked of you. Don't create more work for your agent/production house/casting person/ ad agency/client. Learn ho to format files properly! There are many online supports for this. At digitaltrends.com there are step-by-step instructions of how to do that, using iTunes, Windows and Cloud Convert. 

 

Know when to stop!

 

Limit the number of takes you do or you will never leave your home. Less is more! Trust the feeling the direction or clues on the page give you. Fully commit to your choices from the first word to the last. 

Respect the Self-Tape deadline.

 

If your agent needs it by noon on Friday, get it to them first thing that morning, or, even better, the day before. Don't be the actor who sends it at 11:59 a.m. Respect that your agent has submitted you because they know you can book this work opportunity. Help them get you there by taking responsibility for the boundary they've set - especially when they often have more work to do once they receive all of their clients files. 

Happy self-taping!

Our New World Of Self-Tapes

Decades ago, when my voice-over career first began, I was asked a few times by my agent Sandi Sloan to deliver a commercial audition by voicemail.

 

The stakes were high, which I loved. This type of audition had to be done in a single take and often went straight to the ad agency's producer. This unique opportunity would require a "slate" or intro of my name, role, and agency and two versions of the ad copy. 

 

I've always loved a creative and time-limited challenge, most likely due to my background as an Improviser. There was nothing cooler than being booked from a voicemail audition.

 

Cut to the fall of 2008, when the economy changed drastically in North America. Naturally, this instantly affected our voice-over industry. Since client budgets were being cut, agents started to get requests for Demo Recommends. Demo "Rec's" swiftly became The New Normal in the commercial voice-over market, in lieu of auditions at casting and production studios.

 

A few years later, so did self-tapes. Over the last several years, I have regularly recorded my own audio auditions for animation and video game projects as well.

 

Often when I coach my talented clients, they share the same self-taping dilemma:

 

" I never know when to stop!"

 

We've all been there.

 

A simple slate of:

 

"Tracey Hoyt…Woman…"

 

…can become an obsessive and epic exercise in dissection during playback:

 

 

Did I sound authentic enough?

Was that smile a little too toothy? Did I stretch out my last name enough?

 

Don't even get me started on the takes themselves. A simple 30-second script can easily turn into several hours of flop sweat-inducing work if we over-think things too much.

 

Whether you're using your smart phone mic or a state-of-the-art home studio, here's my advice: before you begin, limit the number of slates and takes you will perform. That way, you can get on with your day.

 

In terms of technical set-up for audio recordings, I have a simple solution in my walk-in closet: I use my iPhone 7 and a handy dandy rubber phone grip to keep it steady on the top of my dresser.

 

I tape the script pages onto the upper shelf, so they're hanging at eye level. This way, I can be free to fully embody my choices as I read - from the most subtle announcer copy to larger-than-life animated characters.

 

Since we're often alone when we record audio self-tapes, it can be helpful to remember my trusty advice regarding the number of takes:

 

"Less is more."

 

In terms of performance, in whatever medium, I'll share a gem from the most generous teacher I have ever had, Mr. Alan Arkin:

 

"Serve the scene and get out."

 

Don’t forget the importance of slating correctly with your genuine voice before performing your takes, as instructed by your agent - Name, Character Name and Agency, for example:

 

"Tracey Hoyt, Announcer, Fountainhead Talent"

 

Be sure to properly label the .mp3 file - the preferred industry format - as instructed by the Casting Director and/or your agent. For example: Your name, Character Name, Client or Project Name. For example:

 

Tracey Hoyt, Announcer, Happy Place Bank

 

When in doubt, read the fine print your agent has provided. Make sure you are presenting yourself as efficiently and professionally to the Production as possible.

 

Happy self-taping and happy holidays!

 

Until next time,

 

Tracey