Tuesday, December 29, 2009

January Talent of the Month: Noel Gibilaro

Congratulations to the first Talent of the Month of 2010 - Noel Gibilaro

"By this time next year, I will have narrated more Jules Verne novels than anyone else in the world!" - Noel Gibilaro, Such A Voice graduate

Noel Gibilaro first became interested in voiceovers when he volunteered to emcee the 1995 Special Olympics in New Haven, CT. He took a couple classes with other companies before finding what he needed at Such A Voice. He said it really took Rob Sciglimpaglia's direction and technique to make his voiceover work take off! After the training, he diligently got to work on his marketing strategy and quickly found a niche that let him meld his personality with the industry -- narrating Jules Verne novels!

Already, Noel has done the voiceover narration for Around the World in Eighty Days, using an impressive 38 different character voices. He just completed recording 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and you can download his highly-acclaimed audio books at www.audible.com. Noel is slated to do the narration for another Jules Verne audio book, which will finish up in production by early 2010. What else is he up to? Oh, you know, not much -- just another 3 novels by Jules Verne!

As Noel puts it, "I'd quit my job, but my wife won't let me!" He manages to work on the audio books and his marketing strategies from his home studio in the early morning, in the evening, and on the weekends. Consistency is key, and he wouldn't have been able to work out these deals or sustain the work relationships without a steady schedule. Noel's marketing plan has been pretty simple, too. He admittedly doesn't do anything more than, "Get on the phone and sell myself."

His advice to new voiceover artists sounds pretty simple: "Stay positive!" Noel continues, "Learn to use your mind to envision and create what you want." He sites positive thinking books, such as Think and Grow Rich and The Traveler's Gift as his inspiration and encouragement during a down economy. Instead of viewing Jules Verne novels as tedious, poorly-translated French-to-English books, Noel saw this as a potential role to fill in the voiceover industry. Not only has he had fun creating characters for these audio book projects, but he has successfully cemented future projects with his happy clients -- which is every voiceover artist's dream!

Congratulations again to Noel! We look forward to hearing more of your successes in 2010!

-By: Catherine Marshall

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How To Stay Motivated This Holiday Season

As the sun sets earlier in the day, and rises even later, you body demands unreasonable amounts of sleep and more quality time with your couch and television. The cold shuts us inside our homes, making us content to sample boxes of cookies and down endless mugs of hot cocoa and tea. We deal with the expected holiday stresses: battling the hoards of shoppers at the mall, attending numerous holiday parties, and making delicious recipes that we actually only pull out this time of year. Our other goals and ambitions tend to fall by the wayside so that we can do ... nothing. On the one hand, winter offers you vacation and snow days, which is the perfect excuse to seclude yourself and re-watch all of the Harry Potter movies. On the other hand, it could present you with the perfect opportunity and motivation (you have been lacking since Thanksgiving!) to get your budding voiceover career to blossom during these winter months!

Take these tips below, and continue to find creative ways to weave your voice over work into the holiday season:

1. Involve your friends and family. Just because the kids are home from school and your house is crowded with guests, it does not mean that you won't be able to get some quiet time for your voiceovers. This is the perfect opportunity to show your friends and family what you have been up to with all of your voice over training and fancy equipment! Teach them how the set-up works, and put the producer's hat on for a while. Get a laugh or two out of recording their sample voiceovers and playing them back. Chances are they will support your hard work even more now that they see how difficult it is. Later, they will understand when you say you need to go to "work," and just walk down to the basement!

2. Voiceovers: the gift that keeps on giving. Come up with creative gifts to get you back in your home recording studio! Instead of typing and printing holiday newsletters or cards for your family and friends, mix it up this year by sending a narrated holiday greeting! Personalize it even more by getting the whole family involved, and I guarantee no one will notice that it didn't even cost a dime. Have children? Take the opportunity to record some holiday favorites, including T'was the Night Before Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and A Christmas Carol.

And if time management is an issue...

3. Set your goal, and work backwards. Actually, this is great advice any time of year. For example, if you want to bake cookies, wrap gifts, and be in bed by 10:00pm, calculate the time it takes to wrap presents and bake cookies, and subtract that time from 10:00pm. For example, it will take an hour to wrap presents, so make sure that you start at 9:00pm so that you can still be in bed at 10:00pm. The cookies will probably take about 45 minutes, so make sure to start those at 8:15pm, unless they can be in the oven while you wrap presents. You finished dinner at 6:30pm, so you now have almost 2 hours to dedicate to working on your webpage or auditioning for a voice over job. Use this time management strategy daily to balance your holiday time, reduce stress, and stay well-rested.

Stay committed to your success in the voiceover industry by making voiceovers part of your daily life as much as possible. Renew your affirmation in the new year by telling your friends and families your goal. Saying it out loud will help motivate you to stay on track to reach your goals!

-By: Catherine Marshall

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Voice-Over Calling!

Hey Everyone!!

This year we decided to spread a little free holiday cheer by posting some of the funniest holiday voiceovers out there! Send us your original voiceovers -- either audio or video, poking fun at the holidays and/or voiceovers. Themes can include: family fun, hilarious holiday traditions, silly scenarios, voiceover no-no's, or anything else that's blog-worthy this holiday season.

Before you ask: there are no rules, there are no prizes, and there are no deadlines! Just share the holiday spirit with fellow voiceover artists, and lend us a laugh on the blog that we can return to at any time of the year! Email submissions through the new year to: Kat@suchavoice.com, and we'll post them as soon as we get them!

We'll get this party started by posting a couple of our favorites here!

Happy holidays, and spread the cheer!

-The Such A Voice Team

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My First Voice Over Job: It Pays To Read

Alecia Batson describes how she landed her first voice over gig. Alecia is a professional actress, singer and voice over talent working in Boston, Austin and New York. She actively blogs about her career as a “professional auditionee.” Visit her web site at www.aleciabatson.com.

I am a classical singer by training. It is common for bulletin boards in the hallways and corridors of conservatories and schools of music to be papered with recital posters, concert listings, and calls for auditions. So, it’s not unusual to find instrument- and score-laden students poring over them interestedly. One day, as I was doing just that, I noticed a rather boring-looking flyer on pink paper calling generically for “3 men and 3 women.” A telephone number was listed at the bottom of the sheet. Perhaps someone is trying to assemble an a cappella or early music ensemble, I thought. I called to discover, in fact, it was a company holding auditions for a radio commercial. Having never done voice over jobs before, I thought, What the heck!, and decided to audition.

The copy was sent in advance so I had time to prepare, and I showed up to the Production Block studios at the time and date requested. I landed the job after that lone audition and it turned out to be more than the typical, first-time voice over gig. I was selected to be the first and only National Female Voice for what was then dot-com-phenom Collegestudent.com. (Collegestudent.com has since merged with Student Advantage.) Such serendipity led to the recording of multiple national spots over a two-year period for this “local, online campus community,” which was not only wonderful in-studio experience, but also contributed to the beginnings of a high-quality demo reel. (As an aside: the first spot we recorded was deemed so risqué that 50% of the markets in the nation wouldn’t play it!)

With this experience under my belt, I used my demo reel to market myself to voice over agents, acquiring my first representation with db Talent. I also contacted recording studios to find out if they maintain their own talent libraries and requested to be placed on file with those that do. Given the types of jobs I began working early on, it became clear to me that my industry niche was quirky, college-cool, but my singing background enabled me to expand that to include foreign languages and accents. Since that initial, unexpected audition, I’ve had the good fortune to record for a variety of corporations, including Time Warner Cable, Reebok, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Gozaic and Adobe, working on varied projects like telephony systems, industrial videos, television commercial demos and, of course, radio spots.

I look back on my entrée into a voice over career in astonishment. Voice over work had certainly never been part of my grand life plan and, truthfully, I had not heard of it when I made that fateful telephone call. However, I cannot deny I am pleased to have been one of those bulletin board-reading students because being so truly changed my life.

How did YOU land your first voice over gig? Share your story with us and any advice you have for aspiring voice talent!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Meet Bethany Craig

Name & Title: Bethany Craig, Scheduling Director

From: I'm a born and raised Vermonter!

Job Responsibilities: I am responsible for all of our clients' scheduling needs. I'm in charge of booking flights and reserving hotel rooms for our students. I also work with studios and conference rooms to make sure everything goes smoothly with each and every voice over class.

Favorite Food: I love to cook, and I am constantly trying out new recipes. But lately, I can't get enough Vietnamese Food! I'm also a big fan of sushi.

Hobbies: As I said before, I love to cook and host small dinner parties. I love wine tasting, traveling and camping. I also love to dance and spend a lot of time catching up with my friends. In my spare time, you can bet I'll have my head in a book or am jamming out on some RockBand!

Destination Vacation Spot: I've traveled as far west and east as you can go in the continental United States, as well as everywhere in between. My favorite destination thus far has been Northern California. I loved Napa Valley! I hope to be traveling to the Caribbean in the next year as well.

What are you listening to right now: I love our local independent radio station. My music tastes are pretty eclectic. I love Motown, 80's music, Ska, Alternative, Hip-Hop, Rock & Roll, etc. Some of my favorites are Jack Johnson, Brett Dennen, Ray Lamontagne, James Morrison, Sublime, Save Ferris and the list goes on and on…

One piece of advice for aspiring voice over talent: Make sure you keep your voice in good shape! Your voice is like any other part of your body; it needs to be exercised to keep it in the best condition! Take care of it, and it will take care of you. :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Masters Program Experience

Before I start, I'm pumped to let the "cat" out the bag and announce that Such A Voice is launching its very own *podcast* in January, 2010! While we are still ironing out some details, so far I can tell you that Mel Allen and I will be producing the podcast together. I know what you're thinking: "But you just had your voiceover training! -- How could you possibly offer me any useful information?" I will be the first to admit that Mel is the "Yoda" of the show, and I'm (at best) the "Daniel-san," eager to learn from all of Mel's years in the industry! [Or Mel is Mr. Miyagi and I'm ... ]Although I'm saving a majority of the details for our first couple episodes, I'll share the backstory as to how I ended up as a Masters Program student here at Such A Voice. We first thought it would be a good idea for me to participate in the Masters Program strictly for professional reasons. As PR Director, I'm better equipped to help students, field questions, and work with the media on the classes and workshops if I have first-hand knowledge of our products.

Because I approached this process for PR purposes only, and not as an aspiring voiceover talent, I expected to be more of an "active" observer instead of a participant. Boy, was I wrong about that! Not only was I not able to blend in with the wallpaper because we intentionally maintain a small class size, but the Group Technique Teleconference piqued my interest and attention from the get-go so that I wanted to participate more! This is where I realized how much fun it would be to become a voiceover artist!

I walked away from the first teleconference excited to do my "homework"! I couldn't help but listen to the radio differently, read a book at night with a more dynamic narration playing inside my head, and I looked at everything -- from the back of my shampoo bottle and cereal box to prescription medicine ads in magazines -- as commercial scripts. I listened to TV commercials more than I watched them, and I found myself analyzing them from the client's perspective: who are they trying to target? What's the underlying message here? How did the voiceover artist accomplish that?

All the pieces to the puzzle fell into place during the Masters Program. Working with all types of real copy in small groups and alone sparked our creative energies, and we quickly became more articulate with our analyses and feedback. It was clear that everyone had come prepared to soak up as much knowledge and tips as we could. Brian Thon, Jodi Petersen, and Brendan Coyle provided us with a wealth of voiceover technique tips and marketing strategies to take home with us. By the time I walked into the recording studio, I felt well-prepared, confident, and excited for the professional voiceover artist experience!

Now, my homework is to practice the many techniques I got in my voice over coaching sessions, continue to play with my voice and learn to control my voice in ways I had never thought of. We left equipped with CDs on social media and marketing, and I am currently working on creating my brand, and everything else that goes with that.

Stay tuned for our podcast in the new year, when we'll go more in depth to my experiences in the Masters Program, and you'll get to hear what I've been up to since then!

-written by Catherine Marshall, Director of Public Relations

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Such A Voice: Insights Into the Mentor Program

"It just made sense for me to join the Mentor Program so that I could be diligent and plow ahead on what I do know, but then I could stop and ask the pro for advice along the way."
-- Dennis Gimmel, Mentor Program student of Brian Thon
When Dennis Gimmel completed the Masters Program back at the end of May with Brian Thon and Dan Levine, he graduated feeling very encouraged that he was on the right path and relieved that he had joined a voiceover training program that gave him a "first class demo." Even before he hit the market for auditions and gigs, he signed up with Brian Thon in the Mentor Program because he recognized how crucial it was to develop a business the right way in an industry as competitive as the voiceover industry.

"As time went on, it was such a valuable thing," Gimmel says. Taking the branding and marketing homework he got in the Masters Program, he quickly developed his own brand and webpage, which he felt immediately gave him credibility in the clients' eyes. He followed the advice he received in the Masters Program, such as contacting agencies and asking for who would be the right person to send demos to, following up with emails the next week, and contacting businesses he hadn't heard from in a couple of months.

The voice over jobs started trickling in, and Gimmel was happy to be able to provide clients with what they were looking for. This isn't to say that he didn't have any bumps along the way. Gimmel admits he has never been business savvy, which is where Brian Thon came in. Dennis and Brian met for one hour once a month to touch bases on how Dennis' marketing strategy was coming along.

"I wasn't nervous when a client asked me a question about music or another technique that I didn't know the answer to," Gimmel says. "In the back of my head I knew that I could just ask Brian later on."

For Dennis, the continued support from Brian was invaluable to establish himself as a professional voice over artist. With Brian's help, he could sound like he had more experience than he actually had, which always helps in business.

Dennis highly recommends the Mentor Program to those just getting started in the industry. He says, "If you're serious enough to join the Masters Program, then you're serious about pursuing voiceovers. It's just common sense to take that extra step to get continued support and guidance until you're seasoned enough to be able to answer your own questions."

To find out more about joining the Mentor Program, send an email to: info@suchavoice.com