I completed the Master Class at Such A Voice in Burlington, VT in November 2009. Going through the training program with a dozen other aspiring voice actors, we all took copious notes from our coach Brian Thon and producer Brendan Coyle and did various exercises, reads and interpretations. Although we had been doing our homework and practicing specific voice-over techniques prior to the Master Class, it was a dynamic (and exhausting!) few days. When we weren’t doing exercises and analyzing scripts, we were all focused on polishing the scripts we would use to record our demos—our voice representation to the world. We gathered marketing information, technical information and smiled more than we had ever smiled before. But once we left behind the energy, the support of the group, the security of having a coach alongside us, we each had to muster our own motivation to succeed. I know my journey is just beginning. I know for myself that I will always be learning more, listening to others, and doing my practice, practice, practice. But I’m feeling great about where I am today. And this is my story.
I have a background in acting, having done several plays, and more recently been involved in an indie film short (2004) and as an “extra” in Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups, to be released June 25, 2010. I am a writer (creative/poetry/academic) and have a BA in Spanish and Sociology, an MBA-Human Services and a PhD in Organizational Systems. Some say these degrees have nothing to do with voice-over jobs, and technically that may be true—you don’t need them to do voice-overs, but because of my BA and a year abroad I am fluent in written/spoken Spanish with no American accent, which does open additional VO doors. My other degrees help me to be a professional, organized, practical thinker and practitioner. Being organized and balanced is crucial to getting a VO business off the ground, especially in the beginning when most of us will have to continue to work “day jobs” until we build up some solid repeat clients and expand our client base. Lastly, if nothing else, surviving the long journey of a doctoral program while having two children and giving birth twice more is testament to my determination to finish what I start, to never give up.
So, what brought me to voice-over work and Such A Voice? A desire to reignite my passion for creative expression! A business colleague of mine took the Master Class about 2 years ago, and I spoke to her a few times before deciding to take the Introductory class at the community college where I work. I got the email inviting me to take the Master Class, but I hedged until I was sure I was going to be serious about a voice-over career before making the investment. I came home after the class with lots of information to digest, with Pro Tools LE, an MBox 2 mini, Rode NGT-2 mic and Shure cans and thought, “How am I ever going to do this while creating a business plan, marketing plan, practicing reads, interpreting copy, discovering my range, designing a logo, branding myself?”
But I did it! With some self-discipline and a thirst to read whatever I can get my hands on and listening to those with more experience, I found I was able set up my home studio to practice my recording and editing on Pro Tools, and hone my skills at dissecting and interpreting copy. I do this, of course, mostly at night after a day of work at the college, and putting my kids to bed. Since November, I have created my website, http://www.geminivoice.com, hired a local designer/printer to create my new logo and print quality business cards, registered with my city as a business, obtained a service mark for my logo, and…. of course, I’ve begun networking. I decided to concentrate on the local market first, getting in touch with contacts I’ve made through my work and volunteer organizations, while also beginning to list potential clients in the regional and state market. Of course, I also maintain a presence on a few casting websites as well as Voice123.
Through my local connections, I quickly lined up a video narration job (pro-bono) with a local nonprofit. It was one of those things that went like this: “Hey, Joan, Did you know I’m starting a voice-over company?” Joan replied that she happens to be working on a video with a local group and they may want to have someone narrate part of it. She wondered if I could send her my demo. I did, and the client and the camera guy liked it! The cool thing was that the videographer is the cameraman for a show some of you may know: This Old House.
I’m thrilled to be meeting new people and expanding my network to those involved in the creative arts! I’m also in process of producing the voice on-hold messages for a regional company (name to be disclosed only once the job is done). More recently, I’ve reached out to a local bilingual newspaper publisher who also produces her own radio shows and I may have some work coming from there. These are all people I’ve known through various jobs, civic organizations or volunteerism, but I figured this was the best place to start!
So where can you find me besides on Such A Voice and Voice 123? I’m on Facebook (as an individual, not a business), Twitter (as a business), LinkedIn (as a business) and BusinessChamber.com. I’ve looked at other VO listing sites and casting companies but have chosen for now only to set up profiles on those that are free. I’ve joined voice-over related list-serves to glean knowledge and insights from those with more experience, and go to sites like Mandy.com to find advertising and production agencies in various states. I’m starting to attend Chamber of Commerce mixers and other networking events while reaching out by phone and email.
I’m really glad our Such A Voice class members have stayed in touch with each other via email, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We continue to encourage each other, touch bases on new developments, ask questions, and learn from each other. The same goes for our coaches at Such A Voice—they’re just an email away and always ready to help! I’m glad I pursued this creative outlet that my psyche so badly needed, and I’m excited about honing my skills and building a serious part-time business that may lead to other opportunities that I can only dream about right now. There’s no business like VO business! Onward and upward! Or in Spanish, ¡Adelante!