I’ll never forget the day Bob Bergen told me I sucked… Sort of. Bob, the longtime Looney Tunes Voice of Porky Pig and Tweety Bird is WAY too much of a nice guy to use that kind of language. He did tell me my voice over demos were not at all competitive and I should remove them from the internet quickly before I did permanent damage to my career. As the saying goes, you never get a 2nd chance to make a first impression. I listened. After all, who am I to argue with Porky Pig? I took down all my horrible self produced demos, and went back to the drawing board. Well, started on the drawing board really.
I see this scenario play out again and again in the world of voice over. Someone has some itsy bitsy bit of training in acting, radio, television and the like and they think they can just buy a USB mic, setup in their kitchen and press GO. It’s much harder than that, however.
Let me backtrack a bit. When I got into voice over 7 years ago, I thought I knew what I was doing. I had a B.S. in broadcasting from Towson State University. A very good school that had turned out tons of great local media personalities as well as a few national ones. Dwight Schultz from the A team was probably the most famous when I enrolled. Now it’s Brian Stelter or Amy Schumer. During school I was on the FM radio station, and cable access tv station. I had tons of classes on broadcasting and production. I had also been an NCAA Division 1 public address announcer for years. So when I decided to hang out my shingle for voice over work, with NO VO training whatsoever, I thought I GOT THIS!
And, I was COMPLETELY wrong. It turns out I didn’t know a THING about voice acting. Luckily through dumb luck and maybe a bit of web savvy I found a few online resources to help. The VO-BB or Voice Over Bulletin board was extremely helpful. That was where I “met” Bob. Truth be told, however, this forum has been around so long that its really just a traditional bulletin board service. People post text replies and questions and someone replies in a thread. Even posting pictures is a bit hard. Still, there is a ton of information on the world of voice over there. If you have the chance to check it out, I highly recommend. Anyway…I posted a link to some horrible demos I produced myself. A simple music bed sourced from the music of my longtime friend Chris Ritsch, some really poor reads by me and no other effects or producing whatsoever. Bob (and others) told me they were terrible, and you know what? They were RIGHT!
It was ONLY then I found out there was a whole world of voice over classes, conferences, online tutorials and private tutoring. So, the next year was a crash course in learning as much as I could in order to be able to get “demo ready”. I did produce a demo within a year and started submitting it. That still probably wasn’t the best idea, but that’s a story for another day. Truth is I have never stopped learning. I still soak up as much information and training as I can every day. Still, that demo did land me with several agencies and booked me lots of work. YMMV.
Now as I’ve been in the business for a while I try to help “newbies” to the business as well. Hopefully you’ve heard of my podcast The VO Meter that is all about that. I post in facebook groups and reply to tweets. Some may say I’m too brutally honest, but that’s just the way I am. I hope, whomever hears/reads my words takes them to heart and puts them to good use, like I did when Mr. Bergen tried to help me.
So, moral of the story. Voice Over is HARD. I spend more time each day getting rejected than I do working. At this point, I’m pretty good. Good enough to be a full time voice over person, working every week, and even getting nominated for awards! But, it’s all because I listened to the seasoned pros who were so giving of their time and expertise who set me on the right path. Thanks BOB!