Taking place March 3–6 at the Hilton Atlanta Airport, the fourth annual VO Atlanta Voiceover Conference brought together prominent voice actors, casting agents, directors, and other voiceover talents for a weekend of interactive education, networking, and fun. For those who weren’t able to attend VO Atlanta, panel moderator Jeffrey Umberger and panelist Dan Friedman of Sound4VO provide additional insight into how to break into Georgia’s voiceover market.
Jeffrey Umberger, voiceover talent agent and owner of Umberger Agency:
Study the basics.
Voiceover is more than simply speaking well. It’s about telling a story, whether it be in a commercial, narration, animation, or saying “This is CNN.” There is a story under everything, and it’s important to know the basics of voiceover-specific delivery so you can properly convey the story.
Take acting classes.
Theater or film acting classes will greatly improve your overall skills as an actor. Also, take an improvisation class. The best training there is sometimes comes from a good improv class and coach.
Find a top demo producer.
Don’t go cheap on this one. It’s too important to skimp when it comes to creating demos. A professional demo is important; it’s your calling card, your best foot forward. People book directly off their demos, so don’t think of it as a suggested example of your skills. Think of it as an example of the best work you have ever done. This is what you will use to shop for an agent.
Practice with persistence.
Stay current with your studies of the various voiceover acting skills. Don’t just train and hang up your school jacket. You have to practice every day for at least an hour. Get with a coach and keep fresh and current and unbeatable.
Follow submission rules.
When submitting to an agent, don’t try to flourish your personality or add in colorful sayings, tidbits, and cleverness. Simply follow the submission guidelines on each agency’s website and submit your demo accordingly.
Dan Friedman, producer-audio engineer-voice talent-author, Sound4VO:
Cultivate your talent as a voice artist.
Be good at what you do. In voiceover, this means to truly communicate the message (both written and unwritten). Don’t simply play with words. The best microphones, preamps, interfaces, and digital audio workstations cannot communicate for you. And you shouldn’t rely on engineers and editors to piece together an authentic-sounding, effective delivery. As a voice actor, bringing the copy to life and effectively communicating are your primary responsibilities. That is the job.
Be someone with whom others want to work.
Be on time. Do your best to make everyone else’s jobs easy. Have fun, but be professional. Above all else, be grateful that you have the opportunity to make a career out of doing something you love. As we all know, there are far more difficult and less rewarding ways to make a living.
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