Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Harlan Hogan & Elaine Clark Workshop

"He who learns but does not think, is lost!
He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger."
~ Confucius

When it comes to being a freelance/journeyman voice talent, I firmly believe that continued training and getting out there and learning from those farther along on the VO path is essential.

This past weekend I had the awesome opportunity to attend a workshop run by Elaine Clark and Harlan Hogan.

Harlan, Liz & Elaine

Elaine is an accomplished voice talent & on-camera actor and fabulous teacher. She runs Voice One out of San Francisco. Harlan is one of the best voice talents around, has been in the business for over 30 years, is the inventor of the famous Harlan Hogan Porta-Booth, and is based in Chicago. I also have to mention that they are both hysterical, and so generous with their knowledge.

The bonus was that I was able to go with my older brother André who is also a bilingual voice talent.

André & Liz

What an amazing weekend. I now know the real meaning of “my brain hurts!”

Saturday was devoted to Elaine working with the assembled group on all types of voice work. We concentrated on Commercial work and within the first half hour of the workshop, I got info I could put to use right away! She showed us concrete ways to “break-down” copy. How to get that “twinkle” in our reads and how your point of view really does affect your performance.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted and jazzed at the same time. Elaine really is a great teacher and if you are ever in the position to learn from her, I highly recommend you go for it!

Sunday was devoted to Harlan giving us hints and tips on how to have a voice over career over “The Long Haul.” As those of us who are full time voice talent know:

“The work of getting the VO work is the work! – The act of voiceover is the fun!”

Not only is Harlan an amazing voice talent, he’s a marketing and promotional genius. He kept us laughing throughout the day with voiceover “war stories” but always with the goal in mind of finding ways to make yourself memorable. What is it that makes you different? What is your Unique Selling Proposition? What different ways can you market yourself? By the end of the day I had several ideas that I’m going to start working on.

It was a fun and informative weekend spent in the company of new friends and even family!

I also want to thank John Burr, who also does voice over training, for bringing Harlan & Elaine to the DC area so that could finally attend one of their workshops! Thanks for setting up the audio too, John! (And thanks André for the use of your guest bedroom!)

And now the fun begins! Implementing all that I’ve learned into my voiceover career.

Watch me! Here I go!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The grass may just look greener on the other side, ‘cause you’re standing in the shade.

A while back I got a call from a potential new client. It was a very pleasant call, asking about my rates and availability. And then, as is often the case in IVR/MOH work they asked how long I’d been doing this work, and basically whether I planned on being around to complete any updates they may requires months, or years down the line. I told them that this is what I do.
I’m a full time voice talent. I don’t have a “day-job.” This IS my job.

There was silence on the other end of the line.

Then a sigh.

Then “Wow…that must be nice.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my job. I really can’t see myself doing anything else. BUT, when I get this reaction, I really think people think that we Voice Talent have it so “easy.”

Sure, all we do is get paid to talk all day, right?

Sure, we get paid to talk.
But we don’t get paid to market our services.
We don’t get paid to attend networking events.
We don’t get paid to spend hours on the Internet and on the phone prospecting for new clients.
It’s all part of the job – which I actually enjoy – but non-VOs just don’t take this into account.

We also all have our own personal crosses to bear.
Whether it be the “normal” responsibilities of raising children.
The added issues of a child needing extra medical care, or – as is my case – an aging and disabled parent that is approaching the end of life.
Some talent even have their own personal medical issues that they deal with and overcome everyday.

We don’t get paid when we can’t work because our charges get sick. We certainly don’t get paid when WE get sick and sound like we have a frog that has taken up residence in the folds of our vocal chords!

Voice talent are just like everyone else running their own business. We just happen to be “creative” and so are somehow put in another sphere.

There are MANY voice talents that I look up to. (Bob Souer, Moe Egan, DB Cooper, Harlan Hogan, Philip Banks, Frank Frederick, Peter O'Connell to name but a few!)
Many have become great friends, and are very successful.

When I look at them, I count myself lucky to be in such great company.
But I also know that they are just like me. They are thrilled to be doing what they love to do all day. They have good days and bad days. Productive days, and some less so.

I have stopped comparing myself to others because their lives are different than mine.
Their path to VO was different than mine, and that’s just fine!

There is no “magic” to success in VO. Just like there is no magic to success in any other field of endeavor.

Learn. Practice. Train. Make friends. Get out there. Train some more. Be nice. Do a good job. Rinse and Repeat.

Yep. This really is a great job.

If you want to succeed, step out of the shade and you'll see that your side may be just as green. It may just need some watering.

The sun feel good, doesn't it?