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Monthly Archives: July 2011

So You Want to Be A Voice Actor? Read Below…

I’m on the LinkedIn Group called Working Voice Actor Group hosted by Ed Victor. The following statements are comments from Emmy nominated Bob Bergen and a new voice over talent (name removed) during the summer of June-July 2011, approximate date unknown. The text was copied “word for word” and can be traced in the WVAG archives. After reviewing the group rules, I was able to reprint this discussion. Please site the source correctly if it’s used in another location. Thanks.

Working Voice Actor Group hosted by Ed Victor

VO Talent – OK. So I am the poor shlub who opted for the 9 to 5 hum drum instead of pursuing my passion for vo, and while I cannot complain (my job is rewarding) I wonder if I will ever get the opportunity to fully explore the possibilities of a voice-over career as well. I guess I am about as serious as any noob can be – I bought the AT2020, I have done a variety of work through my company (new hire training audio, numerous audio blasts, and even a comercial), but these were done as a sideline to my normal job. I wasn’t hired for my vo talent; I am just tapped for it constantly. 

So, my question is this: Am I spinning my wheels entertaining the thought of one day seriously exploring a vo career? Is the market so saturated that a 35 year-old well-spoken Capricorn from San Antonio should just keep his day job? I’d love – LOVE – to do comercials someday, or even a spot in a movie (as I am sure everyone would), but I am not a fan of being a “starving artist” or up and moving to LA or NYC with “hope in my heart” and a dream. Can I ONLY succeed if I forsake all else and take the plunge? What are some of your thoughts Big Ed? Can it be done?

Bob Bergen • Hey (VO Talent). Much of what I’m about to say I’ve said on other forums and postings, so for those who have read much of this before sorry about the rerun. 

What I usually tell people is, if you have any doubts about going into show business, do something else. If you cannot imagine being happy in your life without going into show business, then you are right to pursue show business. 

Now, the average age of the person taking their first VO workshop is 35. So, you are average. The average person pursuing a career as an actor (yes, VO is acting) doesn’t earn enough to support himself. If this doesn’t phase you you are right to pursue show business. 

Look, you can dabble all you want. If the dabble fills your soul then your mission is complete. But if your goal is to play in the majors, you need to take the plunge. 

There are no guarantees. And you cannot do it for the money. You have to do it because it’s a passion that fulfills you just to be in front of a mic, with or without a paycheck. You’ve got a day job to pay the bills. VO doesn’t have to pay the bills, nor do you need to break the bank over a short period of time to pursue it.



Are you a brilliant actor? If not, start there. Study acting and improv to the point you have a solid foundation under your belt. Then study VO. A trained actor makes choices, a non trained actor makes guesses. You need to be able to reproduce your craft at will, while be able to take direction and molding your performance to your director’s satisfaction. 

For me it was a 9 year journey from first day in a VO class to supporting myself as a full time actor. More than half that time was spent in VO classes, 2 years of acting technique, 3 years of improv, etc. 

No artist has to starve. You eat and pay the bills by your day job. You save what you can to study. You put NOTHING on credit! The business will always be here, so there’s no time limit or race. And all the while you are paying your bills and saving to invest in your VO career, don’t forget to save for retirement. It all adds up!! 

”Doing commercials” is a relative term. You can live in the smallest of small towns and do a local radio spot for $25. Hey-you’ve done a commercial. You can live in a major market and get a national TV campaign that nets you 25 grand in residuals. And everything in between. Non union won’t pay into a pension or health benefits. Nor does it pay residuals. Those in the major markets make a living on residuals, not session fees. 

They don’t need “well spoken.” They need brilliant actor, who can take any piece of commercial copy and deliver a read that marries the actor’s unique individual brand to the product’s. 

You don’t have to live in LA/NYC. But you do if you want to play in the majors. If this sort of move does not work with your lifestyle, then you need to research what you need to do to be the absolute best you can be in your VO market. 

But you get out of this business what you put into it. The road is a constant uphill, no matter how successful you are. I had to re audition for Porky Pig after playing him for almost 20 years..and AFTER recording a pilot for a new series. (I got the gig…again!!) 

Dabble or dive in, it’s all in your power. You have to decide what you need to do. No one can promise anything or make this decision for you. No one can predict what will happen to themself, let alone you. 

Can it me done? It’s done every day. You just have to decide if the journey is what you want, not the end result.

VO Talent – T-T-T-T- That’s great advice, Bob! 🙂 I guess I am just scared to jump in with both feet and jeopardize my world. But I desperately love the craft, and I suppose I just need to dive in and see where it goes. Thanks Bob and Ed for the encouragement and sober advice. I will put it to good use.

Bob – That fear of the unknown regarding show business never goes away. Because it’s always an unknown. Up to a certain point, no one really knows where their next job will be. Hey-that’s show biz!

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Voice Overs

 

Essential Theatre Festival 2011

A Thousand Circlets by Theroun Patterson: A Review

Watching the world première of A Thousand Circlets by Theroun D’Arcy Patterson, Winner of the Essential Theatre playwriting Award, was an enjoyable experience. The new play by Mr. Patterson who was in the audience (every performance night) is a five person play about a dysfunctional family, regret, Alzheimer’s disease, and a family architectural company.

The play involves an African-American family and the father patriarch played by Tony Vaughn, who has Alzheimer’s; however, his wife, played by Yvonne Singh, won’t accept it. The three adult children, played by Tony Goolsby, a business person who works in the family business, and his sister played by Precious Bright, were always close although they have a love-hate friendship among them. The step-brother, Olubajo Sonubi, is an architect but lives with the fact that his design caused someone’s death when the building collapsed.

The step siblings have a sexual relationship that is later discovered by Caleb (Goolsby). As a matter of fact, Caleb is having marital problems with his wife whom the audience never meets. Eventually, love between the Patriarch, Earl Leighton, (played by Vaughn), and wife Liz Kensey Leighton, (played by Singh) prevails. Getting there is half the fun.

The play for me was extremely strong in Act I and weaker in Act II. The script echoes a television script due to the fact that a technical dilemma in Act II when step siblings Rebecca and Grey fight over their love for each other and the love of the family business. They are forced to face each other for a good 15 minutes of dialogue while the audience watches their profiles. The director, Betty Hart, can’t do anything about this. It’s stronger if they just talk to each other but weaker for the audience since the audience are forced to look at 15 minute profiles. It’s intense and the audience wants to see their eyes but can’t. This is when a POV from a camera shot would work beautifully here but it’s theatre, no such luck.

The flashback in Act I works beautifully and is scripted well with a nice transition afterwards with Earl responding to his wife in the present as if he was still in 2001 in New York City. It’s 2011 and his Alzheimer’s is severe to the point that he can’t function at work anymore, to the dismay of his cussing every minute son, Caleb.

It’s good theatre. For me, it resembles a television script on stage. It’s still strong theatre with excellent volatile performances by the women, who keep you guessing what they will do next. The writing is eloquent, elevated language with the Act I over an hour and Act II also over an hour with a 10-15 minute intermission.

It’s a strong, very enjoyable, and ambitious first play written by Mr. Patterson. It’s an excellent career taking off into high gear that hopefully will continue at a steady pace for a long career ahead of him.

Kim

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Film/Television/Theatre

 

Warm-ups: Tongue Twisters

Can you do this tongue twister? This one came from Vox Daily:

Theophilus Thistle

Theophilus Thistle, the successful thistle sifter,
In sifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles,
Thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb.
If Theophilus Thistle, the successful thistle sifter,
Can thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb,
See thou, in sifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles,
Thrust not three thousand thistles through the thick of thy thumb.

A more compact version reads:

Theophilus Thistle, the Thistle Sifter,
Sifted a sieve of unsifted thistles.
If Theophilus Thistle, the Thistle Sifter,
Sifted a sieve of unsifted thistles,
Where is the sieve of un-sifted thistles
Theophilus Thistle, the Thistle Sifter, sifted?

Here’s another one via a post of Joe J. Thomas:

If you stick a stock of liquor in your locker
It is quick to stick a lock upon your stock
Or some joker who is quicker’s
Going to trick you of your liquor
If you fail to lock your liquor with a lock

… and another (from a Tom Lehrer song “Clementine”):
That I missed her depressed her young sister named Esther
This mister to pester she tried
Now a pestering sister’s a festering blister
You’re best to resister say I
The mister resisted, the sister persisted
I kissed her – all loyalty slipped
When she said I could have her
Her sister’s cadaver
Must surely had turned in its crypt

I’ve always liked this one…

Betty Botter Bought a Bit of Better Butter

“Betty Botter” has some variations, but most are very similar. A common one is:

Betty Botter bought some butter,
“But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter;
If I put it in my batter,
It will make my batter bitter;
But a bit of better butter,
Better than the bitter butter
Will but make my bitter batter better.”
So she bought a bit of better butter,
Better than the bitter butter,
and made her bitter batter better.
The following version is tightly worded:
Betty Botter bought a bit of butter.
The butter Betty Botter bought was a bit bitter
And made her batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter
Makes better batter.
So Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter,
Making Betty Botter’s bitter batter better.

Another version is as follows:

Betty bought a bit of butter,
But the butter Betty bought was a bit bitter.
So Betty bought a bit of better butter,
To make Betty’s bitter butter better.
Kewl.
Kim 🙂 
 
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Voice Overs

 

Pot Roast: Crock Pot Style

I bought roast beef and didn’t know how to cook it. I know. I had it good for a LONG time…Anyway, some friends on Facebook told me what to do. The recipe that I used is below. I basically threw it together without a lot of measuring. However, if there are measurements, I had a need to remember, so I wrote it down. BTW, this is not a weight watchers recipe. I will have my first meeting this week.

roast thawed and washed

4 c. water

chopped celery (approx. half a small bag)

small baby carrots (approx. half a small bag)

2 sliced and peeled medium potatoes

sweet red, yellow, orange peppers

1/2 sliced onion

3 T olive oil

rosemary

thyme

sea salt

peppercorn

Worcestershire sauce

1 pkg. beef Lipton soup mix

red wine (optional for a gravy texture)

The spices are seasoned to taste. I didn’t measure them. Mix and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Slam dunk, it was a winner! I LOVED it! Made cornbread muffins and drank some of the wine instead of cooking with it (oops!). For dessert, I had a skinny cow ice cream sandwich. It was a simple meal that I enjoyed. You can put 1 can of cream of mushroom soup instead of beef Lipton soup mix for a nice gravy. I saw recipes where flour can be added for a nice gravy as well. Next time, I may sear the meat on both sides and marinate the meat first. Friends shared their versions and I added a little of theirs with my twist. There are many variations. See below a different twist for this recipe. I was also told that more recipes are found at http://www.foodnetwork.com or http://www.epicurious.com.

Kim

Comments from Linda J.: “Before you drain the excess water, leave the cover off the beef and let it boil off. This would create more flavor in your beef….simple is best try topping the beef with mushrooms, sautéed with onion, garlic, butter or margarine and add Worcestershire sauce. Yummy!”

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2011 in Recipes/Exercise

 

Essential Theatre Play Festival 2011

A Sleeping Country by Melanie Marnich and Great Falls by Lee Blessing: A Review

I decided to purchase the Flex Pass for all three shows. A Thousand Circlets, I will see later in the month. Overall, it was nice to hear about two married playwrights that were chosen by Essential Theatre to première its Southern regional première at Actors Express Theatre.

A Sleeping Country directed by Peter Hardy was a comical view on a disturbing sleeping disorder that has Julia, played by Kelly Criss, up 24/7. She goes to her good friend, Midge, a psychologist, played by Megan Hayes, for help. Greg, Julia’s fiancée, played by Matthew Myers, becomes exasperated when he discovers that Midge has given her drugs to commit suicide if she needs them. Midge also researches her illness on the internet and shares that the origin of her disorder is located in Italy. Isabella, an Italian whose family has the illness, played by Holly Stevenson, meets Julia for the first time in Italy and decides to help her discover if she has the malady.

Enjoyable, with great comic effect, everyone has great moments in the play. The true tragedian is Julia who never finds the true cause of her illness but still keeps the affection of her fiancée in the end. I like Marnich’s twist of the main character going to Italy to make discoveries of her own. The witticisms of Isabella were hilarious and having the butler, son of Isabella, including Greg played by the same character had great comic moments as well. Precise and distinctive, I enjoyed each character/personality presented. It would have been nice to find more comic moments for Julia since she played the role seriously straight throughout. As a matter of fact, I’m not able to recall a comic moment with Julia. The other characters create the comic relief needed for this play, especially Isabella.

Great Falls directed by Ellen McQueen was a completely opposite play, which I appreciated. I’m enjoying the diversity of all plays selected for the Festival. It was spot on with its interpretation of the script by the actors Emmett Furrow as Monkeyman and Ashleigh Hoppe as Bitch. Tragedy for me makes me contemplate the issues long after the play was over. This was no different. It’s less complicated in plot but more intense in story. A step-father and his step-daughter take a trip. Actually, Bitch was abducted into a cross-country visit to the midwest for family time. Both are writers and that’s their common bond. However, Bitch hates her step-father until he reveals why he left her mother. I was struck by the great moments in this play with the dad explaining to his step-daughter how a man feels about his sexual relationship with his former wife and why he had to cheat. Meanwhile, Bitch’s relationship with men including her mental psychotic state has devastating effects to her life. There is a long history of sexual abuse within the family that Monkeyman, tries to reconcile with his former wife but he leaves her anyway. I, as an audience member, wants to sympathize with the wife, but I end up sympathizing with the husband, especially when he shares his point of view. Discovering that he was a coward for not helping his wife, that becomes minor when he discovers that Bitch is pregnant by either three men who raped her. Bitch reconciles with her step-dad when he helps her get an abortion.

I’m struck on how this father-daughter relationship is about sex, marriage, date-rape, a road-trip, all into one. It wasn’t a pleasant experience to sit through. The yelling of Bitch actually got on my nerves for a while but both actors play their roles with honest abandon. It also ends with the two never to see each other again. In the end, you don’t blame the dad. He did his best. He was honest with his former wife and step-daughter and didn’t mistreat them, although he gets most of the blame for ending the marriage. He has to leave – no hugs are given – appropriate, and they part without further remorse.

Out of this husband and wife team, Great Falls, gave me more points on how “one man” thinks about marriage, sex, and committment. Strong monologues for men and early 20s women are here. The residue of this play gave me a stronger imprint on my mind.

The review of A Thousand Circlets will come later.

Kim

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2011 in Film/Television/Theatre

 

Music

I started to “tear up” when I sifted through the elementary music packet from J W Pepper. Wiped my tears. Praying, preparing, and looking forward to my new tenure in MS Chorus that I have excellent choral experiences on a daily basis with my students in rehearsal and in performances. Also, I’m praying that my VO and Drama work goes extremely well, as I perform part-time in these fields.

I’ve chosen to work full-time as a music/choral educator while continuing my work in voice-overs and educational theatre. I HAVE to sing. There is nothing that can change that. VOs are also my performance outlet, praise God, dramatically and musically. However, I HAVE to continue in music. That was my first artistic experience. I have more exploration to do here and I’ve barely scratched the surface. This is the main issue why I haven’t quit and moved to LA. Although, moving to NYC doesn’t seem to be a problem. 🙂 I don’t know where to continue my musical sensibilities in LA. I’ve asked around while staying in LA for a month in June 2010. Also, I get a retirement pension. It’s musically satisfying to just sing, in the band (praise band) or the chorus with your peers. Connecting to the text brings that dramatic aspect out of me in all areas (musical text, monologue, or VOs). I still have growth in all of these areas though. I have 3-4 lifetime skills that I’m working on simultaneously. It’s hard to let any of them go.

The VOICE is so wonderful, I’ve barely explored EVERYTHING that it can do. I’m just starting to EXPLORE my capabilities. I just want my vocal folds to stay healthy and strong as well. It’s priority over everything. I’ve decided on a few things to help me this year. I’m also going for quality over quantity in my work. In January, I’ll check this post and see how I’ve accomplished this. I’m thinking about my “Core Values” as an artist/educator. I wish that I started this in my 20s, not now. I wouldn’t have made some mistakes, but then I probably wouldn’t be doing VOs. My path has led me here to this point.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Singing/Music

 

Workaholics Anonymous

Listen…I know that I work too much. We live in a crazy filled world of gadgets and gizmos, that supposedly makes us work smarter, not harder. I’ve never worked harder and smarter in all my life, honestly. Working this much is not good for the soul. I think that I’ve traveled enough, spent enough money, and worked tirelessly for three different people. The economy, housing market, and high gas prices didn’t help neither. However, blessedly as an arts educator/artist/small business owner, I’ve never missed a bill.

So, my goals have changed. I want to stay in one place for now, become debt free, and live simply. I have no interest in traveling now, nor spending money like water, nor working so much forever.

My goals are to do excellent work and be a happy person doing the above things as well. I’m done with this hectic life, for realz.

Kim

 

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Uncategorized