Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Voice-over heaven.

I’ve been in the voice-over business for less than two years. Certain aspects of the business take some getting-used-to, particularly the way people don’t return calls and emails. That’s probably true of all of business, but I come from an academic background so I’m used to a world where people communicate (although not always well) rather than diving for cover when the phone rings. One time when a producer did return my call and I marveled at that, he said, “Woody Allen said, ‘it's not a dog eat dog world, it's a dog won't return other dogs' phone calls world’ .” That made me feel slightly better.

But one must persevere or wither on the voice-over vine. I recently got an email from a Boston-area company asking if I would be available for a job. I checked my database and saw that I had first contacted this company by email in March 2005. They had never responded, but I sent them an email every three months telling them what I had been up to. I go back and forth about when it’s time to give up on a company, and there are a few circumstances for that:

• When they go out of business
• When they tell me they don’t ever want to hear from me again (this is quite rare)
• When I realise that they don’t need VO in my areas of specialisation and I’m trying to focus on “warmer” prospects

My point is, protracted lack of response is no reason to give up. Apparently, it can take at least 16 months of steadfast silence before a company is ready to hire.

Once a company has hired me, I always look forward to finding out what kind of a client they will be. Frequently, I do the work, send it off, and hear nothing. I don’t like to send an invoice until I’ve gotten word that the client has what they need, although I’ve learned that certain of my peeps don’t say anything unless they need a retake. This doesn't bother me a bit; it's all in a day's work. For them I just wait a decent interval and send the invoice. Then there are the people who are enthusiastic and appreciative, and they even write to me when they don’t have work, they just like to keep in touch. Of course, I especially like those people. They are friendly, interesting, and a joy to work with. I also really like the people who have never hired me, but who nevertheless respond when they get my quarterly reports, and fill me in on what they’ve been up to. That is greatly appreciated.

And then, there’s Mr. S.

The first reason to love Mr. S. is that he found me, rather than the other way round. Also, he needed a character voice, with an Australian accent. Character voices, and in particular, accents, are my very favorite thing to do. Pat Fraley had mentioned, just a few short weeks before Mr. S. came along, that accents make up about minus 2% of what voice actors are called upon to do, and although I kind of knew that, I hated like anything to hear it articulated in that way. Another reason to love Mr. S. is that he took half an hour to tell me what he needed. He’s in the educational software business and I like the feeling that each character he uses has to be well developed and somebody that he can trust to give children what they need. And after I received the script and sent in the work, he took the time to thank me at length. I was so pleased to learn, when I got home from France, that Australian Map Girl was going to be around for a while, her character would be developed further, and additional lines would be needed. I even got a humorous “press release” announcing that she had a name.

It’s great to have the work, and it’s great to have a new repeat customer. But the best part is knowing that this friendly and generous educator will be in my life for a bit longer. Sometimes it's the person who sends the script that "makes" the job. You know who you are. Thank-you.

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