It was a random conversation in 2009 with a full-time voice & on-camera actor that led me to voice-over. I had spent the previous 20+ years in commercial real estate and, prior to that, as a professional musician. In the mid 90’s I had this idea of doing voice-over/announcing but didn’t know anyone in the biz and was distracted by the financial opportunity of commercial real estate…
After this “conversation”, the bell went off in my head and there were 3 directives I was told to follow to get into Voice-over.
1) Do not do a demo for 6-12 months.
2) Start training.
3) Pay it forward.
I was participating in online workouts with a facilitator/coach via GoToWebinar. He had us do something that I found remarkable: … “direct” each other. He said, when you put on the “director’s hat” you listen in a whole new way. He was RIGHT! It struck me that this could be done easily on Skype. So, I called a new VO associate and said “let’s workout”. It started with two of us, then three, and then six. It stayed that way for better part of a year. Other voice actors were saying “Hey, I want to do that, too!”
So, I used my organizational skills and came up with a plan … voila WoW (Workout Wednesday) / VO Heaven Workouts was born. We now have over 70 participants working out weekly on three different workout times.
1) No more than five people in a workout group.
2) An “Initiator” calls the other four in their group via Skype. (These Initiators are hand picked by me for their level of maturity and ability to be great with people and keep things on track.)
3) The sessions go for one and a half hours and each voice actor performs two scripts.
I believe the value actually comes from the repetition of script analysis and directing others, more than it does from performing. You listen with different ears as the director. If you have the ability to articulate exactly what needs to be modified by the performer, to bring more meaning to the script, then you have just taken the first step in being able to do it for yourself when you are alone in your booth self-directing! Most new VO’s are listening to what they “sound” like, but that is not what your focus should be to get to a great performance. The focus should be on meaning, meaning, meaning… and then everything just comes naturally. You hear this more when directing someone else.
The VO Heaven workout group has a wide range of skill levels. The intent for each group is to have a “mix” of those skill levels. The idea is not that the direction is always the “right” or “perfect”. The job is to execute whatever you are asked to do as the performer.
I have heard people do their first read on the workout and then find out within six months to a year they are booking work. In addition to all of the skills that get honed, the group is made up of supportive and committed voice actors of all levels in their career. It is a community where we call on each other for assistance in many ways. Whether it be technical, marketing, etc., we are all here for one another.
If you would like to come and check out any workout (Wednesdays 11am & 6pm, or Saturday 10am, all Pacific Time) there is no cost to do so. Email me to give it a try at LarryHudson@VOHeavenWorkouts.com.
For me, doing weekly, intense workouts like this was key in going from zero to full-time in voice-over in two years.
Larry Hudson is a full-time working Voice-over Actor in Los Angeles. He has been active in the industry since 2009. He voices commercial ads for radio and TV, narration on documentaries, Industrial video, and tutorials for corporate and web presentation. His clients list includes: Disney/Picture Head, TOYOTA, Lexus, Kubota Tractor Corp, Quaker Oats, Tropicana, Apple, Google and WarGaming.net. In addition to his personal VO career, he created and administers weekly VO workouts on Skype with over 70 participants. He is also well known for his 5-Week Training Courses on recording & editing in Audacity and Adobe Audition. Further, he presents webinars on the business of voice-over. For Larry, it is all about “Paying it Forward.”