OTM ESSAYS
 

Written by Michael Daingerfield

ESSAY 1
THE LEAD VOICE: YOU ARE THE LEAD VOICE!

In voice-over the moment you put your demo out there - you are considered a lead voice.  You are the lead voice in the commercial representing Honda - you’re the voice of their brand - they’ve spent potentially millions of dollars on the advertising campaign and when your voice comes on the radio or TV people will associate your voice with that Honda brand.  It’s also very similar in animation - in animation you are the lead character in the series - so Hasbro has spent millions of dollars on their next big series and you are one of the lead voices in the series - it’s your voice that kids and adults recognize and relate to. Remember those little one liner characters we often hear in animated series? - the producers just throw those to the series leads - because they’re already there.    And finally it’s the same in narration - in narration you are the lead voice narrating the documentary series.  The production company has spent millions of dollars to go shoot a series and then it’s your voice who tells the story.  You are the one that people listen to for the hour to let them know what’s happening, how people are feeling and where the story will go next. 

This is what is expected of you by the studios, the agents and the casting directors - they want your level to be at lead stature when they meet you.  It’s different in on-camera and theatre - you can piece your career together by doing smaller roles at the beginning - a yoplait yogurt commercial, followed by a one liner on a tv series - even background - same in theatre.  In voice-over you are the lead of the film and the lead of the play - because truthfully there really aren’t a lot of small voice-over roles and if they can, they will give the small role away to the person whose already there in the studio doing the lead role.

Training.  That’s where training kicks in.  In order to reach the calibre of a lead in anything you have to train.  The thing about it is that the pay-offs are huge - because you get paid lead money - so in the end you may have to train a little longer than other avenues but once you acquire the skills to do lead voice-over roles you will pay off your training 100’s of times over.  

A lot of people want instant results in this business - and in voice-over yes you can get a job probably pretty soon without much training.  But, and this is a very large but, do you want “a” job or a career?

Think of voice-over as something that you can do for the rest of your life.  Morgan Freeman is 75 years old and his voice is plastered all over the radio and TV and movie theatre.  So while you’re following your other avenues whether it be on-camera pursuits or theatre or something else completely different than performing - maybe you’re a writer.  Doing voice-over is a wonderful way to make a living - you’re paid extremely well for your time, you never have to memorize a script, there’s no make-up, you can’t lose out on a job based on what you look like, you work with fun and creative people and you can perform many types of avenues of voice-over - such as commercials, animation, narration, imaging, promos, trailers, on-line tutorials, on hold messaging and many more.

The key to all of this is to practice - voice-over can be compared to working out - if you stop working out your muscles get smaller and you can’t lift as much weight.  The same goes for voice-over - your ability to deliver a performance will weaken the less you do it.  If you don’t train or practice on your own you lose the subtleties that make your work special.  The good news is you can use any form of recording device whether you have a home studio, a USB mic, even a hand held tape recorder, all these methods will help you practice your range and delivery on a constant basis.  Why do you think the people that work the most are the people that are working the most?  Because they are the ones that are constantly on the mic - they are plugged in and these are the people that you’re competing against - so you’ve got to stay warm and practiced yourself.  

Remember you are the LEAD VOICE - if you respect it in that fashion you will demand more of yourself and reach higher.