By Toni Frutin
I took Dave course last February having had no previous experience of the video game industry. I wanted to add another string to my bow, and this course certainly gave me that. I'm now booking paid jobs and working in a world that this time last year I knew nothing about. There really is nobody better to coach acting in video games, than the legendary Dave Fennoy. He is such a talented actor, a fascinating guy who knows the industry inside out.
Finding the real character
There were varying degrees of experience in the room. I was certain I would be the only novice, but as is the way with the Voiceover Network courses, we are all equal no matter how new you are to it. It was essentially an acting class. It wasn't about doing wacky things with your voice (although that came into it too) it was about finding the real character. We got the opportunity to read scripts which he then directed. This could have been daunting, but he had created such a safe and supportive working environment that it was just so much fun. When we got into the studio to record, it gave me a taste of what it would be like to book a big job. It was really exciting!
The weekend wasn't just about the performance side of things though, we got useful information about what should be in our demos, where to look for work and who to approach. He taught us how to deal with auditions, and then if we book, how to approach the job itself. We asked him constant questions and he shared his vast knowledge with us.
The people I met that weekend on the course I consider my friends now. We are in regular contact, we help each other with voiceover or video game queries all the time.
I'm working on a really naturalistic piece at the moment which has been incredible. Its a very heart-felt, quiet character and a fairly substantial part. A stark contrast to the high energy and bloodthirsty nature of the previous character I booked. I love the variety of characters I get to play in video games, and I doubt I'd be getting the opportunities I am if I hadn't taken the leap and attended Dave's course. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned video game actor, this course is for you.
By Toni Frutin
Having trained as an actress over a decade ago, Toni now focuses on voiceover and voice acting. She can be heard most evenings on STV (Scottish Television) where she has been a continuity announcer for the past 8 years. She records a vast array of voice work from her home studio in Glasgow. From corporate readings to video games and everything in between.
Our LA story
By Lorraine Ansell
One morning in October, as the leaves were falling off the trees, I checked my phone. Messages were pouring in. What on earth was going on? “Well done” and “Amazing news” were just some of the comments. What had happened? I had been nominated for a Society of Voice Arts and Science award. I sat there stunned. What an honour to be recognised by the great and the good in the voice world. When I read the nominees list, I saw some fellow Brit VOs nominated, others said they were coming along. We fast became a force to contend with: we talked about what to do, who to meet, where to stay and - of course - what to wear. LA was calling….
The City Of Angels
“You have now arrived in LA” What a city! Firstly, it was hot: hide-in-the-shadows hot. Secondly, it was a technicolour smorgasbord of glamour. In some places, gorgeous-looking people sashayed about in fancy restaurants. The warmness of the weather and of the welcome from our American guests was well received by us “Brits”, which included Rachael Naylor, Dian Perry, Lisa Rost-Welling, Katie Flammen, Anna Parker-Naples, Tim Bruce, Ana Clements, Emily Steele, Toni Frutin, Tim Bruce and Natalie Beran (from New Zealand). That night, we got our glad rags on for cocktails with our VO cousins at VO Mastery. We had a fun filled Friday evening with likeminded voices.
Saturday morning, we were up early and we wanted an All-American pancake style breakfast. However, after wolfing down pancakes, we lost the car! Thankfully we found it and three minutes later we arrived at Gate 3, Warner Bros. Studio. The access-all-areas bracelets were handed to us and we were shuttled through the studios, past “The Big Bang Theory” lot and past the 1960s “Batman” TV series steps…to the Warner Bros. theatre. It was a high-spec theatre with deep plush seats. The lights were dimmed and a familiar voice announced the sessions: Rachael Naylor. We watched a live radio drama; saw a panel talk led by ACX with narrators and producers; we witnessed a live audition for a contract with an agent; and heard million-dollar voices talk about work.
Not only was it a full day event but a few of us had the chance to meet casting directors, agents and managers in a speed dating session. Before we took our seats in the outdoor street café, we checked our technology and gave each other pep talks: queuing was nerve-wracking. With such a huge opportunity to play our reels to people with over 300 years of cumulative experience, the last thing we wanted was for our tech to go down. At 4pm we began and what followed were almost two hours of reel critiquing and advice. We scribbled notes, shook hands and swapped business cards.
Let’s get ready to rumble!
Finally the big day arrived: the Voice Arts Awards gala ceremony! We woke up late but the party preparations soon began. In amongst some of us doing auditions and emailing clients, our hotel room was a whirlwind of hair and make-up. Dressed up to the nines, we hit the lot. Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins were our hosts and – wow - they host in high octane style. It was a glitzy affair and lights flashed on and off as we walked the red carpet. At the bar, Puss in Boots – yes Antonio has a voice double – and Porky Pig were having a drink. Further down the Brownstone Street lot, casting directors mingled with advertisers and voices. The conversation and the drinks flowed, new friendships were formed and old ones rekindled.
We then settled down, ready to watch the show. What a spectacle! The awards categories came and went, a flurry of everyone cheering on their favoured nominee. Acceptance speeches were humble and of course…conversational. My highlights included an academy award winner on stage, famous voices being honoured and Erin Brockovich making an impassioned speech. More drinks followed the ceremony out in the warmth of the November evening. Laughter drifted high above the trees and over the studios. When the time came to leave, we left the lot and were treated to an impromptu late night studio tour. The party then carried on back at the hotel, pizzas and champagne were dived upon and the evening ended in the early hours of the morning…..
Though none of us won, sitting in that huge auditorium, holding each other’s hands when our names were read out, we still felt like winners. The love for the art of voice over was a wonderful thing to experience. Hanging out in LA was pretty cool, but hanging out with a group of talented voices and friends, well, that was priceless.
By Lorraine Ansell
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
I know that the quote above is everywhere on every Facebook page and brought out by life coaches daily. I have recently been having to ask myself this very question.
I used to smile at the first three people
When I was young I was an almost annoyingly happy girl. I was addicted to self-help books and psychologists on talk radio shows telling the world how to be happy and balanced. I used to smile at the first three people I saw every day and of course I always received a return smile which set my expectations for the day. I thought I had it all figured out. Fast forward … quite a few years and it became more and more difficult to even appear happy. I worked for a large Corporate company and the atmosphere was like a daily episode of The Apprentice. People were ugly, they were ugly to themselves and to each other. When I first started I really believed in my credo love and learn from everyone. I genuinely liked people. The problem seemed to be that no one wanted my brand of happy. They weren’t happy and were determined not to be. I’m sure they were very happy outside of that environment but I was hired because they were angry and unhappy. My job was to fix this. I tried for about three years until I slowly started trying to fit in. I still did my occasional voice over jobs or Theatre on the side. I even had a stint in Cabaret and a brief appearance on television and of course there was my true love narrating audio books for the RNIB but always I showed back up to that place day after endless day. For the first few years I told myself I’d get out soon all I had to do was save some money, lose a little weight, start exercising and I’d finally make a move. After a while I stopped pretending. If you even mentioned leaving people would say you were crazy and whisper the all-important word ‘pension’. I was institutionalised and I felt broken.
Here was my chance, my escape surely the universe was telling me something.
Fast forward 5 more years and I was made redundant. Everyone in the company acted as if I’d been dealt a death knell they called me in for chats and felt horribly sorry for me. I however felt free. Here was my chance, my escape surely the universe was telling me something. That was two years ago. It soon became clear that the universe must have been telling me to stay home and eat cereal out of the box and watch reruns of Murder She Wrote. Don’t get me wrong I did a tremendous amount in that time. I built a studio. I got a narration coach. I learned and practiced and eventually started booking jobs on ACX. I was officially an Audiobook narrator. I tried to ignore the voice in the back of my head that kept saying ‘but how are you going to pay your mortgage?’. I went on a few voice over jobs through my agent but I actually spent more than I made.
Everyone always says the voice over industry is the friendliest in the world
Then something happened to change my mind. Everyone always says the voice over industry is the friendliest in the world, that the people are the most helpful on earth. I knew intellectually that I liked people of course I did but my brain had been rewired to expect the worst in the last few years. I had left the Corporate job but I brought ‘Corporate girl’ with me. I would go on the Facebook groups and of course I would notice the tons of support. People would go out of their way to help me and show kindness with no expectation of anything in return. Yet somehow I felt like the outsider that wasn’t going to fit in. I walked around with the feeling that since everyone was such good friends and there are so many people already working in this industry that I’ll never be able to catch up. I remember one day repeating something I’d read on the Facebook group to my coach along the line of ‘Isn’t it true in this industry that people only get the jobs if they know someone’ and his response was ‘so?’. I had to ask myself ‘so what?’ What’s wrong with people wanting to know the people they hire and work with personally?
Then something happened
Then I started to notice small acts of kindness amongst members of the community. I reached out to fellow narrators and we created a master mind group to support each other and we’ve all become good friends. Then something happened. I was invited to a private group of voice over members that were reaching out and supporting one of the members of the voice over community in the most wonderful way possible. This was a kind, thoughtful, generous group of people that genuinely cared for each other. I found myself logging on to read all the daily posts and as I read them I actually cried right then and there. I felt exactly like the Rusted Tin Man would have felt (if he had actually been given his new heart by the wizard).
The journey didn’t have to be so hard
It was finally very clear to me that although I’d been working so hard for two years often until 3:00 in the morning editing that I’d been trying to do it in a bubble. The journey didn’t have to be so hard. There is a large built in, talented, wonderful group of people that ‘get it’ that have been there, some who are right where I am now. I’ve re-joined The VoiceOver Network. I’ve started smiling at the first three people I see every day and I’ve finally answered that age old question. I believe I live in a friendly universe.
by Daniela Acitelli
Daniela Acitelli is a professional Audiobook Narrator and Voiceover Artist with a Theatre, Film, Cabaret and Circus background. She is also an official narrator for the RNIB and Listen2aBook publishing. www.danielaacitelli.com
by Lisa Rost-Welling
It was a Saturday. 10am. Casual Films. It was one of those rare, warm, breezy London days of summer. Those of us taking part in Dian Perry’s Character Development for Animation and Beyond Workshop corralled our excitement & our backsides into seats around a farm-style table. The kind of table around which you could tell big things happened; like storyboarding, conceptual brainstorming and lunch.
When that first day ended we were all feeling the tingle of possibility. We had learned how to breakdown and build voices, and how to put those steps into regular practice. Maybe it was witchcraft or maybe, just maybe, we were learning. The door to what had seemed like an elusive, exclusive branch of VO was suddenly being jimmied open right before our eyes. We were developing useable skills. But was it too good to be true? After all, tomorrow was going to get... Technical. Was this the beginning of the end? Would it all go up in smoke?
Then it happened. The flying trapeze of the weekend. ADR. Nothing left but to climb the tatty rope ladder to the top, mount the platform and jump. Standing solo at the silver stick, you could cut the tension with a knife. It was now or never. You had the skills, you had the script, you had the gumption. But did you have the guts? Beep, beep, beep…
Lisa Rost-Welling is an actress, singer and voice artist. Originally hailing from New Jersey, loving pizza & bagels in equal measure, she's been calling London home for a decade. Her trustworthy, friendly tones have lent themselves to corporate animation, narration & American ADR. A new(ish) member of VON, she's now branching out into animation with a knack for character & children's voices.
Details of the next 'Character Development for animation' workshop will be released next week. So watch this space.
Taking myself seriously as a business
Twitter felt like a minefield
Getting jobs through social media
An ever changing industry
Guest Blog written By Toni Fruitin
Toni trained as an actress and now specialises in voiceover. She has been a continuity announcer at STV (Scottish Television) for the last eight years, alongside that she records mainly corporate and commercial voiceovers from her home studio in Glasgow.
They talk to their audiences and relay information as well as building trust. Picking the right voiceover is a very important job for companies and production companies.
Upcoming Vocal Extreme workshops are on 4th March and 4th June 2016. In order to do an Extreme day you must first participate in the Vocal Intensive workshop, next dates for these are 7th and 27th May 2016. Go here to book yours - Upcoming workshops