Voice over work is by far the most simplistic work I do. In essence, you are reading something, out loud, and being recorded. For me personally, it’s the type of work that makes me think, “Wow, I’m getting paid to do this!” I know performers in other categories who feel the same way, but the great thing about voice over work is that you don’t have to go to Hollywood to do it or be on location in any case. With more films, TV shows, ads and videos of all sorts being released today than ever, voice over work is overwhelmingly abundant. Though a voice, skill and budget are obviously determining factors in whether you get a job or not, the performance factor is what makes voice over work so abundant and therefore lucrative. Here’s the secret: There is a lot of work, and few people who want to do it. I’d almost keep it a secret, but most of the time, as soon as you tell someone that they’ll be put on the spot in front of a mic and just a small group of people, everybody just shies away.
As far back as I can remember…I liked performing, I liked being at the center of attention, I always liked acting. Whether or not I was any good at it is another story. Sure, I always had a fair amount of stage fright in me, but it really never deterred me from performing. In any case, when I was 21 and living in Milan, I started to get acting jobs in commercials; don’t ask me how because I’ve never been with an agency and never really had any intention in being an actor, so I can’t remember how I got those gigs. I guess, I just always made sure that everyone knew I existed. Without really knowing what I was doing at the time, I suppose you could say that I gave a great deal of importance to networking. That, anyway, is how it all started. Thanks to word of mouth, studios started calling me for voice over work. At first, I was just winging it and having a blast, but one thing I do remember is that there was a certain feeling between me and the producers because compared to other ‘actors’ in the studio, I had a good understanding of what they desired and how to deliver it. In the details, you’ll see that at the time, I was singing in a few bands, studying music and attending audio school, so walking into a studio with people talking to me about dynamics, expression, intention, inflection, rhythm, voice control and modulation all felt like home. In fact, I felt we spoke the same language. I’ll paint you a picture: you’re used to writing lyrics and singing over various instruments and focusing heavily on a harmonious sound in your voice that compliments the mood of a song, all while staying on the beat and hitting each note just the right way, then following those principle tracks with backing vocals which means that you’ve just added the need to be perfectly in sync, to the syllable. The next day, you walk into a studio, and they tell you to read something at a flexible pace and basically free hand it from the first word to the last, just making sure it’s believable. Obviously, your first thought is, “Is that it?” People always say that I’m oversimplifying it. I’m not trying to say that any singer can hack voice over work, but that’s just how it worked for me.
Flexibility, patience and spirit of collaboration are qualities needed when working remotely. If a client, has to make last minute changes or isn’t sure about something in the script, being able to work together with a clear understanding of what he or she needs is a big plus. It’s important to me that every word in the script be delivered exactly the way it was intended, after all, each word in the copy is chosen carefully, so carefully I tread.
These days, you can get some good recording gear without breaking the bank. Creating a home studio really is feasible and all that’s left is getting the work that returns the investment. Having said that, personally, as an audio engineer, good just doesn’t cut it for me in most cases. In order to compete with the studios, you have to give studio sound. In a specific case like this where audio is being recorded, if a client doesn’t realize that I’m working from home, I know I’ve done my job.