It all started with a walk in the snow, clutching a handful of CDs containing recordings I had done for my university students. January 2005: an English teacher living in Istanbul, Turkey, with very little knowledge of the local language and, frankly, I had no idea about how the VO world worked or what it really entailed: just the desire and self belief that whatever it was I wanted it and could do it.
That week I visited studios, TV stations, and somehow found 3 agents – only to be told I could only “sign” with one in this city. No problem. Since then I have been with Melodika, and with a lot of patience work started to build, both from my agent and the direct contacts I fostered. Of course I had the one advantage: I was a rare commodity. I’m fully aware that the competition in the UK would have made my entrance almost impossible without prior training. As it was I was lucky, must have had some sort of ability, and just pushed hard at making connections.
Our primary school (age 5-11) motto was “Age quod agis” (“Whatever you do, do well”), and this is my goal in voiceover. As a foreigner I was able to enter a market with little experience or training, but at the same time courses have not been available and I have had to be very self-critical and pick up tips from directions given on the job. I will be forever grateful to James Alburger for his book “The Art of Voice Acting” which in these early years gave me a wider picture of the business at hand, and taught me the essentials. It’s a book which five years on I still re-read and find new inspiration… I’m looking forward to talking with James shortly, and meeting him at the forthcoming VOICE2010 conference.
At the beginning of last year (2009) we set up our home studio (Rode NT1000 & MBox2 Mini with Protools 8LE) and started to use the groups and other resources online. This developed a totally new momentum. I signed up with Voices.com (and wrote their “We say it for you” slogan) and apart from work am truly benefiting from their blog and training podcasts. Both this and other connections through sites such as Voiceoveruniverse.com and other social networks means that the world is now my oyster – but that raised the question: how can one give a potential client confidence that my work reaches professional standards? Enter SaVoa.
SaVoa (the Society of Accredited Voice Over Artists) … As I recently testified, “Our industry is one in which location is becoming increasingly unimportant. What matters is quality: of performance and technical standard. SaVoa accreditation of these means that I, as an expatriate – living possibly thousands of miles from a new client – can confidently market myself and give the remote client assurance that my voice and home studio meet professional standards.”
My self-perception has radically changed, and today I think of myself as a professional British voiceover artist.
I’ve briefly mentioned social networks, and I suspect this is a theme which will recur in this blog, as one of the surprising features of the voiceover industry is the level of communication and support between artists. It is a real and important community… at risk of missing several individuals it behoves me (isn’t English wonderful) to mention Penny Abshire, Dave Courvoisier, Stephanie Ciccarelli, and Mahmoud Taji who have encouraged me through their connections – there are several others, but you’ll just have to watch this space to work out who they are (your mentions will come!).
As a family we are excited about voiceover. My wife, Ayşegül, has recently completed some courses and made her first demo, and of course William – soon to be four – loves getting up to the microphone. We’re all looking forward to developing great opportunities.
In just under three months I’ll finally get the chance to meet many of those voice artists I’ve connected with at VOICE2010. This will be a great chance to broaden my horizons and discover more about my capabilities. A while back I launched an appeal to find sponsorship, and this has been going well with many generous donations. There’s still a way to go, so if you have $10 to spare, please take a look at my VOICE2010 page – it really does make a difference.
Which brings me nicely up to date. This year has seen the start of this blog, and it’s encouraging to see global interest. A month ago I added the FEEDJIT widget to my page and have seen hits from over 25 countries on all continents, thank you for visiting! Following my podcast with Pablo Hernandez I’ve decided to start a series focusing on the people behind the voice which I believe you’ll enjoy… so stay tuned and subscribe.