Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

May 19, 2010

Punch to the gut

Filed under: Musings — connieterwilliger @ 12:39 pm

Yikes! Had a session today – cast off my demo – where the client was ultimately not happy with the read. This has not happened for many many years – I’d say 25. At least where I knew about it anyway. There are those clients who pop in for one session and then you never hear from them again. With a large stable of regular clients and referrals, you just never really think about the possibility that someone didn’t really get what they wanted – until someone tells you.

It was a spot for a retail store – that included a list of prices and items – that needed an unpolished conversational read. After lots of direction – which can be helpful (or not) and some line reads – which can be helpful (or not) – I got the feeling – from these very nice guys – that we were on the right track. As it turns out, they were being nice…apparently it never got conversational enough and they will not be using the track.

I will be agonizing over this for a while – and hoping that it doesn’t affect my relationship with the intermediary where my demos are posted. I’ve already been assured by them that everything is fine, but it does remind me of the importance of continued training, practice and experimentation with the words on the page. The next time a VO workout is scheduled – I’ll be there – and I’ll be bringing this piece of copy with me!



  1. Connie, I’ve been recording and producing VO for 15 years, and I’ve seen the very best actors busted off sessions. It happens to everyone at one time or another. What we do isn’t a science, there is no one right way to approach a production. Strive for “water off the duck’s back!” Don’t let it get you down, and keep in mind your track record, which speaks for itself.

    Comment by Scott Minor — May 19, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  2. Connie,

    Like everything else about this business, you have to do some detaching. Sometimes it’s like a switch that somebody flicks and the 99.9% great day turns into a 100% crappy day (ocassionally vice a versa).

    So here’s the deal. A decent director should be able to coax a good read for a 30 second or one minute spot. As a director, I have worked with completely untrained people and I have never failed to get what was needed. Blaming it on the talent is easy and convenient.

    The copy may have not been written properly for it to sound as though it was being read “naturally” It’s even possible that your client got screwed by his client changing copy and has to return with an “it didn’t work” response, in order to try and get a chance to do something that didn’t hang down due to client intervention. Or maybe their wife was supposed to do the v.o. and git replaced by you.

    You’ve been on both sides of the glass too, so you know as well as I do that the fuss being made in the engineering room (that you can’t hear)is more often than not related to someone’s sandwhich having too much mayo, rather than anything relating to the session itself.

    For quite a while in my v.o. career, I would find myself ocassionally coming in to do a session, where for some reason the original talent didn’t work out. Of course, sometimes you may be replacing someone and not know it, but the point is that if I did know, it would give me a little bit of a smug attitude.

    Then one day I heard a spot I was talent on come on the radio. Only it wasn’t me. I had been replaced. At the time, I was one of the highest grossing talents in Northern California and had several national spots running. But hearing the spot, knowing I had been replaced took my 99.9% great life and made it 100% crappy. I never did find out why I was replaced and I’m sure it’s not the only time it has happened.

    In an industry where decisions are made, often solely on simply a person or persons opinion, one can go nuts trying to figure things out. People get hired becuase they remind someone of a long lost high school love or for being someone’s nephew.

    There isn’t really any way to discover the truth of the situation. In fact, a truth probably doesn’t exist.

    You are too good and consciencious to think of this for another moment. However, if you want to, I’m happy to spend some time with you on the phone orwhatever and listen to how you do laundry lists, etc.

    I’m sure there’s a few things you could help meout with too. Let me know


    Comment by J.S. Gilbert — May 19, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

  3. Thanks for the pep talk guys. The producer side of me is giving the artistic side of me a head slap.

    Comment by connieterwilliger — May 19, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

  4. I had a similar experience. I was hired from a segment on my demo and, as the ISDN session went on, I was asked to read the copy this way… and then that way, up and down, back and forth, you name it. But I didn’t think anything of it; I was responding to the direction being given and delivering what the client was asking for. Or so I thought.

    At no time during the session did I hear anything that led me to believe the client was anything less than happy. As a matter of fact, when the session ended, I asked (as I always do) if they wanted anything read again. Everyone was happy; we said our thank-yous and goodbyes, and that was that. Until I received word that I was being paid only a session fee because the client decided to go with someone else. I called the casting/studio and asked what had happened, and was told the client didn’t feel they were getting what they needed. I asked why they didn’t say so, instead of telling me everything was fine. They couldn’t (or wouldn’t) answer that question.

    See what political correctness accomplishes? Certainly nothing toward achieving a goal. If you’re not hearing what you want to hear, don’t tell me it’s fine. That helps no one. I’d rather be told, “We’re sorry, this just isn’t working for us. We appreciate your contributions, but we’d like to try it with someone else.” When I look back on this, I take comfort in knowing that they hired me from a segment on my demo. If this client felt I wasn’t able to ‘get there’ again for their project, I’d say it was due to a lack of proper direction… or at the very least – because they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) say what they really felt – a failure to communicate.

    Comment by Mike Harrison — May 21, 2010 @ 7:03 am

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