Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

December 29, 2011

Get a Kick in the Pants! Get the New Edition of “There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is”

I just sort of fell into the voiceover business. I really didn’t have any training. No school of broadcasting. No acting classes (well, none since the 2nd grade). But I had done a bit of radio in college and that led to some staff announcing while I was in grad school. Grad school led to a job in a TV station, first as a director, then, after deciding that was something that I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life, as a staff announcer. A live staff announcer.

A live staff announcer who didn’t sound like a typical announcer – so the door to my little closet-sized booth would open on a regular basis with people  handing me commercial copy. After a period of time, I decided that I might need to learn a bit more about this voiceover stuff – and bought my first book – “Word of Mouth” by Susan Blu and Molly Ann Mullin. That edition was was originally published in 1987 and was instrumental in giving me a good swift kick in the pants to propel me to new heights of voiceover work.

Suddenly, my world of voiceover was transformed – I started to critically dissect the copy and figure out who I was supposed to be as I delivered the copy. I did a lot of this intuitively, or I wouldn’t have been getting repeat business, but being able to actually identify the elements of what I was doing was helpful in moving me forward. Much of that book is still relevant today. The link above is to the latest edition.

I now have a shelf full of voiceover books. Many of the books say much the same thing about breaking down a character or a script, but each does it in their own “voice.” Many of the books use techniques from some of the same well known voice actors and voice over teachers. Each book has merit and if you have some extra cash, pick up copies of as many of them as you have time to read. You can get them used.

Probably the most used book on my shelf is Elaine Clark’s, so it is with great excitement that I announce the publication of the Third Edition of Elaine A. Clark’s “There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is : A complete insider’s guide to earning income and building a career in voice-overs.”

I even did my first Amazon review:

If you are looking for a well organized, thoughtful, easy to understand book on the voiceover business, filled with practical examples of scripts of every variety – from commercials to audiobooks – from corporate communication to video games, this is the book to have on your shelf.

It takes you through the basics of the business – from technical to techniques – for the beginner and the seasoned pro. Then be prepared for a workout! It is packed with scripts and more scripts – with analysis that even a professional can appreciate. And finally, no matter how much know about the business or how much you practice – if you don’t know how to hook up with the people who want to buy what you have to sell, then you won’t be making a living in this business. This part of the book is actually the hardest for most people – and the part that is often left out of voiceover classes.

In this era of recording in a vacuum, the more we know what works and how to hear what works when we do it, the more often we will find a way of connecting with and delivering the copy – a read that clicks with the producer listening to the auditions. And sometimes – beginner or pro – we get into a rut and need that kick in the pants.  This book is a good one for doing just that – in friendly, easy to understand prose.

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December 25, 2011

If it starts out badly…

Filed under: Musings — Tags: — connieterwilliger @ 9:06 pm

If something starts out badly, chances are it is not going to get much better. In the case of a movie, we keep hoping it will get better, because we just spent a whole bunch of money to see it, plus the popcorn and beverage.

You can do your research, but talent can be very subjective, so something someone else says is great, may not be great to your ears and eyes. Now, testimonials can’t hurt. And referrals are usually helpful, especially if you trust the person giving you the referral.

So, tonight I decided to do an On Demand movie – checked out the new releases and popped over to Rotten Tomatoes to see what they said about the movie before pushing the BUY button.

93% positive! Wow, boy was I looking foward to seeing this movie, despite the fact that it had an actor in it that I have never thought was a strong actor.

Ironically it started with a voiceover – a bad voiceover – both actors were simply reading their scripts. It really was pretty bad and I started to wonder how this movie – which was starting off pretty badly –  had gotten such a positive response.

Then, as this “eyes and eye brows” actor cavorted with the writers and artists of the 1920’s in the beautiful city of Paris, I began to see why. The idea of being in Paris in another time with the people our historians have told us are the best is a truly romantic escapist idea. Who wouldn’t want to party with Scott and Zelda, drink with Papa and be painted by Dali. I could barely get through the whole movie, but I did – primarily because I wanted to hear the names of the next famous writer/artist/bon vivant his path happened to cross.

But 93% on the Tomatometer? Could it be that people felt smarter? After all, they spent an hour and a half congratulating themselves on knowing the names of most of the names mentioned in the film. Those Art History classes really paid off!

I guess I’m just venting a little bit, not because I spent a bunch of money (I didn’t – it was one of my free On Demand movies this month), but because I wasted that hour and a half, and I was disappointed that so many people actually thought this was a good movie!

How does this apply to voiceover? Well, for one thing, when I audition for something, the first few seconds are critical. If it starts off badly, the producer is going to jump right past me and on to the next clip. They are not going to spend an hour and a half hoping my performance is going to get better.

On the other hand, this is a subjective business and what is wonderful to one person, is not so wonderful to another. We can only use our critical self-evaluation skills to try to make sure that what we submit for consideration starts out strong and stays that way – we want to be in the 93%. That doesn’t mean we’ll book the job, but it does mean that we’re in mix.

December 20, 2011

Priorities – Fun!

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: — connieterwilliger @ 8:41 pm

My niece (German-American) moved in with me in October. She wanted to see what life is like in the States. And life as I know it has changed forever. Well, OK that is probably a bit more dramatic than it really is, but things sure have changed around here.

The past couple of years I have been watching the balance of personal time and work time change as my mother’s needs have changed. And despite a dramatic uptick in personal time things are going pretty well with things on the work side.

Now, with a wonderfully wacky and semi-wild adult child living with me, my fun time has increased as well. It could be that the fall is filled with opportunities to party. Opportunities that I simply have not taken advantage of for a while.

Has all of this fun time impacted my business?

Yes. New clients every week. Repeat clients coming back with new work. And referrals from friends and clients.

Why didn’t I try this earlier?

Lesson learned. Life is too short to spend it working 24/7.

Of course my paperwork is stacking up and my email is – well, there is nothing I can say about that.

December 18, 2011

Put the pot on and bring it to a boil

Filed under: Announcements — connieterwilliger @ 9:05 pm

Many voiceover people use various kinds of nasal rinses to keep their sinuses clean and clear. I use one of those plastic squeeze bottles. Others use a Neti Pot.

But a story in the news recently points out that this can be a dangerous habit unless you take some precautions to sterilize the water.

Two people were found dead in Louisiana after using unclean water in their Neti Pots.

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/16/two-dead-in-louisiana-after-unclean-water-used-in-neti-pots/?hpt=hp_bn10

I had heard about these deadly amoebas when I took a canoe trip down the Colorado River from the Hoover Dam. All the way down to the water, they repeated the admonition not to dunk our heads under the water in the hot springs. They seemed pretty serious about it – and now I know why.

These amoebas can get into your brain and are 95% lethal.

So, even though it is probably a pretty low risk, I’ll be using distilled water or boiling it before rinsing out my nose!

December 9, 2011

Be Picky!

Filed under: Auditioning, Marketing, Musings, Negotiating — connieterwilliger @ 7:36 pm

I pay to play on Voice123. And as each month passes, I am more and more picky about the time I spend auditioning. And yet, I am still auditioning a bit more than all Voice123 Premium Subscribers that also speak English – North American.

I just counted up the auditions I’ve done in the past 6 months…63 auditions. I think I’ve had 2 bookings – could be more, I’d have to do a little database research. A lot of Finalist rankings, but the phone hasn’t rung yet with the gig – and maybe never will. Too soon to tell on some of them and relationships are bubbling I am sure.

Frankly I would be thrilled to have 10 auditions a month from my agents. I’m up to about 8 per month with one agent and the others? Not even close. Of course, I do get booked through agents without auditioning, which is the ideal situation. And for that I am grateful.

But times have changed, online casting is here to stay. You can’t un-ring this bell. But I think we need to do some analysis on our personal ROI when it comes to the P2P sites. For some it pencils out nicely, for others, their time may be better spent elsewhere.

The advice from Voice123 about being picky is really good advice. Our agents used to do this part of the process. They didn’t send all of us out for everything. Of course this led to the occasional call as to WHY we didn’t get sent out.

You would think that getting an audition in your email would be a good thing, but when it comes to the P2P sites, the first thing I did a while back – a long while back – was shut off the lead emails. I have done the same for Facebook. I have turned off the auto-notifications. I need to do that with LinkedIn, because I get lots of email when a thread is active.

I go to the V123 site when I have the time and scan the open leads. I will immediately delete a lead if the amount is under $300. Despite this rigorous “training of the algorithm” I still get $100 leads. Hope they work that out sometime, or at least allow the ability to simply not receive leads under a certain level. It’s not that I won’t work for less than $300, I do – depends on the project.

I then start looking at the highest dollar leads – or jobs that say Union Rates.

If the lead is for a middle-aged female with ISDN, that is my first priority. If there are too many different ages and both genders specified in the lead and the lead is for a single voice – I’ll delete those. If the lead is riddled with grammatical errors, or the copy is awkward – those get deleted. If the lead is for a national broadcast commercial and the rate is less than $300 – or $500, those get deleted.

If I think I am right for the project and the rate is in the ballpark, I’ll check out the client (as much as possible) and I’ll see how many people have already auditioned and if any of those have been opened. Too many people – delete. No more auditions opened after 6 for 6 hours – delete.

When I do decide to actually turn on the mic and record an audition, I have found myself more frequently ultimately deciding not to submit. Malaise? Insecurity? Good judgment? Not exactly sure, but in retrospect, it takes quite a bit of time to scan the leads, weigh the factors, record, edit, compose a response and then send the audition.

The time I spend on this might actually be put to better use. My contact database is filled with good and happy clients who have been neglected lately!

So, be picky my friends. Only you know what bell will ring in the best ROI for you.

December 6, 2011

The VO-BB Takes on New York

Filed under: Musings — connieterwilliger @ 10:16 pm

Is it almost Wednesday? I’ve been back from New York and the 2011 New York Voiceover Mixer created by my friend Erik Sheppard – this year co-sponsored by my friend Marc Graue – for two days now, but I am still reveling in the sights, sounds and feelings of being in New York City with a wonderful group of people who mean quite a lot to me.

Professional voiceover folk. People who do what I do. Who understand what I do. From all around the world. From small towns to the Big Apple, they all understand what it means to get a an email with a script from a client who trusts you to “do your thing.”

But it is more than that. These are virtual friends who became real friends. Friends you can hug.

The road to the mixer started with an old message board called the Voiceover Cyberstation. The host at the time was “Sammy.” And we had rousing discussions on many of the rousing topics we still discuss today – financial core being one of the biggies. We didn’t talk about online casting – P2P – because it didn’t exist yet.

When the Voiceover Cyberstation stopped, my friend DB Cooper threw up what was going to be a temporary site she called the VO-BB. Many of the participants on the Cyberstation moved over to the VO-BB to try to maintain the conversation.

What began to emerge on the VO-BB was a sense of community. A group of people from around the world who “knew” each other online and began to care about each other. We were starting to bond.

In 2007, many of the VO-BB group met face-to-face for the first time at VOICE 2007 in Las Vegas. The bonding solidified and fast friendships were formed.  We meet up when we travel on business or pleasure. We help each other with technical issues – sometimes from across the pond. We help each other with personal troubles. We share in life milestones and endings.

This past Saturday afternoon before the Mixer, the VO-BB group gathered at Mustang Harry’s. What made this gathering special was that our VO-BB mom was in attendance…DB Cooper was there in person.

At the mixer itself, more VO-BB’rs – and more bonding. The interesting thing is that there are now people in our circle of friends who didn’t start out as VO-BB’rs. You know the saying “Any friend of yours…” Well, that seems to apply here.

If you take the VOICE conferences, the New York Mixers, the FaffCon conferences and various other events (like weddings) – add in Facebook – well, this group of voiceover artists will open their hearts and their homes as needed.

Do we stay up too late? Do we have one cocktail too many? Do we travel across the country and around the world with no real business to do? Many of us did for this mixer. The idea of spending time with our friends was important to us. And the fact that it is New York at Christmas was an added bonus.

Want to know more? Here are some links to blogs by a few of my friends. I know there are more. Just can’t find them at the moment.

Tom Dheere – http://tomdheere.com/blog1/index.php/gkn-weekly-update-12511/

Dan Friedman – http://sound4vo.com/my-34-hour-new-york-city-voiceover-mixer-experience/

Dave Courvoisier – http://www.courvo.biz/2011/12/mixer-musings.html

 

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