Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

June 3, 2015

The quest to get better without losing who you used to be…

Filed under: Acting, Auditioning — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:19 pm
Connie and Liz de Nesnera

Connie and Liz de Nesnera on the way to the workshop – Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner.

I just got home from a weekend workshop in Henderson (just outside Las Vegas) with Marice Tobias. It was an all-woman workshop with 10 working pros held at Melissa Moats new voiceover studio The Voice Actors Studio. Marice does this same thing with all men and also co-ed. The women’s workshop is usually – OK, pretty much always – a lot more emotional therapy along with the voiceover component. It was a wonderful weekend for many reasons and I think it has shown in the auditions and the projects I have done since getting back to my studio on Monday.

Getting coaching is something that a lot of working voice talent does during the course of their careers. Some do it a lot, some never and some fall somewhere in between. I’m probably in the in between camp.

And you can break it into categories: one-on-one, small groups of pros or very specific genres of VO, mid-sized groups of pros and large groups with voiceover people of all levels.

The larger groups tend to be mostly for beginners – pros usually find that they get more out of a really large conference by hanging out with their friends. The mid-sized groups have more substance for the working pro with something gleaned by the end of the weekend – sometimes lots and lots of things. Small groups can work specifics and hone in on approach. And of course, one-on-one is all about specifics.

This weekend was a small group and we worked on some specific approaches to what we do, lots of insights into our business as it is today – and our mental health.

The interesting thing for me is that after I get back from one of these weekends in a small group or with a one-on-one coach, my conversations with agents who I book with on a regular basis worry that I am going to change my basic delivery.

No, my goal with these workshops is to hone in on the real me – the person I am with my friends, with my speech patterns and energy and believe-ability.

Not change me, but be a better me.

We spend so much time in a vacuum these days that we second guess who we are when we get a piece of copy. So, while the read is good and the client is satisfied – the read COULD be great and the client can’t think of any reason not to hire you again for another project. I want to continue to be in that group – a voice that people remember the next time they have a project that needs a VO.

So, when the opportunity arises, I will continue to attend small workshop, or a mid-sized conference like FaffCon. And maybe I’ll pony up for a one-on-one every once in a while.

But for right now, I will be reflecting on this most recent experience and try to bring the “real” me to new auditions without losing who I was before.

October 21, 2013

A Crisis of Confidence and Tree Trimming

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: , , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 8:56 pm

The past 6 months or so have been great on many fronts. Business and personal. I had a great summer. The weather was wonderful and I became an Artlab groupie. Never ending concerts and art shows. There were parties and events and bike rides and sunsets at the beach.

And business was booming. I switched my invoicing to Freshbooks in May and have been watching the columns grow steadily. Until this month.

It has been a fairly dismal month so far compared to the last 5 months. I have some projects yet to be billed, so they don’t show up on the columns yet, and by the end of the month, it will look better, but still, looking at it now makes me wonder what the heck I am doing.

I’ve been making my living doing only voiceover work for more than 10 years – after many years working as a producer/writer and talent.

I do teach an introduction to voice acting class at San Diego City College, but I could pay my bills with my voiceover work. I am now also doing some administrative work for a professional association related to my career. Both of my “side” jobs directly affect my “real” job – one from a training point of view and the other from a marketing POV. And combined, they do certainly help make my lifestyle fairly stress free. But my ingrained free lance mentality knows not to count on anything.

So why do I think that I am a failure? After one month of not-so-hot receivables?

Because there are a LOT of talented people out there. People who are learning how to market. How to get themselves heard. How to make the right choices in an audition. How to land the jobs.

I was at a VO Peeps meeting in Orange County CA this past Saturday and the guest speaker was Celia Siegel (whom I met at FaffCon in San Antonio a few weeks ago). She is a superstar of branding voiceover talent. No question.

But on my way back down to San Diego, I started wondering if, at my age, and after all the things I have done since starting voiceover work in 1977 – is a branding exercise with someone like Celia the right thing for me to do?

Would fresh new branding and a plan of action have prevented this lull in work? Is that what I want? What do I want?

I want the chance to do national commercials. To shoot for that brass ring of reuse/residuals or class A network spots that will pay for that vacation home in Italy.

I know I can compete. At least I think I know I can compete. But that means getting on with an agent who actually gets those auditions. And it gets harder and harder to get picked up by a top agent.

I had a top agent in LA for a while – Andrea Romano. But too soon she left the agency and her replacement just couldn’t adjust to me being in San Diego. It was years ago, well before I had ISDN lines put in my house, but Andrea heard something in me. So did Don Pitts who had also wanted to talk to me about representation.

By the time I got ready to go after an LA agent again, it was a different world and, while technology was making it more practical to take on talent outside the market, the competition had increase exponentially. The chances of being picked up by a top agent to get a chance to audition for the national spots are practically nil.

Combine this fact with my own little nagging crisis of confidence happening. Am I really ready for prime time? Even if I am branded to the hilt – with the perfect logo – and the perfect plan – can I live up to my own hype?

I don’t know the answer. Time to practice what I preach perhaps. Know what I am good at and focus on that. Over the years I have done so many different types of voiceover work. TV Announcing, promo work, imaging, commercials, cartoons, narrations, training, voicemail, video games and more.

Today’s philosophy is to focus on the best of what you do. Brand that. Market that. Branch out later.

For someone who has been doing this for such long time, I guess you could think of it as a tree trimmer – lacing out an overgrown tree. Trimming off the smaller branches makes the tree taller and stronger – and ironically, the smaller branches come back stronger and thicker than they were before.

Does the same thing work in VO? Hmmm.

Maybe it is time to take a look at my branding and trim some excess branches – at least for right now.

May 25, 2012

Have you checked off the To Do List on your FaffCon 4 (or should I say 3?) Post Card?

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 5:33 pm

OK, so a few months before FaffCon 4 in Ventura, the post card I filled out in Hershey arrived in the post. It was a complete surprise and I was a bit anxious when I flipped it over. For there on the other side was the list of things I wanted to do – without fail! I’m pretty sure I blogged about this unexpected stress the last time the card came. Well, not really stress stress – hyperbole – sorry.

I’m still not up to a passing grade yet, if you simply are checking off the 5 items on the list. I’m not nearly as upset with myself that I haven’t finished the items from FaffCon 3 as I was over not finishing the list of items from FaffCon 2. If Ventura was your first venture into FaffCon, you will soon understand what I am talking about.

The items on the list are still relevant and I would say item 1 out of 5 is complete, or nearly complete and when that is done, item 3 will be done as well. And items 4 and 5 have shown some pretty good progress. One involves investing some dollars and while I have the dollars to spend, the economy and the trends in our business make me a bit more reluctant to spend money…unless, of course, I can see a clear return. So item 2 is in limbo for the time being.

Yes, I am being a bit cryptic, because it is my list! And if this was an Intranet of just FaffCon’rs, I would be a bit more forthright about them, but since all of these nuggets or ideas were born at FaffCon 3, I’ll keep it in the family.

A lot of other priorities popped up immediately after getting back from Ventura. And I hope to be pleasantly surprised this time when my card from FaffCon 4 arrives with it’s call to come to Charlotte NC in October (12-14, 2012) for FaffCon 5.

There must be some things on there that I have started or finished. Trouble is, right now, I couldn’t tell you even one item on that list.

April 9, 2012

FaffCon 4 is History, but the Memories Linger On

Filed under: Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 2:01 pm

It has been two weeks now since FaffCon 4 in Ventura. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t have some sort of memory pop into my head. Starting with Thursday night helping Pam and Lauren write questions on blow up soccer balls. We got so good at the task that we actually did more than we needed to. We laughed a lot in the process – which is something that a lot of us did a lot during the weekend.

One of the most amusing memories was the debate over what color walkie-talkies went to whom. The sunglasses decided it.

Pam, Lauren, Eric and Amy pick out just the right color walkie-talkie

Later in the evening, I met up with a few of the early arrivals in the hotel bar – hugs all around (and my dear friend Liz bought me a nice glass of wine!).

Just a few of my good VO buddies!

Friday morning memories of endless hugs as friend after friend came up the stairs to pick up their badges, meal tickets, water bottle, tee-shirt and tote bag. Then, Friday afternoon, the boat trip on the open seas with my friend Steve Savanyu doing the Titanic pose on the bow. We saw a big bunch of dolphins, but no whales. As it turns out, a pod of killer whales popped up after the morning trip and the big whales skedaddled.

Steve Savanyo does the Titanic thing

Friday evening after the opening circle – “auditioning” for Dean Panero of Abrams during the Voice Registry Live Weekend Workout. Here is Natalie Stanfield Thomas up at the mic. If she was quaking half as much as I was, she sure didn’t show it!

Natalie auditions for Dean

Saturday was simply a blur – but oh, those adorable dolphin cookies! Audio-Technica sponsored that much needed afternoon break. Was it Saturday when Eric and Devin made a shark swim over our head’s during lunch? The mad scramble as I took pictures of door prize winners at the FaffCon Shower Curtain backdrop is forever etched in my mind.

Saturday Afternoon break sponsored by Audio-Technica

Sunday flew by too fast and suddenly it was over – until the next time. Thank goodness our friend Dave Courvoisier sponsored the notebooks in our tote bags, or I would forget all the great things I learned during the sessions even before the faffterglow wears off.

The word faffterglow was coined by someone shortly after FaffCon 1 and will soon be entered into the lexicon. I don’t think anyone leaves a FaffCon without that faffterglow. And it has a way of sneaking back into your mind long after the event is over. If you were there for the first time, just see what happens when your little postcard to yourself arrives. Like a magic carpet, you will be back in Ventura.

My faffterglow hasn’t been all warm and fuzzy, it included losing my camera somewhere between Anaheim and my house. I either lost it on the train somehow, or it ended up in the trunk of the gypsy cab that I managed to take from the train station. So all of my Sunday pictures are lost. But we will survive. The event has been thoroughly documented. Check out the FaffCon Facebook page for right now, but the FaffCon 4 Gallery will be up on the website in a few weeks.

Set your computer clocks to remind you about FaffCon 5 in about three months. That is probably when past Faffers will start getting notices to be ready for our early opportunity to register. With four of these under our belts now, and the pool of past Faffers growing, there is a good chance that FaffCon 5 will sell out in the pre-sell!

January 8, 2012

The Cost of Doing Business

Filed under: Announcements, Business — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 5:01 pm

Esteban Valdez Pots for sale
They say you have to spend money to make money. I would agree with that. Unless you dig clay from the earth, use your hands to form a pot, grind rocks to make paint, gather wood to build the fire to bake the pot and then stand by the side of the road to sell the pot, you probably have to spend at least a little money to be in business.

I had a chance to meet Esteban Valdez at his family compound just outside San Miguel de Allende Mexico a few years ago. He does just that. At his age though, other people are helping him gather the materials, so he probably has to pay out a bit in payroll these days in order to make his pots.

Esteban Valdez at work

I’ve been doing voiceovers now for quite a while and I have spent a lot of money on my business. Training, equipment, marketing, software, telephone, etc. And I will admit that training has not been a huge part of the expense. The few classes and workshops I have paid to attend have been valuable, but I have found that the lone class I teach at San Diego City College – an introduction to voice acting – is like taking a 5 hour per week class in the Spring and Fall. Not only do I learn more about myself and my craft, but I get to perform before a live “studio” audience. And for those of us who spend a lot of time locked in our own little vacuum, interacting and getting that instant feedback is a wonderful thing.

Over the past two years, I have found a “training” expense that seems to offer the right amount of bank for the buck. A conference focused on the professional working voice actor. It is called FaffCon. The next one coming up March 23-25, 2012 in Ventura Beach CA is number 4 and as of right now there may still be a few places left. Attendance is capped at 100 and as of my last peek at the website, there were 92 people listed as coming.

FaffCon 4

The list of attendees is impressive and the information we will be sharing will no doubt be as valuable as were the first 3 FaffCons. What we will actually do there is always a mystery and is at the whim of the participants. But with a list of seasoned pros and enough repeat Faffers who know the drill, the results of FaffCon 4 will be stimulating, motivating, inspiring and just plain fun.

But even more so, I will have a change to renew personal friendships that began at previous FaffCons, finally meet some virtual friends face-to-face and get to see people who I have gotten to know over the years at other conferences, workshops and gatherings.

So, if you are a working pro – and want a huge jump start to the 2nd Quarter of 2012, get over to FaffCon.com and get yourself registered!

It is part of the cost of doing business.

October 2, 2011

Faffterglow Three

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Musings — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 3:33 pm

Last weekend was another example of the power of Amy Snively’s (rhymes with lively) brainstorm. FaffCon 3 in Hershey PA (it was actually in Harrisburg, but the graphic possibilities were far better with Hershey) was a complete success.

One of the great things about FaffCon is that it is a gift that keeps on giving. It is coming up on a week now since FaffCon 3 and while I have been busy with “life,” my thoughts keep drifting to FaffCon and the information exchanged. I have been using little tidbits all week. And I haven’t even begun to go through my notes!

The welcoming dinner and FaffJam on Friday night was wonderful.  Voiceover folks are pretty darned talented in so many ways! And I have to say that the 14 oz. slab of prime rib was pretty terrific too. And after an afternoon of heavy rain, we were able to walk down and back from the restaurant, or ride in the pedi-cabs.

FaffCon Friday Night at Firehouse - FaffJam!

The official start of FaffCon was Saturday. A day filled with friends (old and new), great food (thanks to our great sponsors) and meaningful exchanges between working professionals. More fun that evening – with a couple of hours of conversation at a high-top table on a side street outside the bar/restaurant – and then back to the hotel to catch the last of the Karaoke, where once again, the Faffers knocked ’em dead, showing they have what it takes at the mic. Well, except for perhaps my show closing rendition of Talking In Your Sleep.

FaffCon Sunday was a truly amazing day – from early in the morning to very late in the evening. The opening circle was at 8 (!) and after our wild night of Red Stag, conversation and Karaoke – 8 AM was VERY early. The sessions continued to provide great information which was scribbled down in our FaffCon notebooks, or entered into tablets. (Tablets were everywhere by the way.)

The day “officially” ended around 5 as Amy signed a huge check (literally) for nearly $3000 for the Central PA Food Bank – the FaffCon 3 charity. Goodbyes were said and more pictures were taken as some faffers grabbed their bags and headed home, but FaffCon continued on.

About 30 of us crowded a party room in the Italian restaurant around the corner from the hotel and continued the conversations and friendship building. But we weren’t done with FaffCon yet – and late in the evening, after the FaffCon supplies were packed up and ready for shipping, in the true spirit of FaffCon, an impromptu session on audio engineering led by Dan Friedman was forming in the cozy chat area of the meeting floor of the hotel.

Final FaffCon Session on Sunday night

Final FaffCon Session on Sunday night - long after Faffy was boxed up and ready to send to Ventura Beach

Oh, one point about Hershey – it didn’t smell like chocolate as was suggested. Perhaps it was the fact that it was raining. But the weekend was sweet and filling. FaffCon 4 is going to be on the beach in Ventura Beach CA coming up in March of 2012. I can’t wait to see what Amy has up her sleeve for number 4!

June 7, 2011

Mmmm – I want S’More! FaffCon 3 – Hershey PA

Filed under: Announcements — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 1:12 pm

So, I pull the circulars from the mailbox the other day and there, stuck in between the Vons, Henry’s and Pancho Villa grocery ads and various requests for money was a large flat “chocolate bar.”

My To Do list from FaffCon 2

My postcard to myself from FaffCon 2 in Atlanta had arrived! I had forgotten all about it. Our fearless and extremely brilliant (did I mention funny?) organizer Amy Snively had us write down 5 things we were going to do after our energizing weekend and it would be mailed to us about 3 months after FaffCon.

I was afraid to turn it over to see what I had actually written. So I put it off for a while, taking it to my desk where I prepared myself mentally and emotionally. I feared the worse. That not only had I not done any of the items on my list, but that I would have no idea what they meant!

An hour and a half later after being distracted by YouTube and Wimp links from Facebook, I flipped the card over.

Right off the bat, I had to think about the first item on the list. The cancellation ink was covering some of my messy handwriting, but finally I deciphered it – and shook my head in dismay. The very first thing and I had not done it.

But glancing at the rest of the list, I saw that I was going to get a B for effort (maybe a B minus), because I had done 95% of the rest of the list. The last item was a two-parter.

Of course you are wondering what was on my list – well, that part is sort of a secret. But suffice to say the action items stemmed from my personal “golden nuggets” exposed at FaffCon 2 in Atlanta.

The post card was a great idea! Not only am I re-energized to look at the list again, but I am getting excited about FaffCon 3 in Hershey PA in September. George Washington III just blogged about his experience in Atlanta – relating it to summer camp for adults.

Since we are going to be in Hershey PA – I’ll bet we’ll get S’Mores this time and it will really feel like camp!

February 12, 2011

Thinking about FaffCon 2

Filed under: Announcements, Business, Techniques — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:03 pm

Just about 2-weeks now before FaffCon 2 – this time tagged with Electric Boogaloo – so I am trying to find appropriate clothes and platform boots. I do have a pair of macrame earrings from the 70’s so those are going into the suitcase.

The trip to Atlanta will be a double treat because prior to the weekend conference, I will be able to spend some time with a friend who moved there several years ago. Hope that it warms up a bit there over the next week or so!

No doubt, FaffCon 2 will have a completly different vibe* than the groundbreaking first unconference for working voiceover pros, but I am sure that information exchanged will be equally valuable – perhaps even greater in value because of the lessons learned. Prior attendees may be more prepared to lead and/or contribute to the posted sessions – and will be able to jump right into posting session topics and encouraging new attendees to do the same.

If you are on your way, be sure to pack those business cards, comfy clothes and an open mind. Stop by the FaffCon 2 website to check out the session ideas that have been posted so far – and add one or two of you own on topics you want to know more about. Or perhaps you have some special area of expertise you want to share. In that case, be prepared to lead a session! You actually don’t have to know a lot about something to lead – you can just start the conversation and moderate.

It really is free form chaos that somehow seems to work really well.

Safe travels all and see you on the 25th in Hot-lanta!

* Clarifying what I meant by “completely different vibe” – since there will be a different mix of people with different backgrounds and experiences and in a different place, the way everyone works together will simply be different. Perhaps the adverb “completely” is too strong a word. Yeah – too strong – let’s just go with different – but just as fun, just as informative, just as much of a bonding, growing experience as the first FaffCon.

September 13, 2010

Tooting the FaffCon Horn just a bit more

Filed under: Marketing — Tags: — connieterwilliger @ 2:26 pm

Whatever happens down the road to the concept of FaffCon, the first ever FaffCon Voiceover Un-conference was a rousing success in so many ways. Dave Courvasier posted a blog this morning with his thoughts on day 2 of FaffCon.

http://www.courvo.biz/2010/09/faffcon-foverer.html

The most appealing part to me about this whole event was the lack of selling and the abundance of sharing. Oh, there were people in attendance with something to sell, but this was not a selling event. In something like 30 separate “sessions” I didn’t hear of any that were a sales pitch for anything. I couldn’t get to all of them of course, but that is the feedback I have heard.

Sponsors were promoted during the event with signs, handouts and thank you’s. And the final session on Sunday afternoon was devoted to reading live “commercials” for our sponsors and then drawing tickets for valuable door prizes.

Here is a link to the FaffCon website for more information.

http://www.faffcon.com/ 

I have posted some pics of the event on my Facebook page – take a look if you get a chance.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/album.php?aid=279368&id=678849697

September 9, 2010

FaffCon FaffCon – Here We Come

Filed under: Announcements — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 12:00 pm

The reality of gathering together with many of my real and virtual voiceover peeps this weekend for FaffCon in Portland OR is getting closer and closer. My suitcase is being packed in the back of my mind. My laptop has been prepped for a presentation if called upon and for an audition or two if they happen to fall into my lap.

We have an endless supply of great topics to put on the board to see which floats to the top for discussion. I still need to make note of some website resources for a couple of topics that may end up being tackled. But first I have to button up the home front. Make sure cats and parent are fed and watered.

The trip is more meaningful to me since hearing the news this morning about the passing of one of the VO-BB regulars – Doc Phillips. He was a truly kind and generous man. I am truly sad about this news and suddenly feel the need to see some of the other regulars on the VO-BB – to connect with them on a more physical plane.

We are very connected due in part to our virtual home, the VO-BB and to our first face-to-face meetings at VOICE 2007. FaffCon will do even more to cement those bonds.

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