Entries Tagged as 'commentary'

diane merritt walks again to raise money in the fight against alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s Disease took Diane Merritt’s Mother from her and Diane’s children in 2009.

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is the sixth leading cause of death in the US.

My Father-In Law suffers from dementia – the impact on him is obvious as is the impact on those of us who surround him…constant heartbreak and struggle.

Diane Merritt Walk Against Alzheimer's Disease 2017

Voiceover Talent Diane Merritt participates in the Walk Against Alzheimer’s Disease 2017 in Greenville, SC

Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues.

So every year, Diane Merritt raises thousands of dollars and then walks in the WALK TO END ALZHEIMERS in Greenville, SC.

Her walk is today but they will continue to accept your donations after today.

THIS IS DIANE’S DONATION PAGE – please click on it and donate. She walks for her Mom, she walks for my Father-In-Law, she walks for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients everywhere.

Give what you can. Thanks

‘help me for free but first, this insult’

don't burn bridgesFirst impressions, they matter.

Last weekend, another person looking to get into voiceover email me. Yes on a weekend and yes I answered (if I wait until Monday, I’ll forget).

I’d had absolutely no previous interaction with this person before they sent me the following email.

Hello Mr. O’Connell my name is (OMITTED) and I’m trying to figure out where I would start with Voice Over work. Many people have told me I should pursue this but I’m confused if I should talk to someone if I do have the voice or voices for this work, or take some training to hone in on what I want. If you have time to respond to this e-mail thanks and have a good day!

As I do with all these types of inquiries, I directed this individual to read the Voiceover Entrance Exam.

Hi OMITTED,
There is a free ebook on VO that I wrote – see if that helps you.
Best always,
–Peter

He read it and, in his professional opinion, was significantly unimpressed.

Tell you the truth I thought the ebook was lackluster and a warning more than something to guide you. No book can gauge ones drive and talent while seeing what they have over the computer. It wasn’t a waste of time but it was in a way, like how you said you get straight to the point I do too. I appreciate the Ebook warning and how long it took you to write that but if you have serious input to give on the matter pls email me thanks.
-OMITTED

He’s right on one count, the book ain’t Shakespeare. And it is a book with a direct point of view, because people who are going to make a professional and financial impactful change of career need to understand the reality. And it is just my viewpoint, it isn’t the Gospel of voiceover.

Further, I’m OK with criticism. You don’t have like my stuff, you can even dislike my stuff.

But this person, new to our industry, is looking for help. Free help. I didn’t email him/her, she/he contacted ME.

I’m reading this email thinking to myself ‘don’t come looking for help, “appreciate” my effort in writing a boring book and then tell me if I care to get serious about helping, you’ll be awaiting my email’.

It’s not the criticism I find fault with but rather the sophomoric arrogance with which this person communicates to a stranger. A stranger that he/she wants to learn something from.

My book is a warning that voiceover is a business and needs to be treated as such. And business is about building relationships with strangers to the point where strangers gladly give you money.

I’m thinking this person is not a relationship builder so much as a bridge burner. And one I will remember.

I moved on quickly from there.

If my book was lackluster than anything else I would say would probably be heard as the same.

Good luck and seek your help elsewhere.

Best always,
–Peter

No one, especially me, is expecting any kind of reverend deference from someone seeking business help, only professionalism and courtesy.

#voicestrong courage

#voicestrong for voice agents

History has taught us that it is NOT easy.

Experience has taught us that it is rare.

Life has taught us that it is within each of us in large and small ways…but it IS in there.

The mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

– The definition of courage

Courage_audioconnell_350

History books and movies are great at depicting amazing and even dramatic acts of courage.

But the truth is, in comparatively smaller, even daily acts, courage can be just as profound.

Profound because showing courage in almost any situation is hard.

One example.

To wake up one morning and find that, completely outside of your control, a key profit center of your business has been significantly altered in a way that is antithetical to your core business beliefs is a situation no small business in any industry wants to face.

But that’s what happened this week to hundreds of voiceover talent agencies and casting directors when a Los Angeles-based, central voiceover casting web site announced it had agreed to be acquired by a generally disrespected Pay 2 Play voiceover web site based in Canada. This Canadian company is known for and has admitted siphoning money budgeted for voiceover talent into their own corporate coffers under the guise of project management, unbeknownst to their paying clients.

Putting aside for a moment the ethical dilemma faced by agencies having to consider having business dealings with a disreputable company like that who now controls a key lead generation tool used daily by agencies, for these small business owners there is an important and hard financial decision to be made.

If agencies stay in partnership with this new ownership, they risk working for even lower commissions based on lower fees likely to be offered to voice talents on project posted by the Canadian company that now owns this popular casting site  (which is something the Canadian company, as a P2P, has been documented to do for some years now). But if the agencies drop the relationship with the new company, they will get commissioned on 100% on nothing. A key revenue source will be gone. How will they replace that lost revenue?

An ethical and financial quandary at the doorstep of voice talent agencies around the globe, all before breakfast.

These voiceover agents are small business owners just like you and me. Some are bigger than others and each has their other lead sources and contacts. Nonetheless, a decision either way impacts their bottom line.

A very hard decision, with unknown and unforeseen consequences, was before them. Take less of something or 100% of nothing.

I would like to introduce you to some people.

Erik Sheppard of Voice Talent Productions

Jeffrey Umberger of The Umberger Agency 

Tanya Buchanan of Ta-Da! Voiceworks

These are three of my voiceover agents.

Liz Atherton of TAG Talent

Stacey Stahl of In Both Ears

Carol Rathe of Go Voices

Susie DeSantiago of deSanti 

These four folks are not my voiceover agents but like Erik, Jeffrey & Tanya, each faced a very tough business decision following the Canadian company’s purchase. And decide they did.

Each has notified the casting website that they are leaving and will no longer be a paying member. Their collective lack of respect for the new ownership and it’s reputation for depreciating voice talents, agents and their services seems to have helped them make their individual decisions.

There may still be more to add to the exit list, but right there are seven (7) examples of small business owners who individually faced a business problem head on, individually had a tough decision to make and individually made the decision to walk away from a table with money still on it (less though it will likely turn out to be).

The chance for them to lose significant income is very real. So are their mortgage, car and school payments. Doing the right thing can be very difficult on many different levels.

Everyday courage doesn’t often make it to the big screen. But that doesn’t make these specific acts any less courageous.

And courage like that, from people voice talents have trusted as partners in our careers, deserves our unwavering support. #voicestrong

don’t be a $5 voice actor

Twitter adIf you are brand spanking new to voiceover, this post is for you.

If you have attended VO Atlanta or some other massive voiceover meeting anywhere in the world with stars in your eyes on how you are going to become a voice actor, this post is also for you.

If you are an experienced voice talent and you have or currently use Fiver as a way to get voice jobs, you have my sympathies for your difficult financial conditions but you’d be better off reading Monster.com or Indeed.com to find a new job than reading this blog post.

That ad at the top of this post, that’s a real ad.

Some young or stressed or imbecilic media producer may actually think they are getting a pro voice talent for that fee.

The voice (and no, I won’t say “talent”) doing the job for $5.00 for that producer may think they are a “professional” voice because they are getting paid.

Neither the producer nor the voice is correct.

I’ll make this brief.

The journey to becoming a professional voice talent is as unique as the person living the journey and no two journeys are exactly the same. There is no perfect way, mine included.

But every journey has universal pitfalls and $5 voiceover jobs…most any VO job in that range of pricing is less a pitfall or a pothole as it is an enormous moon crater that go so deep you cannot see the bottom.

Just follow this advice: don’t be a $5 voice actor.

I hope this helps.

that place

Crescent Beach 2017If we are fortunate, and sadly not everyone is, each of us finds a place outside of home and outside of work that brings us peace and joy.

Sometimes it’s a nearby place, sometimes it is a far away place.

Maybe, if you’re really lucky, you have many “places”.

Wherever it is, it is a place where you feel at ease and maybe (as in my case) you’re family feels that same peace and joy there.

Having been there, I was reminded that I should remind you…go to that place.

Why?

Because it creates in you a special feeling, new or renewed thoughts, calmness…it might even have smells that bring back or create memories.

The computer is off and the phone is away.

This is not a pipe dream but rather something quite vital to your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well being.

I’m really not kidding.

Sometimes, to get to that place, money is an issue. I respect that challenge, so I would encourage you to search for an interim place. Some place new and away from the norm that brings you peace and joy without stressing your wallet.

If you feel you don’t have time, I would like to encourage you to MAKE the time.

Life (yours or someone else’s) can end in a second.

Work is not life. Money is not life. Stress is not life. Those are mere elements of life that we each obsess over. Obsessing is not living.

Live life.

Find that place.

 

shooting cancels voiceover recording session

crime sceneThere have been a LOT of weird things that have taken place in my voiceover career.

I’ve had voiceover recording sessions cancelled for various reasons over that same time period but this recent situation may actually rank near the top of the list for strangest reasons to cancel a recording session.

As I tell this story, I will be omitting the city and the studio I was working with because I think this situation could reflect badly on both and that would be completely unfair. What took place could happen anywhere to anybody. Random violence is just that…random.

Lastly, to be very clear, I was never personally in any danger nor did I directly see the criminal activities about to be described. The bad stuff was over before I got there.

I was in Ohio recently and, while there, received an email from a long time client who needed a voiceover script recorded. I can do such recordings on my portable system but for this client, I wanted to use a studio.

So I called a studio in town that I have used before and booked a 10:00 am session. Nice studio, nice engineer, all good.

About 9:55, I turn the corner onto the street the recording studio is on and was met with a wall of police cars, maybe 5-7 cars completely blocking the road, lights flashing. Cops everywhere.

I could see past the blockade that road was completely clear, so I figured there must be a similar blockade down the road (turns out I was right).

Point is neither my car nor anyone else’s car was getting down that street. I look at my GPS and I was only 900 feet from the studio. But no person would be getting down the street either, unless they were wearing a police badge.

So I call the studio and the engineer answered his cell phone. He also could not get to the studio but had been advised by police that there was a shooting near (but not involving in any way) his studio. It just happened in the area near to the studio, similarly impacting all the other businesses and homes there.

Clearly we wouldn’t be getting to the studio anytime soon. I went back to my hotel, built my pillow fort and got the recording done there.

After gathering news reports, here is what happened.

Around 9:00 am, undercover police officers were targeting an area where drug deals are known to happen. Police there saw a deal take place and approached the suspect. The suspect ran to his car and tried to speed off , using his car to hit one police office as he tried to escape.

I’m not a lawyer or a cop but I believe that’s considered using a vehicle as a weapon, so police opened fire on the car, hitting the suspect who crashed his car not far from the original drug deal. The suspect later died; the police officer’s injuries were reported as not thought to be life threatening.

The reality is out there for all of us but, fortunately, we don’t see much of it from the front row like that.