Entries Tagged as 'faffcon'

audio’connell in altoona, pa 2015

Voice-Over Talent Peter K. O'Connell and Wayne Edwards

One of the nice things about traveling is getting to meet up with other voice talents on the road.

Another nice thing about those meet-ups is we usually go to nicer places to eat than I would normally go to when I’m out on the road.

So it was a real treat to get a good meal and visit with my friend and fellow voice talent Wayne Edwards tonight on Altoona, PA.

Not surprisingly, we talked, wished and wondered about the next FaffCon as well as voice-over training and a little marketing thrown in for good measure. It was a great night and I sincerely appreciated Wayne being able to come out and join me.

the story of how to make a voice-over demo and of honest friends

narration

The last time I updated my narration voice-over demo before now was likely 2007 or 2008.

When that much time had passed, I think a voice talent needs to ask himself three questions:

1. Are you booking equally as strong off your narration demo today as when it first came out?
2. Has anything changed in your narration style that is not reflected in the current demo?
3. Has there been a change in preferred styles producers are looking for from narrators?

The answers to these three questions, in order, were: yes, no and no. Logic thereby dictated that there was no major reason to update my narration voice-over demo.

So naturally, I’ve changed and updated my narration voice-over demo. This is voice-over. Logic-schmogic.

A little background now regarding my opinions on voice-over demos.

First and foremost, voice-over demos are not odes to one’s self and “how great thou soundeth.”

They are a sales tool, nothing more or less.

There are at least ways (probably more, but it’s late as I write this and I don’t like to think much after 8:00 p.m.) to go about producing a new voice-over demo.

1. Hire a respected voice-over demo producer who can sift through your better work and also find scripts to produce for your demo that fit your voice (this is useful if you do not have strong audio production skills, if you need another set of ears to keep you honest or both)
2. Produce the demo yourself and have someone or “someones’ serve as a sounding board as you go along
3. Slap something together and call it done

For my narration voice-over demo, I chose option #2.

There are many talented folks who I would have been happy to work with on my new demo. I am, however, comfortable enough in my own demo production skin (having produced my own demos successfully in the past as well as demos for other voice talents) that production and performance quality would not cause me anxiety. I also know myself to be professional enough not to be hurt when/if the feedback from my sounding board universally pushed back against my own instincts.

This is where honest friends come in. Without them, a self-produced demo will likely not turn out well.

I should specify these friends to be NOT high school buddies or your neighbor. These need to be professional and talented voice-over friends. People who have been in the business for a while, who have made demos or had demos produced for themselves and who have listened to a fair share of demos themselves.

The collective knowledge in such a group of what “sells” in the industry (voice styles, “sound” and production quality) will keep a self-producer like me honest. But the onus on the self-producer is to truly listen, honestly filter majority opinions and be willing to change. The demo cannot become the self-producer’s “baby”. Babies are perfect, demos are not.

Whether or not this specific narration demo I have completed turns out to be successful or not rests solely on my shoulders. But my ability to complete it to my ultimate satisfaction would NOT have been possible without the help and opinions of the following professional and talented voice-over friends.

Dan Friedman – has some of the best ears in the business, in addition to his well-respected talents as a voice-over artist. He heard the first draft and the last as well as many in between. He also hated one mix so much he fixed it…and it was better after he did. Thank you for your patience.

Doug Turkel – some years ago, he took me to lunch in Miami at a hot dog stand very near a major modeling agency’s office which, it turns out happened to be unloading a bus full of supermodels about next to our table. He listened to my narration demo too…but it was a BUS FULL OF SUPERMODELS!!!! Thank you for the supermodels. 😉

My Agents – these are people who sell me to the world so it would be beyond stupid not to include these people (who live and breath demos and auditions daily) as a sounding board. Thank you Erik Shepard, Toni Silveri, Stacey Siegert, Lynn Heyman & Laura Von Holle, Stacy Hofman and Sharon Murphy.

My FaffCon Stand-up Group – these poor people have to listen to me every week and then I put in the extra work request to help review this demo. So thank you again Kelly Brennan, Kelly Klemolin, Diane Merritt and the aforementioned Mr. Friedman.

My Buffalo Voice-Over Meet-Up Group – the unfortunate souls only have to listen to me monthly but they too were gracious in their insight: Dan Lenard, Leslie Diamond, Chris Nichter, Maria Pendolino, Jodi Krangle, Fran McClellan, Fred Filbrich, Elaine Singer and Bev Standing.

I am grateful for all their help. Thank you.

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what i know about voice-over talents after attending faffcamp 2

 Peter K. O'Connell hosting a marketing session at FaffCamp 2015 (Photo Courtesy of Brad Venable)

Peter K. O’Connell hosting a marketing session at FaffCamp 2015 (Photo Courtesy of Brad Venable)

I have been fortunate to have been included in a great many FaffCons and FaffCamps. These are unconferences and conferences for voice-over talent and they are among the most revered voice-over events by anyone who has ever attended one.

Full disclosure, I am on the FaffCamp and FaffCon committees because I believe so strongly in them. Also because I am so small, conference producer Amy Snively hardly notices I’m there.

At this FaffCamp, I offered a marketing planning presentation on Saturday and Sunday. Though the presentation was meant to be informative and somewhat light-hearted, I noticed a couple of things in both groups that I believe are universal among voice-over business owners.

Maybe you’ll see yourself in some of this. I certainly see myself in some of it.

Making a point or just scaring his audience, Voice-Over Talent Peter K. O'Connell makes a point during his FaffCamp 2015 presentation (Photo Courtesy of Sean Caldwell)

Making a point or just scaring his audience, Voice-Over Talent Peter K. O’Connell makes a point during his FaffCamp 2015 presentation (Photo Courtesy of Sean Caldwell)

1. Most voice-over business owners generally don’t like the business part of the voice-over business. In no way am I saying they don’t do it well but they don’t like it much. I think they like it less than most business owners.

2. Though they themselves are a key part of the marketing food chain with the service they provide, voice-over talents do not like doing marketing much. It overwhelms them and intimidates them for the same reason I think it intimidates most small business owners: “where do I start?!” syndrome.

3. Which leads me to the universal acknowledgement by almost all of my session participants that they each suffer in varying degrees from the malady “Paralysis by Analysis”. The non-medical marketing definition is “I don’t know what to do first so I won’t do anything.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: The author also sometimes suffers from this malady.)

4. Most voice-over people are pretty smart and strong and even though sometimes paralyzed by the fear of marketing, they understand that they have to do and when led a little bit, they can take the reins and run with a marketing plan. That takes guts and strength to jump into something even when you’re not fully sure what you’re supposed to be doing

I post this not so much for the FaffCampers who attended my presentations (and thank you for doing that) but for other voice talents who couldn’t make it to San Antonio. I want you to be reminded that you are not alone in your business challenges and that rather than have it be a mountain, operational and marketing challenges can be only a bump in the road to your ultimate business success.

Just remember to believe in yourself and your abilities…even those abilities you don’t think you have.

3 reasons attending FaffCamp is critical for your voice-over career

FaffCamp is March 19-22, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas

FaffCamp is March 19-22, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas

FaffCamp is coming to San Antonio, Texas March 19-22 this year. If you’re already attending, I look forward to seeing you there as I will be there as an attendee and a presenter.

Registration information is here.

If you work in voice-over, you are invited to attend…like right here, now, this is your invitation. That knocking sound you hear is opportunity.

For those uninitiated, FaffCamp is a peer-to-peer professional development conference for working voiceover pros (not just voice talents, voice actors, and narrators, but all pros who do work related to voice overs). It’s participant driven and highly interactive, just like its sister event FaffCon.

But at FaffCamp much of the agenda is set in advance, which makes it possible for Faff Camp to welcome a larger group.

Plus, there are cool things we do only at Faff Camp, like Topic Tables, Adopt-a-Question, and Lightning Talks! And since we have two tracks, Starting Smart and Working Pro, we welcome voice talents at ALL career stages.

I don’t have an ownership stake in FaffCamp or FaffCon but I am on the organizing committee and have been for many years, because I believe in it.

 This is FaffCamp producer Amy Snively, associate producer Lauren McCullough and Peter K. O'Connell (me), the sponsorship guy at FaffCamp 2013

This is FaffCamp producer Amy Snively, associate producer Lauren McCullough and Peter K. O’Connell (me), “the sponsorship guy” at FaffCamp 2013

FaffCamp and FaffCon have directly helped my voice-over business and here’s how I think it can help yours:

1. FaffCamp presents interactive and expert advice on performance, technology and business management from vetted industry leaders. All of this information is specifically tailored to the voice-over business because the people presenting it are working in the voice-over business

2. FaffCamp is like Voice-Over College. FaffCamp brings together a whole lot professionally and financially successful voice-over talents. Many of these folks are past Faffers who have both learned a lot and shared a lot at Faff events. Bottom line: walking and talking between sessions, at meals and in other social times is basically like going to Voice-Over College. If you have questions – the answers are likely at FaffCamp.

3. You’re surrounded by people who understand you. Either you are today or want to be someone who sits in a booth all day and talks to him/herself. You’re not normal and neither are FaffCamp attendees, cause we do the same thing. We understand the professional and personal challenges of being a performer, a small business owner and bread winner. You got questions? Very likely we’ve got experienced answers and the meter is NOT running.

One last piece of advice: Go.

a quick note to my faffcon 7 friends

 FaffCon 7 'Faffers' Getting Ready for the Big Event!

FaffCon 7 ‘Faffers’ Getting Ready for the Big Event!

Hi there!

I think I am supposed to be sad because I’m not attending FaffCon 7. I’m not sad, maybe a very tiny bit wistful but that’s about all the negative emotion I can muster.

I have a very important birthday party to attend and I am more excited about that than sorry to not see you all. FaffCon has never been about one person anyway – it’s about the group…the wonderful group of past Faffers and new Faffers coming together to create a brand new experience.

I am so filled with excitement for each one of you…I see your social media posts and I feel your joy at coming together again for the professional renewal this event brings. The opportunity to talk at length with your fellow voice-over professionals. They get it. They get you.

And the learning. Oh the wonderful things you will learn at every step during the weekend.

Breathe deep.

Stop, look, listen and observe.

Sunday arrives quickly.

Absorb.

Have fun.

Say thank you alot. And mean it.

I know you will.

I won’t be there to share my annual reminder so I’ll end this happy send off with this reminder: FaffCon is not only a wonderful place to learn, it’s THE safest place for you to share new ideas, try new performance techniques or ask dumb questions that you don’t realize may be just that.

No worries.

FaffCon is your safe place if you happen to fall down because every Faffer is a pillow for you. They will confidently catch you, if needed, as you try new things, as you learn things you didn’t know and develop talents you didn’t think were within you. And you must be a pillow for them too.

FaffCon is unparalleled in that way (and many other ways too).

Failure is not even an option, simply because…you are there. What a gift!

Until next time…enjoy.

Best always,
-Peter

why voice-over meet-up groups are so valuable

A meeting on the Buffalo, NY Voice-Over Meetup group (from l-r) Robert W. Taylor, Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Peter K. O'Connell, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich, Randye Kaye amd Glad Faith Klassen

A meeting on the Buffalo, NY Voice-Over Meetup group (from l-r) Robert W. Taylor, Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Peter K. O’Connell, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich, Randye Kaye and Glad Faith Klassen

Voice-over talents are a closeted bunch.

Meaning whether in our homes or studios, we spend a lot of time in booths (closets) churning out voice stuff.

It’s great but who do you bounce business, technical or performance ideas off of if you work by yourself? Where are your checks and balances coming from?

It was 2009 when my friend and fellow voice-talent (the lovely and talented) Doug Turkel invited me out to his Voice-Over Mastermind Group in Miami, FL. So I hoped in my private jet that afternoon and join Doug and his pals for what was my first official meet-up group. As with most things Doug, it was terrific.

From that moment forward, I wanted to start some kind of group like that in Buffalo, NY.

But Mrs. audio’connell and I had a child. And another. And another. A bunch of FaffCons later, I still didn’t start my meet-up group. Then finally, after attending a voice-over class that just wasn’t filling my needs, I did what all good leaders do to get things done.

I delegated.

See, I was not going to be able to organize a meet-up group with my family and professional commitments. I’m the guy that had always put this stuff together but this time it wasn’t going to happen and I knew it. But it didn’t mean stuff couldn’t happen. With the advent of FaffCon, more Buffalo voice talents attended together, we realized the power of what we could do and we all wanted to do it.

So I contacted local voice talents and fellow Faffers Dan Lenard and Leslie Diamond and said “help”.

Leslie offered up her house, Dan made some calls, we shared notes on who to invite (lots of people) and in August 2013, we held our first meet-up. I think 5 people showed up. I was stunned there weren’t more with so many talents around.

What I came to understand was that these were the committed ones, the ones who wanted to try. And our monthly meetings have been going on since. And growing!

Our troupe now includes: Robert W. Taylor, >Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich and Glad Faith Klassen.

To be clear, this meet-up is not like my traveling lunch dinner tours that Bob Souer and I have made famous over the years.

The Buffalo Voice-Over Meetup Group created our own agenda: reviewing successes, talking about challenges, picking a specific industry related topic and everyone just sharing info. Sometimes one of us volunteers to talk about a subject we know a little more about. We take notes….and we work on scripts. We group direct and one on one direct.

And we remember that we are not alone. Our families may sometimes question our career choices but in a meet-up, we are among those who get it. Meet-up members understand the incurable disease of voice-over performance. And for just those few hours every month, you get to talk shop where nobody looks at you funny. Usually.

They are fragile eco-systems, these voice-over meet-up groups, because they live and die by the quality of the talent (performance and business-wise) in the group. It should be a group, not something led by one individual. Plus people come and go…the success of every meeting is not guaranteed. Which is why everyone who is in an on-going, effective and most importantly interactive meetup group should be very thankful. I know I am.