Entries Tagged as 'voice talent'

audio’connell in charleston, wv (again)

Voice Talents Peter K. O'Connell_Amie Breedlove_Charlie Cooper

The Cold Spot is a fun tavern in Charleston, West Virginia that my friend Charlie Cooper picked as the dinner site for our voice-over meet-up with he, me and and Amie Breedlove.

It was a nice place but the company was even nicer.

So often when I travel to cities, my trips are simply more enjoyable because I get to spend a little time with my voice-over friends. There’s a ton to talk about with people who get “the life”.

Very glad I got to see these folks again and I GREATLY appreciate them joining me for dinner.

bbc greatness with mike cooper

Voice Talent Mike Cooper_BBC Radio

There were many great moments I enjoyed at VO Atlanta but one of the more unexpected moments involved a previously unknown (to me anyway) past life of one of my voice-over friends.

I knew Mike Cooper was from the UK (the accent was a clue) and I knew he worked in voice-over there before immigrating to the states a few years ago and making a home with his family in Asheville, North Carolina.

But up until he and I were speaking at VO Atlanta, I had NOT known that Mike Cooper – voice-over talent HAD BEEN Mike Cooper – news voice for BBC News. What?!!

There will be some reading this who think ‘what’s the big deal?’

bbc newsThose are folks who probably never listened to a short wave radio and listened to BBC News, long before the internet or before NPR started playing BBC World Service broadcasts on the overnight.

Listening to BBC News at that time made the other side of the Atlantic come alive to this young and future broadcaster.

Nothing in the US on TV or radio sounded anything like BBC News – not the stories (always more focused on the world than we are here) not the cadence and certainly not the enunciation. Oy, these people were (are) good.

Listening to the BBC sounded like you were listening to your well-bred cousin who went to the right schools and knew all the right people.

So at VO Atlanta, at one of the after parties, I was speaking with Marci Polzin of Artistic Talent and Mike Cooper when Mike shared this news.

I radio-geeked out a little bit. Kind like Brad Venable at any Comic-Con.

So I immediately made him announce some news, right there in the middle of the party in front of me and Marci. Mike looked at me like I had 6 heads but I said he had to do it. And he did. It was like I was in the booth at Broadcast House. Totally awesome!

So as an added treat, I few weeks later Mike was kind enough to send me a copy of his final BBC News broadcast, a portion of which I will gladly play for you here.

LISTEN TO A SAMPLE HERE

When I grow up, I want to sound that cool.

some happy news for a friend

Darren Altman Britains Got Talent 2016

Whether one acts on a stage, in front of a camera or behind a microphone, a performer is still a performer.

Yet for as many years as I have been a voice-over performer, I can still be surprised by some of the talents of my peers. It reflects poorly on me that I guess I subconsciously pigeon-hole them in my mind as only a certain kind of performer. I need to stop doing that.

Voice Talents Peter K. O'Connell & Darren AltmanCase in point, I woke up this weekend to see on social media that my friend and fellow voice-over talent Darren Altman had gone and got himself on Britain’s Got Talent. As an impressionist. How terrific is that!!! What I found especially interesting was the fact that the impressions were based on a variety of UK voices, with whom I had little familiarity. But when you watch the audience and the judges, they were enthralled!!!!

The other part I enjoyed was that Darren was FEATURED on the show. They didn’t just show the audition, they did behind the scenes, they taped him at home with his family and really gave him the star treatment.

Not that I am intimately familiar with the details on such shows but I believe they make performers sign a non-disclosure agreement of sorts, which means Darren and his family couldn’t talk about him being on the show or how it turned out. That must have been a crazy secret to keep. But well worth the wait.

As he states in the package below, he’d never done anything like this before. So a great congratulations to Darren on this very brave and very successful TV appearance.

:30 seconds notice and no script

Peter K. O'Connell Moderates Voice-Over Agents Panel VO Atlanta 2016

VO Atlanta 2016’s Voice-Over Agent Panel. L-R Peter K. O’Connell, audio’connell Voice-Over Talent (Moderator); Erik Sheppard, Voice Talent Productions; Jeffrey Umberger, Umberger Agency, Tanya Buchanan, Ta-Da Voiceworks; Marci Polzin, Artistic Talent; Susie De Santiago, De Santi Talent and Ralph Cooper, Capital Talent Agency. Photo Courtesy of Tom Dheere.

It was about :30 seconds between the time when I was asked to MC the Voice-Over Agent panel discussion at VO Atlanta 2016 and when I hit the stage and kicked off the session among a hotel ballroom full of people.

And oh by the way, there was no agenda, no script and no panelist bios.

Go!

Adrenaline? Nerves? Panic? There seriously wasn’t time to consider any of that.

The audience didn’t know about the birth process I was zooming through, they just knew the baby was coming – they wanted to hear the panel. For all they knew, I was scheduled as host weeks before.

Um, no.

Yes, I have moderated many panels and events over the years. I’ve done tons of live announcing and a bunch of emcee and hosting work for trade shows, conferences and award shows. It’s something I enjoy doing and I’ve been lucky to get high marks (and paychecks) from clients for my work.

Most importantly, with each of them I enjoyed lots of preparation, plenty of notes and a script.

Not Saturday.

By the way, that’s not anybody’s fault. Most panel discussions I’ve done, a moderator crafts a series of questions to start things off and maybe to fall back on if the panel discussion lags…they rest of it often is pretty free-form discussion.

So here’s the background on this special instance.

I was a first time attendee at VO Atlanta. I was not there in any other capacity – not a host, teacher or janitor.

The Voice-Over Agent panel was the second session of the morning on Saturday in the main ballroom. I started the day in this room because I had attended the previous panel session on voice-over marketing, featuring my smart friends including Celia Segal, Tom Dheere and Joe Cipriano.

The agent panel was an important focus for me at the conference because there were some folks on the panel I wanted to meet. I was about to get one hell of an introduction to them.

They included Ralph Cooper from Capital Talent Agency in Washington, D.C., Marci Polzin from Artistic Talent in Los Angeles and Susie De Santiago from DeSanti Talents, Inc., in Chicago.

As my unexpected adventure progressed, I would find it very helpful that the other three  voice-over agents on the panel were already my longtime voice-over partners/agents including Tanya Buchanan from Ta-Da Voiceworks in Toronto, Erik Sheppard from Voice Talent Productions in Austin and Jeffrey Umberger from Umberger Agency in Atlanta. We knew each other pretty well from various projects we’ve work on and I had a sense in this setting (as in every other instance we’d each worked together) they would have my back. (It turns out, I was right).

It all started innocently enough. Prior to the event starting, I was standing off to the side of the stage, just talking to Tayna and Erik, when Jeffrey approached us to advise that he was not only a panelist but also the moderator. In passing, Jeffrey offered that he wished he was just a panelist. We all said something along the lines that he would great (which he would have been).

I left the group so they could do whatever prep they needed to do and I took my seat near another voice-over friend Jackie Bales. We were talking about voice-over and people we both knew in the TV news business, where Jackie worked before going into voice-over full time.

Suddenly, we both became aware that the panel was about 10 minutes late in starting.

Spider-Man had his spidey sense. I have FaffCon-sense, which tells me when an event or program might be running in a small bump in the road (like not starting on time).

That same sense also caused the trouble I got myself into here.

I looked around and saw no VO Atlanta staff in the immediate vicinity (there was lots going on in other rooms at this particular time). I jumped up and over to the area the agents were. I said to Jeffrey that they needed to get up on stage.

Please note: I was totally out of line saying anything like this, because it wasn’t my event or responsibility. Yet these were my friends and I was trying to help them and the event.

Jeffrey said they were waiting on one more agent but that she was late and that they needed to get going.

And then he said “Hey, can you be the moderator?”

In the milliseconds that followed, I remember mentally processing only these three things:

  • This event was late getting started
  • This one event needed help
  • It was my friend and agent Jeffrey that was asking me for a favor

Being in “event” mode (again, not my place but it’s a fault I have) I said yes and I began to usher everyone up the stairs to the stage.

It was on those stairs that I changed into “broadcast” mode.

“Jeffrey, is there a script?” Peter asked.

“No.” said Jeffrey.

‘Oh s—.’ thought Peter.
As I picked up the hand-held microphone at the moderator’s podium, Jeffrey slid in front of me the open page of the program which listed the names and company names of the panelists.

That program and my cell phone were my tools for the next very live 80 minutes.

As I discussed later in the evening with my friend and fellow voice talent (and accomplished broadcaster) Mike Cooper, live broadcast training comes in very handy during many of life’s unexpected moments. Without a doubt, that training served me well in this situation.

Mind you, I haven’t been ‘on-air’ since 1986 but I have come to find out broadcast skills simply don’t leave you once you have them (see: riding a bicycle).

Peter K. O'Connell_Moderator_VO Atlanta 2016I brought up the mic and just started to talk (never let them see you sweat, right), beginning with a welcome (‘what was this panel’s official name? Uh, make something up’) and then I presented a format for the session. I quietly hoped there wasn’t a real format for the event because I went all Houdini on them with the format of my choosing. Abracadabra!

My mind was swirling as I spoke: ‘hmmm, I need to create actual questions!! Better yet, I need to stall for time so I can WRITE some questions’.

Well, with no bios, I called an audible and asked each panelist to introduce themselves and their company and tell the audience about their background.

‘Good, they’re talking’ I thought to myself. Via quick math I decided if they each spoke for a minimum of :30 seconds, I should have about three minutes to write some questions that would allow agents and talents to help better understand each others perspective. That would be good, right?! It would make sense, wouldn’t it!

Oh heavens, I hoped it would make sense!

Here are my Murrow-esque inquiries that I furiously typed into my phone while panelist introductions went on:

What’s trends in voices

Trends in clients

Your daily challenges

?Communication with talent

Communication on slate and details

Yes, I know these word strings don’t make much sense to you, but I just needed to have word cues for the questions in my head. With these points I knew I could formulate something (somewhat) intelligent when the time came. Maybe intelligible would be more accurate.

The rest of the session for me was a bit of blur, made completely awesome by the way all six panelists gelled so quickly with each other, continuing their own discussions without much prompting from me  to keep the conversation going.

To the audiences delight (and my relief) the time went by very quickly.

People said nice things about the event afterwords, which I took as a passing grade, nothing more nothing less.

And I aged about 5 years in 80 minutes.

It was fun. Well, it’s fun NOW cause it’s over!

off to vo atlanta

VO Atlanta audioconnell

What’s your agenda when you attend a voice-over conference?

I think most people would answer – ‘whatever is on the agenda’ is on their agenda when attending a voice-over conference.

One assumes people look at what’s planned for a conference and decide based on that whether the event is worth attending.

That’s fine. I also think it’s lazy and unproductive. (Uh oh, here he goes again!)

Look, if you want to be led around by the nose by whatever is put in front of you in the banquet of conference classes, that’s OK.

It just seems to me that to get your true money’s worth out of a conference, you need to set personal objectives – to be achieved as a result of your attendance – that will help move your career further, no matter what stage you find yourself in your career.

I’ll give you a personal example.

Outside of FaffCon and FaffCamp, which remain my favorite professional voice-over events, I haven’t been to that many voice-over conferences. I’ve presented at some but I don’t attend that many.

Time is one reason but the bigger reason is I don’t feel the content at most VO conferences will add significantly to my current knowledge bank. That doesn’t mean I’m better or smarter or that the content isn’t good. It means I don’t feel like I’m the right audience for most VO conferences.

When you’ve worked in a business (any business) for 34 years, that’s going to happen. Someone with none of my experience, half of my experience or even more than my experience would likely see many VO conference agendas differently than I do. It’s a personal career decision.

But it is also true that after that much time, I’ve come to realize that I know how much I don’t know. And you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. The tricks had just better be spectacular.

The tricks at FaffCon and FaffCamp, because of the level of professional, experienced talent in attendance, have always been pretty spectacular and helped in my professional growth and development.

I am a newbie to VO Atlanta, which is now in its 3rd year. There are a significant number of folks new to the voice-over industry that will be in attendance and certainly some of VO Atlanta’s content is geared toward that audience. That’s cool.

Unique this year at VO Atlanta is the attendance of a great number of casting directors and voice over agents. This has piqued my interest.

It pleases me to already be working with many (but not all) of the agents at VO Atlanta including Erik Sheppard from Voice Talent Productions, Jeffrey Umberger from Umberger Agency and of course my agent and long time Toronto pal Tanya Buchanan from Ta-Da Voiceworks. I would like to at least meet a few of the agents and casting directors that I don’t yet know.

Further, there are a couple of sessions on Saturday (the day I’ll be there) that I would like to listen in on. Although I am not interested in the concept of X-sessions, which requires an additional fee for each session on top of the initial conference fee. Not judging, that’s just me.

Also, I’ll be in attendance at VO Atlanta with some of my fellow MVO: The Voice-Over Guys including Dan Friedman, Brad Venable, Jordan Reynolds and Dustin Ebaugh. That’s always fun!

Will there be Voxy Ladies there? Nah, ya can’t never find them anywhere. 😉 (ducking).

Finally, there are at least 25 of my longtime VO friends who will be in attendance, whose company I enjoy and who are always generous with their insights and advice.

Too, there are new friends to make at this new-to-me conference.

So not a lot of my objectives for VO Atlanta have anything to do with the agenda. But I do have specific objectives for my attendance.

My suggestion, if you are going to this or any other VO conference, is to think about what your goals and objectives are for attending…then think bigger – whatever that means to you.

You’re the student.

I hope this helps.

Umberger Agency Supports Georgia Film Day February 22nd

Umberger_GAFilmDay2016

My friend and Atlanta-based voice-over agent, Jeffrey Umberger of Umberger Agency, supports Georgia Film Day 2016

There are many voice-over agents in the voice-over industry but unfortunately only a few good ones (I’m pleased to have the good ones on my team).

My friend Jeffrey Umberger has been my agent for maybe 5 years now and is definitely well respected for his efforts on behalf of his voice-talents. Umberger Agency is headquartered in Atlanta, GA.

On Monday, February 22, 2016 he will be at the Georgia State Capitol to recognize and celebrate Georgia Film Day as hosted by The Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office.

With help of the State and small business owners like Jeffrey, Georgia is the #1 state in America for film and TV production. Thanks Jeffrey!