marice tobias writes the voice-over article that should be written

This arrived in my email today from my teacher, Marice Tobias. I like her style for many reasons but to follow is a prime example.

The LA Times article that ran May 7, 2012 is the perfect springboard for this installment.

When Joe Flint asked to interview me, I asked if he wanted to write the same article others had written or would he like to write the one that no one has? He said he wanted the former but had to submit several angles to his editor. As we saw, it ran with the celeb angle and that work-a-day actors resent them getting so much work. Truth be told, those who are so inclined, resent anyone getting any work they aren’t getting, so celebs have plenty of company there. In any case, here’s the article I wish someone would write someday:

“Voiceover, The Most Underestimated Career in Show Biz”

It’s been called the Best Job in the World and when all the planets align, those who upon whom the Voiceover Gods smile are happy campers. But, for most, that alignment is like catching lightening in a bottle and the day-to -day getting in and then staying in is like scaling the Washington Monument with Vaseline on your fingertips.

It’s not necessarily for lack of talent or drive but for the sheer numbers, the elusiveness of the work and the shifting tide of pop culture that renders Today obsolete with the click of keystroke.

Shared in one of our seminars by a successful talent who did his research, this statistic is sobering:

On any given day, there are 1.3 million people pursuing voiceover work. One point three million.

Even if we eliminate less than stellar candidates, the amount of talent available outnumbers the amount of work a thousand fold, and the ability to build and maintain a healthy career becomes more challenging every day.

Despite this reality, the training ground is a virtual border town, glutted with shingles luring prospectors to pan the gold of hitting it big with a minimum investment of time, money and due diligence. There are almost as many land offices as there are prospectors, many with less interest in someone striking gold as they are in getting their filing fees.

Then there is the elusiveness of the work. While many jobs can be pursued on one’s own, the preferred avenue for the richest veins is via representation.

The ante on representation is higher than ever before. The gamble is higher, the turnaround time shorter and the number of people seeking representation vs. how few of them there are, make them as sought after as the work.

Gone are the days of putting an ok demo together, meeting with an agent and being signed on the spot. Today, you have to already be awesome, have recognizable credits, be willing to date before you marry and share the spoils of current strikes before you get access to the mother-lode.

Do not expect to get anywhere with generic materials, standard reads or being a canvas upon which clients can paint. And, it’s at least a five year minimum build to a solid career, so don’t give up your day job until it’s totally in the way.

Finally, there’s the need to know and embrace The Landscape of Pop Culture and Social Media.

When Bob Lloyd, the original Voicecaster suggested I have “my own thing” I was surprised. “But Bob, there are at least 10 workshops in town already.” (There are now over 100 in every market and zillions on the web) “True” he said, “but nothing for the working pro. Some people are still doing the same read they did when they got into the business.”

“Why not”?

“They don’t want to hurt feelings and/or risk losing them.”

There’s always a way to say something in the spirit of enhancement and encouragement, so here’s mine:

Stay current to remain relevant. Do your homework. Watch, listen and understand the Cultural Conversation. It’s why Betty White is still cool and why so many of her contemporaries are warming webbed chairs on the porch.

The Game has changed and the Rules have been re-written. It doesn’t matter if how it was seems to be better than how it is. Making it wrong doesn’t make you right- it makes you irrelevant.

PS: The rest of what I said about celebs in the interview is that each has a distinctive personae that gives products, ideas or services a place to live, there are a lot more celebs/people in the public eye that ever before, there’s no longer a stigma to voicing commercials and star voices in an animated film give the producers something to put on the marquee.

You don’t have to be a star for people to think you are one. You just have to have something unique, special or different enough for them to think you are.

To Be Continued.

2 Responses to “marice tobias writes the voice-over article that should be written”

  1. Finally getting to read this….FANTASTIC article! Very sobering indeed.

  2. Finally getting to respond to this…hi Trish!

    See you in Charlotte!

    Best always,
    – Peter