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THE RULES OF HOLLYWOOD

If They Mention Voice-Over Work, It's Just All Talk

April 29, 2007|Howard Leff | Freelance writer Howard Leff hopes to get voice-over work

One day soon, someone in this town will change your life with the following words: "You should do voice-overs."

"Really?" you'll stammer, suddenly fascinated with your newly gold-plated throat. "Do you think I'm good enough?"

"Absolutely," the guy who knows nothing about voice-over work will say. "You have a great voice. Do you know how much money those people make?"

Not only do they get the big dollars, the person will inform you, but half the time, they don't even leave their house to do it. They have home studios. They work in their pajamas.

These phrases soon ease you to sleep at night and give you new reasons to get up in the morning. "Why am I working a boring ol' day job?" you'll think. "I can make a very decent living with my own voice. How do I know this? The guy who knows nothing about voice-over work told me."

Notice how your life slowly changes. How you actually begin paying attention to radio commercials, for example. What used to strike you as annoying ads for mattresses, weight-loss products and eyebrow lifts now remind you that the voices you hear are cashing a possibly hefty paycheck.

And yes, they very well may have done their voice-overs at home, in their pajamas, unlike you, who still must shave and shower every day. But not for long. You've discovered the secret. Soon, you start feeling a bit sorry for all the people who lack your enormous talent.

You're anxious to begin your new life, so how do you go about it? First, after the euphoria clears and your friend returns to his real estate job, you'll likely discover that, on any given day in L.A., four out of every seven people are:

A. Going to a voice-over audition.

B. Going to a voice-over class.

C. About to urge someone to "do voice-overs." (This is especially true in the "voice-over triangle" of Burbank, Studio City and North Hollywood.)

Next, you'll want to sign up for a $530 voice-over class. One night a week, for six weeks, you'll travel to a studio along with other people also aching to work in their pajamas. You'll learn that voice-over guys (and gals) are actually called "actors."

You'll also learn how to audition. That's where you compete against others trying to interpret the nuances of a carpet-cleaning ad. Can you breathe life into the script? Sure you can. You'll cover this in class, where you'll meet students of all abilities.

"Nicely done," your instructor will tell a young man destined to have a difficult time in the voice-over industry. "Now let's do it again--and this time, try to make it sound less indecipherable." When the workshop ends, your teacher might encourage you to keep taking classes so you can improve your chances of one day getting real voice-over work.

"One day?" you'll stammer. "More $530 classes? What about the PJs?"

Not yet. You have lots to do. And more money to spend. Plan on thousands more for additional classes as well as the critical (and quite pricey) "demo reel." Oh, and then you have to find an agent. Honestly, like everyone else pursuing a lucrative L.A. voice-over career, you'll face brutal competition from some of the best working pros in the business. But don't let that stop you. Tap into your home equity and get going!

Seriously. You have a great voice.

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