CHAT WITH A VOICE ACTOR
We recently had a chat with a few of the voices on The Voice Market. We wanted to pick their brains on what it’s like being a pro voice actor. What are the good bits, the not so good bits and things you’d love to get sorted to make things even better?
Raymond (pictured above)… had some value to provide.
- How long have you been involved in professional voiceovers?
31 years, give or take a bout of laryngitis or three.
- How did you get your start in the industry?
College Radio 3ST at RMIT served as the training ground, Community Radio 3RRR provided the leverage and ACE Radio 3HA Hamilton offered my first venture into Commercial Radio way back in the 20th century, in 1988.
- What do you love the most about being a voice actor?
I love the opportunity to play multiple versions of myself, the more conservative and sensitive caring sharing Ray, then the hard hitting ‘You must buy this NOW or forfeit your life or most valued extremities’ Ray, or the outrageous, adventurous madcap Ray, and venture into dangerous unexplored territories, and then emerge from the studio and be the regular me as if nothing happened.
- What do you not love about it?
Struggling to read overwritten scripts with poor grammar that disregard or try to cheat the stopwatch.
The comparatively low voice over pay rate compared to the on air spot rate.
When you consider the voice actor’s performance in the spot is the final clincher for influencing a consumer’s buying decision, the pay rate should be comparable.
If that sounds like a thinly veiled attempt at a pay rise, I choose to plead guilty, Your Honour.
- How would you describe your read style?
Because I’ve been a Radio Creative Writer for as long as I’ve been a voice over artist, my style has extended to suit every script I’ve written.
That includes bright retail, hard sell, soft sell, characters, comedy, accents, singing in harmony, and the very down to earth ‘Just between you, me and the steering wheel’ read.
Pretty much everything except for ads for breastfeeding and feminine hygiene products.
- Regarding Voice Acing – What do you think your strengths are?
Regardless of what it’s for, I read each script like I believe it.
My voice is clear, articulate, fast when required, warm and elongated when given the scope to do so.
I’m not the gravelly ballsy baritone from the depths of hell, I’m a mid range voice actor, and because I have all of my teeth, I always include the ds, gs, ks and ts on the ends of words.
I’m also brave or foolhardy enough to venture into dangerous territory and do those tricky character reads that may jeopardise my dignity or coolness.
I’m not cool.
I wear Grosby slippers at home.
There, I’ve said it.
- What is a typical day in the life of a working voice actor?
Venturing into the studio to be a chipmunk, the Count from Sesame Street, a mad scientist, an everyday bloke pushing a vacuum cleaner – yes it’s true, blokes DO vacuum, and not just on radio – a hard sell promotor for a greyhound race meet and a rapid fire price and product supermarket spruiker.
Then a mercy dash to the kitchen to make a soothing cup of tea to ease my shredded vocal chords.
- If you could speak directly with the copywriter (or client) what three things would you request they do to help make your job easier?
Never use word count. A 70 word script for finance is about the same as a 100 word script for lollies. Use a stopwatch. Read your script at full volume, not muttering under your breath. Don’t race your stopwatch. Put it face down as you read, then pick it up only at the end. Always look for a way to take out words, rather than add words. Avoid multiple calls to action. Leave out mobile numbers where you can, unless you have the opportunity to repeat the number and give the listener a compelling reason to call it. Google these days is more than enough. That’s more than three things, isn’t it? I’m a writer, not a mathematician.
- If you could give an aspiring voice actor some crucial advice – would what it be?
Don’t just read the words, deliver the message. Sell it to yourself first, then to the listener. Speak to the listener like they’re your best friend.
- If you were on The Masked Singer – what animal would you be?
I’d be a common house rat that snuck its way into the studio and to gnaw through the electrical cables to break transmission and take this lame excuse for prime time entertainment off the air. I may lose a tooth in the process or even incinerate my verminous body, but it’s a sacrifice I’m prepared to make for the good of humankind and the dignity and betterment of us all. Next stop, Parliament House, the White House, the House of Commons ….