Wednesday, November 24, 2010

OMG! I Forgot All About This Until Just Tonight!

I was chatting to a Hollywood friend this evening and he reminded me of something I had completely forgotten: I was encouraged by several studio professionals to get a demo voiceover tape produced while I was down there! 

(Smack myself in the forehead with the palm of my hand and call me an amnesiac chickenshit!)

Here's the story...

While I was living in Hollywood, I did one voiceover "on the fly" for a casting director at a major studio because an actress called in sick and everyone else was "on the set" and ready to roll.  It was just one line...

I was an administrative assistant on the hit comedy TV show she was casting at the time. When she crooked her "come hither" finger at me and told me what she wanted me to do, I asked her, "Why me?"

She said, "Because every time I walk by this office, there is a different voice coming out of it, and it's always YOU! I know you can do what we need." 

Fair enough. (I do tend to "act out" whatever I'm talking about, so the comment made sense, although I hadn't really thought much about it before she brought it to my attention. It's just the way I talk; I'm animated!)

So I went to the soundstage... and... much to my surprise... aced the gig.  

One of the studio technicians, looking mighty pleased and surprised, told me, "You should do this for a living. You're a dream to direct. You nailed it."

His compatriots nodded. The casting director smiled and said, "See? What'd I tell you? You can do this... and you should. You're a natural."

Well, that felt really good, so I took several voiceover classes... tentatively... because it seemed far too good to be true...

My voiceover coach, Nigel Neale, quickly discovered that I had a perfect "teenaged boy's voice" and that teen boy voices were hot items in Hollywood animation. ding ding ding ding ding. I knew that Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Woody Woodpecker were both voiced by adult women with great teenaged boys voices, June Havoc and Mrs. Walter Lantz respectively.  

Nigel said I should get a demo made and then move to Seattle to get discovered, because it would take me five years to be discovered in Hollywood (because voice demo tapes are stacked to the ceiling in every casting director's office in Hollywood.) It never even occurred to me that I already had an "in" with someone inside the  industry: the casting director who had hijacked me just weeks earlier! (What a dumbbell I can be at times... I just NOW thought of this, YEARS after the horse left the barn!)

I told Nigel, "I just moved down here from Seattle. I'm not moving back there to get discovered!"

Anyway, he said he would produce my demo for me at a steep discount because he, too, thought I had what it took to be a voice actor.

I never had it done.

When I got back to Seattle in 2003 I discovered that Nigel Neale had moved to Seattle too and was now teaching voiceover at the University of WA... so I went to another of his classes... and again he offered to make my demo tape for me.

I still didn't get it done. 

I was so focused on finding a "real" job that I put the voiceover thing on the back burner -- so far back that I forgot all about it!

Well, as you know, after doing some "real jobs" for a number of years up here (secretary, administrative assistant, activity director, copywriter-for-hire, etc.) I decided to throw caution and low pay to the wind and hang my shingle at Elance as a freelance copywriter... be my own boss...

It has worked out moderately well.  By this, I mean that I haven't starved to death yet.

Cleve reminded me again tonight about the voiceover option. If he hadn't, I probably would never have thought of it again.  Incidentally, Cleve is also the guy who told me about Elance. He has  been my biggest fan and most stalwart supporter/encourager since the day I met him. He works in the entertainment industry and knows his stuff... knows what will work and what won't creatively.. and he's telling me to GO FOR IT; don't let the door hit me in the butt on the way out!

There are a bunch of high profile video game producers in Seattle. They need teenage boy's voices and other voices... and Nigel says I'm BRILLIANT as Ariel the Mermaid and other cartoon characters, too... and I can do straight announcing, too...

So now I'm slapping myself upside the head. I'm self-employed! I can go to auditions and gigs in Seattle at the drop of a hat. I need to get that demo tape done.

Cleve even said he'll pick up the tab so I REALLY have no excuse!! 

Voiceover artists get $400 an hour!  I get $45/hour as a copywriter.

What am I waiting for?  I don't have to have a "feast or famine" life. I can have an "add on" career that is part-time and very, very lucrative...

So guess what?  I'm going to make a few calls on Monday (a long weekend is coming up) and see if I can find Nigel again and get this going.
It's time!

What a kick it would be to make a living writing copy and books and voicing video games and radio and television commercials!   Wish me luck and please keep me in your prayers... 

I'm going for it... FINALLY!

Friday, November 5, 2010

WHOA!!! I just found out, by googling my name (which I do occasionally to see what else has popped up about me that I may want to know about) that the letter President Reagan wrote to me has been republished in the book REAGAN: A LIFE IN LETTERS. It's on page 69 of the hardcover edition. I still cherish his letter -- and the one I wrote that elicited a 100% personalized response, answering each topic point by point! I was FLOORED to get a response...