By David Ciccarelli
January 31, 2007
Read a review of Rodney Saulsberry's "You Can Bank on Your Voice".
Over the last couple of months, I've been corresponding with Rodney Saulsberry through MySpace. While we were talking, I suggested that I'd love to review one of his books for the Book Club at Voices.com.
I was thrilled when Rodney shipped me a copy for review and am now eager to share my thoughts with you about Rodney Saulsberry's You Can Bank on Your Voice.
The book was a real page turner. In truth, it kept me up all night!
Published in 2004, Rodney's book covers all aspects of getting started as a voice-over talent coupled with well chosen vignettes from his own career to entertain and inspire.
While the book was literally brimming with useful information about getting started, setting up a home studio, growing your business and taking care of your voice, I'd like to present the three elements that stood out the most to me.
These elements were Rodney's storytelling capabilities, the attention given to the importance of relationships in the voice-over business, and a comprehensive guide on how to interpret copy for commercials, tags, promos, trailers, and legal tags as well as hard sell / soft sell reads and so on.
Let's start off with the flow of the book.
I found Rodney's style to be encouraging, sincere, and open. There was no way to misinterpret anything (that's a comfort for readers), and he was able to give the message wings by providing real situations incorporating every day examples that people could relate to and pursue with limited cost.
Giving people step by step plans off the bat to follow ensured the readers' comfort level while helping them to discern whether a career in voice-over was right for them. Rodney starts off with a three week regiment to help someone distinguish whether they should consider voice-over as a viable means of supporting themselves.
As the book progressed, Rodney clearly identified the significance of the relationships that a professional voice talent experiences, including their relationship to the union, agencies, casting directors and recording engineers.
A strong advocate of the union, Rodney encourages his readers to join in order to receive benefits including financial, legal, and medical benefits. AFTRA and SAG were mentioned as unions to join and quite a bit of detail was provided regarding the functions and intricacies involved with union membership, including its perks and rules.
He stressed that if someone were to get an agent to be sure that they were licensed, offering tips on how to present talent to agents and also how to turn the tables on the agent to interview them to make sure that they meet the expectations of a client.
If I may, I'd like to circle in on casting directors. Many people are intimidated in audition situations, however, what they don't know is that casting directors are there to support them and get the best possible performance out of an actor or voice actor.
Rodney featured interviews with four leading casting directors in the Los Angeles area. Each prepared a concise description of their expectations as casting directors, what they are willing to do for a talent, and also why it is that they are supportive as opposed to condescending. If you look good, feel good and perform well, the casting director is rewarded by your positive experience.
What I found interesting is that each of the casting directors shared the same core expectations and values when it comes to auditioning talent.
To sum up, be on time (that means be at least 10 minutes early), be focused (read the script ahead of time in the waiting area), and be confident and follow character instructions (let the real you come out, also referred to as truth by one casting director).
One tip that I'd like to include before long is that when you go to a session, Rodney says to write down the name of the engineer and director before you get in the booth. It is a courtesy to address people by their names and that courtesy is elevated if you are working exclusively that day with those people for a period of time and need to ask them questions throughout the session.
Lastly, Rodney as a professional voice talent himself, was able to convey how to prepare for different styles of reads.
Copy interpretation is often the difference between getting the job or not getting the job.
You can have the most beautiful voice and still be passed up for somebody else who gave it their all with an imaginative spin on the copy.
Rodney outlines the different reads for commercials, promos, tags, trailers, and more bestowing useful advice along the way. Sample scripts are included as well as tools to help you interpret the vocal direction, copy and style.
It's amazing how subtle interpretation can be to be effective. Rodney zeros in on how to craft the best interpretation that you can with the copy presented to you. An emphasis is placed on the most popular niche in voice-overs, the movie trailer voice-over.
As someone who has been heralded as the voice of black cinema and has a substantial list of movie trailers to his credit, you can be sure that what you are reading is what truly makes a winning voice-over fit for Hollywood and beyond.
Something that I found I was drawn to throughout the entire book (foreword included) was the humbleness and grace of Rodney Saulsberry. He more than once mentions that he credits God for the blessings that his career in voice-over has yielded and recognizes that his voice and talent are gifts that he is a steward of.
It is because of Rodney's humility that he continues to work in the service of others, not just as a singer, actor or voice actor, but as an author and spokesperson who can reach people using his gifts to help them reach their goals.
To learn more about Rodney Saulsberry and his books, visit his website or go to Amazon to buy You Can Bank on Your Voice today.
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