By Stephanie Ciccarelli
March 27, 2009
Have you ever noticed that there isn't an amateur tradition for those aspiring to be professional voice over talent?
My friend Pat Fraley has some thoughts to share, as have I, in hopes that this article opens up discussion for how we might establish an amateur tradition for our industry that we can be proud of.
We'd love to hear your thoughts too, so be sure to read the entire article before commenting with your ideas. Thanks!
Why Voice Over Needs an Amateur Tradition
Submitted by Pat Fraley
When you think about it, most all performance genres except voice over, have an amateur tradition. Voice Over was brought into existence with an implied collaborator: Voice Over What?
This presents a problem: Where and how does the voice over hopeful get training and experience prior to losing their "amateur standing?"
Work out groups are one of the few ways I know of where performers may practice voice over, or voice performance with like-minded performers.
Another way is to come up with amusing fake spots, jingles, narrations, sketches, etc., and share them with the voice over community. I've done this my entire career.
Recently I recorded a brief lesson and posted on my free lesson page (here's a link to the lesson)
It is called VO for Free. In it I give examples of doing free stuff. I was pleasantly surprised to receive several brief recordings from colleagues who do the same thing.
I think it would be wonderful to have a site somewhere, which would post our "amateur efforts."
Amateur Tradition in Voice Over? Some Objection Handling, if you Please!
I asked for some opinions on the topic of amateur tradition for voice over on Facebook and received a response from one person who shared some valid concerns about how this may be received.
Her fear was that by identifying an amateur tradition, it may present an even larger gap between aspiring talent and professionals, opening another can of worms that may result in further disdain voiced by certain voice talent in forums and berating of talent whom they may regard as "beneath" them and unsuited to compete with established professionals.
While it is true that there are some people who feel it necessary to tear others down, we need to remember that there is a far greater number of people who work toward building others up. Thank you to those of you who stand among the encouraging lot.
If there is one thing that we should be able to agree upon (corrupt examples, in sport for instance, aside), the difference between an amateur and a professional is that the amateur is not or has never been paid for their efforts in a given discipline or art whereas a professional has received payment or is paid for their services.
Once you have performed and been paid for your services, you are no longer technically by definition, an amateur. Depending on how much of your income you derive from the art, you become a semi-pro or a pro.
To make another distinction:
Just because someone is an amateur, that doesn't mean that they are any less talented than some of the people who provide services professionally, in fact there are instances where an amateur may be more talented than a given professional.
Good Examples of Ways to Gain Experience in Voice Over
I've covered this before but it never hurts to say it again.
There are sites such as LibriVox.org that give people the opportunity to record audiobooks and upload them to the public for free consumption. You can also volunteer at libraries to read to children or narrate for the blind. You can learn more about similar opportunities by reading this article about building your voice acting portfolio through volunteer work.
An Opportunity to Start Something Amazing
I believe that amateurs should be nurtured and that there should always be a constant stream of people who want to become involved in voice acting. We want our industry to grow, mature, and be comprised of people who are properly trained in the art and business who have a deep respect for what they do. Oftentimes, achieving that kind of reverence and eventual willingness to give back to community stems from a person's experience in the amateur tradition.
That being said, amateurs need to be mentored. There is a great deal of mentoring going on already that you rarely hear about and this article has given us another opportunity to explore making mentors available to those who are seeking guidance.
When I was talking with James Herron, he agreed that it would be a great idea to offer some kind of service that matches up mentors with novice voice over talent, a formidable way to connect those who wish to mentor with those desiring it.
Would this kind of opportunity interest you?
I would like to explore offering such a program for the voice over community through Voices.com.
Please keep subscribed to VOX Daily for more information. If you have any feedback or ideas for how we could do this, you are welcome to comment here or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
You are welcome to comment and share what you think. I know this was a long, perhaps complicated article, but as I discovered this afternoon through many, many conversations, this is a complicated topic!
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Â©iStockphoto.com/Tracy WhitesideRelated Topics: amateur tradition, child, industry, James Herron, Mentoring, mentors, Pat Fraley, portfolio, Siri, voice acting, voice over