People listening on the other end of the speaker are taking in your every word. Make them count! James Minter, of Buckeye Media Services realizes that a voice actor’s role as storyteller in the theatre of the mind is paramount. In this podcast, James draws attention to the granularity a voice talent needs to consider in the business of voice over from character development, script interpretation, understanding your audience, reading aloud and more.
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James Minter has 30 years broadcast experience as an On-Air Talent (VIPER), Production Director, Producer, Copywriter, Sales Executive, Media Buyer and Marketing Manager.
Voiced credits include; National TV trailer for the movie Megamind for Airheads Candy and DreamWorks, Roosters Restaurants, Imaging Voice for the syndicated “Jason Lewis Show”, Haunted Prison Experience, Infinity of Columbus, Toyota Direct, Bob Caldwell, Miracle Motor Mart and Coughlin Automotive.
Ohio resident where he lives with his wife Jody, three children; Prestin, Pierce, Peytyn and cat “Sophie.”
I am ready to put my GOD-given talents and voice to work for you!
Welcome to Voice Over Experts, brought to you by Voices.com the number one voice over marketplace. Voice Over Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom, and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voice over. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voice over talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform and succeed from the privacy of your own home, and at your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else. Now for our special guest.
James Minter: Hi, my names is James Minter. I own Buckeye Media Services in [Westerville], Ohio. We are a multi-media agency and a significant portion of what we do to help clients involves audio production. Now before we get into today’s topic of what I like to address is how to succeed as a voice over actor in the voice over business, I just want to give you a quick background on how I got to be where I am and some of the things that I think had a significant impact on helping me find the success that I found as a voice over actor.
Growing up in little Kentucky I spent a lot of time in the theatre in fact to date I’ve probably been involved with over 200 productions between churches, schools, colleges and community theatre. And I do feel blessed that acting and my love for radio and traditional media it all seemed to intersect pretty early in my life. I mean, with every performance that I was doing I was always willing to go out and help market or advertise, do whatever we needed to do. And when it came to radio it was always about theatre of the mind for me. No matter what my persona was on the radio whether I was being viper or just James Minter, I had to tell a story each and every day, I had to relate to my audience whether it was doing a live read or talking about a promotion.
And I tell you that was really solidified for me when I was about 14 years old. I was doing an unpaid internship, really it wasn’t even an internship it was just an extended shadow session with a talent named Jim Gallipo who at the time was in [unintelligible 00:05:26] Kentucky working for a station called WXLN 104.9. And it was some of my observations during that period of time in my life that really helped to fuel my passion for radio but more importantly gave me extreme clarity about how important theatre of the mind is when you’re performing behind the mic or putting audio production together. Because as a voice actor you’re performing every day whether it’s a commercial or you’re behind a microphone there are people on the other side of the speaker that are listening to your every word. They’re interpreting the stories that you’re telling, they’re responding to the emotions that you’re conveying.
So again, whether it’s a live read, a broadcast news or you’re just getting pumped up about a station event. So I share all that to bring you up to speed and get started with today, the business of voice acting and understanding that it is a business. Now before we go any further there’s going to be some things that you’re probably going to have to do maybe even leading up to your first audition, you know, you might need to get with a voice coach, an acting coach. We’ll go through some of that. You’ll maybe get with someone who’s going to be able to help you to either build a studio or help you put a demo together. And those are other things that we can talk about a later time.
Today we’re going to focus on becoming a voice over actor. There are a lot of books and there’s a lot of tutorials, there’s a lot of YouTube videos that can give you some great, very valuable insights. And I want to encourage you to try to look and watch and read as much of that as possible. Because you’re never going to know everything there is to know about this business. Like any actor on stage you need to constantly strive to get better, become more dynamic by expanding your repertoire of performance-based audio productions.
You see as a voice over actor there’s a lot of flexibility in what you’re able to do and the type of work you’re able to do. As an actor you might be called upon to be a father, a mother, a narrator, a radio announcer, a coach, a doctor, a mechanic, a war veteran, I mean, the list goes on and on. And in terms of the projects and the production, they could be commercials, it could be on hold, it could be radio or television commercials, animation, video games, narration, audio books. And with all those opportunities the way you’re going to be able to find success is being able to be as diverse as you possibly can and understanding your role in every situation, every position and with every character as it relates to every script or commercial copy.
As a voice over actor you’re always doing characters. You’re trying to emulate, you’re trying to create, you’re trying to make that person as believable as possible so you can sell a product or a service. So it may involve character analysis or perhaps incorporating a physical trait or something to help you get in character, whatever it’s going to take to help you to get in that space so that not only you believe it but you can make whoever is on the other side of the speaker believe it as well.
You’re going to have to do a quick assessment every time you look at a script, every time you read for a commercial, anytime you’re going in to work with a specific client for on-hold services, whether it’s a dentist, a doctor, a pharmacy. You’ll have to look at the characters when you read a book when you’re doing an audio book, interpretation for a script for an e-learning video or getting into radio announcer mode when you’re bringing the football team out or the king and the queen out to centre court.
Bottom line there’s a lot of moving parts in the voice over business and the business of voice acting is just, it’s not easy. You’ve got to remind yourself that it is a business so there’s going to be trial and error. You’re going to have success, you’re going to have failures and throughout it all you’ve got to be in the right mindset to know you’re doing everything possible to keep getting better so that you can become successful in this business. And it might take you a while to find your niche, your money read as they say in the industry. Your space in the marketplace with your unique voice.
And I’m going to encourage you to look for some opportunities where you can exercise some acting ability or maybe improv. Just find something so that you’re not just stepping outside of your comfort zone but that you might have an opportunity to identify with an occupation or a different personality type from your own. And if you’ve never acted or the thought of acting just terrifies you, don’t stress over it. Remember as an adult you were once a kid and a teenager so you can remember what that was like. As a parent you were a free-loving single at some point, right. And as a father or a wife or a husband or a mom, I mean, you’ve learned different behaviours through life experiences. Tap into that, explore those emotions. Those experiences when you’re evaluating a role or a part within a script or a radio copy.
Now I want to give you a short list here real quick, things that you can do and again some of this might happen after you have a demo or as you’re working up to get a demo, but these are some of the simple things that you’re just going to have to do and maybe it’s going to help you assess if this is really what you want to do and if you’re cut out to be a voice over actor. One of the simplest things that I think everybody who is in this business will tell you is something you just have to do all the time is read, read, read. You can read to your kids, you can read the newspaper, you can read your favourite novel aloud. Just make sure you’re reading, adding inflection, maybe creating a character, creating a character voice. But read.
And I’ll go a step further, I would encourage you to record yourself reading and maybe reading short things two or three or four times and trying to change the inflection, trying to change your tone. Maybe visualizing who you’re actually talking with and then as you read that see if you can reach that 25 year old, 54 year old. See which read you actually believed and then ask yourself why. Step outside yourself for a moment and ask, do I believe this person, would I buy something from this person. And then turn it back on yourself and ask what can I do to make it more believable, make it sound more natural. But more importantly how do I have to read it in order to connect to the audience that I’m trying to reach for this advertisement.
I mentioned this earlier and I believe it but I would encourage you to look for auditions. And it could be community theatre, it could be your church play or just becoming more comfortable in front of the office when you go out again on a corporate event. Just getting up on your feet, speaking in front of people. This practice, this type of exercise it’s also going to help you when it comes to live auditions in the future and getting up and reading and talking in front of a panel of five or six people that’s evaluating your performance. And if you’re not quite there yet, you know, it might be a good thing to seek out a voice coach or an acting coach, somebody that’s a true expert that can help you with this very vital part of you becoming successful in the voice over business. And that’s understanding what it takes to be a character or a voice actor.
And even if you’re a decent actor or performer another area that an acting coach can help you with that is very important is script interpretation. Identifying the subtle things within a script that will help you as a character, an actor, to reach the audience. Something else you can do that’s pretty easy as when you’re just driving in your car, you’re listening to radio commercials ask yourself do I believe what they’re saying. If not, why. And once you can start training yourself to listen to what you like, what you don’t like, the subtle things within a commercial that make you believe it then you’ll start to identify those same things. And when the time comes for you to be a character that’s a doctor or a mom, a sister, you can become more believable. More importantly you become a better communicator or a story teller, a better storyteller.
I encourage you to do the same thing with TV shows, in fact here’s something I would encourage you to do, it’s kind of fun. You’re watching a TV show, it goes to commercial break, close your eyes and see if you can visualize whatever it is the product is that they’re talking about. TV commercials for voice over actors are sometimes viewed as an easier medium, not as critical because they have the visuals to support the message. Which makes it easier for some people when they’re trying to sell a product or something. But as a voice over talent if you’re a true professional it doesn’t matter if you’re doing a radio or TV commercial you want it to be equally as good regardless. So if you’re doing VO for a TV commercial it’s just going to be that much better.
Something else I think will help you out tremendously and I still do it to this day, before I got into the voice over business I would listen to voice over demos. When I started in the voice over business I would listen to voice over demos and find out what I could do better. And still, again, to this day people that I respect I will listen to their voice over demos to see how it compares with what I have and what adjustments or changes I might need to make so that I can be not just competitive but to always be pushing myself to get better. And just like radio and TV commercials when you’re listening to these demos you can ask yourself the same question “Do I believe what these guys are saying and if not, why?”
We could go on, we could add, you probably have 10 more things you add to this list but I want to close things out with a dedication and a commitment that you have to have to not only just want to get better but to actively pursue every opportunity, every educational event that is in front of you so that you can grow professionally as a voice over talent, as a voice over actor. And I’m going to implore you to do research and to seek out every video, any audio books you can get a hold of, any books from authors of people who have found success in this industry and who have gone through this process.
Now there’s several people that I’ll recommend and by no means does this represent everybody in the industry but I’ve read books from these individuals and I’ve found them to be very helpful in my success so far in the voice over business. Bill Dewees, marketing guru, you’ve probably heard a podcast from him but he has a book out, how to start and build a six figure voice over business. Harlan Hogan, another very respectable individual in this industry that does a lot of great things, he has a book out, Tales and Techniques of a Voiceover Actor. Alan Smyth or Smith, two e’s on the end, How To Be A Voiceover Actor. Elaine Clark, she has a book out, There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is, I think it’s a fourth edition now. But, again, there’s a lot more resources, that’s just a couple of names I’ll throw out there. You just need to go out and look for them.
Finally, last thing, we’re closing out right here. There are several voice over conferences throughout the United States, I’m involved with the midwest voice over conference in Columbus, Ohio, that happens twice a year in the spring and the fall. But find one near you that has industry professionals sharing their success stories and conferences with educational workshops that are going to help you understand how to start your business, how to grow your business, how to market your business. How to build a home studio, script analysis, all those types of things. Very educational, very important. Find one or two of those a year and go to them, tax write-off.
That’s all I got for now, thanks for listening. Feel free to email me or check out any of my websites. My email is [email protected] J-A-M-E-S-M-I-N-T-E-R, B as in buckeye, M as in media, S as in services @yahoo.com. [email protected] Websites, buckeyemediaservices.com, jamesmintervo.com and midwestvoiceoverconference.com. Now go break a lip. God bless you.
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