Join Voice Over Expert Pat Fraley in his podcast “Doing Voice Over for Free”. Pat’s 10 minute lesson highlights the personal and promotional value of creating voice over messages, sketches, songs, and parody spots for free.
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Transcript of Doing Voice Over for Free
Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
This week, Voices.com is pleased to present Pat Fraley.
Pat Fraley: Hi. This is Pat Fraley with a brief lesson on the value of doing voiceover for free. That’s right. Circling back and embracing your amateur status. Amateur? What I mean is doing voiceover projects that are not intended to be sold. It’s a wonderful way of promoting your abilities. I’ll get to that but for right now when you think about, there was no amateur tradition for voiceover. Acting, yes. Film, video, radio but not voiceover.
Voiceover was delivered into the world when film found sound. It hit the floor chasing a buck from the (Getgo). Personally, I had a rather unique journey toward voiceover which started when I was 12. I conned my dad into getting me real reel-to-reel tape recorder in 1961. I told him it would help my studies. I didn’t tell him I would be studying how to do funny voices. I kept this delight in my heart for years. When I entered the voiceover arena a decade later, I went back to it. As a hobby, I continued to create sketches, monologues, and songs and share them with friends and producers.
To my delight, I found that it was a better way to share my vocal wares than any other means, certainly better than postcards. Showing off your vocal abilities by sending a producer printed messages like a carpet salesman selling his wares with a vacuum. They’re related but sort of. I even found that sending out amusing audio pieces work better than a demo. In my green years in 1976, I started a tradition of doing something around the holidays to amuse friends, families, and producers like this:
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose …
I remember once, I sent a fake commercial about my voices to producers, even got in trouble with the union.
Yes, it’s Pat Fraley (dollar rama) days and for a limited time, if you hire Pat Fraley to do his Franklin Roosevelt and Tonto in the same spot, he will pay you $10.
Tonto: Hmm. Smells smoky wasabi.
Franklin Roosevelt: You’re standing in the campfire!
Pat Fraley: Years later, I recorded a series of character monologues and sent them to advertising producers. Here’s a brief snippet from my monologue on a character called, Blind Lemon Williams.
So, when I (smell) the exhausted, that limo pulled and up to the curb and he pulled it up and he pulled enough but I said to myself, “Lemon, you’re inhaling the fragrant fumes of a (platypus).” So I zigzagged out there and I hear the window rolled down so I say, “Blind Lemon Williams at your service. Would you be taking applications for a driver?” And I give them a couple more bland jokes to sweeten the pot and I know he’s awaken because I hear there’s laughing.
Pat Fraley: One got back to me and was inspired by my band of characters and created a whole Denny’s Restaurant campaign around my characters calling into a late night FM talk show called, The Night Owl. That’s where all the stupid names for breakfast on the Denny’s menu came from. Like, moon over my hammy. Yes, famous.
Now, with YouTube, bloggers’ bulletin boards, Facebook and other social networks, doing fun stuff that is created to amuse and enjoy is even more productive. It’s such a great tool because it’s one of the rare means by which I can address public relations, which is establishing and maintaining relationship and at the same time, address promotion making people aware of my skills.
Usually, confusing PR with promotion is folly. It’s like taking someone out to lunch and handing them a demo over the sub terrain. Let me give you a reason example. Brad Garrett, my 6 foot 9 comedy genius pal that you are familiar with, I’m sure from Everyone Loves Raymond. And were getting in touch with each other and talking about what we might do as co-presenters of the Annie Awards. We we’re playing around with fake cartoon shows with bad concepts like, The Titanic Kids and The Soprano Pets. I got off the phone and whipped up a brief audio sketch and e-mailed it to Brad. Here it is:
How are you doing? I’m Martin Scorsese. Oh, what’s your name?
Brad Garrett: Brad Garrett.
Pat Fraley: You are Armenian?
Brad Garrett: Jewish.
Pat Fraley: Jewish. You’re a big tall glass of Jew.
Bobby: Are you talking to me?
Pat Fraley: No, Bobby. I’m talking to Craig.
Brad Garrett: Brad.
Pat Fraley: Right. I’m casting a role for the new Nickelodeon cartoon series, Good Fellas Barnyard. It’s Good Fellas but I …
Brad Garrett: In a barnyard?
Pat Fraley: Right, with horses, chickens, and a farmer and a duck.
Joey: You think I’m funny?
Pat Fraley: Yes, Joey. You’re funny. Craig.
Brad Garrett: I’m Brad.
Pat Fraley: Greg.
Brad Garrett: Brad.
Pat Fraley: Okay. Now, Bobby is the horse. Harvey is the chicken and Joey’s the farmer. Okay? You got that?
Brad Garrett: Yes sir.
Pat Fraley: Then you take the gun. Here, take the gun. Take – here, take the prop.
Brad Garrett: Yes sir.
Pat Fraley: Okay, let’s try that.
Brad Garrett: Like this?
Pat Fraley: No, no. You can’t hold the gun that way. You’re a duck. You have wingies.
Brad Garrett: Sorry.
Pat Fraley: Yes, you hold it – no. Wings.
Brad Garrett: I’m sorry.
Pat Fraley: You point it at the horse and you say your line, “You dirty broken down horse. I give you (what for)?” You shoot him 27 times. Okay, let’s try that.
Brad Garrett: You dirty broken down …
Pat Fraley: You dirty broken old horse. I give you (what for)? Try it.
Brad Garrett: You dirty broken down horse. I give you (what for)?
Pat Fraley: You in the corner. I’ll get back to you. Harvey?
Harvey: You think I’m funny.
Pat Fraley: Yes, Joey. You are funny.
So Brad gets back to me and asked if I’d be interested in working up something fun for his TV show, Til Death which he produces in (Starzen). Also, I forwarded this clip to my agent for fun and she gets back me with this message.
“Hysterical. Keep it up and you may find an agent. I’m going to send this to (Sarah Newman) at Nickelodeon.”
Now, don’t get confused. Just because my agent in L.A. is sending this to (Sarah Newman), the head of casting at Nickelodeon doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. I remember when I lived in Australia and having Max Pepper who ran an audio studio send my reel-to-reel of something I did to a local advertiser. And in Seattle a few years later, (Jimmy Brado) at an audio studio sent one of my tapes to a producer at McKen Ericsson.
The only difference is that I’m committed and I should be committed for doing so, to live in L.A. This works everywhere in every market. And I’m not the only one who does this. Imagine my delight when I checked my e-mail on my birthday last year and heard this message from my pal, voiceover talent and teacher, Bob Bergen.
Bob Bergen: Happy (bobbi) Birthday to you. Happy (bobbi) Birthday to you. Happy (bobbi) Birthday dear (indiscernible 00:07:35) Patrick. Happy (bobbi) Birthday to you. (indiscernible 00:07:40) and many more.
Pat Fraley: Porky, that pig wishing me a birthday. How good is that? A favorite of many is a brief audio piece I did based on Frank Sinatra’s last days recording music and how he was doing duets with everyone under the sun. I came with this. It’s Frank Sinatra with veal.
Frank Sinatra: And more, much more than this, I did it my way. For what is a man what has he got, if not himself …
Pat Fraley: Also for years, I called kids on Christmas Eve and did Santa. My Santa always sounded little like Nixon but it delighted children. And after almost all sessions at Disney, I take requests for nieces and nephew calls, and requests from students and producers to send the child a message from Buzz. Here’s an example.
Hello, Benjamin. Come in. I’m in my spaceship and I wanted to communicate with you. I’m very pleased to make the coordinates to talk to you. I understand that you are excellent in school. Very good. You know, who told me that was your sister, Sarah. She said, “(indiscernible 00:09:05)”. I don’t know what language she uses but apparently, she’s’ very young.
Another ancillary benefit for doing things like these is that when my agent’s not calling and I’m sitting around, it’s something I can do. And I get such a joy out of applying my wares and doing something fun for somebody else. This whole endeavor reminds me of a slogan that my friend and voiceover talent, Pamela Chollet says, “Never chase the money. We’ll have embellished that.” Never chase the money, chase excellence and make the money chase you.
Finally, just know that some things just need to be free like this lesson and with your unique skills of doing voices; consider who might be amused and encouraged by your efforts. Sure, the genre I’ve chosen is mainly comedy and character voices but do a fake narration or trailer or commercial and consider doing it for someone specifically rather than a generic one. Post it on YouTube or Facebook, you may be delightfully surprised at the outcome when you embrace your amateur standing at voiceover.
Thanks for listening.
Julie-Ann Dean: To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Podcasts.Voices.com/VoiceoverExperts. Remember to stay subscribed.
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Your Instructor this week:
Patrick Fraley has created voices for over 4,000 characters, placing him among the top ten performers of all time to be cast in animation. He has produced dozens of award-winning audiobooks, such as, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Very Easy Death, and The Light in The Piazza. Pat produced and performed all 100 voices on the award winning audiobook, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which People Magazine hailed as, “The best yet of this evergreen.” Patrick teaches events, workshops, and seminars on various aspects of voice over across the country, and has created a variety of instructional books and CDs, all available at PatFraley.com. He is a member of The Voice and Speech Trainers of America, and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Professional Acting from Cornell University.