March 23, 2017
February 28, 2017
February 11, 2017
January 26, 2017
November 14, 2016
July 7, 2016
June 10, 2016
May 31, 2016
February 5, 2016
January 29, 2016
September 10, 2015
May 8, 2014
Cannot tell you how often I’m working with someone and they spend precious time condemning “how it is.” The list is familiar but bears airing so the focus can get back where it belongs … on what you can do something about!
So, here goes:
“I liked it better when we auditioned at our agent’s office, at the client or a studio.”
While much of that still exists, especially in the major markets, it’s not only a dying model but one that takes up so much time, it’s a wonder anyone still does it!
“I do better when I’m directed”.
Yes, but for most of the world, self-direction is all they know or have ever known.
“You know what they do … they listen to a few reads from the top sources, pick one and never listen to the rest.”
Really. So how come boutiques are still in business? Are they also taking in laundry?
“Why don’t celebrities leave voiceover alone so us ”little guys“ can get a crack at some of that higher end work”.
News flash: This is business … and a highly competitive one at that. True, its difficult to fight the inherent Marquee Value of a name, for which clients pay a premium, especially in animation but, the celebrity read has a feel to it that is unmistakable. Resenting is useless, but learning from them … well, there’s a thought.
“Think I need to change agents/managers”.
Are you getting opportunities? If so, what more can they be doing that is not happening? It’s no longer the norm that a rep pitches a single talent and “gets them a job,” so if that’s why you want to make a change, it’s probably not going to change when you get to the new office. It’s also very easy for someone to make promises and very hard to be the incumbent. Maybe there are some adjustments you can make, then see if there’s a difference in your results and if not, then perhaps it is time to move on, if you can. The rep world is very tight and the more talent that seek representation, the tougher it is to get a berth on a roster.
It’s great but don’t spend too much time impressing your peers. Unless they can give you a job or recommend you for one, your time is best spent on all the elements of your career that always need tending: materials, marketing, research … and the all important read, for all the genres in which you work or want to work. That right there is a full time job!
Note: What’s true for one may not be true for others. Often, when people don’t have a real answer for why something is or isn’t happening, they make one up and then act like it’s true. They post it, it goes viral and next thing you know, it’s law!
The Biggest Elephant in the Room:
This career – like so many now – can become one that might run its course long before you do. It’s a phenomenon that is a fact of life, from acting to dance, from to sports to the general workplace. But, in each and every area, there are those who have become timeless and carry on, often with even more success than before.
I give you Betty White.
What is it about her that is so enduring as well as endearing? She doesn’t take herself too seriously, doesn’t make the time in which she is currently living “wrong,” knows who she is, stays on top of her game, operates out of gratitude and is clearly having the time of her life!
March 14, 2014
It’s a mind set that says there is a specific amount of steps, courses, workshops, or money — as well as any other training option out there — that, at the completion of the program, a certificate is awarded and participants are now certified as professional and ready to compete with players who’ve been at it for a while.
The problem is, and I find myself saying this more and more every day:
“The Industry didn’t go to that meeting.”
Most resources for training, building and reinforcing craft and career, are set up on the trade school model, i.e. businesses that sell and market training as their end game. Even the ones who help get graduates get jobs cannot guarantee employment. Of course, you do have a better chance at getting a job if you actually understand the business you are pursuing but in the case of voiceover, that could easily inhibit enrollment.
Moving out into the work sector is a whole ‘nuther conversation and one that totally doesn’t fit any specific model.
But often, it’s sold as if it does.
So, I often hear:
“How many classes (we don’t offer classes) or how much money (we don’t have a set amount) before I can record a demo (when you are ready to compete) and start getting work and making money?” (No crystal ball for that one either).
“I’ve taken the courses, produced the demos, and put up a website. Where the bleep is my career?”
“I’ve invested X amount of dollars and time and have to start earning it back and then some, so I can redo the demo I don’t like, but am going to send out anyway to try and make back some of what I spent on it.”
“I am making a good living but cannot get an agent or a manager, especially in a bigger city.”
Or, or, or.
Again, the Industry did not go to any of those meetings.
This is not a trade or even a profession where a certain amount of training, investment or desire will net any sort of return, whatsoever.
It is … is a gamble. You are betting on Yourself with one chip, and the House has stacked the odds in its favor with an endless supply of chips.
Even when you are a smart, savvy, sensational player; there is no guarantee when, or if, this will pay off.
Talent and desire increase your odds. But without awareness of the ever-changing factors that influence a rise up the ladder, or a backslide just when you thought you were getting somewhere, you will languish in resentment and frustration.
It’s your job to learn and know because the trade school will not tell you it can take years to get somewhere. About being replaced for reasons unknown to you. What it’s like to be in a session with a director who has no idea what they want and keeps blaming you. Hearing the read that was chosen and knowing that wasn’t in the original specs.
This and so much more are the absolutely reality of the day to day, every day.
A statistic that a client developed via research with unions and other respected resources said that in 2009, there were 1.3 million people pursuing voiceover in the U.S. alone … every day. That was 2009.
Since then, the genre had gotten more exposure and therefore more aspirants than ever before.
Have I sufficiently depressed you? That’s my job.
Because if and when you come to terms with this, then and only then are you ready for the long haul. Then and only then are you sufficiently sobered to the absolute reality of the game you’re playing or wanting to play.
If it happens sooner, I am the first one to get out the poms-poms and cheer!
In the meantime, it’s drills and development to get to the pro ranks and even more so now … to stay there and keep rising to higher and higher levels of accomplishment and success.
April 4, 2013
It used to be easier. Well, comparatively speaking.
The pattern was to take some classes, put a demo together and send it off to agents. If they were interested, they’d call, you’d go in, read, they’d tell you how they work and a contract would arrive after that.
And, they were patient.
Sometimes, for years.
That is so not the case any longer. That level is not as accessible as it once was.
It’s less parental and more of a partnership.
And, there’s an interim step in between I call Traction.
Traction is where talent first set themselves up for work and go after whatever they can get, wherever they can and start building a portfolio.
With showcase work and some impressive clients under one’s belt, the chances of getting a major market manager and/or agent to then want to help rev up the engine of the career are greatly enhanced.
Yes, it’s frustrating and time consuming, and not the image of representation we grew up thinking it would be. But wanting it to be the way it was will only slow you down. So will entitlement.
No one is guaranteed this career and anyone who might have trivialized the rigor and mind-blowing odds was being self-serving and did everyone a huge dis-service. And yes, I have been a part of miracles based on dint of will, and have seen lightening strike, but they are rare exceptions.
It’s basically a slog. It takes time, energy, patience and a substantial investment to establish, grow and re-invent as time, technology and the culture change the manner in which we express ourselves.
But, in the last few years, the end game seems to have gotten a bit derailed. The desire and need to be seen as a player, has eclipsed the time, due diligence and seasoning one must have to actually be one and be ready to compete on that level, read after read after read.
Producers did not go to the meeting in your head. They went to the one where reads consistently sound and feel they way they are supposed to sound and feel with them saying and doing as little as possible to get you there.
They went to the one where the traction you’ve gained has gotten you to the place where they see you as a player. That’s the end game because that’s where the career lives and grows.
March 4, 2013
The assistant director arrived on set one morning and said “Anyone want a dog? We found one in the shopping center last night, but he’s afraid of kids.”
“What is it?, I asked.
“A gray poodle”.
My mother fell in love with one that belonged to a friend and said that if ever we had another dog, that’s would be what she wanted.
I was going home for the holidays so he stayed with me and my three roommates in our one bedroom apartment for two nights, then on to Florida.
At first I called him “Leapshin” because he was very jumpy. He begrudgingly responded but we both knew that wasn’t his name.
Without tags however, how was I going to find out his name?
He told me.
I’m in the kitchen, drying the dishes and talking to my mother. I must have used the word “lucky” because the dog sat up and looked at me with wonder!
I looked at him. “Is your name Lucky?” I asked.
He bounded over to me, jumped into my arms and covered me with kisses!
From that point on, his whole demeanor changed.
He knew who he was and when everyone else also knew…he was at peace.
February 23, 2013
On my morning walks along the LA River, yes, there is one. Well sort of one. Here and there. Here, it’s half low tide and the other half concrete but the family of ducks that live in it don’t seem to mind. Nor do the egret and the crane. Squirrels abound along the banks. Lofty pines and pines are dense and make it look more like Northern California.
Along the roadway atop the wash, as it is also called, is a guardrail. Inside the guardrail are rows and rows of bushes. Mostly holly with some wild flowers dotting the path. But there is, for all the world, tucked inside the bushes, one lone rose vine. One. The seed must have blown over from a yard across the street or hitched a ride with a bird.
About 10 days ago, I notice a brave little bud in that most unlikely setting.
I thought of clipping it and then thought: “Its too soon. If I cut it now, it will never have a chance to achieve full bloom”. So, I left it and have watched it.
It started to open and then faltered. That’s when I took the first picture and opted to let it alone.
Yesterday I saw that the side where it had started to bloom was dark, dry and closing down the rest of the flower. I decided it had probably gone as far as it could, on its own.
I brought it in and stripped away the old, dead petals, put it in water with a little sugar and lo and behold, its opening again! And, hidden underneath the old petals were moist, supple, pinkish petals that would never have seen the light of day had I not taken it in.
It might not ever pose for ads in magazines and catalogues, but it’s having a longer run than it would have had that outer layer not been peeled away.
February 11, 2013
The Players’ job is to run with the ball.
The Spectators’ job is cheer and jeer.
The Skybox’s job is commentary and controversy.
Spectators fan the Flames.
The Skybox fuels the Flames.
The Players run through the Flames.
If they allow themselves to get blinded by the Smoke,
someone else is now running with the ball.
February 4, 2013
Just for the record, I know less about football than I do quantum physics. I watch The Super Bowl and other major sporting events to see how the athletes do under the extreme pressure of “winner-take-all” challenges.
It’s the kind of pressure talent have when they move to the level where the competition is ferocious and the stakes could not be higher.
When you hit that level, all the noise has to fall away and what matters is simply winning…consistently winning. Everything else is just filler.
Both teams were amazing and it could have gone either way. To my untrained eye, it appeared that the game was not won but lost. The 49ers were favored to win.
The Ravens came in knowing that but not acting like it.
Too often talent will talk about opportunities with mock irony saying they pretty much know who will be chosen. They are mentally giving the job to someone else.
If that’s the case, why bother?
If you want to win, stop calling the game before it’s played and play to win, no matter what the odds say.
January 25, 2013
Am looking forward to my interview on East West Audio Body Shop this Sunday, January 27, 2013.
Here is all the information for joining in:
East West AUDIO Body Shop airs “live” at 6pm pacific; 9pm eastern on http://ustream.tv/channel/EWABS
We will be taking questions from the Chat Room and from EWABShop@gmail.com
Listeners can also check http://www.EWABS.net They can find the past episodes, etc.
Facebook PAGE is http://facebook.com/EWABShop
Questions for Marice Tobias, Dan Lenard, or George Whittam can be sent to EWABShop@gmail.com
October 27, 2012
They are mostly nine years old, the age I believe, when childhood, now begins to transition into pre-adolescence and they become more peer and outer- focused.
I am visiting friends in Texas. They live on a horse ranch from where they also broadcast their daily radio show and a syndicated countdown show. We are working on some projects as well as catching up.
When they picked me up at the airport, Sherry said “Oh, we have a very busy schedule for you Auntie High Shoes!” That’s the nickname their daughter Lexi gave me when she was very young and I bestowed a pair of my high heels on her. They were too big then but it didn’t matter. She trounced around the ranch, the barn, and out to the studio and bunkhouse which also houses a full-on recording studio for artists and bands who come out to be on the Show and record tracks and albums while they are here. She’s been helping do chores since she could walk, more often than not , in her fabulous Marc Jacobs peep toes! My kind of girl!
Along with the 15 award-winning Morgan horses and assorted creatures that have found their way to this haven, there is an ancient pony named Princess, two burros, a llama and a camel named Moses. Yep, a camel. He’s their third. What are people thinking when they adopt animals that will grow huge and need a whole lot more than walks and food?
As we walked up the steps of the charming parochial school that Lexi attends, my mind was on what I was going to say to her class. They are participating in a poetry reading competition that will send two classmates from their school to the county-wide finals in Dallas.
They were seated at their wrought-iron filigree and dark wood turn of the 19th century desks, wondering what this stranger was going to do and more importantly, what she might be asking of them.
Lexi’s dad, Jon, had spoken to them last week and now introduced me. I stood up looking at upturned faces, their cautious eyes following me as I now moved to where their teacher usually stood.
Girls were looking at what I was wearing and then to each other. The boys stared or fidgeted
I began: Did you know that whenever we talk, we are always speaking with two voices, not one?”
They looked at me, puzzled. I glanced at the teacher, indicating the blackboard. She nodded permission for me to use the board.
I wrote “Voice” on the dusty chalkboard, a pale charcoal from many years of service.
“The first voice is the one that makes the sound.“
I wrote “Voice” on the board again.
“The second is our way of telling the world how we feel about what we are saying. The first is the envelope. The second is the message in it.”
To my amazement, they were listening and, it appeared, even interested!
So, when you read your poems, make sure to let us know how much you like what you are saying as well as making sure we hear the words themselves.”
We then went around the room and those who wanted to participate got up and read. Two were pretty good, most were not bad and a few were really self-conscious and struggled with words or comprehension and raced or mumbled through the poems like the Roadrunner escaping from the Coyote. (Sound familiar?)
No matter what they did, I found a way to gave each a compliment and let the class know what I felt we learned from each contribution.
We fear embarrassment more than just about anything. The courage that I saw in that classroom was breathtaking. And, what was even better, no one laughed or rushed the less agile readers. One little girl didn’t have a poem but wanted to read. Lexi said she could read the one she’d delivered. The little girl wasn’t familiar with the poem, but Lexi stayed close to her, coaching and encouraging her little pal with great tenderness and respect.
Bravo Mommy and Daddy.
And, bravo to The Fourth Grade and teachers who give their students courage and encourage them to reach beyond their comfort zones.
PS: Lexi, I’ll be sending more shoes soon!
-Auntie High Shoes