Today I have an exciting announcement: I have a page on ScottishVoiceOvers.com, featuring my face and my voice, saying things! It’s almost (but not quite) like having an agent, and I’m incredibly thrilled about it.
I’ve mentioned here before that I love reading out loud. When we were driving across the United States, one of the things I would do to while away the hours was read classic travel stories – the most apt, of course, being Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. So in August, when the opportunity arose to do a five-day intensive Radio and Voiceover class at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I took it.
The five days felt a little like having a voice boot camp. Typically the mornings would involve working on our voices, before getting an ‘assignment’ to work on before spending the afternoon in the professional-standard studios.
Prior to the class, I assumed that I would enjoy the audio book sessions the most. But it’s funny… when you’re just reading to yourself, or to a loved one who enjoys your company, it doesn’t really matter how often you stumble. You just carry along without a care in the world, not really noticing that you said ‘marfy’ instead of ‘marshy’. It doesn’t matter much when you hiccup in the middle of an epic fight scene. Don’t know how to pronounce ‘penguin’? Who cares! Make it up!
But when you’re in a studio you can’t just make it up. (Unless you’re Benedict Cumberbatch apparently.) You’re sitting in front of a thick glass window with many, many eyes on you, and you can’t hear what they’re saying until you muck it up and they buzz into your ear and tell you to do it again. And again. And again. And that word didn’t quite sound right… and didn’t that character sound a bit more Irish the last time you made up a voice for him? Didn’t you pronounce that made-up sci-fi word with a hard g last time? Just try it again. (And again. And again…)
One of our tutors told us a story about a an audio book she did with multiple characters with long, unpronounceable names. Each was from a different Northern or Eastern European country. She needed to retain separate accents AND separate for Estonian, Latvian, Russian and Polish characters, most of whom were men, before reverting to her own Scottish accent for the narration. After a few days in the studio I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed with someone.
Our main teacher was Donald Pirie, who aside from being a really prolific voice over artist himself turned out to be a very cool guy. I really enjoyed working with him, and after the class, he encouraged all of us to go and get professional voicereels sorted out. Of course, about three days after the end of our course I was getting onto a plane to travel America for three months, so I put it off.
When I came back, though, I emailed Donald and he was awesome – just as encouraging as before. One of the things I had always assumed was that actors with voicereels were simply stitching them together from adverts they’d been hired to do. As it turns out this is not true! I was free to pick anything I liked to say, and the wonderful guys at Pacific Audio would patiently record me.
Now that I’ve got the reel, all (!!) I need to do is get it out there, as much and as often as I can, and hope that someone bites. It’s reassuring to have a little piece of professionally-recorded proof: look! I am a person who can do these things! Fingers crossed it all gathers momentum from here…!