- How do you keep your work fresh?
- How have trailers influenced the industry?
- What kind of recognition do you want?
- What kind of vocal techniques do you use?
- Will women break into this field?
Don: I have a number of people who influenced my career, mostly by their example. Orson Welles had a huge impact on my life, as did Alexander Scourby, Norman Rose and Peter Thomas. Don Morrow has been a dear friend and mentor for around 40 years. His influence on my entire approach to this business can’t be overstated. Contemporary voices that I enjoy (aside from those listed in my “Other Voices” section) are Peter Coyote, Hector Elizando, Sally Kirkland and Donald Sutherland.
Don: I have done that in the past, but now the requests have become so frequent that I have had to pretty much cut it out. I occasionally will do a favor in exchange for a donation to one of my favorite charities, and sometimes as an auction item for worthy causes, but for the most part, I have had to curtail that activity, simply because of the volume of requests, and the limitations of time.
Don: I speak at various seminars throughout the year, but I don’t have classes at this time. I do not take on interns or associates. I have had a number of requests to do that, but, since I work out of my home, it’s simply not practical.
Don: I really don’t have a favorite. A number of them stand out in my mind, but every time I try and pin one down as my all-time favorite, I think of another one that I like better. I have worked on nearly 5000 films and three quarters of a million other spots, tags, press kits, sales pieces, etc. After a while they all blur together…
Don: Singing lessons always help. You may never perform in Carnegie Hall, but you will improve your breath control, and expand the range of your vocal delivery. Also, simply using (not abusing) your voice by reading out loud will, over time, improve the quality and strength of your instrument. Do not think that smoking and drinking is going to help you develop a deep, rich tone. Smoking and drinking will help you develop cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. Take care of your voice, and it will work for you.
Don: It’s a lot less complicated then it was when I was starting out. Today, all you really need to get started is a computer and a good microphone. There are a number of software programs that you can purchase or download that will allow you to record, edit and enhance your voice. I suggest you investigate your options based upon what you can afford. There is new technology that is emerging that will allow you almost instant computer access to your clients. ISDN Digital Phone lines are used by most of the top Voice Actors. With this technology, they can work from their home studios to virtually any place in the world with the same equipment.
Don: To begin, remember that it’s not the quality of the voice that counts, it’s the quality of the delivery. For those just starting out, I suggest you find a good VO class. This may not be easy in many parts of the country, but if you live in or near Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, you should be able to find a choice of classes. Some also exist in other cities, but be sure to check out the credentials of the teaching staff before you commit. If classes are not available (and even if they are) I recommend a few books that I believe will give you a running start in the business.
“Secrets of Voice Over Success” by Joan Baker features the viewpoints of more than a dozen working Voice Actors, including myself. You’ll learn from their experiences, and receive terrific guidance in the areas of acting, studio techniques, client relations, and many other areas.
“Step Up to the Mic: A Positive Approach to Succeeding in Voice-Overs” and “You Can Bank on Your Voice” by Rodney Saulsberry. These books explore critical aspects of VO from the viewpoint of one of the most successful Voice Actors in the business.
“The Art of Voice Acting” by James R. Alburger. Step by step instruction on developing a voice over career, including exercises to help strengthen your instrument.
(Joan, Rodney and Jim’s contact information can be found in the “Other Voices” section of this website.)
And remember, practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.