How Do I Get Started With Voiceover Work?
By Rudy Gaskins and Joan Baker
July 28th, 2021 – SOVAS
Q: I’m interested in getting into voiceover work. I don’t have any experience in the field but think it’s something I would enjoy and could be good at. What are the first few steps I should take? —Gena D., Los Angeles
When considering a career in voice acting, it’s helpful to understand that the behind-the-scenes nature of the industry has resulted in a profession cloaked in mystery. The road to success is cluttered with inexperienced people promoting themselves as gateways to prosperity. We say this not to discourage you, only to make you aware: don’t be frustrated when you discover that the path is not as straightforward as one might expect. Our advice is that you work with the people who are true industry influencers, who work at the top of the game, and who believe in nothing less than the pursuit of excellence.
Historically, there has never been a traditional school or defined apprenticeship for voice acting. Google will point you to hundreds of training resources, but discerning the frauds from truly legitimate teachers requires deeper research. If you can connect with a knowledgeable insider who isn’t looking to sell you anything, that could be a good start.
That said, your first step is to understand the journey upon which you are about to embark so that you go in with your eyes wide open. High-quality training takes time, and it’s expensive by most people’s standards. As a total newbie with no acting background, expect to do 8-18 months of weekly, one-hour, one-on-one sessions at $125 to $200 per session. Additional classes in traditional acting and improv are necessary supplements to your training. You might even consider traditional acting classes before starting your voiceover training.
Once you reach a professional level of acting proficiency and confidence in your abilities, you will need to have a demo reel produced. Your teacher may guide you to excellent demo producers, or maybe they offer this service themselves. However, just because someone is good at teaching does not mean they are good at producing demo reels. Ask around and choose wisely.
To get talent representation or to seek out work on your own, a professional home studio is a must. Expect to spend 3-8K on equipment, software, soundproofing, and professional guidance, and software training. When setting up a professional studio in your home, a lot depends on the specifics of your environment. In addition to the studio, you will be learning some new recording software and basic engineering skills to be able to interact efficiently with clients.
Finally, you will benefit from learning to market yourself through branding, promotion, networking, and building relationships. There are definite costs associated with establishing a visual brand to put out into the marketplace. At minimum you need a quick way for potential clients to hear your demo reel. A web site is a good choice for this but there are other clever ways to do it. A multi-pronged strategy is best. Mind you, we’re describing the bare bones of the process. There’s still a lot of cartilage, ligaments, and tendons that hold the bones together. Are your eyes wide open yet?
The gateway to the voiceover promised land is working one-on-one with a primary coach. You will likely work with several coaches over time — in fact, that’s becoming more and more common. But your primary coach, like a trusted therapist, will be the mentor and counselor that guides you on your path, until you are ready to leave the nest. Specialized group classes will augment and expand your training, but your primary coach is key. The training style will vary from coach to coach, though the top coaches tend to speak a common language, each with their own unique insights. That said, training is composed of guided practice and directed rehearsals. The training process is nonlinear and follows the rhythm and flow of the teacher/student relationship. You will learn traditional acting techniques, script analysis, speech, diction, improvisation, interpretive skills, rehearsal process skills, and self-direction. Throughout your studies, you will also learn the business of voice acting. This is because much of your training has evolved to fit the parameters of the business and what will be expected of you in professional settings.
Be an impeccable, amazing student. Consider what your idea of an outstanding student is, and bring that idea to every class, session, homework assignment, and job. Never stop being an amazing student. There is much to learn, and most of it is fun, exciting, humbling, and even healing. I have yet to meet a student who wasn’t surprised by the depth of the craft. And I have never met a master voice actor who wasn’t still training. Good luck! ♥♥♥
From SOVAS – A Voiceover Career Expo for all levels.