Do you Tweet? How many times have you rolled your eyes at yet another tweet from someone about what they had for dinner, or how well their kids did in a recent soccer game? Finding something worthwhile to say can be a daunting task. Twitter can not only be fun to follow various celebrities, friends and people you admire, but it can also help your business. I myself am still trying to figure out how best to do that and could use a lot of improvement. But, one thing I do know is that it's good to not always promote just your latest work, but rather be informative, helpful and fun in your tweetings. Is that even a word? Also re-tweeting other people's tweets is also good, as it's a way to help another person spread the word about something you and likely others are interested in. Feel free to follow me at jessicablue and happy tweeting!
Use Your Resources I can’t stress enough how awesome the VO community is. Not only is it chock full of really great, friendly and supportive people, there’s also a wealth of information that can be found within. Networking is a key part of this business and can certainly help move your career along. There are so many websites and blogs out there, it’s hard to know where to go to for the right and useful information. Trust your friends and mentors that you respect and ask them for guidance and/or where they turn to. One that I recommend you follow, a very cool and helpful new site which compiles several useful links regarding news and updates in the VO industry, is called insidevoiceover. Word of mouth and personal recommendations from people you know and trust are always considered the best resource. Take advantage of it, you never know what doors it may open for you!
New Promo New Logo So it’s a new year, and I finally have my promo demo completed (please check it out and have a listen; it's located on the Home page). I’ve been wanting this for quite awhile now, and I’m so excited that it’s finished; and I think it sounds fan-freakin-tastic, if I do say so myself. Must give kudos to Jeff and Laurent for making me sound so good! Thanks again guys!! And with a New Year and new promo demo, I’ve also decided to upgrade my brand/image. I think it’s much cooler, and well, more me, and I love it. I feel some great things are going to happen in 2011. So let’s get this party started and bring it on!
Goals Are A Good Thing At the beginning of the year I set 3 VO related goals for myself to complete by the end of the year. One goal was something that I could easily accomplish, well within my control. The second was something that I could hope to do but was partly out of my control. The third was a dream, totally out of my control, but definitely possible (if the stars and moon were in the correct alignment). With a lot of hard work, focus, dedication, and a few million prayers, I succeeded in reaching all 3 goals and completed them well before the end of the year. It certainly helps to have a great support system cheering you on and encouraging you to meet your goals, but set your mind to it, and anything is possible! As a very good friend of mine recently said, “Don’t dream it, Be it!”
Busy Busy After returning from Mexico a few months back, it’s been quite busy, in a good way. I’ve had several bookings in a variety of areas, including dialogue for a corporate training, young boys in web videos, telephone prompts, a tomboy, a prim and proper librarian for a video game, and I even got to participate in a feature length stop motion animated horror film. Having a niche you specialize in like audio books, for example, is a cool thing. Being able to perform a variety of characters and voices for all kinds of different projects is pretty awesome and I’m proud to be able to offer that versatility.
Everyone Should Take A Vacation Ahh, Mexico! Just returned from a week’s vacation in Cabo San Lucas where the weather was warm and sunny and the water was cool and refreshing. It’s always nice to visit paradise, not just to get away from the daily routine for a while, but also to rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit. While I can’t afford to take a vacation permanently, though I would secretly love to, I find meditation helps to calm and ground me. Not just in my normal daily life but also in voice over. Getting away and out of the normal rut is a good thing and can help one refocus on what’s important, or help to redirect oneself towards where they want to go. While I would’ve loved to stay in Mexico another week or two, I’m relaxed, refreshed and ready to get back at this Voice over thing I love so much!!
New and Improved After booking a few more jobs recently, I finally took the time and invested in fixing my home recording set up. I didn't break down and spend thousands of dollars on a whisper booth, but for a little time and a lot less money, I built my own 4x4x8 foot recording booth. It sounds so much better than my closet did and I'm happy with how it turned out. I also got a couple of new microphones as well, one is still back ordered, and I'm now using a Cakewalk preamp, which is oh so much better sounding than my old M-Audio USB pre-amp. It's amazing the difference a few components can make! If I was able to book from auditions with not so great sound quality, with this new and improved set-up - watch out world - here comes Blue - sounding better than ever!
Acting Before Accents I recently had a class with Samantha Paris, non other than the owner and voice actress extraordinaire of Voicetrax. I brought in an audition to work on that required an accent. It consisted of several lines for a video game. She had me first run it down without any accent. We fine tuned it to get a good range of emotions for each line - get the acting down first. Once we had that established and had created an interesting character, then we added the accent to it. It made all the difference in the world. What was originally a hollow character with no real substance and an accent, was now a character that was mysterious and had depth to her, with an accent that worked. That's what I took away from that class. Get the acting down before you worry about the accent!
New Audio Added - Check it out! I mentioned earlier that I booked a radio spot for First Republic Bank. While the jury's still out on whether or not it will actually be aired, you can hear right here. Click on Credits and then click the link to play the 60 second radio spot. Not sure who the announcer is but I think her voice is a nice contrast to mine. Cool! Hooray for Bookings! Just booked a radio spot for First Republic Bank. Not sure what the market area is for broadcast but will try to find out at the session. I get to do a video game and a commercial in the same week? Life is good!
L.A. Idol Voice Over Competition Voicetrax, my first choice for voice over education, has a class where the students get to compete for a shot at auditioning for a well-known and respected talent agency in Los Angeles. In the first round 20 students perform several dialogue scripts in front of the booth director from that L.A. agency. After the day is done all the recordings are taken back to L.A. and the owners and casting agents of the agency listen to everyone’s performances and narrow down their best picks and move 12 students into the final round. Yours truly has made it to the finals, which happens to be this weekend. A character script that I can rock, probably another dialogue and commercial script will be what each student has to perform, all in front of the agency owner, a booth director and the animation casting agent. It’s a tough crowd and the competition is fierce, but I’m just going to bring it and do my best and know that I will rock it! Wish me luck!!
Fun Video Game Session I was recently booked for a fun little video game (it’s confidential, but once it’s released I will update with more info). I got to be four different characters ranging in age from early 20s to late 40s and it was super fun. One of the characters I hadn’t auditioned for, but because my training had prepared me for this, I was able to deliver what they wanted. Even though my Russian accent turned into a French/German hybrid European mix of who knows what exactly, it still somehow worked for the character. Note to self, work on Russian accent! Can’t wait to do more!
And Speaking of Characters... My character demo is DONE! I'm proud of it and happy with the finished product. Please have a listen by clicking on the Demos link to the left. The 2 minute version gives you a better sense of the characters in it and the 1 minute version is just a paired down snapshot of the 2 minute. Happy listening!
Characters Are Not Just About A Funny Voice Initially when I started voice over, I wanted to be a cartoon voice. I wanted to be Mel Blanc. After taking several character classes and realizing how difficult it really is to sustain the voice and be the character, I sorta shied away from it and focused more on commercials and narration. Only within the last year or so have I returned to all the funny voices in my head, and started making them come alive out loud.
After recently taking a character class with Samantha Paris, I took away several things. Probably the most significant thing was that the voice is not as important as the acting. So many times people are hung up with having that funny, quirky sounding charactery voice, and it can sound pretty good. But if you don't believe in what your saying, or why you're saying it, it's just not believable. If you are committed to your choices, and your acting is good, the voice will follow, and then you can focus on technique and learn how to sustain the voice for that character. There's a character in all of us. Mine are coming out to play more often now. :)
Act But Be You So I was in yet another acting class with the owner of an L.A. talent agency and this time it was all about acting and making the right choices. Ultimately, one of the main points I took away from the class was that you have to "bring a slice of you" in whatever you do. It's not about the voice so much as the acting, the choices you make, believability and sounding like you instead of trying to sound like someone or something else. Granted, sounding like someone else does have it's perks and can create new and interesting characters for your "tool box of voices", but there still has to be YOU in there somewhere. You is what is unique that no one else has or can do as well as you. It's kind of cool when you think that there's something you can bring to the table, or audition/job in this case, that no one else can.
Act Your Age, Or At Least What You Sound Like I recently took a character acting class with an L.A. talent agent where each student had to submit 5 different characters via mp3. This was a test of not only if we could pick appropriate scripts for our voices, but also to show off our acting talents for those characters, and how well we follow directions. Luckily I came out fairly unscathed unlike some of my fellow cohorts. It was an important lesson to know not only what your voice sounds like but also the age range that you fit into. Some people can realistically sound like kids, while others shouldn't touch that with a 10 foot pole. Just the opposite applies to where if you're 20 something, you're probably not right for older commanding type voices, even if you have a deep booming voice. There's something to be said about life experiences, regardless of how well a person can act. So long story short, when doing characters, act within your voice range that's right for you.
Sam Pond Radio Entertainment Have you ever laughed so much that your mouth and face hurt? Well I think they should've put a warning to that effect for Sam Pond's Comedic Radio class. As a writer, producer, and actor, he's a pretty funny guy. Pushing the edge to see how far you can take something is a feature of Sam's. He likes to explore and play to see what possibilities will come of it, because anything can happen. It's pretty cool and a lot of fun. But just know that your mouth and face will be sore from all the laughter.
January 25, 2009 I attended a class this past weekend with one of the casting directors from Sony video games. Not only was it informative about the video game industry and a behind the scenes look at how games are made, it also provided for some unique insight into the audtion process and how the recording session would go for a Sony game. The director gives rapid-fire direction giving you no time to think about what to do, you just do it. That forces you to be in the moment and not over-analyze the script or what you think they want, which so many of us can fall victim to. It was an awesome experience and I hope to do more of that type of work in the future.
Happy New Year 2009! This year brings many new and fun challenges to my VO world. I will be continuing in my quest of learning and adding more skills to my "tool bag". Also, I am now represented by Stars, The Agency in San Francisco, which I'm very excited about. Now if the economy would just turn around so the auditions come pouring in, that would be fantastic! As a friend and mentor told me, it's time to Book Blue in 2009!
November 16, 2008 - Ultimate Road Test This weekend I attended a class at Voicetrax with Dean Panaro from the DPN Talent Agency (located in Los Angeles). Man, what an inspiration he is! Not only did he provide honest feedback about everyone's performances, but he is so genuinely passionate about the voiceover business and you can tell he loves his work. He encouraged everyone to be great, be available and be yourself. Follow those three rules, and you'll be sure to find your own success. He may not think so, but he's a natural instructor, able to hone in on each individual's strengths and build on them. I'm sure he's a good agent, but he's also a great teacher. I highly recommend taking a class with him. You're sure to be inspired too!
September 17, 2008 - Susan Blu (no relation) This Friday I will be attending a seminar featuring the infamous Susan Blu. Presented in a format similar to "Inside the Actor's Studio", Susan Blu will be sharing her insights and experiences with her voiceover career. While more recently she has performed roles as a voice and casting director (imdb link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0089454/) she also has many credits under her belt for voicing numerous character roles from several animated series including Scooby Doo, Transformers, Jem, My Little Pony and Friends, Cars (the movie), and The Simpsons. Should be fun and interesting.
September 5, 2008 - Electronic Arts Ok, so I'm getting ready to attend yet another "video game" class, similar to the Sony one, this one has the casting folks from Electronic Arts. The first night we'll probably do a mock audition of a script from a past video game they produced. The next day the casting directors will come in, hear the auditions, pick who they would cast in the various character roles, and then provide further direction to tweak the performances. At least that's how it went with Sony, and it was AWESOME! Super fun.
August 10, 2008 - Sony This weekend I'll be attending a class called The Voicetrax Edge with Sony. The Sony VO casting powers that be will be on hand to talk about their audition process, the talent they work with and their current and future projects and games. The following day will be a hands on, get behind the mic fun-fest of performing actual scripts in front of their casting directors that they've used for their video games, past, present and maybe even future. Should be tons of fun!
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