We asked voiceover expert and Acting Studio Chicago instructor, Brad Grusnick, to share his advice for new voice actors. Check out the Q & A below for Brad’s advice on agents, opportunities in other markets, and how to break into gaming and animation.
1) For new voice actors just starting out in their career, how do you suggest they find voiceover opportunities?
Take classes and hone your skills.
Too many people have little acting experience and think they can jump right into voiceover work without training. Voiceover is an entirely different skill set, just as theatre and screen acting are different skill sets.
Get A Professional Demo Made.
Once you have few classes under your belt and feel that your reads are consistent with the commercials in the marketplace, the next step for a new voice actor would be to get a professional VO demo made with a reputable demo producer.
Looking for further advice before getting to work on your demo? Check out this 1 Minute Teacher Tip – “How To Find Material For Your Voiceover Demo” – from VO expert, and ASC instructor, Brian Plocharczyk.
Submit Your Professional Demo to Agents
Agents are the best way to get legit and paid work – both union and non-union.
Other than having a stellar demo and solid resume, the best way to get an agent’s attention is by knowing one of the actors they already represent.
If you have a good relationship with another actor and have mutual respect for each other’s work, ask that person if they would be willing to send your demo to their agent. Having a personal recommendation from one of your collegues can help get an agents attention and put you at the top of their list.
If you do make an unsolicited submission to an agency – without the help of a friend or collegue – be sure to carefully follow the submission guidelines the agency has posted on their website.
- Agents are wary of opening any email that has a random attachment. Set yourself up for success and follow their submission guidelines so that your email doesn’t end up in the digital circular file!
Sign up for reputable acting sites while you search for an agent.
Actors Access and Casting Networks are great resources. There’s also the occasional voiceover audition on Backstage.
Alternatively, there are plenty of “pay-to-play” sites where you pay for access to auditions…but be careful!
While work can be found on pay-to-play sites, new voice actors should be extremely careful and read agreements thoroughly when booking jobs off these sites. If you ever see the words “Use in Perpetuity”… RUN!
2) Is there any difference between markets in terms of voiceover work and opportunities?
There is absolutely a difference between voiceover markets!
For commercial voice-over opportunities, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York are all big and competitive markets.
For video games, most of the work is in Los Angeles and some of it in San Francisco.
Animation work comes primarily out of Los Angeles. Some animation auditions will come through Chicago and other markets, but the majority of it is in Los Angeles.
For anime dubbing, Funimation is based in Dallas and they do a lot of casting out of the Dallas market, as well as Los Angeles.
3) What have you learned as a voice actor working on animated shows vs working on commercials?
You have to be fearless and make the bold choice. When making choices, such as if your character is falling downstairs or having their heart-broken, take your emotional choice to an 11. That doesn’t mean everything has to be spastic or yelled. It means fully commit to your choices, especially in the honest and quiet moments. Directors can always pull you back – it is more difficult to rev you up.
Don’t forget to have fun! People get so in their head about the audition and doing things perfectly, that they forget to have fun! The mic can smell desperation a mile away.
A lot of new voice actors think the work is just about doing “funny voices”. However, the “funny voice” should be the last thing layered on after you’ve made sure the emotions, actions, and relationships are authentic.
4) Do you have any advice for new voice actors interested in pursuing a career specifically in video games/animation?
Whereas a lot of animation is bigger and broad in performance, video games are getting more and more cinematic by the minute. Gamers can sense a dishonest performance right away. Whether you are fighting a fire, or about to be devoured by zombies, your performance has to be believable!
Other than taking classes devoted to those styles of voice acting, new voice actors should study the medium they wish to pursue.
Watch animated series and note how the voice actor’s performances vary between networks. Play video games, or watch others play them on Youtube, and pay attention to the voice acting.
Most of all, never stop being curious and playful!
For even more voiceover resources, be sure to read our previous blog post, Voiceover Q & A with ASC’s VO Pros!