Saturday, October 11, 2008

Shaking the Bee Out Of My Bonnet. Part II

"Getting Paid to Talk" with the producer from Voice Coaches was a very different experience from the other class, though the format was the same.  As were five of the seven students.

This time our teacher was from Long Island, and he had a lot of east coast energy.  I am the most insecure person in the world, so it's possible that he wasn't actually putting a thin veneer of amiability over a core of disdain and condescension, but that's how he struck me.  I felt incredibly unsure of myself.

The message was also a lot more manipulative.  (Note the aforementioned title of this class.)  There were multiple disclaimers:  "It's not glamorous, you won't get rich, it's hard, it's not for everyone, I'M not for everyone" but all of the anecdotes were of average people who stuck with it and in the end found outrageous success.

On the bright side, he went over some very basic things that hadn't been covered in the other class...the proper lingo, who you'd be working with, what it's like when you go out on a job.

This time we recorded a lot more, and it did not go so well for me.  I was really flustered.  He recorded our first cold reading and then recorded us again, giving direction.  It didn't help that we were sitting down and had to lean into the mike.  Also try to make your voice lower and breathier while reading with a big smile on your face.  It's harder than it sounds!

But, hey, I don't have to write any more about that part because you can hear it for yourself.  With our permission, he was recording for a podcast, which you can find here.  (It's the visit to Vancouver.)  My group was in the second half, so feel free to fast forward.  It's pretty short, but a little goes a long, long way.  Also keep in mind that the account given in the podcast of how we were coached is only loosely based on what actually happened in class.  (IE not entirely true.)

I left feeling discouraged.  I'd been too nervous to relax enough to follow direction well.  How could I know if I'd ever get over that?  We were asked if we wanted a feedback call the next day, and of course we all did.  We were warned that it would be brutally honest.  (Making one all the more likely to sign up for their program if one is not told one stinks.  They're clever.)

Well, let me tell you, that phone call was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.  It was from a man who's been doing broadcasting and voice work for over 40 years.  "Hello!  Would this be Gypsy Martin?"  He said my voice had good tone and warmth and then moved on to what kind of ads they would cast me in.  The funny thing was that after each category, he would launch into a demonstration in the appropriate announcer voice.  It was so having a conversation with the MovieFone man.

They would use me for:

-high end luxury brands like Mercedes and Godiva (the word sensual was in there somewhere, but I was too overwhelmed to remember everything.

-exotic travel destinations

-character voices for children's books, toys, or video games

and-I kid you not- he said, "John thinks you would be VERY VERY good with MYSTERIOUS material.  Like a Stephen King book or a short work by Edgar Allen Poe."   

Making the conversation even weirder was this fellow's use of the English language.  It was like he'd been reading someone else's words for so long that he'd forgotten how to put them together himself.  Like "mysterious material."  That's odd.  He would also periodically boom "enCETra, enCETra."  He was fully committed to this novel pronunciation of the word etcetera.  Really, it was the most delightful sales call I've ever received in my life.

So, the jury's out.  Yes, I would love to do it, and I would be perfectly happy to have boring work like training videos or phone messages.  But I don't want to waste time and money if I wouldn't be good at it, and I haven't figured out how to figure that out.  I certainly didn't have anywhere near the most interesting voice in the class of just seven, but all sorts of voices are needed.  Perhaps if a big pile of money falls into my lap, I'll take it as a sign.


Hillary said...

I think you should stick with it if only so we can read your blogs about it! I love your stories. You sound good on the recording.You have the special talent of being dramatic without sounding cheesy. You will need to get some thick skin though. Even seasoned professionals (Val Kilmer, for example) have to read over and over and over again...usually to get the spot to fit into a 30 or 60 second slot. "read twice as fast but make it sound like you're relaxing next to a pool..."

I REALLY think you should do kids books. See if your library has Harriet the Spy on CD...I liked her voice, but I think you'd be better.

richard said...

I agree with Hillary, this will be something fun for all of us to go through with you!

Besides, what other silly things have you spent money on before. Um like, Shaun, he is a silly thing you spend money on! LOL...

I think you have a wonderful voice, and will be great at this. Besides, we are our own worst critics. Just roll with it, and have fun. If I can do 8 months in the deserts of Kuwait you can stich with this for a wile.

AAANNNDDDD that big voice guy died this year, so there is an opening there now.

See you guys in a couple months!


Danica said...

I'm good friends with a woman who's been doing voice over work for decades. She's also a DJ for The Wave here in LA. If you're interested, I could put you in touch with her to get advice. She's a great lady (and quite sassy).

Gretchen said...

I'm laughing so hard my eyes are watering.... O.K. that's funny about the announcer man calling you! Oh, I hope you can make a load of cash. It would make this all worth it!

Karen said...

You sound great! Go for it, girl!

Gypmar said...

Hillary, I totally forgot about that Val Kilmer story. Growing a thick skin would definitely be one of my biggest hurdles. Ah, director/producer speak: "Now do it like you're an 80 year-old man who can't move his arms or legs."

Rich, we hardly spend any money on Shaun. He's very low-maintenance :) Hang in there for your last few months!

Danica, I can't imagine anything better than posing these questions to a well-qualified and trustworthy friend of yours! I'll email you about it.

Thanks for the kind words, all.