Comments: 1058 • Responses: 134 • Date: 2014-01-26 14:16:18 UTCsource
DoctorHypothesis1717 karma2014-01-26 19:34:31 UTC
I used to be a casting director specializing in cartoon and video game casting in Vancouver.
I noticed you said you didn't have any money for coaching or a better demo. Unknown if this will help, but I can at least tell you what we looked for in quality voice demos from new actors when I was doing it:
1) Demo should be 2 to 3 mins MAX (If you don't have that many voices you can pull off, shorter like 1 minute is better - and no filler - only your BEST work should make the demo). It's got to be short enough that we won't get bored listening to it (I never had time to listen to a 5 or 10 minute demo anyway!). The other reason it's short is so it can fit into an .mp3 that you can email. That'll be about 3-4 Mb's, any more than that and you'll clog my email inbox!
2) Open the demo with simply your name and identify what type of demo it is and perhaps even the year. So, "John Smith, animation voice demo 2014", If you were doing commercials, you'd say that instead etc. And do it in your regular voice (no "put on" voices). This way if the .mp3 file gets mislabeled somewhere along the way, someone can click on it and at least know what it was.
Note: this is an animation demo, so you want to do a few different voices to show your range and versatility. The reason this is important for ALL voice actors is because its cheaper for me to hire you to play 3-4 characters in a cartoon (your "main" character plus some background guys) than it is for me to bring in 4 different actors to cover all the individual roles. So if you have range, you have versatility, so if you save me money, you're more likely to be hired! So...
3) Open with a reading in your own natural voice. The first thing I'd want to hear is what you sound like normally.
4) Next, do 2 to MAYBE 6 additional readings (remember its still only 3 mins long) in all the other voices you can do. If you have a "Jack Bauer / Army General" voice, let's hear it. If you do "mad scientist", "old man", "reptilian/animal" type voice, or any number of other "characters", let's hear them.
Remember range is key (side note: sometimes even if we had someone's demo that did NOT have the voice type I was looking for, they might still show me enough range that I think they could pull something else off, so they may get an audition anyway).
Each of these should be ~20-30 seconds, as I need enough material to hear what you can do with a character. Something only 10 seconds just isn't long enough, and longer than 30 seconds I don't need to hear and you're wasting my time.
5) Note that if you're working on voices but they're not yet good, don't bother putting them on this demo (you can always release an update later when you've perfected something). If I hear something on the demo which doesn't sound good enough, you may make me question your ability/choices overall, and that would be bad. Only put on things you know you can do well.
6) One more note about voices: if you can do a child's voice, get it on your reel! Typically adult men can't pull this off so I'll mention it just as a point of reference: Who are the main character of most children's cartoons? Children! Between the ages of 8-18 usually. If you can do a realistic young child's voice (young boys for men, both young boys and girls for women) you'll be huge in animation because of the simple fact that we don't want to hire REAL children. Think of the Simpsons, Bart Simpsons voice (voiced by a woman!) hasn't changed in in ~25 years. If we hire real children (for lead roles that is, they can still do one-off's), their voices will change as they age, which just doesn't work on a animated series which may run 4 or 5 years or longer.
7) Finally, if this is a blind submission (ie: you don't know the agent/casting director), it may be prudent to end the demo with you saying how to contact you, give email + phone number. This is again in case your demo is separated from your paperwork (or your .mp3 is passed around to other casting directors, which would be awesome!) they can still reach you.
I think that's about it. If you already knew all this, I apologize for assuming, but just thought it could help you make up your own new/fresh demo (since I believe you mentioned you have a home studio?). Good luck to you!
Edit: I want to apologize to uglydork for quasai-hijacking his AMA here. T'was not my intention! There's just been so many people commenting and asking questions, I wanted to give a few more answers in the event it can help anyone else out. Thanks to uglydork for allowing me the use of his AMA!
Also, I forgot one more thing I could add:
8) Editing your demo: If you know NOTHING about audio editing, that's ok. What I recommend, as a timeline of your demo, is doing your introduction in your own voice, then 2-3 seconds of dead air, then the first reading, 2-3 seconds of air, then the next etc.... don't put them back to back because I need to see a definitive beginning and end to each voice you do so I'm not confused as to why you just switched voices, and don't put more than 3 seconds of space between each or else I'll think the demo was over and close it prematurely. So 2-3 seconds in between each reading is about enough to put definitive space in between segments, but it's fast enough that my mind won't register it ended to go close the .mp3.
And for those of you who PM'd me asking how you could edit your demo, there is a cool FREE audio recording and editing program I've always liked called Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/). It's open source so it's not illegal to download or anything. It's basic by any standards, but still has more features than something like Windows Sound Recorder. It allows you to edit a bunch of your clips into one main clip, and export it out to .mp3. It probably has a help section that discusses basic editing, I'm not sure I haven't touched it in a few years myself...
Finally, I know I sound like Billy Mays saying "Oh it's so easy to cut a demo right in your own home, just do this..." etc etc. I don't mean to make it sound EASY. This is your first demo, IF you manage to get an agent with it, they'll likely arrange for you to go into a REAL recording booth and do another, higher quality version that they can use to impress casting directors like me haha! No matter how good of equipment you've got at home, it will still likely sound like you recorded it at home... My advice for recording at home is mostly just for starting out. You can't get an agent without a demo, but you (likely) can't afford to pay for a professionally recorded demo until you've got the agent etc... chicken and egg thing... So I'm just trying to give you the beginning of the egg I suppose... It will take a lot of hard work and practice to perfect any characters you try to create, and even though it's cartoons, we want them to sound realistic, in the sense that it's believable enough that a viewer is not taken out of the immersion of the program. It is a very difficult skill to master, so please don't take my above notes as suggesting it's easy to become a famous voice actor. With that said, if you can afford the time and you enjoy it, I say go for it! Because somewhere out there, there's some little kid who needs to experience the imaginative worlds that cartoons provide them. That's a pretty important task in my opinion haha!
Just to be clear, the above notes are for animation demo only. A demo you make for cartoons/video games is VERY different than something you'd do for commercials, or narration (like Morgan Freeman documentary is what I mean by that), audio books etc. All those have different types of demos. My experience was all animation & cartoon based, but user ajracho commented below with some further tips for commercial demos. Very informative! Check him out.
Two different people gave me reddit gold. I thank you, but I don't even really know what it does haha! I'm just glad that so many people found this info useful. I hope it's not too out of date and can at least get you started on that path if you choose to do so. Thanks everyone!
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uglydork971 karma2014-01-26 19:53:37 UTC
This is great information. I cant thank you enough for taking the time to write all this information for me. I know that time is valuable. I appreciate it.
ajracho91 karma2014-01-27 03:39:55 UTC
Hey DoctorHypothesis and uglydork,
I'm a VO actor/director in LA. Good advice, I just want to update it since the climate has changed since you've been in the game.
1) Demos are now typically 1 minute long. You want to showcase your best acting in each piece that you do. Products are important, but showing that you can act AND deliver product copy is essential. Visit voicebank.net if you want to listen to your competition's demos. The vets have longer demos because they have no need to update them. The newer talent typically will have shorter demos since they're being sold on it more.
The reason they're shorter is because the market is saturated. Anyone who listens to these things doesn't have 3 minutes to hear 1 demo. They have 1 minute to hear 3 demos. And they'll get an idea pretty fast if they do this all day.
2) Your demo may or may not start with a slate. Usually good to. It's just your name. Back in the day when things were on tape, or before we had instant access to everything, your name could get forgotten or lost if it wasn't heard on the tape. Now, it's an either or. Auditions we always slate, though.
Animation demos have to show your range of characters and your awesome acting. Great voices are everywhere. You have to be able to act and live and breathe and feel natural in that character. And if you do, you'll shine. It doesn't matter if you can do everything. But if you can do four or five things really well, highlight those. Some markets want someone who does the kitchen sink, but it's rare that I've ever played things outside of my range for a smaller market.
3) Natural voice can also be covered in your slate. But your demo should sound natural anyway. Most jobs today want someone who is conversation and real telling them about the product. The climate changed a lot on that in the past 20 years. It's pretty quiet, real, honest, and conversational in most spots, even if there is a little cheesiness in them. People can tell when you're "reading" or "performing" and when you're being real. That's usually where they describe demos as being good and bad.
4) Listen to demos. Sometimes you just need a few lines to show someone something. Sometimes you need more time. We're living in the times of short attention spans, so you have to prove your worth in your copy and move onto the next thing before the listener is over it.
5) Yep. Push your acting ahead of the voices.
6) Climate is changing for this, too. There is a lot more casting of actual kids for kids voices. But if you can do them well, show them.
7) Don't waste time on your demo with giving out personal information. Google has you covered. Agents have you covered. And you may not want everyone who hears your demo to know your info immediately. Pay services protect that info. Agents protect that info.
A couple of things I want to add to help you out:
1) Take classes. Even if you're in them once a week, do them. Even if you think they're just better actors just taking your cash, if they're good teachers, they can make you better. There's that old saying: Get good, get an agent. Get better, get a better agent. Work to get your skills competitive before putting yourself out there balls to the wall. In the same way you typically won't hire a contractor to make major repairs to your house if he's got more enthusiasm than ability, you gotta be ready for the market before you dive too heavy into it. My suggestion is to get really good. Take classes. Get on stage. Take acting classes.
I'm not saying you can't go all out at the moment and work hard for the jobs you're getting. It's a continual process. I've seen it done. I have friends who have been able to make it happen. They've done so with heavy support from their spouses and constant education/involvement in the community.
Truth is, it's a continuous game of auditioning. You could have 20 auditions in a day, or 2 auditions in a month if it's really dry. Being "discovered" only happens with a massive amount of hard work. Putting yourself out there for jobs. Getting feedback. Getting insanely good. Getting one big job somehow. Then getting another. Then getting none for a year. Then getting four. There is no "making it big." There's just constantly working and somehow booking that role that resonates with people. And that job might pay shit while that 30 second Denny's commercial pays off your car.
But the reason I suggest you focus on getting really good and making that a priority is...
2) The climate is ever changing. The A-listers took animated movies, major commercial campaigns, and are now consuming TV shows as leads. That's pushing the working actors (us) to take incidentals. Even the veterans don't get priority. Show creators, too, are taking on voice work because of the pay/glory. That leaves us fighting tooth and nail for the animation jobs. And as we're being pushed from this spot by celebs and oversaturation, we're gunning for these low-end jobs, too. I would bet you'd see a lot of big names in VO on voice123 and voice.com. I know, they've auditioned for my projects. So, unbeknownst to you, sometimes you're up auditioning for those low end jobs against 20 year vets. I'm not saying that to scare you away from the work or in a "get out rookie" kind of way. I'm hoping to let you know that you'll still book work sheerly because of the number of times you audition, but your booking rates will improve (even for the low-end jobs) if your skills/demos are at the levels of the pros. The climate may change on this, but for now it's getting much tougher. But you'll book bigger and better jobs if you continue to improve.
3) Change up your website so "portfolio" says "demos." Artists who draw have portfolios, while actors have demos. Probably can put a tag line of "voice over actor" under your Ugly Dork logo. I'm sure people have suggested giving the site copy a once-through, too. Also, think about what your website says about you. I would put your casting specs as informative, comforting, thoughtful, friendly, confident, smart, 40's, authoritative, dad. How can you promote that with your site layout. Does that picture do your brand justice? Lots of VO actors won't post pictures of themselves so they don't break the illusion that gives casting people an image in their mind before hearing the voice. Something to consider.
4) Take a strategic look at how you're approaching this. Clearly you love VO. There's no doubt you're passionate about this. And you won't have to stay at the bottom forever.
We've noticed something about the people who succeed: It's the ones who stay in the game. It's the ones who take classes constantly. It's the ones who are great at keeping in touch socially. It's the ones who have some natural talent and are open to criticism/take direction well. And it's the ones who are pleasant to work with and be around.
Most importantly is that you have to know that this industry has no milestones or timelines for "making it." You can plan it. 3 years training, 3 agents by the end of year 4, that kind of stuff. But you're scratching lottery tickets all day for jobs. And on top of that, you have to buy equipment, pay for subscriptions, invest in classes, software, etc. It's a money pit.
But I want you to really take a look at your career path and come up with a solid strategy. You've got a wife and two kids you need to support. The money I made off of voice123 last year was nothing compared to my day jobs, animated series, and commercials. It's mostly low end and it's not like it's a matter of just doing four jobs a day at $50 a pop. Online, it's booking 1/50-100 auditions, 20 auditions a day, maybe $50-300 a pop, and occasionally getting regular clients to give you a freebie job. Voice123/voices are fantastic sites, but you have to really compete in a LOT of places outside of the web to get it going.
5) Find outside work as fast as possible. You'll need that money to keep improving (classes, demos, marketing). You have to support your family as much as possible. If you're pissed about "family time," which as an actor (the most looked-down-upon job in my town) in the loneliest city out there, it'll only get worse as time goes on. Learn to embrace the family you committed yourself to. It's not easy to find family in this world and you have it. They need your support just as much as you'll need theirs. And you need to support them financially, too, for both of your sakes. You'll need to not have to do 10 auditions at 6am in your closet while your wife wants to murder you because you couldn't afford to buy a booth for your basement. You'll need to have a mic that sounds like you're in a studio and not in your bathroom. You'll need to make time for your kids and family and not have them resent you because you put your "all in" dream ahead of them. You'll need to have their support, because they'll get in the way if you don't have it (and trust me, in the end their love is more important than the job). They'll need to understand that the life of a VO actor, schedule wise, is like that of an on-call doctor's. You're on call to every job, morning or night. Family always comes first, you just have to learn how to make it work when the wife is lonely, the kids are sick, and you have 3 jobs due in the next hour.
I think I typed way too much. PM me if you wanna chat more. I'll try to TL;DR: this.
TL;DR: 2nd job, classes, get better, keep your family together, LONG road ahead, work on website, persistence, economics of web VO actor don't work out well so get good and plan accordingly, good luck!
uglydork3 karma2014-01-27 13:06:12 UTC
There are not enough words to thank you. As a working VO, you did not have to put that much thought and information out there for me, I'm just another guy. Thank you so much, information like this from someone who does the work is amazing! I will read this ten times just to absorb it all like a sponge.
Buzzhorn71814 karma2014-01-26 14:26:51 UTC
Go for a job in telemarketing. I'd get much less pissed if the caller could do funny cartoon voices.
uglydork756 karma2014-01-26 14:29:38 UTC
My actual "Real Job" before getting laid off again is a call center supervisor. You wouldn't believe the angry customers I have smoothed over with my voices. I have also done the phone system recordings for my ex company - a multi national utility!
gnualmafuerte357 karma2014-01-26 14:52:40 UTC
May I suggest you supplement your income that way until you can land your ideal job? Go on http://www.voip-info.org/ and offer your services (it's free) (do it in the right area, there is one for voices). Mention specifically that you can do cartoon voices too, etc. Download the asterisk sounds and do a voice-over in a cartoon voice, then sell that. Setup a webpage and sell custom voicemail prompts in famous voices. Show your demos there.
You'll get some sales that will help supplement your income, and you might get some exposure that could end up in getting more IRL jobs. Get in contact with the Asterisk guys, they might even be interested! They do offer a female and male voices on their webpage, the male is serious, Allison is sexy as fuck, but nothing in between, they might go for adding a more informal choice.
Also, try registering in v-worker and freelancer, do some work there.
All of this choices don't give a fuck about where you are ;)
Just my 2 cents.
uglydork190 karma2014-01-26 14:56:02 UTC
Thank you for the information! I didn't think anyone would even look at this! How much fun is this?
Cromar129 karma2014-01-26 15:53:11 UTC
If you have free time (which it sounds like you do) and since you have a home studio have you considered audiobook production?
ACX is the talent farming branch of audible.com, which is owned by Amazon. Authors and publishers line up and look for talent to record all sorts of books. You'll kill it in the audition, no doubt. You work out terms with the book owner; flat fee, percentage, or both. Just keep in mind that it is a large time investment.
uglydork89 karma2014-01-26 15:55:14 UTC
I have worked on this site - thank you
FKRMunkiBoi44 karma2014-01-26 16:50:08 UTC
How was it? How much does avx pay on average?
uglydork51 karma2014-01-26 16:52:04 UTC
I have only auditioned a few times, never worked off the site. I have heard the pay isn't great for the amount of work. The editing is what takes so much time.
runpmc64 karma2014-01-26 17:22:02 UTC
Pay's fine. You just need to land flate-rate or stipend work and get your workflow figured out so you can deliver the product quickly enough to do multiple books in a month. In my case, I've paired up with an engineer. I narrate, he edits in-line, then a bit of automation and another pass for qc later we get paid.
uglydork41 karma2014-01-26 17:23:38 UTC
I need to look into that. Thanks for the tip - everything helps :)
hanzuna87 karma2014-01-26 16:01:52 UTC
I have a ton of extra hosting so if you want a website then I could get one up for you. As someone new to an industry (web dev and programming), I find it is all about providing value to get your name out there.
uglydork51 karma2014-01-26 16:11:34 UTC
I will PM you later - thank you!
who_wants_jello53 karma2014-01-26 16:49:58 UTC
I am imagining all of your answers in a different voice, just to honor your craft. This one was "valley girl."
uglydork65 karma2014-01-26 16:52:21 UTC
LOL - totally gag me with a spoon
popeyesmom50 karma2014-01-26 19:10:29 UTC
As a valley girl, I could help you with this. It's more along the lines of, "Totally! Like, gag me with a spoon." Also, that's so 90's. Nobody gags on a spoon anymore. We definitely say totally though. And like. It's like totally our thing. Also, everything should sound like a question? Dude! You're going to be a bomb voice actor! Good luck!
uglydork15 karma2014-01-26 19:26:36 UTC
LOL - that is awesome. I remember the Pauly Shore Valley days. I had a blast and don't remember much. I did some stand up comedy back around that time on the East Coast.
Thank you for the luck!
gnualmafuerte29 karma2014-01-26 15:24:37 UTC
I've been saying for a while that IAmA is probably one of the awesomest things the internet has given us!
uglydork20 karma2014-01-26 15:38:56 UTC
I am shocked! I never thought I would get this much interest, I am having a blast!
projectcasting41 karma2014-01-26 15:39:42 UTC
Try visit www.ProjectCasting.com they have a ton of job opportunities for people in the entertainment industry. I'm not sure where you are located but, if you want message me and I can see how I can help. 2014 has been a tough year for everyone looking for employment so, I can understand your frustrations.
Source: struggling actor for 5+ years
uglydork30 karma2014-01-26 15:46:06 UTC
Thanks and I will check it out after this calms down. I hope you make it big! Karma baby :)
Humbledinosaur2 karma2014-01-26 16:23:45 UTC
This is what i do and id also like to get into voice acting ive been told too many times i have a good voice and dont want to waste it!! Please message me!
uglydork2 karma2014-01-26 16:28:01 UTC
Will do after this slows down :)
RickFast351 karma2014-01-26 15:01:53 UTC
Sign up for thevoicerealm.com if you haven't already. Good way to get some paying gigs easily. I have no affiliation with them, I just edit videos and often hire VO actors from the site.
uglydork174 karma2014-01-26 15:28:20 UTC
Thanks - I use 2 sites now, I cant remember why I am not with them?
BreakingNoose78 karma2014-01-26 16:02:55 UTC
What sites do you use?
uglydork137 karma2014-01-26 16:11:06 UTC
jankaround173 karma2014-01-26 17:17:21 UTC
That's 4 sites, not 2.
Also, if you get on thevoicerealm, I might have work for you.
uglydork187 karma2014-01-26 17:19:26 UTC
I didn't say I was good at math!
I just went to the site, I will submit my demo and see what happens!
Thanks a bunch :)
psychonator36 karma2014-01-26 23:37:29 UTC
You may want to consider audiobooks, as well. Contact ACX.
uglydork41 karma2014-01-26 23:38:38 UTC
I am on the site already - thanks
uglydork65 karma2014-01-26 16:11:45 UTC
EorEquis311 karma2014-01-26 14:59:13 UTC
Good grief, Reddit! This is an AMA for a Voice Actor who wants people to hear his talents and give him feedback...and NOBODY'S asked him to do a voice??
Run into your bathroom right now, grab the first random bottle of anything you can find, and read its instructions in a style of my choosing....1950's newsreel!
uglydork163 karma2014-01-26 15:23:26 UTC
EorEquis37 karma2014-01-26 19:48:00 UTC
Sorry I didn't get back to you on these in a timely fashion..wife drug me out on an errand fest! :)
These are awesome, thanks for doing these! I wish you the absolute best of luck!
uglydork27 karma2014-01-26 19:51:08 UTC
No problem! I know - I have to go plow, I am getting yelled at.
Civic_Defender71 karma2014-01-26 23:32:29 UTC
It's okay. Just go plow your wife!
uglydork48 karma2014-01-26 23:34:36 UTC
wtfisdisreal27 karma2014-01-26 16:31:29 UTC
hahaha the second voice on TRE was great.
uglydork35 karma2014-01-26 16:33:52 UTC
Thanks - it was quick and I have never done a Sean Connery before. I can just about mimic anyone given time. Drives my family crazy while I practice voices for no reason.
j0npau114 karma2014-01-26 18:00:34 UTC
They key to Connery is to keep the tip of your tongue curved up against the roof of your mouth constantly "Sho every esh shound hash hish dishtinctive shlur." Throw in a cavalier Scottish accent with some vocal fry and you've got it.
uglydork15 karma2014-01-26 18:04:30 UTC
Ha! I have to try this? Isnt anonymously talking to people around the world awesome?
Where is Ellen DeGeneres? We need her here now!
wtfisdisreal2 karma2014-01-26 16:35:13 UTC
connery was good but i was talking about the first recording, the second voice you did there was really good.
uglydork4 karma2014-01-26 16:36:15 UTC
Thanks - it took me less than 30 seconds - usually I do a few takes and pick the best
HuhDude16 karma2014-01-26 15:51:45 UTC
I can't get that to work in Firefox, or Chrome. I get two bars that look like media players, but nothing loads.
uglydork21 karma2014-01-26 15:59:47 UTC
try it now, I just linked it instead of using a media player.
One if TRE and the other C for Connery
bigberry8 karma2014-01-26 17:09:51 UTC
The first Tre voice sounds just like the guy from the scotch cd cleaner. :D
uglydork11 karma2014-01-26 17:14:06 UTC
You never know who is behind a voice
HodgkinsAssCancer7 karma2014-01-26 22:00:44 UTC
uglydork11 karma2014-01-26 22:12:21 UTC
I have no idea. There is nothing pornographic about my website at all. Not even a swear word on it?
Thornsten1 karma2014-01-26 15:55:43 UTC
The player doesn't work for me in Chrome or IE.
uglydork5 karma2014-01-26 16:07:25 UTC
I just uploaded again
Click on the TRE or C
mikey_says-1 karma2014-01-26 20:37:47 UTC
Way not as good as I expected
uglydork3 karma2014-01-26 21:14:19 UTC
The AMA or the voice? LOL
uglydork16 karma2014-01-26 15:08:43 UTC
Give me a moment - I have to go to the studio and upload it to my site and link it!
citymouse89274 karma2014-01-26 14:50:43 UTC
Don't describe yourself as a bottom feeder. You're making a living! Plus you enjoy parts of your job. No way in hell that's "bottom feeder." Your job doesn't hurt anyone else and is beneficial. That job sounds sweet! It's not bottom feeder at all.
So I don't really have a question, mostly just: don't discount yourself! that sounds kind of baller. I'm a flipping secretary, most of us have jobs we find kind of shitty, but that sounds solid!
uglydork149 karma2014-01-26 14:54:26 UTC
Thanks - that made me feel a bit better. I am a bottom feeder in my industry. I do not make a living doing this. I want to make a living as a voice actor, but my jobs pay little ($100- $250) and are sporadic.
VendlandFX69 karma2014-01-26 15:23:12 UTC
Maybe more of a scab than a bottom feeder lol
uglydork49 karma2014-01-26 15:27:11 UTC
I knew that would be coming......
Please_Pass_The_Milk106 karma2014-01-26 17:45:06 UTC
Well he's right. The reason people like VAs need unions is to protect them from people doing exactly what you're doing, which is getting themselves entirely ripped off and suffocating the industry while they do it. Your talent is worth more than you're getting paid, and the reason you're not getting paid is because you're negotiating with entities bigger than yourself who get to set the direction of the conversation. The longer you do things like this for free or cheap, the less and less your talents are worth. It's a market, and you're pricing yourself out of living off it. That's your choice. But recognize that your choice hurts everyone in the industry, and they'd be right to be upset.
uglydork56 karma2014-01-26 17:50:41 UTC
I agree 100% with this. I need experience and a portfolio and the only way to achieve this is to work. Nobody will hire me with no experience off the street to do a Ford commercial instead of Dennis Leary. I would much rather work in a union environment doing big jobs for big money and live happily ever after. Lets face it, with the advent of the internet,cheap VO is not going away. Its those who make connections and who are talented that will continue to make it big and do national work. I would love to be one of those people.
iamcyber-1 karma2014-01-26 15:35:10 UTC
He is not a scab if he isn't crossing a strike line. Also unions are overrated and do little for there members while they enjoy the fees paid by members, trust me on that.
omfgforealz4 karma2014-01-26 15:41:22 UTC
You are correct he is not technically breaking a strike so he is not a scab. However, speaking generally, union workers make significantly more than their nonunion equivalents (bottom of page 2). I hope you're not stuck represented by people who don't know what they're doing, or don't have your interests at heart. Often, that's not the case.
uglydork7 karma2014-01-26 15:52:06 UTC
I would GLADLY be in the union if I could! I am Pro Union
Megamedic15 karma2014-01-26 15:26:19 UTC
Don't make yourself think that only the union club decides who is a "real" voice actor. Big organizations are slow and hard to maneuver - you can compete and surpass them if you do it right.
uglydork15 karma2014-01-26 15:38:25 UTC
I am trying! It takes money to make money unless you're discovered on the side of a highway ramp.
Iwasgonnaeatthat120 karma2014-01-26 15:52:55 UTC
I just wanna say that you may be doing yourself more harm than good if you wanna be a SAG-AFTRA VO guy. When you work for free you're de-valuing your craft. Anyone in the arts has worked for free, but for V.O. work, it just doesn't help unless it's your own passion project. When people tell you they haven't the budget for a VoiceOver, then they aren't people you want to work for. They're unprofessional. It will do nothing for you, career wise. I'd say really, the only time to do free v.o. work would be when you're contracted for demos (union job) and the ad agency asks you to maybe do a couple extra tags for them as a favor. Since you're already being paid to be there, and chances are that if they decide to go ahead and produce the demo spots, they'll bring you back.
Also, to increase your range, you may want to look at dropping your upstate NY accent (ignore this if you already can drop it). It's fine for local ads and small jobs online, but it really places you in the listeners head as "being from somewhere" as opposed to just being a voice. I just didn't hear anything without the "flat 'a'" sound.
There's a ton of us down here in NYC and it IS hard to break into it, but I've been able to earn a really nice living doing both on-camera and v.o. commercials. Please feel free to p.m. me if you have any questions.
Union is the way to go, you can always tell which jobs are union, both when you work them and when you see them. I hope you're able to join soon.
Source: I am a sag-aftra v.o. actor that makes a living at it.
uglydork41 karma2014-01-26 15:57:20 UTC
Thank you so much. To be honest - I have done maybe 3 free gigs and 2 were spec commercials. I totally understand.
I would and can travel to NYC if needed for work. I may take you up on the PM.
Mexiflan96 karma2014-01-26 17:01:40 UTC
When I read "Bottom feeder voice actor" my mind immediately went to "oh, he dubs hentai/foreign porn." It was not as bad as I thought.
My question is, would you do either of this, if you were asked, and it paid decently?
uglydork54 karma2014-01-26 17:05:25 UTC
Sure, why not?
citymouse8976 karma2014-01-26 14:57:19 UTC
Also one more thing - your website is pretty awesome, the onyl thing is there's one small grammar error. It's not a big deal and I hope you don't take this as rude but I figure since it's a website intended for jobseeking I'd let you know. "So your asking – what kind of idiot names himself “Uglydork” and then wants money from me?" should be "So you're*** asking."
And really really I hope I don't offend you! I honestly mean that to be helpful. Your website is pretty baller otherwise and holy shit, I can't figure out from where but I know your voice.
uglydork67 karma2014-01-26 15:08:01 UTC
Thanks - I never noticed that! I am actually going to start using my name instead of Uglydork so its more professional. I have owned that domain since the mid 90's.
Draegur55 karma2014-01-26 18:34:55 UTC
For those of you who email me complaining that I am just trying to land a big role by doing this ...
For those of you who email me complaining that I am just trying to land a big role by doing this ...
As if there would be anything wrong with that if you were! Seriously, fuck people. You need a job, there's something you love to do, fuckin' GO FOR IT, man! As if all the others out there weren't trying to land a big role. EVERYONE IS TRYING TO LAND A BIG ROLE! That's like saying "Fuck you, you're just breathing because you want more oxygen".
uglydork11 karma2014-01-26 18:40:54 UTC
I pretty much just posted that to someone. I did not come on here trying to land a role or an agent but if I did- fucking awesome! Does it matter how the journey gets you there?
Look at Ted Williams (Voice guy found homeless on highway ramp) - do you think he cares when he cashes his checks? Please - someone discover me on reddit! I woulkd be happy as hell :)
Sailorchaddy38 karma2014-01-26 14:19:23 UTC
What drives you away from the union? I was watching some interviews with the original black power ranger, and he says he would only consider doing a MMPR reunion if it was union. What are the big differences?
uglydork50 karma2014-01-26 14:27:52 UTC
That's a great question. I would love to be in the union. I live in Buffalo NY - the armpit of the world. I have a home studio and do all my work from home. Most of the big boys and girls live near LA and NYC. I would be happy to travel to work!
Getting into the union is like a actor trying to break into the business. You need a bunch of luck,talent and connections. I have talent and a passion to do a great job, but I am one of thousands who do this kind of work. I would need an agent and some big bookings.
MTDearing17 karma2014-01-26 14:38:35 UTC
Hey now, Schenectady's worse than Buffalo.
uglydork48 karma2014-01-26 14:43:08 UTC
Hell no! Buffalo rivals Detroit at this point! I have been laid off 3 times in 10 years, unemployment is around 12%. Gas is close to $3.70 a gallon. Our property taxes are $6,400/year on an 1,800 sq ft house on 1/3 acre. It is always cold. 3 months of anything close to warm. We lost 4 straight Super Bowls - Stanley Cup finals and Tim McVey and OJ are from here. We even assassinated a President!
Gweedling37 karma2014-01-26 14:58:45 UTC
You invented buffalo wings. On behalf of the whole world, thank you.
uglydork13 karma2014-01-26 15:03:59 UTC
Wings rule -
jake140019 karma2014-01-26 14:52:11 UTC
As a Buffalonian:
Buffalo is not this bad.
Buffalo is not this bad!
BUFFALO IS NOT THIS BAD!
uglydork9 karma2014-01-26 15:02:48 UTC
I have lived in other parts of the country ( I went to college down South and was in the Air Force) - compared to other parts of the country - what do we have to offer?
Just my opinion
Laetha2 karma2014-01-26 15:26:22 UTC
With all that's going on down there south of the border, I can't believe your gas is still so much cheaper than it is here in Canada.
uglydork2 karma2014-01-26 15:37:51 UTC
I know - I love 60 minutes from Canada!
donuts221 karma2014-01-26 15:07:51 UTC
Fuck you, I love this city.
uglydork2 karma2014-01-26 15:50:43 UTC
Awesome! I like warm weather
donuts221 karma2014-01-26 15:59:43 UTC
Then move, quit shitting on my city scab.
uglydork1 karma2014-01-26 16:03:26 UTC
If I could, I would.
Jackalopecia-4 karma2014-01-26 14:53:23 UTC
I don't believe those property taxes unless your house is very expensive.
uglydork3 karma2014-01-26 15:03:10 UTC
They are 100% true. Town,State,County and School
Sonny7426 karma2014-01-26 14:59:16 UTC
I think your answers would rock if you would do them as an audio response with the posters request for voice. For instance, respond to me as Sean Connery.
uglydork13 karma2014-01-26 15:23:16 UTC
uglydork9 karma2014-01-26 15:09:08 UTC
Same as above - give me some time
My_Brother_Bilo24 karma2014-01-26 16:20:21 UTC
I went on your website and your accent caught my ears. Say the world "talent". Your accent when you say this word sounds funny to my ears, FYI. You have a regional accent with this word and others, not a generic announcer/reporter voice which I am accustomed to hearing. I would work on eliminating all traces of your regional accent.
uglydork13 karma2014-01-26 16:24:32 UTC
Thank you, someone else mentioned that also and I never realized it. I appreciate the feedback :)
legialot18 karma2014-01-26 14:52:23 UTC
How did you break into voice acting?
uglydork29 karma2014-01-26 15:05:43 UTC
Back in the late 80s a friend worked at a recording studio - I went in to meet her for lunch and the guy who owned the place liked my voice and needed someone to do a spot for Musician Magazine. I did it in 5 minutes and was hooked. I was only there for lunch!
Spiffyfitz18 karma2014-01-26 14:52:51 UTC
I do voice on the side and am also from Buffalo NY... Lived there almost my entire life.
I would like to ask you what your thoughts are on Mighty Taco, Jim's Steakout, and Duffs wings.
uglydork15 karma2014-01-26 14:58:47 UTC
Might Taco - Love it!
Jims Steakout has the best Chicken Philly subs anywhere.
Duffs are by far the best wings anywhere! When people visit from out of town, that's where we go!
uglydork10 karma2014-01-26 14:59:35 UTC
And I hope you make some money doing voice overs here! More power to you, I am all about Karma and positive energy.
slujj-vohaul10 karma2014-01-26 18:51:21 UTC
Hopefully this is constructive criticism.
You need to work on your non-regional dialect. You have a pretty thick midwestern accent, you sound like you're from Michigan. "Telephone ahn-hold messages", "taaahlent", "aahhn-time", "turn ahhround taime".
The two cartoon voices you did in your demo didn't sound very different than your regular voice, TBH.
You shouldn't set your video to auto-loop on your website.
Find a day job of some kind. I work at a small web marketing company (six full-time employees). We do web commercials, amongst other things. All of our actors/voice actors have other jobs. It's silly to think that just because you want to be something, you'll get to be it. You need to support your family in the meantime and your expectations are unrealistic.
uglydork9 karma2014-01-26 18:55:21 UTC
I have heard the same from a few people. I am in the NE and will work on my dialect.
I support my family, no problem there. I am looking for work.
And you are wrong- if I want it I will get it. Should I give up because you think I should? Hell no. I appreciate the constructive criticism.
Joshfu9 karma2014-01-26 15:23:29 UTC
I have always wanted to do this job. Can you offer a suggestion or two on how to get started, who to contact (I.e. what type of agent etc) and if there is any cost to getting started? Thanks! Best of luck!
uglydork6 karma2014-01-26 15:33:05 UTC
Yes there is cost. I built a home studio by hand - nice microphone - editing software and trial and error. I network using social media and pay sites trying to find work.
FearTheEngineer8 karma2014-01-26 15:22:45 UTC
Come post in r/personalfinance
Our community can give you great advice tailored to your financial situation.
uglydork12 karma2014-01-26 15:31:45 UTC
Financial information for someone with no finances is absurd!
wacavo7 karma2014-01-26 17:54:00 UTC
Fellow non-union Voice Actor (from the LA branch of the industry) here! Don't worry about it being "bottom feeding." If not the union people, SOMEBODY has to do the job. Better it be somebody who is decent at it. Union work is certainly desireable but breaking into the union is difficult and you need to make sure you have a name for yourself so you can still work. Union rates are on a scale, which means they will pay you the same price as they would pay anyone else in your tier. As you grow in name, brand, and popularity, you'll eventually be able to request double scale, triple scale, etc. What this means, though, is that for the same price they pay you, someone they don't know and have never worked with, they can get somebody they HAVE worked with and they trust. Remember, this is a smaller niche industry, but it still has a sizeable population. There are always going to be hundreds to compete with your vocal "print." Certainly focus on your brand to stand out and put that foot forward first, but don't pigeon hole yourself. My best advice is just go out and meet people. Find some cheap workouts and find some local comic conventions, VO gatherings, or whatever you can find scouring facebook and the web, and just network. This job is all about who you know, especially non-union.
Also, for further clarification on what it's like on the non-union side of things, last year alone I landed 6 leading roles across anime, video games, and live action film dub, as well as a host of supporting roles across the mediums, and I am STILL no where near supporting myself financially on voice over alone. It's a tough path ahead and I wish you luck. May we cross paths in the booth sometime!
uglydork3 karma2014-01-26 17:57:18 UTC
This is an awesome read for people asking me how to get started. It isn't easy. I network like crazy and nobody knows me! Its tough but I love it so much that I am going to keep plowing ahead.
Just like a regular actor, its all about who you know. How many actors do you see that really suck, but they know someone in the industry?
benblue7 karma2014-01-26 14:50:36 UTC
'Highly visible voice actor'
I hope that was a joke. But seriously, best of luck to you.
uglydork7 karma2014-01-26 14:52:50 UTC
Highly visible to those in the industry I should have said. Even as an outsider I follow people on twitter and industry news.
Turbodeth7 karma2014-01-26 15:06:09 UTC
Your voice feels nice in my ears.
uglydork4 karma2014-01-26 15:28:35 UTC
tight_trousers6 karma2014-01-26 14:31:17 UTC
Have you ever worked as an on-air radio personality?
uglydork17 karma2014-01-26 14:33:57 UTC
Actually, I did! I worked for a radio station in Baltimore in the 90's called WITH - it was an oldies station. I love doing radio, things have changed since I did it. Anything where I get to talk is fun for me. I also bartended and did voices all night -
bmore2 karma2014-01-26 16:19:38 UTC
I knew your voice was familiar!
uglydork2 karma2014-01-26 16:25:41 UTC
slowturtleboy5 karma2014-01-26 18:09:15 UTC
you do realize how many people out there that can do actual impressions? what's so different about your voice? why you?
uglydork8 karma2014-01-26 18:11:28 UTC
Yes, millions! Voice overs are not about doing impressions! You cant do a commercial impersonating someone else. You cant do a SpongeBob voice in another cartoon! Impressionists are for Vegas. What I do is acting to sell or product or TV show.
DatDude375 karma2014-01-26 16:44:28 UTC
Is that you telling congratulating me and telling me I've won?!
uglydork4 karma2014-01-26 16:48:40 UTC
Sometimes, but I cant tell you what you've won without a credit card
ccrawsh5 karma2014-01-26 14:48:53 UTC
And .... ?
uglydork3 karma2014-01-26 14:50:14 UTC
I'm not an electrician!
uglydork1 karma2014-01-26 14:57:20 UTC
My apologies, I saw something about electrcians associated on Google. I will look at it this afternoon, I seem to be getting lots of question right now. If this leads to voice work, I want to meet you and thank you over a beer!
Masher883 karma2014-01-26 23:50:42 UTC
First of all, Your voice sounds great. Nice timbre and clarity.
I know that you aren't really looking for criticism here but I'll give it anyways ;)
Maybe you shouldn't use the web address "Ugly Dork". It's not very professional sounding and it's demeans yourself to people who haven't met you yet. If I was a company/store looking for a guy to do my commercial voiceover, I'd walk right by UglyDork.com. It sounds like a joke website.
You should probably try to work nice with the union (or join it) instead of saying you'll do stuff that they won't do....implying that they don't want to do the hard work, while you will. It's just not very professional and may hurt you when looking for work.
You shouldn't call yourself ugly right on your website. Let the client make that distinction...and not care cuz they need your voice. I know it's just jokes, but if you don't come off as serious, why should people take you seriously?
uglydork2 karma2014-01-26 23:55:46 UTC
I appreciate any help.
I am building a new website tomorrow using my name instead of uglydork.
I would love to join a union but I cant without doing union work. I am having a new website designed this week and worded better
WoefulKnight2 karma2014-01-26 18:30:49 UTC
Using words like "bottom-feeder" and being "looked down on" as a voiceover artist is generally indicative of your own self-esteem issues. I've known dozens of VO people who do just fine and make a very comfortable living. How? Because they started at the bottom doing exactly what you refer to as "crap" and made contacts and a portfolio. Over time (I'm talking five, ten, hell, even twenty years), they began to make a lot of money for very little of their time. I've also known dozens of other wannabes who are just as talented but don't ever find the breaks they deserve.
And then there are people like you. You want a shortcut. You thought by coming on Reddit, you might get lucky and drive some traffic to your site, so don't insult my intelligence. You get off on the fantasy that, "hey, celebs lurk here, who knows right???"
You absolutely came in here wanting to be discovered. You mentioned you're smart, educated and are doing this for fun.** Bullshit.** You wanted someone to see this AMA and feel sorry for you because the industry supposedly "looks down on the type of work you do."
Well guess what pal? No one promises voiceover artists anything - not even those in the big time. Actually, strike that, ESPECIALLY in the big time.
So, stop feeling sorry for yourself, stop calling the jobs you do get CRAP and get a job even tangentially related to the industry if this really is your dream. Even if you're a receptionist, then make those copies and get that coffee.
*source: worked in the industry for fifteen years.
uglydork5 karma2014-01-26 18:36:42 UTC
This is awesome! We all have opinions and you are obviously bitter and mad about something and want to direct that towards me. This AMA is not about arguing with people. I love what Im doing and you have the right to your opinions. No problem with me, I don't know you so it isn't personal.
I have no illusions of grandeur, I have to get a real job to support me and my family. This is my dream and who is to say what is the correct path to reach MY GOALS? Think anything you wish and I hope you have an awesome life! I don't feel better bashing anyone and I don't need to defend my motives? What if I am here trying to have someone "Discover" me? So? How is that hurting you?
Shanix2 karma2014-01-26 15:43:27 UTC
You mentioned you have your own studio, so I gotta wonder, what hardware are you using?
uglydork9 karma2014-01-26 15:48:22 UTC
Psipunisher1 karma2014-01-26 15:26:47 UTC
why you feed in bot???? are you bronze?
uglydork3 karma2014-01-26 15:37:30 UTC
I don't understand this question?
Shangheli0 karma2014-01-26 16:16:42 UTC
I have a wife,2 kids and a mortgage.
I have a wife,2 kids and a mortgage.
Get a fucking min wage job then, instead of posting on reddit hoping for some scout or some other bullshit to spot you and make you a millionaire over night.
My wife is threatening to kill me at the moment. her check wont cover the bills.
My wife is threatening to kill me at the moment. her check wont cover the bills.
I bet her "job" isn't a "artist".
uglydork2 karma2014-01-26 16:19:01 UTC
Thanks for your comment - I was just laid off and I do job hunt. I know we need money to live.
It's Sunday morning and I am having a blast on Reddit unless you have work for me to do right now! I cooked at a friends bar last night, does that count?
Dominany0 karma2014-01-26 15:35:30 UTC
Why hire expensive "professionals" when you can get people without unions or agents for far less money. This site has been around for a very long time and rocks.
uglydork1 karma2014-01-26 15:40:30 UTC
Because far less money usually equals far less talent. Listen to some people on these sites and they are horrible. Sounds like a tin can
drunkwithanxiety-6 karma2014-01-26 15:18:01 UTC
I don't support you because two of my friends are voice actors and the union protects their rights against the power imbalance between a guy or a gal with only a microphone and a quiet room and a corporate conglomerate with more lawyers than Kentuckians have cousins, but for starters, not branding yourself "Ugly Dork" is a good place to start.
uglydork1 karma2014-01-26 15:31:13 UTC
I agree - I am whipping out the credit card tomorrow and redoing everything. If it doesn't pan out - I ruin my credit. My wife thinks I'm job hunting
drunkwithanxiety1 karma2014-01-26 15:40:57 UTC
Best of luck!
uglydork1 karma2014-01-26 15:44:45 UTC
Thank you, I keep trying!
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