Wren Ross    617-924-SING

Wren has over twenty years of commercial and narrative voice over experience.

Hear Audio Demos

Business of Voice Over Producer Panel

May 20, 2002 - Tighe & Doyle Casting, Boston, MA
Panel Discussion with Producers/Engineers and Casting Directors about the Business of Voice Over Work

Workshop Panel (L-R)
Jen Cobb - JetPak Productions, Mark Wile - WorthWile Productions, Ollie Halliwell - World Wide Productions, Roger Lyons - WBZ Productions

More About the Voice Over Business...

Feature - Imagine News
June/July 2002

Yada, yada, yada. We speak all day long. We act out our words as drama queens, fragile princesses, knights in armor, protectors, heroes and villains. We love, inform, sympathize, bully and cajole without thinking about the range and tone evident in our voices. However, stand up in front of a live mike, in a room of people judging what you are saying and you regress to that tiny terrified child reading aloud in second grade. T ripping and stumbling over the words, sweat beading on your forehead, the copy fluttering in your shaking hand. All the regulators that were ever imposed on you come flooding back. The resulting read is a gasping, ragged, breathless, wooden mess. Even as your brain is screaming the words, your tongue is holding them hostage. The pitch of your voice may be given to you at birth, but the ability to act out words is a learned skill. That means lots of practice and a good voice coach.

Wren Ross is a person to turn to. While you may not recognize her on the street you most likely have heard her voice. She has done so much in the field that she seems to be everywhere. She is the voice of documentaries, ads, answering machines and more. From Shear Madness to Nova to Songs of the Holocaust, she has a great body of work and a passion for what she does. She passes her experience along to both voice-over novices and established talents in one-on-one coaching sessions or in-group lessons. It is her ability to tear down those regulators that enables her to bring on new talent and spice up experienced actors.

"Boston is a great voice-over secret" Wren confesses. "There is so much opportunity here with corporate training tapes, video games, and so much more".

While you may not have the voice of James Earl Jones or Katherine Hepburn you do have your own unique sound. learning to play it like an instrument is what voiceover lessons are all about. For actors trying to break into the business it seems almost impossible to make the leap from classroom to studio. To bridge the gap Wren holds special sessions where talent and producers meet to discuss their needs. These two groups often think of themselves as "us" and the other guys as "them". Opening up the communication lines helps to tear down those labels.

Recently, one of these communication sessions was held at the casting agency of Tighe and Doyle. Thirty- five eager students, demos in hand, were looking for the answers on how to get noticed by producers and casting agents.

Four area producers gave up some of their precious time to pass along what they have learned over the years; Jen Cobb of Jet Pak Productions, Mark Wile of WorthWile Productions, Roger Lyons, Producer for BZ Productions and Ollie Hallowell of Ollie Hallowell World Wide Productions.

Successful submission of a demo CD is the first step. What every producer or casting agent hopes to hear is the "wow" factor. It is that indescribable moment when an artist presents him or herself in such a compelling manner that the listener is hanging on every word. It is the pin drop phenomenon.

The producers recommend that you put your best work first. Keep the demo between 1 to 3 minutes in length. If you want to be heard, you must be brief. Also they state that they want to hear lots of variety in that short time span.

"Turn in a whole marketing package. The spine of your jewel case needs to stand out and scream "PICK ME" as we have hundreds of demos stored. You have to make yours stand out from all the others." The members of the panel admit they listen to every demo CD sent in, at least once. James Earl Jones is the only James Earl Jones and that is just fine. Imperfect voices can be valuable in certain situations. Almost as important as the voice itself is the professional manner in which you present yourself. You must be able to package, market and sell yourself. You are your company and your talent is what you have to sell. All the materials you submit should be professional in appearance.

For new talent, the problem always seems to be that you need a resume to get a job but you need a job to have a resume. Many seek that first break without a resume to back it up.

Mark Wile recommends that you send in a biography if you don't have a resume. List your skills in your biography. Are you multilingual? Can you ride a horse? We all have skills outside our jobs and these can sometimes be needed. Wile also recommends that novices take advantage of Community Theater. college courses, small studios and even your local access cable station.AIl of these add skills .and experience to bulk up your biography and resume. One thing both sides of the equation agreed on was their dislike of the audition practice. The actors dread the fact that a few seconds can determine their fate. The producers say they find the auditions to be time consuming. often non- productive. hard work and difficult to measure. Once you know a voice in person it seems as if you hear that voice everywhere.

That is often the case as most casting agents have a stable of actors they turn to for many of their production needs. However, since they never know when a certain look or voice will be needed,they are always on the lookout for fresh talent. Sometimes the client will have a different sound in mind for the product. No matter how great you were in audition that can prevent you from getting the job. This doesn't mean you stink, are hopeless, or even that the producer is an idiot for not recognizing your talent. It only means you have not been chosen as the voice they envision for the product.

"The audition process is very subjective and you need a thick skin. It is important that you stay positive through rejection and keep trying;' says Mark Wile. " It is all about perseverance. If you want it badly enough you will get there."

Although there are plenty of voiceover opportunities in Boston, getting that first job may take a while. The good news is that you don't have to be a Jones or a Hepburn. There is place for every voice somewhere in this business.


Contact Wren Ross by phone at 617-924-SING (7464) or email: wren@wrenross.com
Copyright © 2002 Wren Ross. All rights reserved.