commercial that you can’t quite place could be your own.
That’s what a workshop today at the Alf Sorensen Community Center is all about. “Getting Paid to Talk,” a class by Albany, N.Y.-based Voice Coaches, is a single-evening, realistic and entertaining introduction to the world of voice overs.
“The average person walking down the street automatically thinks commercials” when thinking about voice overs, said David Bourgeois, Voice Coaches president and creative director. In reality, he said, commercials comprise just 10 percent of the voice over industry. The vast majority of the work is in narrative — audio books, training videos and the like — and the industry is booming, Bourgeois said. With the economy still struggling, he added, corporations are less likely to hire an expensive professional and more likely to hire a lesser-known but capable voice actor.
A 2009 CNN special report called “10 jobs cooler than yours” listed voice actor at #10.
“Cool factor: Everyone knew Don LaFontaine, the infamous voice behind thousands of movie trailers, TV advertisements and network promotions,” the CNN report said. “Voice actors also loan their chops to movies and cartoons. Wouldn’t it be neat to have your voice be familiar to the whole world?”
While most people who explore the voice over world won’t go into the field, Bourgeois said there is plenty of opportunity.
“I’ve been in the field 30 years. Going back to the beginning, they almost always hired the ‘announcer guy,’ ” Bourgeois said. Things have changed, he continued, with the industry now being split between men and with producers looking for voices with sincerity, genuineness and believability.
“Different people respond to different types of voices,” he said. Translation: Many different types of voice actors can find work.
Another common misconception about the voice over industry is that people must “break in,” Bourgeois said. Like many professions, voice acting takes training and a good body of work, he explained. Today’s class will discuss putting together a demo and even offer a chance to do a short recording.
Technology has helped make the profession more accessible, Bourgeois said, as voice actors are able to work remotely on projects, possibly even from home. Bourgeois said he worked recently on a project in which he directed a voice actor in Colorado from New York. Within a short time after the work was done, Bourgeois had the voice recording sent via the Internet.
Voice over work offers a lot of flexibility, he said, and can be a part-time side job or a full-time career. The CNN report from 2009 estimated a person can average $49,000 a year doing voice acting, while Bourgeois said the pay can be a lot less and a lot more depending on how seriously one pursues it.
Though advance reservations for today’s class were requested, there might still be room. Call the city at 353-2376 for information on availability. The cost is $30.