By Evan Schmitt
The other day, I had the good fortune of a last minute booking based on a recommendation. The client was the Navy SEAL Foundation and the event was a 5k run. Live event announcing gigs were some of my first paying voiceover gigs starting about 7 years ago. All was well and good, except I didn’t go into it 100% healthy.
But was I going to say anything? No and I wasn’t going to complain either. I’m surrounded by Navy SEALs! I knew better!
So what did I learn from this experience?
- You can grind it out. I had some nasal congestion that I was fighting. I was on some medication for it. I didn’t sound like myself but did it matter? Not so much because these people hadn’t heard me before. So I just had to summon the energy and get the job done. The free coffee drink sponsor for the event also helped me tremendously.
- Discipline and focus helps you. Most events I do, they run late. Awards run late and people usually complain. This event was different. Should we be surprised? No. It’s the Navy SEALs. We were ahead of schedule for everything. I left the venue before my projected time. I was home taking a nap with my dog before noon!
It’s always relative. The discomfort you’re feeling, the company you are around, everything. You always have good and bad days. If these were people I knew, I probably would have disclosed my mild congestion. But isn’t that just an excuse? And these military veterans are probably the last people you want to give an excuse to. So you pull it together and do it. Ride out the storm.
What are some experiences where you pulled through? Email them to me, email@example.com.
And if you enjoyed this short story, please share! Thanks for reading.
By Evan Schmitt
As a voiceover talent, you should be marketing yourself everyday. If you’re not, here are three ways you can do it today.
So you want an agent?
First things first, do you have a professionally produced demo? No? Get professionally trained and get one produced. Yes? Great! If it’s a commercial demo, make sure it’s a minute. This is the industry standard and the agent on the other side of the conversation is very short on time.
The demo is absolutely required. I don’t know any agent who will talk to anyone without one. Your demo is how they sell you and they need it in order to sign you on their roster.
Once you have your demo, write a solid introductory email that is no more than three sentences. Say “hi, I’m a (union or non union) voice talent and I’m interested in joining your roster. My demo (and one page resume in PDF format if you have it) is attached for your convenience. Thank you for your time, (your name)”
That’s it. You can use that, just insert your info. Your demo will do the talking.
If they like you, they will write back.
Follow up every few weeks until you get a response. They will tell you yes or no eventually. Be nice either way.
The most important part is to show value. That’s what they want. Value they can sell their client. Write to as many agencies that invite submissions. Always read their guidelines if they specify. Never call them. Never get stuck on one agency. There are hundreds of agencies and one of them will sign you if you have something they need. Just keep knocking and someone will answer.
I love my manager and my agents. They are worth it because they will fight for you. They take care of you and go the extra mile. They are one more log in your voiceover fire. A log waiting to ignite.
Let me know your feedback and please share if you found this useful.
By Evan Schmitt
So you got booked as background actor (also known as an extra). Congratulations! It’s a wonderful feeling to fit the part and book the day of shooting. Here are three tips to make your first day on set your best.
Listen. This is by far the most important. When you first show up (show up early by the way), listen to the production assistant signing you in. Listen to wardrobe when they give you your outfit (or outfits for multiple scenes) and tell you not to wrinkle or get water drips on the clothes. Listen for “background” on set, because this is the extra’s version of “action.” Do exactly what you’re told to do and don’t take anything personally. It’ll get a little chaotic at times so just stay calm.
Keep to yourself on set. The star actors and the directors are there to do a job, just like you. Do not speak to them under any circumstance. The lead actors are trying to stay in character and if that mental process is interrupted, it’s not a good thing. You could lose your job on the spot. It’s simple: give the actors their space and pretend like they’re not there. Also, don’t talk during the take. Learn how to pantomime (act without speaking) and make sure not to overdo it.
Always be nice. Say “please” and “thank you” to every production member you encounter. Be the easiest part of their day. If you’re served a meal, make sure all crew members go before you. Background always goes last. Crew members are in unions that dictate the order of who gets to eat first. Respect that. If you’re nice and do your job well, they will remember that and you will be invited back.
Fun. That’s why you’re there to begin with. Witnessing the magic of filmmaking firsthand is incredible. Soak it all in and have a good time. If these tips work for you, please feel free to share them. Good luck!
Bonus tip: buy a box of pens on your way to your call time. Give this box to the production assistant checking you in. They will be surprised and you will make a great first impression.