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Q&A with Jeffrey Umberger

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With the 2nd Annual VO Atlanta 2014 conference just around the corner, Voiceover City is pulling out all the stops in offering the very best advice & information. Jeffrey Umberger, from the Umberger Agency, brings the noise with insider tips on how to make it in the voiceover industry.

Here’s our Q & A with Jeff:

Q. What are your thoughts on the VO industry as a whole right now; i.e. talent, marketability, & opportunities available out there in the voiceover industry?

A. The VO industry as a whole right now is quite active and prolific. The fact that it’s so easy to audition from home now makes it more competitive, with more and more actors getting into voice-over.  The talent is exposed to so many more opportunities through the web services, and therefore must learn rate structures, negotiate without giving away the fort for nothing, and keep up with their skill-set if they expect to win the auditions over the next guy. With agency representation, that talent is exposed to a wide variety of national casting and producing professionals. It is also important for each talent to self-market, and attend workshops, promote their demos as well. It’s a team effort. If the talent is not yet represented by an agent, having their own website is a must, as well as being active on social media and VO/acting-related groups to further their exposure and education. One of the best ways to land an agent’s representation is to attend a workshop. It’s a personal connection and opportunity to get to know someone beyond a demo.

Q. How has the movie industry boom in Atlanta impacted the VO industry?

A. With Atlanta becoming the 3rd most active film and TV market in the country, the impact on the VO industry is indeed affected in a positive manner. With more local production, I have noticed an up-tic in opportunities for our VO actors which would otherwise be isolated to other markets. It’s a boon for everyone here, VO included. The increased film and TV activity positively affects sound studios, VO training facilities, talent agencies, demo production, post production, etc. Voice over is still a bit of an isolated piece of the pie, and even though the film market is strong here, the voice over industry is improving itself on its own in many ways, outside the affects of the booming film production in Atlanta. We have more places to actively study VO acting now, more exposure nationally due to the internet, digital nature of the sound business in general, and accessibility. Couple all of that with a strong talent pool and you have a very effective system and a successful one as well.

Q. What are 3 common mistakes people make when getting into the VO business?

A. One most common blunder a talent can make when entering into the VO business is to enter with a lack of preparedness and knowledge about the business they are entering. The attitude of some tends to be “well, I have been talking all my life, I will just start calling myself a VO actor and start poking around for an agent.” Well unfortunately, it won’t end up very good that way for anyone. An agent is the last person in the chain of preparedness to contact. First you must learn about the business through research, select the best place to train and study both acting and VO skills, get a good demo produced, and make yourself available for bookings by having a flexible day job; then and only then should one reach out to an agent for consideration.

Another common mistake people make is not knowing their own brand, their own strong-suit. Trying to show that you can do any voice, any character; any and every role is arrogant and doesn’t serve the actor. One must learn what their voice is best suited for, what their strongest brand of sound and style is and focus on that to get started. Then later, as time passes and more experience and training can be had, it is possible that one can be as versatile as all that, and begin to see a rise in opportunity.

A third mistake might be to lack good sound quality from audition recordings. The audition should be of high quality sound, almost good enough to go ahead and lift and use for the project you are auditioning for if the producer was so inclined. If an inexpensive home mic set-up is not possible, then there are fantastic studio and VO resource locations such as VoiceoverCity where one can go to for their audition recordings.  As long as this process doesn’t impede the quick turn-around time for the talent, then it’s a really great option.

Q. How do agents help?

A. Agents are an advocate for the actor, and that sums up the help they give in one word. Advocate; protecting the talent from a poor rate structure, protecting them against poor contract release-wording, etc. The things an agent can do to help a VO actor is to pitch them to a casting director, forward their demos, spotlight them on social media, be open to thinking outside the box where audition roles are concerned and give them a chance to try, and a really eager agent will help the talent to do even more than the average by helping get their auditions in to the client quickly and first! In hopes of presenting the talent’s audition ahead of the rest of the pack, nationally speaking; cutting the competition’s edge some, hopefully.

Q. How does a business like VoiceoverCity help the industry?

A. VoiceoverCity is an all-in-one resource for the VO industry. A helpful center point where the talent can come to learn, where auditions can be recorded, where demos can be produced, where exposure to influential professionals can be made, where space can be provided for showcasing talent, meetings can be held, networking can be experienced, etc. It’s an invaluable resource that focuses 100% on the VO industry and beyond, offering even more wide-spread resources in general for the actors and anyone simply wanting to improve their overall communication skills.

For more information visit: www.voatlanta2014.com

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