After forming the IVO (Israel Voiceover Organization) forum on LinkedIn, Victoria Feinerman, realized there was a greater need in the industry to promote the voice-over profession in Israel, as well as assist voice talent with challenges they encounter in the course of their work.
Intended to be a repository of guidelines for voice talent and their clients, which can easily be accessed on the spot – even in the middle of a voice-over session – the IVO charter is there to help resolve any differences of opinion and address what is and is not acceptable, professional, and ethical in voice-over.
Voices Over Times reached out to Feinerman to learn more about IVO and why she started the organization.
VOT: Why did you start the Israel Voice-over Organization?
Feinerman: There were quite a number of reasons:
- In Israel, there is a general lack of understanding of what a voice talent does. Many people think that a voice talent is a DJ or a newscaster. Worse, those who do understand our profession don’t always give us credit, for example video producers will sometimes include credits for the graphic designer, photographer, on-camera actor, etc, but fail to include a credit for the voice actor. One voice talent told me that a certain performers union would not accept him because they claimed that voice talents are not performers. Like Rodney Dangerfield said, “We don’t get no respect!” I think people in all professions thrive on understanding and appreciation, and having an official representing organization would help make voice-over more prestigious in Israel.
- There is a general perception here that when it comes to voice-overs in a foreign language, the only skill required is to be a native speaker of that language. Therefore, companies will sometimes ask their English-speaking employees to record their e-learning. As you know, Israel is choc-full of hi-tech companies, and from my perspective as an English-language voice talent, that’s a whole lot of scripts that I could have been recording, if only clients realized the skill set that voice-over required.
- Voice-over rates are all over the place and dropping rapidly here. For the past couple of years, I had been discussing with a colleague of mine, Eliot Coe, the possibility of establishing a union to stabilize rates, before they crash.
- And finally, I get a lot of phone calls from voice talents asking me all sorts of voice-over related questions. For example: If the client arrives at the studio half an hour late, from when do I start charging? What should I charge for a voice-over? My client is asking for endless free recuts, is that acceptable? Is it OK for an agent to forbid me to speak a single word to the client or the sound technician at the recording session? I’m having some audio issues, any idea how to fix it? Does it make sense that the client expects me to rewrite the entire script for free, because it’s in my native tongue? Up until now, there was no organization, union or guild for voice talents in Israel, and while I’m always very happy to talk with my fellow voice talents on the phone, I thought it would be useful to have the answers to their questions available online and turned into a standard.
- The establishment of the excellent World Voices Organization (WoVO) made me think we could use something similar in Israel, but tailored to the specific needs of voice talents in Israel.
In May, after answering a phone call from a distraught fellow voice talent, I opened the Israel Voice-over Organization (IVO) LinkedIn group and started looking for people to be on the board of directors. At the start of August, we launched the IVO website (http://ivo.org.il) and started registering members. We just published an initial version of the IVO charter online, and we will continue updating it in accordance with our members’ requests and needs. Our current board of directors consists of myself, Eyal Gelberg, Yishay Raziel, Eliot Coe, Eyal Levin, Tehila Zohar, and November Wanderin.
VOT: What do you hope the organization will accomplish?
Feinerman: Our main goal is to make the lives of Israeli voice talents easier, by doing the following:
- First and foremost, provide a charter that will educate both clients and voice talents about what is expected of the voice talent, what is expected of the client, pricing methods, and what is included in a voice-over rate. The charter targets problems that Israeli voice talents frequently encounter, as well as issues that clients, studio, and agents may be concerned about. Voice talents can refer clients to the charter before closing a deal, and since the website is fully responsive, voice talents and clients can also refer to the charter in real time at the studio to resolve any disputes that may arise. We intend for the IVO charter to become the industry standard for voice-over work in Israel.
- Raise awareness of the voice-over profession: what it is, the work that goes into it and the skills required.
- Assist voice talents in acquiring and enhancing their skills, by subsidizing workshops.
- We originally intended to publish a rate sheet, but the jury is out on whether this will be implemented. Some voice talents are eager for a rate sheet, while others are worried that the published rates would be too low and thus bring down rates for everyone.
VOT: What is it like working as a voice actor in Israel? What types of voice-over work do you do?
Feinerman: I mainly record promotional videos, e-learning for hi-tech, and telephony. Over the past year, I also started doing a lot of dubbing. (You can hear my work at http://vicsvoice.com.) Very often, promotional videos are produced first in Hebrew, and the client sends me the Hebrew-language video for translation before recording and timing the voice-over to the video. I also provide language editing for scripts that require it, including technical scripts.
Israelis are generally laid-back and being late is not considered a terrible thing, so when recording at an outside studio, clients will sometimes show up late, or occasionally the sound technician will arrive late. That’s fine with me, so long as I get paid from when the session was scheduled, and the payment itself is not late!
One thing that always makes me smile is when a customer starts a phone call with “We’re a startup, so we have a low budget.” This IS the “Startup Nation,” so it’s not surprising that so many phone calls start this way. I don’t usually agree to lower my rates for startups, but I do find it very exciting to contribute my voice to a new company and their cutting edge products – and in Israel, there are many such opportunities.
About Victoria Feinerman
Victoria Feinerman is an American voice talent living in Israel, who provides high-quality recordings for projects of all types, including radio, television, IVR, mobile apps, documentaries, corporate videos and presentations, e-learning, and video games. She records from her professional home studio, as well as at various third-party studios. She has been working as a professional voice talent since 2001. Her company “Victoria’s Voice” was founded in 2008, when she built her professional home voice-over studio, including equipment for recording high-quality audio. This provided her clients with an alternative to booking sessions at third-party studios, enabling her to provide fast turnaround – and the ability to record voice-overs in her pajamas!