On Thursday, June 26th, 2014 Source Elements teamed up with the SAG Foundation to present the inaugural Don LaFontaine Voice-Over Lab Spirit Award to one unsuspecting voice-over artist.
Rebecca Davis, an avid user of the Sag Foundation’s Don LaFontaine Voice-Over Lab, was invited to attend a meeting at the Lab, located in the SAG Foundation Actors Centre in Los Angeles. Nothing seemed particularly out of the ordinary. Davis, who has amassed a solid voice-over resume in animated features and video games, was not aware that the meeting would be all about her.
“Sometimes you hear people say, “I don’t remember, it all happened so fast.” That’s what it was like. When they said my name, I just couldn’t believe it at first,” says Davis. “The SAG Foundation has a picture of me with my hand over my mouth in disbelief. It was hard to register what was happening. I remember immediately getting farklempt, and thinking to myself, “keep it together Rebecca, just keep it together.”
The Lab, which was created in honour movie trailer icon Don LaFontaine and to help voice actors learn and practice their craft, is a fully-equipped recording facility with classroom space. For Davis attending the Lab was critical in her development as a voice actor.
Davis, an active member of SAG-AFTRA, says she started going to the Lab right from its inception. “I tried to go to every class I could. They brought in some wonderful instructors and casting directors, and normally I’d be paying up to $100 or more to meet them and learn from them, whereas at the lab, it was free.”
As a voice actor just starting out Davis was without a home studio at the time. She visited the Lab several times a week to work on auditions and record copy from her clients. During this time she honed her craft with the feedback she received from the engineers and her peers. At the Lab she also learned how to edit using Twisted Wave, experimented with mic techniques, and challenged herself with copy she would otherwise not try in a workout group elsewhere.
“All of these things helped build my confidence in my craft,” she says. “The lab helped me feel more prepared for auditions and for working on my own. It helped me meet some wonderful folks in the industry, and turn colleagues into friends.”
The Don LaFontaine Spirit Award was created to honour voice talent who emulate LaFontaine’s level of talent and commitment to the industry. The Spirit award includes LaFontaine’s state-of-the-art Source-Connect license, the same software he used while recording the U.S. trailer for The Simpson’s Movie while vacation at a castle in Scotland. The state-of-the-art Source Connect software makes it sound as though the director is in the same room with the voice actor, picking up every nuance of the actors voice, no matter how far apart they are.
The award was presented to Davis by SAG Foundation Executive Director Jill Seltzer, Source Elements’ Rebekah Wilson, and Lab co-founders Joe Cipriano, George Whittam and Paul Pape.
On getting started in the voice-over industry Davis advises, “Everyone has a different career path, a different journey, if you will. I know some people who had success seemingly overnight and some who worked for years and years and years and now the success is happening.”
“It’s hard not to compare ourselves to others in this industry, but you are the only you there is. When they’re looking for “you”, they’ll find you. You just have to be ready for it. Practice every day. Read the voiceover blogs. Know what’s going on in the voiceover world. If you want to work in animation, watch as many cartoons as you can. If you want to focus on commercials, don’t skip through them when you’re watching TV. Listen to the radio stations that actually have commercials. Play video games. Basically, know the business that you’re in and the styles and trends of today. Take classes and workshops. There is always more we can learn about our craft.”
David expressed the importance of surrounding oneself with good, supportive people in work and in life. She says, “Reach out for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid. Last year, I was having a really tough go of it. I turned to a few of my friends in the VO world, and they helped more than they know. Just talking with someone else who understands what we go through on a daily basis is so good for the soul and gives us some great perspective.”
Rejection is a fact of life for anyone working in entertainment and media. “We are rejected in this business every single day. Every day. It’s hard not to take it personally, but if we got upset about every audition we didn’t book, I don’t think many of us would ever leave our homes. Once you submit that audition, try to forget about. Yes, easier said than done, I know.”
“Most importantly, you have to believe in yourself, even when things are down, and follow your dream. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, the person listening on the other end can hear it. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. “
Image Source: VOX Daily