Ever imagined a career in voiceovers? For those who have, they attended the Pan-African Film Festival (PAFF) Institute’s “Hand Over The Mic” – Voiceovers and the World Stage,” on Saturday, November 10th at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
A voiceover is a piece of narration in a movie or broadcast, not accompanied by an image of the speaker. Voiceovers are everywhere and you may not even be aware that you are listening to one. They are used on your favorite commercials, animation, documentaries, movie trailers, nightly news reports and radio promotions.
The free two-hour panel discussion was filled with eager and attentive PAFF students. Notebooks and laptops in hand, all wanting to learn how to start a career in voiceovers. The discussion was moderated by producer and PAFF Ambassador, Sherri G. Sneed. The guest speakers were Iona Morris, voiceover artist and “Blackish” dialogue coach, and Carroll Kimble, founder of Carroll Voiceover Casting Company. Both actresses attended Beverly Hills High School together, and later went on to pursue careers in the entertainment industry. They gave stories of how they began their voiceover and dialogue coaching careers.
Morris and Kimble were very generous with their knowledge and easily communicated how to be a successful voiceover actor. Both actors performed their best cartoon and radio voices for students to listen and watch.
Tips, tricks and techniques were shared. Morris and Kimble stressed the importance of how lucrative the business can be. Royalties can be earned throughout the years by the amount of times a commercial is played. Also remembering that in the human body, your voice is the last thing to go. Therefore, preserving your voice and perfecting your pitch will guarantee longevity in the business. Students were encouraged to find out what makes their voice unique and to not change their voice to sound like anyone else.
They covered a variety of topics from, reading aloud, active listening, practicing dictation, recording at home, creating demos, preparing interviews, getting an agent, recording software, financing session fees, engineering, editing and contracts. In addition, key factors to pay attention to include pitch, tone, dictation, pronunciation, awareness of character and of course studying.
The PAFF workshop included an interactive session where students were called to practice reading scripts aloud. Each participant was asked to slate, then read their script. Commercials for cars, video games and food products were used to demonstrate the effectiveness of voiceover acting.
Thirteen-year-old actor, Noah Abbot was asked to recite the catchy morning breakfast waffle slogan “Leggo My Eggo” repeatedly, until he got it “just right”. Meaning, his tone, attitude, diction and intent were believable that he wanted his waffle.
Students had the opportunity to ask questions and were encouraged to stay in touch with both ladies for future opportunities. The class was educational and entertaining.
The Popular tongue twisters below were used to teach the class on how to open their mouths and enunciate. The class recited:
“Red leather, yellow leather”
“Betty Botta bought a bit of butter;
“But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter!
If I put it in my batter
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit o’ better butter
Will make my batter better.”
Then she bought a bit o’ butter
Better than the bitter butter,
Made her bitter batter better.
So ’twas better Betty Botta
Bought a bit o’ better butter.”
Some notable voiceovers you may remember are, James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader in “Star Wars”, Regina King as the voice of Riley Freeman on “The Boondocks” and Morgan Freeman as the voice of God in “Bruce Almighty.”
PAFF Institute, the educational arm of the Pan African Film and Arts Festival, has become known for its dynamic slate of panels, workshops and conversations focusing mainly on the latest topics, trends and technology in the film-making arts industry, and, additionally, on subject matter that interests and impacts the community at large.
The Institute serves as a platform to amplify the voices of industry powerhouses, community influencers, sports figures, cultural icons, thought leaders and disruptors who seek to educate, inspire and empower those who desire personal and professional elevation.
For upcoming classes visit www.paff.org for more information.