A word (or two) on voice over reels.

AC: Voice over actors definitely need a reel. But if he or she doesn’t have a reel, what’s a good place for him to start creating the reel?

Paul Liberti: I would like to clarify: it is 2010, actors need a DEMO. Reels are something we had in the 70s and 80s when they actually were ‘reel to reel’ tapes. That term ‘reel’ is going away more and more. If you want to seem current in the business, an actor does a ‘demo’—not a reel. I also have people ask me, “Can I send you my demo tape?” They mean CD but they just gave away how long it’s been since they marketed themselves as a voice actor!

It is AMAZING how many actors produce their first demo, send it to me and when I ask “How many other demos have you heard before you made this one?” The actor has usually heard few—or NONE!

The first step is to go to a web site like www.voicebank.net and hear great working demos. You can find any actor on either coasts that has an agent on the site. Listen to what is good, hear what is bad, hear what works and learn what is current.

To only hear demos that your coach has produced is shortening your sights. Listen to demos from the best voice actors out there. Pull up star voice actor names like Ruby Dee, Tony Roberts, Richard Dreyfuss, Demi Moore and hear what they are using as a demo as well. Those are the people you will be compared to. Not because you sound like them but because star voice actors are in touch with THEMSELVES and sound like no one else.

The same is true for you: tap into the truth of who you really are! That is what I explore in my New York voice over classes!! LISTEN! Learn all you can and be READY to do a demo when the time is right. Don’t just do a demo to get one done. That demo may stay around a long time, even after you grow and improve!  Know who your competition is!!

Paul is currently co-leading “Professional Voice Over Tune Up” on Mondays at 6:30 pm. Click here to learn about the next class he will be teaching.

Learn more about voice-over work by taking one of our voice-over classes in New York. Check out the tabs at the top of this page.

What are some good questions to ask a head shot photographer?

If you want to perform in NYC, you need great headshots.

Photographer Shirin Tinati has been shooting for over ten years. Agents from both coasts recommend Shirin to their clients. Her philosophy on photography is about capturing the individual and letting the picture tell their story. Her unique shooting style allows for a creative and  collaborative photo session by dedicating as much time needed to get the job done (one client per day).

If you weren’t able to make Tuesday night’s free Photographers Forum at Reproductions, here is some video of Shirin offering her advice to actors about what to ask photographers:

Click here to view past and upcoming events at Photographers Forum.

Insider’s Secret Tip for Actors #2

by Tony Nation

When you do a student film, it’s going to be usually for NO PAY. You’re doing it for the experience, credit and a copy of the film. But sometime’s getting your footage so you have something to show New York casting directors can be a pain in the #$%.

So, my advice to you-get it in writing. Draw up a contract that you and the student director sign saying that for your time and effort, that you will receive a copy of the film by a stated date. When you have a business contract, it provides leverage.

Believe me, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.

What is your biggest “don’t” in the audition room?

As an actor, do you ever wonder what not to do when you go into an audition room? Here is casting director Merri Sugarman’s answer:

Looking for acting classes in NYC? Merri will be leading a musical theatre audition master class on Thursday, January 21, at Actors Connection. Click here to learn more about the class.

Insider’s Secret Tips for Actors #1

by Tony Nation

It’s a fact!  I know that everyone in any profession is always looking for some secret tip or inside information to help them get that small edge on the competition.

Well, as the President of Actors Connection and also a consultant to actors now for over 10 years, I’ve gathered what I would call inside information because of my relation to pretty much 80% to 90% of the industry. I’ve participated in many, many events with them throughout my years of working at Actors Connection and have kept notes on what I think is some of the best advice as well as information and industry secrets.

So, now I’m going to be sharing with you that information once a week. Don’t miss out on the inside secrets, advice, input, tips and whatever else I can give you to help propel you forward in your acting career. It’s up to you to use it or not.

Insider’s Secret Tip #1

Are you an actor who is looking to build your Film credits? If TV and film are what you want to do, you need to be building your resume and film/TV reel in order to have agents seriously look at you. But how do you do that if you don’t already have much experience in these areas? Or if you’re a musical theatre actor wanting to either transition out of that career or simply wanting to explore other markets?

Some of the best ways to do just this, gain experience, credits and reel is to participate in student film programs.

One of the best film programs around, Columbia University Graduate Film School, now has a film casting site where you can register and upload your picture and resume to meet and work with some of the most promising film makers of tomorrow. Many of these student films go to film festivals and you just never know when one of the directors you have worked with hits it big and wants you in their next indie or feature film because they liked your work—it does happen.

Click here to submit

What are some ways that actors can put their money to better use?

Brian O'Neil

By Brian O’Neil

I see actors spending an awful lot of money going to the movies and purchasing plays. Let’s not forget an old-fashioned institute known as the library where almost all of the above is available for free. Also, if an actor is a SAG member, he or she should know that the SAG Film Society has an offer that for a reasonable annual fee, and actor can get a card and see films for free at a designated theater on W. 57th. Street. And, here’s one more, especially in our current economy.

Whenever you have a submission that you want to get special attention for a specific project, place your photo/resume and cover letter in one of the overnight “express” envelopes that the companies give away for free, fill out the attendant paper work and simply drop it off at its intended destination (even leave it at the door). Won’t cost you a dime, and it will get immediate attention!

Brian O’Neil is teaching the six-week course I HATE MONOLOGUES, which began on January 15 at Actors Connection.

Missed Brian’s class? Check out our schedule of events for more info on upcoming monologue acting classes in New York.

Choose your songs wisely.

Dale Brown

A.C.: What three songs do you never ever want to hear again at an audition?

DALE BROWN: I don’t think I really have a running list of “ugh” songs. Nonetheless, there are two things I believe helpful to keep in mind:

  • In this age of needing pop/rock style songs in your book, be careful to choose wisely. Select a song that has a story arch, an emotional journey. These songs are generally written to relay a feeling, not an active story. Expect as much from your pop song as you would from those written for theater.
  • Also, songs of all types come in and out of popularity to use in auditions. Have an awareness of what songs are tending to be over-done. Give yourself some options in your book in the event you’re hearing your song in the room while you’re awaiting your turn.

DALE BROWN is currently leading a 5-week Musical Theater Showcase that began Monday, January 3. Click here to learn more about the showcase.

Dale joined Tara Rubin Casting in 2007. His current specific projects with TRC include on-going casting for all US companies of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and the original casting of both BILLY ELLIOT, THE FIRST WIVES CLUB and Des McAnuff’s production of GUYS & DOLLS.

Looking for teen singing opportunities in the city? Check out our Kids/Teens section.

You’ve got to please yourself.

Roz Coleman, actress, acting coach, and podcast host recently took the time to answer the question, “What’s the best advice someone has offered you?” Here is her response:

It was an observation that came from August Wilson…  It was when we were on Broadway in SEVEN GUITARS and it was more of an observation that I made over time.

August Wilson had so much joy about his role in the work and he had a recognition of who he was in the world. This made him about his work, it made him focus on the work.

I remember that I helped him join AOL and the screen name he chose for himself was “POWERSOURCE.” He knew who he was as the creator and storyteller. From that observation I knew that he was not apologetic about who he was but very comfortable.

The second observation that I made about him was that he always had the next play ready. Although he was grateful for his current success, he started talking about his next play. Wilson was always about the work. He knew it was important to dedicate time to his craft

You have to do your work, alone in a room creating. That’s what he talked about. It wasn’t on what was he had already done but what was coming.

Those observations translate into acting.

You can’t wait for permission for someone to tell you to create something. As an artist, you have to create every day. You have to create something. When you wait for the phone to ring, your instrument will atrophy.

Actor Sam Rockwell and I used to get together and read plays at each other’s house. If actors aren’t working, they should do the same. Sit down with some friends and and read some Tennessee Williams. Don’t talk about it. Get together and act it.

You have to be pleasing to yourself in your work.

Catching this blog post too late for Roz’s class? Check our schedule of events for a list of acting classes in New York city.

Roz will be leading a 4-week class, “Advance inTREATMENT”: On-Camera Acting for Film & TV, beginning Thursday night (January 6). Click here to learn more about the class and register.

So, you want to do voice overs?

AC: If people tell an actor that he should really consider doing voice overs — and he’s never done voice overs — how does he go about getting started?

Paul Liberti: Bottom line: Training! Good training. Never stop training. Find a great coach and learn all you can. Then experience OTHER teachers and professionals in the business. If you find a class that an agent or casting person is teaching… GO! To have the chance to find EXACTLY what a casting director is looking for… then by all means that is a golden opportunity (that is why I love the opportunities at Actors Connection as that is what they are all about!)! Find a good VO class in New York and a great coach and learn all you can.

Learn all aspects of voice over—not just commercial voice over and animation. Take a class in audio books… or narration, or promos!! Even if you never plan to go into those aspects of voice over, the techniques you learn will help your story telling skills and character building skills to make you the most competitive actor out there.

You don’t plan a career; it works around you. We compete for jobs and you need to be just a little more of yourself then the voice guy/girl out there!! You need to be ready for any curve ball thrown. I have classes for the WORKING actor because you should always be growing and studying. When it all seems too comfortable, you need to get back into class. Any actor of longevity will tell you the same.

Paul will be co-leading “Professional Voice Over Tune Up” tonight (Monday, January 3) at 6:30 pm and also will leading and co-leading other courses through March. Click here to learn more and register.