Archive for August, 2011

What do you do when you’re trying like crazy to attract more clients, boost business, take on more work and more deadlines to pay the bills? Why, volunteer for a local theatre production, of course! Oh, and if possible, make it a two-man show with lots of lines to memorize!

My friend Bob Souer calls this sort of madness “Inviting the Avalanche”.  I’m about to test his theory.

At the suggestion of another trusted friend, actor/director Jack Hall, I auditioned for the upcoming RLT production of “The Woman in Black“.

I haven’t been on stage in a scripted play for 15 years. And while this show has a deserved reputation for terrifying audiences, the scariest part for me would be memorizing the play itself, along with the dialects of the various characters “The Actor” assumes during the tale.

Today I learned I was awarded the part, and four weeks of rehearsals start tonight.

While I won’t have the luxury of a script in front of me like I do in the studio, I’m hoping this will get me out of my routine and, to be honest, jolt me out of the creative rut of a comfort zone (if you can call this “comfort”).

And as for the rest? …let the “avalanche” of paid work begin!

I’ve had my early summer tornado, ridden a rare east coast earthquake, and managed to dodge the most recent hurricane. So I guess an “avalanche” is next on the list, right Bob?

— over and out —

Pre-Release Art from Torchlight II

You’ve got to love a voice session where one of your characters gets to open with a line like that!

In a recent post, I detailed the almost First Date-style jitters encountered prior to an ISDN session for a first-time client and a first job through a new agency. And I promised to add more to the story when I could.

As it all turned out, I needn’t have worried. The ISDN connection went smoothly. Steve, the engineer at Pure Audio, assured me the sound quality was fine. And the directors and lead writer of Runic Games’ upcoming computer game release, Torchlight II (John, Matt, and JD), couldn’t have been more gracious. I even got what I consider the highest praise a writer can bestow. The two directors were wondering if I should try one of the characters a different way, and I’m sure I heard JD say, “…no…that was kinda how I heard it when I wrote it.”

While other voice actors spent much of their star-time as combatants, doing what I respectfully call “grunt work” (doing the action vocal sounds of grunting, yelling and dying), I got to play more sedate and mystical characters for the most part. They include: several of the world’s Guardians; Elder Valen; the powerful Grand Regent Eldrayn; another for which engineer Steve said he’d process my voice into some kind of huge dragon-ish character…and the one we all had the most fun with during the session: the smug, condescending, all-powerful djinni: Fazeer Shah…who sends you out to “survive” for his amusement! (A set of released images included the one above, who looks like he could well be Fazeer Shah, but the characters weren’t identified by name.)

In an interview with Games Xtreme…you can read the full story here…head writer JD Wiker describes the new game thusly:
Some of the developers describe the Torchlight setting as “Dragon’s Lair meets The Incredibles.” I think that’s pretty much on the money. Torchlight 2 continues on in that vein, but there’s an element of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld in there, along with a fair amount of, hmmm, maybe not “steampunk,” per se, but perhaps “dieselpunk” or “clockpunk?” 

Maybe we need a new term to describe the Torchlight theme and setting? How about “dungeonpunk?”

Since the product’s release won’t happen for a few more months, I asked when it would be safe to tell anyone about my inclusion in the voice cast. To my delight, I was given the OK, provided I didn’t divulge the fate of some of the characters…or the projected release date for the game.

Fair enough. But sometime in the next few months, I’m going to have to corral my thirteen-year-old son, buy him a copy of Torchlight II, and sit behind him while he navigates through the various scenes and levels so I see my voices in action!

— over and out —

Do you actually remember your First Date? If you’re my age, it’s probably clouded by several layers of non-objective thinking, but you doubtless remember one thing: the underlying temptation to panic.

…an aside: My own first date was a drive-in movie (you may have to look that up to understand). I took the young lady to see a picture called “Bullitt”…because it co-starred my “Man From U.N.C.L.E. favorite Robert Vaughn (in what turned out to be a very unsympathetic role), and was supposed to have a great car chase. That’s all I knew about it. I should have done more research. Needless to say, the lady wasn’t all that impressed with the car chase, and the bloody violence of the story wasn’t terribly appreciated either.

On our next date…and it was to her credit that we even had a “next date”…the movie was “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”.

Did I ever mention that I tend to over-compensate?

Unfortunately, First-Date-itis is not like those childhood diseases you get once and are immune to the rest of your life. That lurking feeling of panic finds other ways to return, if not on actual “dates”.

…one of those instances, for me, is the first ISDN hookup with a new client.

Never mind the “do I have a pimple?” or “is my hair doing that goofy thing again?” stuff. This is serious panic material. “Will the connection Frame?” “Did I pay the phone bill?” “Will my electric service be cut off in mid-session?” “Is that barking dog/neighbor’s stereo/nearby construction going to come through the walls?” “Are my sinuses acting up again?” “Can I match my audition?”

But in the end, it all comes down to the same thing: “Will they like me?”

Well, I have to admit that at my present age, I don’t worry as much about whether some sweet young thing likes me or not. I’ve attained that trusted “grandfatherly” look, which…one hopes…will not soon deteriorate into a “just another dirty old man”. Not that I don’t care what people think of me. It’s just not the most important make-or-break thing on my mind anymore, socially.

Here’s hoping I have time left in my voiceover career to reach the same point of tranquility when this newer version of the “First Date” comes around yet again.

Because, as I’m actively trying to court more new business…it’s going to be a fact of life.

Oh. And what happened on the latest First Date that was so worrisome as to inspire this latest entry? Watch this space.

— over and out —

While more sensible people are tending outdoor gardens, I’m doing some “weeding” of a different kind.

An off day with no paying work (and too much physical work around the studio, which I tend to avoid) brought me to notice how many emails are still on my computer.  Probably slowing it down considerably.

So, the morning’s been spent going through old emails, discarding most, saving a few for information, and along the way…discovering potential clients I had done lone auditions for, or received contact from only to never hear from again.  In checking for some of them on the internet today, I found some  are no longer in business, some are right where they were, and some  have expanded their business and have newer contact persons.  So I’m “harvesting” what I can and clearing out the rest.

Who knows?  It might eventually provide some voice work later, when I add these to my list of promotional contacts.

I’ll have to be careful about working too hard, though.  I was concentrating so much on the “weeding” I almost missed a call from a current client for a last-minute ISDN job.

…can’t let “work” get in the way of “Work”, can we?

— over and out —

You’re Welcome.

It’s becoming harder and harder every year.

As cynical as I’ve always been, and as opinionated as I’ve always been, I have tried (as a rule) to keep my most volitile opinions to myself…or at least couch them in humorous terms to make them less confrontational.

After all, you never know when you’re going to say or do something that insults a client…or a potential one.  It’s easy enough to do, even when you’re trying to be careful.

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But more and more, as I pay attention to all the blathering and posing and preening and one-upmanship…and outright lying and backsliding…going on in the public eye, it’s becoming more and more difficult to remain simply an observer.

For now, though…and with a supreme effort…my resolve remains in place.  For now, I will continue to resist the urge to join the shouting exchanges which masquerade as “debate” almost anywhere you look or listen…where everyone has to have the last word, and everyone has to be right.

For now.

…you’re welcome.

— over and out —