I want to take you back to the early 90's when I booked my very first voiceover gig. It was a tag for a law firm commercial. Short and sweet, right? "This should be a piece of cake!" Or so I thought. I was naive to think that just because the script consisted of only the law firm's name and their slogan, this would be a breeze!
I arrived at the studio, where only the engineer was there. I was excited! It was my first big-time commercial gig. Yet, I felt confident and ready. Then, a few short moments later, the entire law firm shows up to the control room. I kid you not! My anxiety started working its way to my voice but I did my best to remain calm. I was told there would be a person from the advertising agency's creative team directing the session. I was not aware the entire law firm would be sitting in on the session. Talk about being thrown to the wolves for your first session!
So, the session begins and after having some initial stress, I was able to calm myself because I knew the script was short. Three names and a slogan. What can possibly go wrong?
We're about 20 minutes in and the session appears to be going smoothly. Then, one of the attorneys started to pick apart how I read the names. Not the pronunciations. It was the delivery. My thought was okay; this is a big part of a directed session. No biggie! I reread the line. "Stop please! Uhm, Terry? Can you read it a little more like this?" The Attorney then read the line exactly how I had just read it. I started to sweat a little and was second-guessing myself. I started questioning whether or not I was indeed the right voice actor for the job. I will never forget the look on the engineer's face after we had recorded the line about two dozen times! He gave me a smile and an eye roll. I knew I had him in my corner so that restored some confidence.
After about 30 minutes and multiple takes, other Attorneys started speaking up and offered their two cents! There were so many attorneys in the kitchen. Talk about one hell of a way to begin a voiceover career!
Finally, the session was over. I recorded 60 takes of ONE line! I kept asking myself, "Is this how every session is going to be?" I was exhausted and irritated, but they were thrilled with the job I did.
I often look back on this day and still question whether or not it was a setup! Perhaps someone was trying to teach me a lesson. But it wasn't a setup! Just some friendly but rather picky clients for my very first booking. Even with the lengthy medical narration gigs I have done throughout my career, I have never had a client so meticulous about every word in a short script.
This first booking was excellent training for what would become a successful voiceover career. It taught me to be patient and ready for whatever a client would throw at me. It was hard and uncomfortable, but I got my first session out of the way and learned a good lesson right out of the gate. What is that lesson? Never assume it will be an easy gig just because of a short script.