A place to share the great experiences that have happened as a direct result of Positive Thinking. Also quotes and inspiring stories to encourage others. Need a boost? This is the place to get it! All positive thinkers are welcome!
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  • I am blessed to have a glass that is overflowing, not just 1/2 full. Here's just one example: I spend most of my time focused on my niche, automotive ads, right? So I just finished working on my 23rd automotive ad for July and there's still one more day. I love my job! www.poppasautovoice.com
  • We actors are a sensitive lot. We have to be. We must be in the moment, be attuned to our feelings to bring the characters to life. That sensitivity can be a two edged sword. Being sensitive in a performance can make it brilliant. But, being sensitive to criticism can destroy us. OR can make us better than we ever thought we cold be.

    As one who received an "Oreo" from Penny and James a couple of years back, can tell you that I didn't like being told that there was nothing on my demo that was marketable. The way that I was told was palatable but to the point. Honest but not discouraging.

    I listened to that demo a year or so after the fact, not only were they right but they were being very kind. It was really, really not marketable.

    I am happy to be sensitive to the moment, to the character. To what needs to be changed. I am happy to not be so sensitive as to listen to criticism. One can't grow with out listening to the truth. I will not however listen to someone abusive. They are coming from a place of self serving ego.

    Thank you Penny and James for your kind honesty.
    Daniel Wallace
  • Thanks Penny for more positive thoughts for us all to carry through our day.
  • Penny what a great piece, thank you so much. Even for those of us who have been doing this for a while, we are still prone to latching on to that one negative comment and allow it to become the foundation of our belief in our ability.Like yourself, had I listened to the naysayers my freelance career would not be 18 years old.
    Another great analogy that a friend of mine often uses, is this, "opinion is like a game of poker, your opinion of somebody else's hand, depends on what your holding and where you sitting at the table."
    Even my own most recent "trailer demo" has garnered opinions that span the entire spectrum. Until reading this I was holding onto the negative ones and foregoing all the positives.
    Thanks for the "Oreo":-)
    Cheers Lofty.
  • Food 4 Thought

    As a voice acting coach and producer, I am often asked to give evaluations of another actor's work. This comes mostly in the form of demo evaluations. As actors, we all like the validation of having someone else in the business tell us we've done well, or that we need to make some changes.

    When I first started in the VO business, it took me about a year and one-half to feel I was “ready” to record my commercial demo. I worked very, very hard to find the right scripts, rehearse and to get the money together, and find the best person to produce my most valuable marketing piece. After the demo was produced and I had about 2 dozen cassette tapes (yes, tapes…), I knew it was important to get feedback from some of the people I admired and who had been doing voiceover for many years. So, I started sending them out and asking for an evaluation. I received many and learned an enormous amount from them. I got lots of glowing responses with very positive comments and suggestions but there was this one… I needn’t go into details, but suffice to say it wasn’t very kind.

    Which one do you think I will always remember?

    It takes 11 positive statements to erase just one negative one. Negative remarks stay with us a long time, whether or not we deserve or agree with them.

    A student of mine, and possibly the most talented voice actor I've had the pleasure to coach, was well on his way to being a star in this industry. He was doing everything right; he was taking classes, getting good feedback and had produced his commercial demo. It was a very strong demo and was getting him work in the Los Angeles market. Then he took a class in L.A. during which the coach told him (in essence) that he had no talent, his demo was awful, he was a loser and he should just quit right now before he embarassed himself further. I wish this story had a happy ending, but it does not. He took what this one coach said to him to heart. It made no difference that many, many others (including James and me) had given him positive feedback and encouragement. He sold his equipment, threw away his demos and to my knowledge has never voiced again. Now THAT is a real shame!

    I am a strong proponent of being honest when evaluating someone’s demo and I am ALWAYS HONEST when I do. After all, that's what they're looking for. Even if you aren’t a VO coach, you will probably be asked to do the same someday. So, I’d like to share my philosophy of demo evaluation - the way to be honest AND kind without completely discouraging an aspiring voice actor.

    First of all, I choose to use the “cookie method.” This is something I learned when doing evaluations of speeches in my Toastmasters club. Think of your evaluation as an Oreo cookie. There are three parts to the cookie; the top wafer, the creamy center and the bottom wafer.

    The top wafer is what you say first – the absolutely most critical statement you’ll make. If it’s something positive, they will continue to listen. If it’s negative they will focus on it and never hear the ways in which you can help them improve. I believe there is always something good (and honest) to be said. Even if it’s, “You have a wonderful voice” or, “Very nice” or, “I loved the spot about the ice cream – very clever!” Now you have given them an honest compliment - now you have their attention - it’s time to move to the creamy center of the cookie – the best part. This will be what they are really looking for – a demo evaluation that will give them the feedback and suggestions they need.

    Believe me when I tell you that not all demos I get are good demos. Some have very weak deliveries, some are badly recorded, some are... well, just bad. Mostly this is because their demo was produced before they were ready to have a demo. His or her skills are just not up to a competitive level. But I will never focus on their weaknesses – I will simply give them suggestions for improvement. And here’s the most important part of the creamy center: I can tell someone they have a demo that isn’t marketable, but do it with kindness and with hope for either correcting the weaknesses or encouragement to focus on more training and try again.

    This brings me to the bottom wafer of our cookie – encouragement and appreciation. They worked hard to get this demo produced and they spent a lot of money. I finish my critique with encouragement and praise. It can be as simple as, “This is an excellent first effort!” Even if the demo is not marketable in its present form, it doesn’t mean that one or two of the strongest spots may not be resurrected in a new demo down the road. In this industry, it is unwise to think we will only need ONE demo forever! Our abilities improve, we have new material for a demo, or the trends in the marketplace change. We must change with them.

    Your first demo is definitely a learning experience! I go back and listen to mine and absolutely cringe! Even though it was very well produced, my skills were not what they should have been at that time. Future demos, of course, were much better. The last thing an aspiring actor needs to hear is that you think they completely wasted their money and that they have no talent (even if you may believe it at the time). I’ve had the experience of critiquing a “first demo” and then a couple of years later been asked to critique the same actor’s new demo and WOW! What an improvement! How unfair it would have been of me to tell him he “didn’t have what it takes!” He just needed more time and more training.

    If, all those years ago, I had listened to that one very unkind critique of my first demo – if I had let that negativity keep me from continuing with my dream – how unfortunate it would have been for me.

    My best advice when you are asked to critique someone’s demo, is three-fold. Use the “cookie method,” be honest and be kind. It really is possible to do all three. Don’t let you unkind or negative remarks be the ones they will remember forever. It all goes back to the Golden Rule. Give them the same kindness you would like to receive.

    Yes, be honest. But also, be kind.

    Hugs,

    Penny
  • We're so happy you're with us, Tom!

    Hugs,

    Penny
  • Penny,
    I'm thankful that you made me aware of your tremendous community of positive thinkers. I'm also thankful my friend and former talent agent/now talent herself, Meghan Kelly is up for her first SAG job this week. She was put on hold for a Chrysler radio spot and has been cast from the demo I produced for her. I know everyone has felt how difficult it is to find work whether you're an experienced pro or a relative newcomer to voice acting, but it is extremely hard in the Detroit area where like everything else, our union work has been based on what the car companies have provided. Now that the "new normal" is settling in around GM, Ford and Chrysler, hopefully there will be more work coming our way. We all need to stay positive and prepared for the time when the economy finally takes off again. It will happen.
  • Thanks for the video link Bryan! It is a wonderful world! I am thankful for my family, for my new found voice over friends and coaches, and for the wildlife I see on the walks I take most evenings! So much to be thankful for!
  • I'm grateful for an email box full of positive comments, and the fact that this VO community is just that.

    Isn't it great that when we stand alone in front of the mic we really have so many others cheering us on and encouraging us.
  • What wonderful posts. It is such a pleasure to share in the joy that fills each of our lives in our own individual ways. I am so very grateful for this amazing career and the creativity it lovingly calls forth from me each day. It is a dream come true.
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