Just a thought… The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play. [Arnold J. Toynbee]
“Go make money talking!” Those were the last four words as my sister and I hung up the other night; she was heading to bed to get ready for an early morning seminar at her retail job and I had just been summoned to my booth by Rob to please come and do an audition. That’s the thing with freelance work: you leap when the opportunity arises, to be one of the first hopefuls in on a job. And maybe – just maybe – you’ll be the one to get it, out of the 200 who tried.
Sometimes, even when you do get the job – whether it’s a 30 second commercial for a hospital in Oregon or one line for a company video – the work isn’t over when you think it is.
For example, when we were away in Ottawa, we set up our makeshift studio in our son-in-law’s basement and, with Rob holding a blanket behind my head and over my shoulders to block out any room resonance, we submitted a four-minute voiceover job that we considered exactly what the client had requested. Yes, it was a pain to do it on the road, but we were glad to have brought our equipment and Rob is more than able to make whatever situation we’re in sound like studio quality.
No news being good news, we were pretty sure the job was done, but we just hadn’t been paid for it yet. Well, it turns out there was a good reason: the producer wrote back yesterday to tell us, with plenty of cheery exclamation marks, that the entire script had to be redone (including Rob’s edits, de-breathing, etc.) because the client just told them that each sentence had to fit a pre-existing video. I was basically redoing the job word for word with the exact same cadence and timing as the person they were replacing. Okay…I like a challenge!
The icing on the cake, of course, is that there’s no extra money involved. We agree when we bid on a job that there might be revisions. But to us, revisions are a few lines changed or some other alterations that the client or producer have requested, and not the entire job! (My pal Lisa, who – along with her husband Derek – is much more experienced than we are in the world of pay-for-play voice work, says that the producer is either new to this, or playing us.)
Nevertheless, as they say, she persisted. I timed each section of the video and then, with one earbud playing the man on the video, and the other ear covered with one headphone feeding me my own voice as I recorded, I managed to match the content, as per their request. Rob edited it and sent it in late yesterday and we crossed our fingers in the hope it’s what they want. Imagine listening to something in one ear and then saying different words, but in the same pace at that exact moment, and not sounding robotic? There’s a trick to it, I’ll tell you.
I learned it when I was doing television: you have an IFB (or interruptible foldback) ear piece and while you’re doing your interview or having a conversation, someone in a booth somewhere is telling you to wrap up your piece, what to throw to next, what question the producers would like you to ask your guest, or the name of the caller on the phone. All of these things are spoken to you, sometimes while you’re in the middle of a sentence. Talk about separating your brain so you can multi-task! I did enjoy doing that, though; I enjoyed most elements of television, except for the “hurry up and wait” part.
These days, we’re finding fun and fulfillment in auditioning (we get about one in fifty jobs we try for – it’s a big world and a lot of people are trying for the same jobs), hopefully getting short-listed and even landing some freelance work. We’re super excited to be signing a contract for a job with Disney that involves books and I’ll fill you in when it’s done, but this is exactly what we hoped this next chapter in our lives would mean for Rob and me. It’s pretty great when you can do what you love together.
Oh, and as I was finishing writing this, I just heard a ping: we got five stars from the guy for whom we did the revision. I guess that’s worth it?
Look, I’m not complaining; I’m getting paid to talk. And if the voices in my head have to move over for someone else’s for four minutes, I can handle that, too.
Come back tomorrow – I have an enlightening journal for you about a term I never, ever considered offensive, but I sure do now.