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The Versatility of the Voice Over Career

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Voice-over careers come in all shapes and sizes. There is of course the talent. The actual voice. And that’s the person that you hear that you never see. There are sound designers, producers, engineers and a lot of people that you would never realize are involved and work in voice-over work. So let’s look at one example. Frank Sheadrick, a musician by trade and a producer and engineer is being given his first film to sound design. So as a drummer, Frank ventured on this occasion into voice-over. This is a very good example of careers in the business of sound. Frank is now doing the sound for a documentary. Frank is not a voice-over sound designer, but because there is so much versatility in the voice-over landscape, Frank is doing his first movie. And this is where the opportunities in voice-over expand. Operating out of SoKnox studios in Knoxville, Tennessee, Frank says, “The voiceover artist needs an edge when producing their content and soundtracks, and I see to it that their voice ultimately sounds very special.”

“I learned at 21, the power of contributing to sound, so it became my passion to identify that special ‘sweet spot’ in their voice – develop it and finalize it to perfection,” says Frank. “Every voice-over artist has something unique about them. I love sound, but I am not a narrator.”

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Enter Cylk Cozart. Cylk is best known to many from “White Men Can’t Jump.” But Cylk had 50+ other productions such as marquee movies like “Conspiracy Theory,” and “Three to Tango.” The list is long. And now, at this writing, Cylk is on the final stretch of his movie “Inherit the Land.” But because the film is narrated by Cozart, he needed someone to record and shape his voice-over narrative. Cylk needed a studio-quality soundtrack. “I chose Frank because he finds the rhythm in your vocal delivery and makes it work to the betterment of the story,” Cylk explained.

Frank Sheadrick (left) in his voiceover recording studio with Cylk Cozart (right)

The story is a documentary called “Inherit the Land,” the true tale of two elderly white women who willed 800 acres of land to a black family in the 1920s. “And as the narrator, I needed someone who could take my voice and make it come to life as a character and Frank can do that,” says Cozart. That is not an easy task. Working in voiceover production in any capacity is a collaborative effort. “Frank finds the best in you and makes it come to life,” says Cozart.

Director Cylk Cozart leverages Frank Sheadrick’s voice for audiobook narration.

There are endless opportunities to work in voice-over. And it can all be taught remotely through The Voice Shop located in New York. People from all walks of life have appeared on the voice-over landscape and with today’s technology, living in Los Angeles for film production is no longer necessary. It can be learned remotely from wherever you are by the team at The Voice Shop (www.voiceshopcoaching.com) which is a sister company of Creative Media Design in New York City. (www.cmdnyc.com)

Listen to the story of Mike Lenz, a registered pharmacist for 30 years and the mayor of Sarasota Springs, New York. Mike changed his career at 54 and entered the voice-over business. “My distinct specialty is audiobook narration,” says Mike, who is a member of SAG/AFTRA. Mike had already been the voice of Xerox, Clorox, Bayer and Dell. But it was the audiobook niche that opened the door to union membership. “And because I love to read, I wound up in audiobook narration as my voiceover specialty.” Mike has 140 audiobooks to his credit. “Being a pharmacist and a politician were wonderful careers, but there is something really special about telling a story with your own twist to millions of listeners,” says Mike. “I wanted to work for large publishers, and I wound up with the biggest publishers in the world.”

Mike learned his career in voice-over by taking classes. And he advocates anyone wanting this career cannot do it without and understanding their audio expectations, “and you do that by taking courses and immersing yourself in training,” says Mike. Mr. Lenz operates out of his home studio in upstate New York and lives by the credo “to be persistently consistent.” And this consistent sound leads to more and more publishers trusting him to narrate their book. “To me, the versatility of all things sound is what eBook audio is all about.” And through his course study, Mike got requests to help others develop their own career in voice. And so to expand his operation, Mike became a podcast producer for other hosts, “and the voice-over experience helped me to grow the podcast producer business.”

Mike Lenz, the former pharmacist, and mayor, now specializes in audiobook narration.

So how can you become someone like Mike Lenz? The answer is to study the art form. “The way I went from filling prescriptions to narrating was through courses I took. (www.voiceshopcoaching.com) There are courses in everything from microphone technique to sound engineering. “It’s impossible to succeed alone,” says Frank Sheadrick. “Had I not learned how to shape the voice, I would have never gotten into voice narration for motion pictures.”

The goal is to never stop learning and growing. “It’s a constant work in progress,” says Steve Tardio, one of The Voice Shop’s instructors. “And we teach remotely or in-studio,” according to lead instructor Mike George. “Not everyone can be here in New York, so we make our training programs available to people nationwide online with personal instruction.”

Mike George provides voice coaching and teaches voiceover classes in New York City’s The Voice Shop.

Mike Lenz believes anyone can succeed. “Never underestimate the power of serendipity,” says Mike. “I was anything but knowledgeable about the business, but I learned through course study. Wonderful things will happen if you just begin your journey, but you do have to BEGIN. You can’t just think about it.”

Having a fortunate discovery or “serendipity” is part of what becoming a voice-over professional is all about. “Most people have no idea that they have that special something,” adds Frank Sheadrick.

Mike Lenz equates the voiceover business to sailing. “Just get in the boat,” says Mike. “Once I took my first class in voiceover, I knew.” And that’s how you discover your calling in voiceover, “You Just set sail.”


 

Keith Brunson

 

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