Voiceover Class Warfare – The GKN Weekly Update 11/18/14
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I’m ambivalent about awards shows.
I watch the Oscars every year and sometimes the Film Independent Spirit Awards, but that’s about it. Just about every genre of music, acting, and sports has them and that’s fine if you’re into that. It’s important to celebrate your industry and recognize excellence. From a television point of view, awards shows are one of the few real-time events left so the more the better from a viewership and ad-buy point of view. Personally, I don’t care what they’re wearing or who came with who or any of that stuff, but they are fun to watch, ay?
I mention this because recently the voiceover industry had an awards show of its own: the Voice Arts Awards, sponsored by the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences (SOVAS).
There are other voiceover-related awards shows out there, The Audies (for audio books) for example, and the VAA is relatively new. It’s a non-profit event that works in conjunction with That’s Voiceover, a series of live events that take place throughout the year in different parts of the country designed to educate aspiring voice talents and connect them with established voiceover coaches and other industry professionals.
Others in my field have blogged about the VAA, but the one that caused a bit of a stir was penned by Paul Strikwerda. You can read his blog here. I’m not here to discuss the pros or cons of the VAA or Paul’s blog entry. I want to talk about the “class warfare” that ensued as a result.
If you read the comments on Paul’s blog, it’s apparent the issue is quite divisive. It was civil for the most part and lucid arguments were made on both sides. There was a similar thread on the “Voice Over Pros” Facebook Group, 235 comments long. Also civil for the most part.
What I found fascinating was the nature of the two camps: “blue-collar” voice talent and “white-collar” voice talent. BTW this is a sweeping generalization and there are notable exceptions on both sides.
“Blue-collar” voice talents are part-time or full-time, primarily non-union, and have neither high-end agents nor regularly book national commercials. These types of voice talent tended to be anti-VAA.
“White-collar” voice talents are full-time, in the union, have high-end agents, book nationally recognized VO work, and either coach, produce demos, or sell books & products catering to the voiceover industry. These types of voice talent tended to be pro-VAA.
Notice that a number of the “white-collar” voice talents who participated in the discussion were involved in the VAA and made an effort clarify the nature of the event and create more transparency.
There seems to be a level of exasperation inherent. Why? It depends on who you ask. Some of the BC’s may think an event like the Voice Arts Awards is an exercise in cronyism and newbie trolling so the WC’s can sell their stuff to aspiring voice talents. Some of the WC’s may think the BC’s are jealous and resentful of their success & notoriety when they’re just trying to share their wisdom and make a living.
Does it sound like I’m on the fence and trying not to piss anyone off? Well, you’re right. I may wind up pissing off everyone, but hey what can you do. The conflict, while fascinating, makes me a bit sad. I know and respect people on both sides and frankly, I’m torn. I’ve been blue-collarish but being blessed with success & exposure over the past few years I’m acquiring a tinge of white. I guess I’m, I don’t know, cyan-collar?
TIP OF THE WEEK: This experience reminded me of two important things:
1) Good voice talents are good listeners. Most of the people involved in the discourse took the time to read the posts carefully, reply thoughtfully, and disagree respectfully. I mean, we read and interpret copy all day, right? So it makes sense that this is a skill that many successful voice talents possess.
2) The voiceover industry is a small, small world. To be a successful voice talent is to be a supportive and respectful member of the community. Voice talents have a long memory. They remember who contributes thoughtfully & respectfully and who doesn’t. Aspiring voice talents would do well to remember that…
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
STUFF!: The secret to making really good banana bread is using orange marmalade. Trust me on this one!
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