This post is the second of what I hope to be a significant number of interviews with people I think you need to meet, and who have valuable and important advice and comments.
We’re talking this time with Dan Nachtrab because he has a real handle on the business side of this business. In addition he’s a very talented guy (you can listen to his demos here to see what I mean), but if you haven’t picked up on this yet; while voiceover can be a hobby for a long time; if you’re going to pursue it as a career, you have to look at it as the business it is. As you’ll see, Dan has some worthwhile insights.
My first question for Dan: Compared to what you thought it would be like, what has been the most unexpected aspect of being a voiceover talent?
Dan: A while back my father shared a thought with me. â€œOne day,â€ he said, â€œthe business will overtake your art.â€ He was right. There are many steps in keeping your business in line. I had to stop treating VO as a hobby and push myself to make it my business.
My second question for Dan: Why do you pursue voiceover work rather than something else? Have you at times in the past? If so, what?
Dan: Why does a fish swim? I truly believe, in my heart, I was born for this line of work. Even when I strayed from the VO path and accepted a couple â€œrealâ€ jobs, like selling copiers, I kept my foot in the â€œVO door.â€ A gig here, a gig there. The best part about the sales job was that I learned how to communicate with all types of people and cold call prospective clients. That experience helped me immensely in pursuing voiceover.
My third question: What was the sequence that led to your concentration on voiceover now? What precipitated the change?
Dan: First, let me say this: Every time I crack open the mic, I try to better myself from the last time. There is never a throwaway line for me. So, I guess I can say I have always concentrated on VO. It is an art, and I will always be a student.
Now, on to how I got to where I am nowâ€¦
After the sales job, I tried my hand at radio management. I was promoted five times in three and a half years from weekend talk show host to assistant program director for three stations to marketing director. I was educated in organization, management of personnel and marketing. During that time, I had acquired a few large voiceover clients. Soon after, radio and I parted ways, and the voiceover business became my â€œbread and butter.â€ All of the skills I used while in management, I use everyday in VO.
Believe it or not, the fantastic people at VO-BB.COM gave me the confidence to make the jump. I answered â€œyesâ€ to five of the six questions Frank Frederick posted (in the linked thread) and knew it was time.
My fourth question: How do you deal with rejection?
Dan: I donâ€™t. First rule in acting is to audition and then forget the audition ever took place. If you get the call back, great! If you donâ€™t, you will not be devastated about not getting the gig. Auditioning is serious business. Some say it is the business. If you canâ€™t handle yourself in a professional manner while under pressure to perform, if you canâ€™t take criticism or direction, or if you get upset when someone doesnâ€™t like your voice, then you shouldnâ€™t be in this business.
My fifth question: Taking the other side of my first question, what (if anything) has turned out to be most like your expectations, going in?
Dan: Chicks dig it. Seriously, my wife and daughter couldnâ€™t be more proud. They often wake up and see the old man sitting in his underwear cutting a narration for the United States Department of Defense. It is a pretty sight.
My sixth question: To the degree that you’re comfortable, describe your process of finding work? Are there things you concentrate on? What works better than others? What are you not going to repeat?
Dan: Right now, having three agents helps a lot. Also, whenever I have a client with whom I really get along, I will simply ask if they know anyone who may need my services. Most likely they do and they provide their names and numbers. The great thing about this tactic is that you have an immediate reference from your current client and an icebreaker with the new client. (I was taught this strategy while working in sales.)
In addition, I will not randomly mail out CD demos. A phone call to the prospective client can save you a lot of money and time. How can you otherwise guarantee that the agency deals with VO and isnâ€™t merely a print agency?
My seventh question: Has anything memorably embarrassing ever happened to you in the booth? If so, what happened?
Dan: Nothing too embarrassing, per se. Although, a few laughs have been shared over jokes I wouldnâ€™t repeat to my mother. (And no, I will not take a follow-up question.)
No problem, Dan. No follow-up is needed for that one!
My thanks to Dan Nachtrab for taking time from his busy schedule to answer all of these questions. There’s a link to Dan’s main site above (as well as on my voiceover blogroll to the left), and to his blog about voiceover here.