Sunday, September 23, 2012

Here come the auditions . . . .

After what seemed like a period of spotty audition activity, last week was very busy. This weekend alone I had four scripts to read from my agent, plus an inquiry on rates from a German company. When it rains . . . .

Image via Kate's Voice
Auditioning from home, which is all I've ever done, is a solitary beast. It makes me feel so isolated, and there is no sense of how well or poorly you did other than whether you get the gig . . . or don't. The lack of feedback can be maddening, and I do often rely on my friend, producer and narrator Beth Richmond,  to give what I've done a listen and let me know her opinion of my performance. There is just no substitute for another set of ears. Yet at times I must just trust the process and the preparation and talent I have, and roll with it.

I have also begun practicing with the improv group I work with, the Hit and Run Theater. We will be performing at the Hill House in Mendocino for two shows next month, and the interplay with these talented folks always tones my performance muscles. Improv is a great tool to have in my kit, and it definitely helps with script analysis and helps me give a unique take to any reads.

All this gives me a greater sense of connectedness to my art, and I am grateful for that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New toy . . . .

I decided a week ago to upgrade my home studio and order the Harlan Hogan Porta-Booth. At this point in my life I don't have the wherewithal to afford sound treating an entire room (besides being a renter), so I wanted an option that was both low impact on my living space and effective. Plus there are times when I travel, so having a portable recording option available is useful. I've only been using it a short time, but my reaction so far is WOW!

Here's the new home of KraussVO! I left up the old fruit box dividers I used 
before to mitigate sound bouncing, but I don't think I need them anymore. 
My MXL 990 microphone looks quite cozy.
The Booth does take some getting used to. For years I've been used to the ambient sound of my recording studio, which is located in a cabin separate from our house. At first the "deadness" of the recordings I was doing (as opposed to the "live" sound I have been used to) was . . . well, weird. I couldn't really tell if it was better or not. I finally went to the woman who produced and engineered the audio book I recently finished, Beth Richmond of Giving Voice Studio, and asked her for an honest appraisal. She has done production and post-production work for some years now on numerous projects, and built her own home studio some years ago. She said the sound was "great", which, given the primitive nature of the structure I use, is saying a lot.

I'm learning to do things a little differently, positioning the mic and my mouth differently, putting the scripts in the Booth for reading, but it seems to be working out better. As time goes on, I will report on how it feels once I settle into it a little more. For now, it seems to be a definite improvement.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Left out or right away . . . .

I was getting ready to head to my day job today when I checked my email, and there was an audition from my agency (Stars of San Francisco) which was due in about an hour. It was for a ballot initiative here in California, Prop 37, which would require appropriate labeling for genetically engineered foods. I grabbed the two scripts, did a quick read, and sent them off, but it did occur to me: what if the spots were for a position or candidate I didn't agree with?

According to one of my idols, D. C. Douglas:
There are many voice over actors who will not provide their services for anything that is contrary to their political views.  I’m not one of them.   I don’t think the power of my voice and the quality of my timber can actually make someone do something. (Just like video games and rock music don’t make you do anything – you and your brain/brain chemistry are responsible!)   If I’m not recording it, someone else is.  I’d rather the money landed in my bank account – a secular Liberal with Libertarian leanings…
 This seems quite realistic and reasonable, yet I find a part of my soul sort of screaming in pain when I think about doing a script for, oh . . . say, Citizens United, or just about any Republican. NOT that this has been an issue, mind you.

I guess it is easier for a working VO guy to say yea or nay to this or that political ad. For now, I want work, and if I book something I will take it. If I have qualms about the leanings of the subject of the script, I can always give the money I make to the opposition.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Keep on truckin' . . . .

I worked on two auditions last night from my agent, both for industrial narrations. One was a straight narrator script, and the other was the character of a soon-to-retire husband talking about the options for him and his wife. Both were right inside my wheelhouse, but there have been so many perfect fits over the years for me that I don't know what to expect. All I can do is give the best performance I possibly can, and after that it is up to the client. You never hear anything if you are NOT chosen, so it is pretty frustrating, and easy to get discouraged.

Then I saw this article (via, thanks to Sirenetta Leoni) about the struggle Mark Ruffalo endured before he made it:

If you happen to be feeling down or dejected because things aren't happening fast enough for you career-wise, consider this...Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo went on over 800 auditions and got 800 "no's" before he was cast in "You Can Count On Me." As the article points out, that is an epic amount of rejection, even by Hollywood standards.

As your acting and voice acting coaches always tell you, you have to believe in yourself and your abilities. We're sure that Mark had friends and colleagues who were booking more frequently than he was, but obviously he avoided measuring his success by how others were doing and didn't allow his lack of bookings to get him down. We're sure it wasn't easy at times, but he persisted, and just kept auditioning and believing in himself, instead of throwing in the towel.

Thanks to the folks from The City Workshop for putting us onto this Esquire article from several years back. It's the first time we heard this story about Mark, so we're guessing that most of you haven't heard it before either.

Esquire: "This man went on eight hundred ill-fated auditions. Auditions for bad karate movies and shows about cops on bikes. Auditions in which -- and this one is hard to picture -- Richard Grieco trash-talked him.
Even in a town where rejection is as common as multigrain pancakes, eight hundred auditions is a lot. Epic even."
 800 auditions! And he kept at it. I guess persistence can pay off, eh?

Thanks Sirenetta! I needed that!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Change is good . . . .

Image via
After a long period of procrastination, I have finally updated my voiceover web site. The results are here, and include more samples of the work I have done than before, as well as photos of me (as opposed to the stylized images that were there before) and a link to this blog. Hopefully, it will give a clearer idea of what I offer as a voice artist, but I feel so relieved to get this redesign FINALLY done. It is one of the steps I am taking to make a higher priority of my voice work, as well as a way of portraying myself to the world as to what I am as an artist NOW.

How effective will this be in generating work for me? Only time will tell. But for now, I am pleased to at last made the changes I have been dreaming of for this site for literally years. And that is a major accomplishment for me! 

Monday, September 3, 2012

In the beginning . . . .

While I have been working as a voice over artist for a while (or should I say, struggling to break into this field?), this is the first post for a blog I am starting to document my journey. I have heard such a blog can be a "valuable marketing tool", I guess I am also approaching it as a personal tool---a way to track my own progress and see just where this path leads.

I have my first audio book in release, and I have to say that I am quite proud of it. It is called "Wet Places At Noon", and it is a collection of short stories by Lee K. Abbott. It is available at, iTunes, and, and I have to admit it is exciting to see my name on all those sites!

I recorded it under the talented direction of Beth Richmond at her Giving Voice Studios, and I have to give her props for the incredible job she did, in producing, engineering, and directing this newbie at the mic. She is my "secret weapon", and helped me deliver the best performance that was in me. She is a well established audio book narrator herself, with numerous titles to her credit, as well as being an accomplished actor. Her presence was one of the reasons I was able to pull this together, from recording the audition to the post production work. I am utterly grateful to her.

The book itself was a joy to read. Abbott is an incredible writer, filling his stories with quirky personalities and putting them in situations that test their character and, at times, their sanity. His gift for description is rich and unique, and his tales are full of the unusual and unexpected. There is not a wasted word in his writing. I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to interpret this man's work.

I booked this project though the Audiobook Creation Exchange, a venue for matching producers, narrators, and authors, and I have to say it is a wonderful new way to find work as a narrator. I look forward to more titles through their site.

I feel there is a new validity to my work in having this project out in the world. I am able to see myself more truly as a narrator, and as a person that maybe a few folks will want to listen to. That is pretty awesome, and gives me a new hope and happiness in pursuing this dream.