Voiceover work comes in many forms, from Disney to Pixar, commercials to audio books. The landscape of voiceover work is vast and it’s power, immense. Imagine a horror film trailer without the hair-raising enunciation of a flawless voiceover artist imbedded into our psych leaving us scared, and excited for what could be the greatest cinema experience of all time. Even the announcement of our favourite TV series returning for one last season during what would otherwise be a mundane commercial break entices all kinds of emotions.
Promotional and Trailer Voiceover work is a powerful and crucial tool in capturing an audience’s attention. It is an essential part of a films marketing process and helps to turn a 100 million dollar film into a billion dollar profit. It is without question an art form in itself.
Brent Allen Hagel is trusted by Film Trailer Houses, Major Networks, and Companies like; FOX, NHL Network, CBS, NBC NEWS, HBO, NCAA, ICC Pro Soccer League, DirecTV and GoPro. Brent is a professional Voice Talent for Promos and Trailers, Voiceover Instructor, and Demo Producer. Last month, I was lucky enough to attend a Brent Allen Hagel workshop in Hollywood and my eyes and ears were introduced to a side of the industry that, to be honest, I had never really thought much about before. To say I was blown away is an understatement. The work is exciting, fun and Hagel executes a passion for his work that will inspire even the most clueless student (i.e. me).
There are so many wonderful avenues to discover within the business of show and Brent Allen Hagel is not only an expert in his field but he also truly loves every second of his work, and thoroughly enjoys teaching others about the craft that excites him the most.
Alixandra: How does promo/trailer voiceover work differentiate from traditional voiceover work?
Brent: Promo and Trailer work is often very fast paced and short noticed work and those who do it specialize in it. Studios and Networks need to market their films, shows, and events and need a voice that matches the brand of their product. You may get a call and be asked to record in 15 minutes. Be ready always. We work from our home studios and audio engineering skills are essential in our field. Clients cast an actor who can add the human connection to the promotional marketing material. That’s when the Promo/Trailer Voice Actors save the day!
A: What inspired you to become successful in this arena?
B: Of all genres of voice over I find Promo/Trailer to be the most exciting. We work in real time to audio beds and picture and have to punch in our lines exactly on time, flawlessly. I admire the craft and skill of the producers and editors putting together these spots. It’s extremely well done work. The voiceover is the last piece of the puzzle. We are shown the spot and “do our thing” to add the finishing touch to their work. Those who are currently working on outstanding voiceover spots and raising the bar for the next generation of voiceover actors inspire me. I’ve launched www.trailervoiceartists.com to promote my peer Promo/Trailer VO’s whom I admire immensely.
A: What are the key ingredients to booking promo/trailer gigs?
B: 1: Patience – it took me 8 years before I booked my first promo campaign.
2: Timing – the right voice for the right project.
3: Hard work and positioning – as an actor you must be with an A-List agent that has connections to the studios and major networks to audition for the work.
4: Be awesome – when you are called on to audition you need to be awesome. Not just ok, or good, but the exact voice the producer who built the spot hears in their head. You need to make the hair on their arms stand up and a chill run down their spine.
5: Craft – the trick to being awesome is at least a decade (10 years) of dedicated study to the craft. This is acting, not radio. It is a life long process and it will require constant continued study.
A: In your workshop you talk about the importance of branding. I think that’s a GREAT point for anyone in any industry. How can an aspiring promo/trailer voiceover artist identify their brand and communicate it effectively?
B: Speak with a branding specialist. Understand yourself and what makes you special. What is special about your voice and attitude? Do you have gravel in your voice? Is it clean and polished? Promo and Trailer voiceover IS marketing. We work with outstanding creative people on a daily basis. You need to be just as creative with your own brand. Hire a graphic artist, hire a website developer, hire a social media strategist…pay professional people professional money to get the image you need.
A: Last but not least, what are some breakthrough moments you’ve discovered in your own journey that has helped you succeed?
B: I get asked all the time how to get into voiceover and how to do it cheaply. People want to just be handed the answers and told what to do. It’s 2018 and we have YouTube and the Internet. If you want to get into voiceover you need to do research. Read all the VO books, take acting classes, sign up for VO workshops, find a coach, build a home studio, learn audio engineering, create a business plan and marketing materials. This is not a talk into a microphone and checks come in the mail. There are roughly 500,000 voice actors in the US alone all competing for jobs. Think of it as on-camera acting but behind a microphone. I was speaking with one of the best VO coaches in the country and she told me the building time for a working VO is 7 years. That’s 7 years of paying real money for all of these things I’ve mentioned. I literally cooked and washed dishes for 10 years in the LA area to get the resources I needed to finally get going in VO. There is no business that you can start “cheap.”
I also want to include the importance of “being yourself” when finding your own sound. For a promo and trailer voiceover career you will have much more success by simply being yourself. With your own voice, your own attitude, and your own life experiences, you can utilize all the emotions you’ve experienced in your life good and bad to bring your work to life and truly stand out.