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From The Sound Booth

Featuring: Voice Over Artist,

Have you ever listened to a voice over and wondered - how do people get into that sort of work? Well, here’s my story.

Appearing as part of the Comedy Festival during opening night, I noted a very specific laugh belonging to a particular critic. Couldn’t spot the lady in question, so called a few days later:

“Thanks for coming, I heard your very supportive laugh.”

Her response, surprised:

“Well, actually Michael, I haven't got to your latest show, but interesting that you’ve phoned. Do you think you could do the voice of a Zen Monk?”

So that was my first paying gig as a voice actor - a radio commercial, falling into my lap through a friend of a friend.

I wanted more, so I set about getting a voice over demo done. Booked studio time, and wrote my own copy. With no guidance, I fell into a common rookie mistake - emulating an actor from The Simpsons, and overloading my demo reel with character voices. The majority of voice work in Australia involves actors speaking in their own voice, so character reads should be in the second half of your demo.

In the years that followed, I built my own studio at home. In addition to recording myself, I cast projects, record other actors, and consult. Work comes in through recommendations, industry contacts, and the Internet.

Michael Jeffery's show Dosh! at the 2000 Comedy Festival. Photo by Jeff Busby

Michael Jeffery's show Dosh! at the 2000 Comedy Festival
Photo by Jeff Busby

That’s how I came across the good folk at Green Key Studio.

They advertised on an industry jobs board for a Royal Australian Cat. In addition to sending them a link to my general voice reel, I recorded a mock audition - with me playing a hopeful, polished cat actor, and a not particularly interested casting agent.

I got the gig, the script arrived and all was clear. I recorded three versions; the performance bigger in each one, while conscious of not going over the top - an easy trap to fall into when playing a feline exuberantly describing his “digging chambers”! Sent multiple versions over to give Green Key Studio options.

Receiving some feedback - for example, make the read shorter, I recorded again and that was that. If only all clients were this organised.

I regularly record educational content, sometimes with medical terms. Working remotely and needing guidance, you learn to utilise on-line pronunciation dictionaries like howjsay.com to copy and paste tricky words.

However, that approach is of little assistance when words such as hyponychium and onycholysis have been misspelt!

He who pays the piper calls the tune. Consequently, my approach is to understand what the client is hoping to achieve. Communication literally means to create understanding. Audio is yet another way to engage with a target audience, whether you’re trying to teach them, make them laugh, or, usually the case; sell them a product.

Michael Jeffery voicing the cat in the Oz-Pet: Cat Loo video

It’s been said that there’s a style of music to suite the tastes of every listener. The emotions professionally produced sounds conjure can be significant. That’s what I aim to achieve every time I step into a studio - in addition to being an aristocratic Aussie cat, Zen Monk, or advising nervous students via a recorded passage that:

“This exam will conclude in 10 minutes!”

Michael Jeffery is a Melbourne based actor. 2013 is his 26th year as a working professional.
For more information about Michael, simply Google Michael Jeffery voice.
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