I am most fortunate and grateful to have had much sustained success as a voice-over actor for nearly twenty years. Over that time, I have seen seismic shifts in the industry. One of the most significant has been the transition towards home studio production. With the advent of new technologies that make home studios affordable and large files transferable through the Cloud, the whole world is – literally – in my hands. Over the last decade, many of my bookings have come from producers in countries such as Canada, the UK, Germany, India, Israel, China, Mexico, and Brazil. When a production requires North American English, opportunities with international voice-over clients abound. You can connect with exciting work from all around the world, whether it’s through P2P casting sites, talent agencies, or your own marketing efforts from the comfort of your home.
Here are some helpful tips for managing relations with international voice-over clients:
1.) First of all, don’t shy away from going after international voice-over work. Whatever marketing you engage in, expand it out and beyond the borders. When you see international calls through Voices.com and Voice123, go for them! When you are looking to get signed by talent agents, go for international voice-over agents. There are numerous representatives to be found in Canada and the UK, as well as non-native English speaking countries. Whether you’re reaching out to foreign production companies, casting directors, or talent agencies, you’ll find that all of them will keep a roster of ‘Uhmuhrican’ voice talent.
2.) When it comes to booking work, go into deals eager, but with eyes wide open. You want to verify their validity and ensure payment will be made no matter who the potential new client is. That goes even more so for international voice-over clients. Before delivering sessions, make sure you’ve checked out their online presence and confirmed the payment process. PayPal is usually the best way to complete international transactions. If you are not 100% sure the client will be a reputable partner then arrange a partial payment up front. However, don’t over scrutinize them to the point that you lose them as a client.
3.) As far as rates go, expect less money when dealing with international voice-over clients. Generally, rates for foreign productions are less than in the US. I’ve found that Canadian and European clients pay pretty much on par, and Latin American and Asian countries less. Personally, I’ve turned down a lot of work from clients because the pay was too low, but for those of you looking to break in and get some credits, your competitive advantage can be taking these lower-paying higher-volume projects.
4.) One of the great things about being a VO actor is that gigs can come calling at any time. Don’t be surprised when contact gets made late on a Sunday night or early on a Monday morning. Note the time difference. Expect emails from Asia before you go to sleep and ones from Europe before you wake up. The varying time differences also mean that correspondence may take longer. Be patient, but have an email device on you at all times so you can respond to notes immediately and avoid a 12 – 24-hour delay.
5.) Also, when it comes to scripts, expect to have to do some editing. Unless it’s a native English production, the script you receive will either have been translated to English or drafted by a non-native English speaker. Usually, clients are open to and solicitous of you making changes for grammar and colloquial-ness, so feel comfortable doing that. Just make sure that you first run any changes by the client.
6.) Finally, keep things professional and formal. Different cultures interact differently, but you’ll be safe if you always err on the side of professional politeness. If you impress a client with your talent and business acumen, you very well may become a main go-to for future projects. Because international voice-over producers are often not as savvy about finding talent, there may be less competition, and once they find someone they like, they’ll keep coming back for more.
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About the Author
Alan Schwartz has many years of experience in the voice-over industry. His voice has been heard in TV and radio commercials, promos, documentaries, animated films, video games, and much more. He has worked with the following brands/companies for national commercial campaigns: Sprite, Verizon, Yahoo!, Smirnoff Ice and TGI Friday’s. Check out Alan’s website to see more of his work.