We like to feature one former student each month and see what they have been up to since graduating from the Such A Voice training program. This month, we got to speak with Don Rudzinski. Don enrolled in the premier VIP program last July. Since then, he has been working hard on finishing up his demo and booking voice-over jobs. Read on more to learn more about how he landed his first voice-over gig and what kind of advice he has to offer to anyone who is interested in voice-over.
SAV: Hi Don! Please tell us how you got started in VO.
Rudzinski: I spent decades on the client side of the business, responsible for countless commercial radio and TV ads. I found the talent side of the business intriguing. When I retired from my corporate job, I looked for an opportunity to jump into voice-overs. I attended an introductory class led by Dan Levine.
SAV: What about the SAV program appealed to you the most?
Rudzinski: I enrolled in the premier VIP program around July 2017. It seemed quite comprehensive with providing coaching, extensive training, and eventually a demo reel customized for me. I have not done my demo yet as I want to complete the training program first and learn more about myself and VO before I make that final recording.
SAV: Tell us about getting that first job. How did you get it?
Rudzinski: There are all kinds of strange postings on Craigslist! Some seem to be disguised ploys to get you to join a pay-to-play program. Though, there are many postings that are legitimate, with small production houses and independents looking for VO talent. There were many I did not hear back from ever. Not all were so elusive, though. For one posting, I sent in an audition (a sample of my voice from a homework assignment). I didn’t tell them it was a homework assignment, but rather said it was a sample of my voice, or an audition for another job. I received an email back asking if I would audition for a specific part. I recorded their script, emailed it back, and was then asked if I would play a different part for immediate use. Of course I said that I would! I was so excited to get my first gig. It was a momentous occasion hearing my voice in a professionally produced podcast and also getting paid for it!
SAV: Who is your VO role model?
Rudzinski: I grew up listening to the strong voices of Don LaFontaine (“In a world …”) and John Facenda (who voiced many NFL films). There was also Mel Blanc who voiced so many unique Warner Bros cartoon characters. That was what voice-overs were all about. Those voices really just scratch the surface of the VO world today. I listen to and admire the many creative voices looking for work these days with their smooth delivery, charming accents, and clever character voices. I know they have more experience than I do. I know they have more accents and voices than I do. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t find my own way, my own niche.
SAV: What voice-over projects have you done so far?
Rudzinski: The project I am working on now is the one I found on Craigslist. It is called “The Rise of King Asilas.” It’s a series of podcasts promoting an upcoming fictional novel of the same name by JV Torres. I even get a “shoutout” at the end of each podcast and I am listed as a cast credit on his website! These promotional podcasts make very entertaining radio theater. It’s amazing to experience the power of voices, coupled with a good storyline and a few sound effects.
SAV: Do you have your own home studio? Tell us a bit about how you designed it.
Rudzinski: I set up my home studio in a spare room. It is also where I have my art studio. I use a BM 800 condenser studio microphone, cradled by a shock mount with a simple pop filter, mounted on an adjustable suspension boom scissor arm stand. It’s all powered through a Focusrite Scarlett Solo audio interface and a laptop. I found these items online by reading reviews and heeding recommendations, keeping the price in mind as well. I use the audio recording software, Audacity, to record my material. The instructional videos on the SAV website are excellent. I am thinking about using a closet in the room for more soundproofing, but so far I haven’t needed it. I may do some comparison recordings to see if one spot is better than the other.
SAV: What kind of advice would you offer to a prospective VO talent about how to find voice-over work?
Rudzinski: The keys are to have confidence, to become technically proficient creating voice files, and to get your voice out there. I’m sure you have a good voice, but that is not enough. Train your voice. Practice reading scripts and turn them into solid voice recordings. However, that’s still not enough. Start applying for gigs directly rather than just posting your demos for someone else to find. Even if you may not feel like you are just right for the gig, apply anyway. I have gotten soft rejections from producers who say they like my voice and will keep me in mind for future jobs. Who knows if they will, but that isn’t the entire point. That at least gives you confidence, and so does getting that first job. I encourage you to dig around local opportunities. Many businesses have internal communications but can’t afford Madison Ave agencies and high-priced talent to bring their productions to life. If you do see an opportunity posted, jump on it now. These postings will get tons of auditions and you want to be among the first.
SAV: What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
Rudzinski: I’m a cartoonist and I’m working on a children’s book with my daughter. She authored the story and I’m doing the illustrations for it. I guess I’ll voice it when we are done! My wife and I enjoy extensive traveling around the world. On a more local level, I enjoy attending Washington Nationals baseball games and Virginia Tech football games.
SAV: What are your big VO goals for 2018?
Rudzinski: My first goal was to find a paying gig! Check! My next steps include using that to create highlight reels and market myself as a professional with experience, leveraging LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and even my Such A Voice Talent profile. And of course, reaching out to my pre-retirement colleagues with my new VO resume. I plan to complete my demo as soon as I’m ready, especially since many, but not all, VO talent job sites require professional demos in order to fully register with them. Finally, I plan to take full advantage of the extensive courses and webinars through Such a Voice and create a comprehensive marketing plan. That plan will include specific goals on how many jobs I want to apply for each week and the number of online training classes and seminars that I want to participate in each month. I plan to to use all of these tools to get myself out there!