by Lou Mancinelli
Perhaps you have noticed that these days the style of advertising in which a hyper-aggressive male announcer demands that you go to liquidation sales or local car dealerships is far less common.
Long-time voice actor, voice coach, producer and Mt. Airy Learning Tree (MALT) instructor John Gallogly insists that is because the business has changed.
“The market has really shifted into a conversational reading (instead of the super-aggressive approach),” said Gallogly, who this June, for the 15th consecutive year, will teach “Getting Paid to Talk: An Introduction To Professional Voice Overs,” through MALT.
He’ll share with students the entrepreneurial basics he thinks determine one’s success in voice acting, an industry he says is based on working relationships. The class will introduce students to the educational background and training that Gallogly, senior creative director at Voice Coaches, one of the nation’s largest voice acting training and production centers, based in Albany, New York, contends is essential for launching a successful career in the voice acting industry.
“The first step for anybody is to become a voice actor,” Gallogly said. That means doing away with the misconception that voice acting is using that Batman salesperson computer voice you’ve always believed you did so well. Instead, one must understand it is a craft, much like acting itself. “The issue is that during our whole lives we’ve been educated to read differently than we talk.”
Voice acting is about sounding natural and being able to read. It’s about identifying with a character’s emotion, based on what you’re reading. Gallogly believes one must learn the skills to be a competitive player in today’s market, which in 2014 provided for more than $11 billion in work, he said. He compared it to becoming a mechanic: “If you want to be a mechanic, would you buy a bunch of tools and fool around and figure out how to use them?”
Gallogly, 44, entered the voice-acting business 22 years ago. Raised in the suburbs of Albany, he was studying broadcasting-related courses at the local community college when a few friends already in radio told him there was no money in it.
He left school early but not before capitalizing on the opportunities afforded there. Gallogly used the school’s radio station, which he had joined, to make his own voice acting demos. He targeted a specific market: the local nightclubs. He’d show up with a finished commercial and offer it to them. Soon he had a number of clients and was getting paid to come in on weekend to announce only the specials.
“I’ve always been entrepreneurial, and that’s the big thing in this industry,” he said. “Telling people you can do a commercial for them and doing a commercial for them are different things.”
Gallogly continued developing professional relationships and established a portfolio of clients. Then in 2000, David Bourgeois offered Gallogly a job. Bourgeois was starting a school dedicated to training voice actors. Gallogly took “a leap of faith,” going from a business he knew he could make money doing into something new.
The school was called Voice Coaches and has grown into a national business situated on a multi-million dollar facility in the Albany area near the Hudson River, complete with a state-of-the-art studio. In addition to the school, there is White Lake Music & Post, the production element of the business. It has a record label and produces sound for film and television. You may be familiar with “While You Were Out” on TLC; they produced the voiceovers for the show.
When Gallogly started out, the market was predominantly male, but now it’s split 50-50. Meanwhile, the work, of which there is a great deal —any voice you hear on the train, elevator, training video, etc., was done by a voice actor — is 90 percent narrative. There is lots of work but also lots of competition.
Gallogly suggests picking a target market, starting on a local and regional level and trying to find clients the old-fashioned way, by calling them and following-up. Two weeks a month, he is in the Philadelphia area, instructing and working. His next voice acting role is as the main character in Code Name Deity, a video game. The video game industry has become a major resource for voice actors. According to Voice Coaches, the average Hollywood movie has about 2,000 lines of dialogue, compared to from 10,000 to 50,000 in a video game.
As for the class at MALT, “I want everyone to get a realistic view of why this is either for them or not for them,” he said.
For more information about the class on Thursday June 11, or Wednesday, Aug. 19, 6:30 to 9 p.m., at the Unitarian Society of Germantown (6511 Lincoln Drive, in the sanctuary, $34), visit mtairylearningtree.org or call 215-843-6333.