3 Questions for Pat Fraley and Dick Orkin

by | Career Advice

Dan O Day hosted a teleseminar this evening featuring the 3 most asked questions from Radio copy writers and Voiceover people of Dick Orkinand Pat Fraley.

Here are some of the highlights as to the discussion pertaining to voice overs:

Is there ever a danger that the consumer will remember the humor over the product.

Dick Orkin: The take away is expressed through the story of the commercial, and the only way to convey the product is through use of the story and/ or the humor. The humor is balanced, so as not to out-shine the product.

When everyone, his brothers and his sisters has a website in voiceovers, how can you stand out?

Pat Fraley: Get really excellent at your craft. Marketing, Advertising Public Relations & Promotion are guided by a marketing plan working in tandem with each other. Establish what your style is and make sure you’re branded properly. Having a website is just one thing. Finding out who the producers are, and getting to know who they are is another. Having a successful vo career is not as easy as hanging out a web shingle. Experience is the slowest teacher. Find wise mentors to help you.

How did “Chicken Man” come about and how did the voice actors get cast?

Dick Orkin: It was inspired by the very campy TV show Batman. The voice of Chicken Man, based on actor Broderick Crawford’s “Highway Patrol” character. There was a sorely limited confidence in Chicken Man.

Do you have a routine before each session?
Pat Fraley: I work on getting rid of anxiety. So I think about what’s true. I think about how many times  I’ve done this, or I know the people.  I think about relaxing.

You’re about to start a recording session. What is the 1 technique you do to feel present and ON?

Dick Orkin: I am not apprehensive. I am protected by the mic, so I am not seen. I know I can manage it. (the script) In many cases, you have to do a back story. Figure out what happened just before the copy begins. Read the script and understand it.  If there’s another actor in the spot with me I ask for his/her backstory. We share and talk into it. Then we are ready.

Have you ever walked away from a job because my voice wasn’t right for the script?

Pat Fraley: Yes. But I was hired again. It’s called PR.

Have you ever walked away because there’s language or a product you’re not comfortable with?

Pat Fraley: I’ve been offered things that I won’t do. But if I am booked I won’t leave the session and leave the client in a lurch.

Dick Orkin: I turned down cigarette papers at a time I was trying to get off smoking. I also couldn’t come up with any usable or humorous material for a jock itch commercial.
Listening and observing to others, everywhere, helps to create characters. As a VO, this comes from your surroundings, to find characters to fit into your work. You should listen and look at gestures to help to create characters.

Many voice actors overact. The story in a commercial spot is revealed through its characters. The commercial will fail if it’s too larger than life. Voice Reading need to be scaled  down as if it is someone else you’re talking to.

Pat Fraley: Get quiet and know your story.

What is the process for writing and producing copy?

Dick Orkin: There’s a difference between contrived versus real copy. It’s instinctual.

Pat Fraley: Focus on getting really good. Know your “9 Critical Skills To Voice Over Excellence”(Pat’s Book).  Get some good instruction as this will acellerate the journey. Be willing to practice. It (Voiceover)isn’t about having a good voice, but having good voice skills is.

What s the single best thing one can do to break into the vo busines after a radio career?

Pat Fraley-There’s not one single thing- Take acting , perhaps post- Stanislavski  technique acting training that will transfer to film or voiceover.

Dick Orkin: Listen to the other actor, the character, instead of listening to your voice. Listen and be in the moment, quickly.

Regarding the vo acting biz, what keeps you awake at night?

Pat Fraley: I try to not have anxiety, in general. But if I worry, and if I wake up at night it’s not about lack of skills, I am thinking about money or financial circumstances.  There’s gonna be salad days and gravy days. “Don’t buy the Mercedes, chrome your bumper. Go to dinner and buy a steak, don’t do out and buy a car.”

Dick Orkin:  There have been economic downturns about 5 times during my career.  A down ecenomy affects us all.

We shouldn’t talk of vo as commercials only. I think of this as an audio recording business; with, gaming, audio books, TV, and more. The field is wider. We’re in the audio business.

Both Pat and Dick will be speaking at Dan O’Day’s Creative/Production Summit this August.


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