James Alburger, Voice Actor, Author, Producer, Coach, San Diego, CA

James-Alburger-Mar02By Jerry Vigil

Everybody wants to be in voice-over…have you noticed? You get calls from complete strangers who have never seen a microphone who want you to tell them how to “get into voice-over.” Fortunately, there are people like James Alburger that we can send these people to. James has a long career on both sides of the microphone, and a few years ago, he left a long-term position as a television producer/director to teach voice acting as well as run his own commercial production facility. This month’s RAP Interview gets some great tips for anybody wanting to improve their voice-over skills and perhaps improve the size of their free-lance bank account as well.

JV: Tell us how and where your voice-over career got its start.
James: I got started in voice-over through the back door because I never was very comfortable speaking in front of an audience. When I was a kid, I taught myself how to edit music as part of a magic act that I used to do. Doing the magic is what got me in front of an audience, and that helped my self-esteem and self-confidence. As I started doing more and more magic, I evolved from doing a music act into a speaking act. So, that got me in front of an audience talking. When I graduated from high school and got into college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living. We knew I liked to perform and I liked music, so I got into radio and television, which seemed to be a natural place to go. I really focused behind the scenes; I was very much into the engineering side of things. That eventually led me down to San Diego State College where I did an on-air shift. I basically ran the radio station at San Diego State for a few years, the student owned and operated station. When I graduated, I knew I did not want to be in television, pure and simple. I wanted to work in a recording studio or in radio somehow. I put out the usual stream of resumes and ended up working at a recording studio in Hollywood. I didn’t know it until I was about two weeks into my job at the studio, but that studio had a reputation for producing the best commercials this side of the Mississippi River. This was around 1972 or so. After about 10 months there, I came back to San Diego and ended up getting a job with the NBC television station where I stayed for 25 years. I was working as an audio producer and director at that station.

As I was working at the recording studio in Hollywood and then later at the TV station, I was actually working with voice talent almost on a daily basis. I saw voice talent that was able to do the job and able to connect with their audience and get their message across. Then I worked with people that would come in, a lot of whom were just the clients coming in to do their own commercials, and it was really clear that these people knew nothing about what they were doing or how to deliver their message. I saw the extremes. I saw what really worked from the good performance and what didn’t work from the other people. Over those years in television as a director and audio producer, I really developed some skills in directing voice talent and in just knowing instinctively what worked and what didn’t work in terms of putting the commercial or promotion or any kind of an audio project together.

As I got near the end of my 25 years at the TV station, they started going through some major changes in management and restructuring of the station, and it was time for me to leave television. I had already started teaching voice acting a couple of years before I left the TV station. That came about because a friend of mine and I went to a learning annex class here in San Diego. The instructor for that class came down from Los Angeles. When she came into the class, the first two things she said were, “If you want to make money in voice-overs, you have to be in Los Angeles, and you have be in the union.” My friend and I looked at each other and said, “Then why are we here? This is San Diego.” San Diego is a totally different market from LA, and this woman did not know what she was talking about. So, with that, I decided to approach the learning annex to teach my own workshop on voice acting or voice-over.

As I was working on putting my curriculum together, I decided that I was going to teach a class that was different from any other voice-over classes that were here in San Diego and that I was going to do it right the first time. I was going to provide comprehensive notes for my learning annex class. So, I started working on my notes, and over a period of about 2 months, those notes took on a life of their own—that’s what eventually became my book, The Art of Voice Acting. It was that learning annex class that really got me started as a voice instructor. That eventually evolved into my 8-week workshop and eventually into my production company, now that I’ve left the TV station. I’ve been away from there for a little over 3 years now. I opened up my own production company, and now we’re doing radio and TV commercials, everything from creative to voicing to casting to production.

JV: Something you hear a lot is that the majority of the voice-work in a given market is done by just a handful of voice-over people, and trying to get into that little circle is extremely difficult. Do you agree with that?
James: Yeah, that can be very true. Even here in San Diego there is a lot of truth in that. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that voice-over is a part of show business just like acting, movies, or any other aspect of show business. Because of that, the producers that are out there casting voice talent get comfortable with the people that they work with, so they tend to go back and rehire those same people. There is a small group of people who have developed a distinctive sound or style to their delivery, and when people are writing a script or they’re thinking of a voice for a certain type of commercial or narrative project, they might be thinking of a certain performer’s voice, like a Don La Fontaine or Ted Green or one of these people who’s out there so much. That does make it difficult for those people who are just trying to break in. It is definitely show biz, and it’s very competitive.

JV: It seems like over the past 10 years, the number of people wanting to get into voice-over has just exploded. I think part of that might be because the big voice announcer guy is no longer the type of voice-over artist producers and agencies are looking for. This has opened the floodgates for a huge range of voices to get into the voice-over game. Do you find that to be true?
James: Oh yeah, definitely, and it seems to be accelerating. It seems like every year there are more and more people who are wanting to get into doing voice-over, or at least wanting to learn about it. As far as the announcer guy, there are trends in voice-over. It used to be, 20, 30 years ago, the hard sell, in-your-face announcer style worked. It got people’s attention, and it actually could deliver a message. But it’s just like so many other things; when something gets used so much, it becomes meaningless or has less impact. I think that that has happened with the hard sell style of delivery.

Sometimes we get clients that come in and specifically want that hard sell kind of delivery, but we find that there is really a small amount of situations where it will still work. A lot of that has to do with the demographic audience that we’re trying to meet with that commercial or with the end product. There are certain attitudes in a youth market, maybe 18 to 24, where they respond to that in-your-face, very sporadic, very chaotic kind of a delivery, and the message will actually get across, and they’ll actually respond to it. But a more adult audience, a more mature audience—40s and 50s—they listen to those kind of commercials and their first response is to change the station. They don’t want to hear that anymore. So for the more mature audiences, what’s been happening, especially in the last 5 or 10 years, is there’s been a real trend moving towards creative, interactive dialog in commercials—more storytelling commercials, where the real message of the commercial has been woven into a story. It might be a single voice actor telling the story, but it’s not an announcer. It’s more of a real person communicating on a one to one level with the listener.

JV: Considering all the people who are getting into voice-over these days, is that diluting the pay scale?
James: In a sense, yes, but it depends upon which markets you’re talking about. There are two distinctly different areas for voice-over. There are the union voice-over people, and then there are the non-union freelance voice-over people. The vast majority of individuals who are just starting in voice-over are non-union freelance. They’re learning the skills, learning the craft. Basically, they would be very happy if they could pay somebody to get a voice-over job. So that vast number of people who are willing to do anything to get the job is diluting the pay scales as far as the freelancers are concerned. In the union market, AFTRA maintains a pay scale for union talent, so once somebody gets into a union situation for major market commercial or national regional spot, then the pay scale is pretty much set and controlled by the union. So that area is not being diluted, but with the freelancers, it’s pretty much whatever the market can bear.

JV: Are you a member of the AFTRA union?
James: No, I’m non-union freelance at the moment.

JV: Tell us about your 8-week workshop?
James: I teach this with my partner, Penny Abshire, who is my dialog partner when we’re doing our Commercial Clinic productions. The 8-week workshop is one that I put together shortly after I started teaching my learning annex class. I realized that my learning annex class was a very nice introductory kind of a thing, and I had a number of people who were asking for more. So, that’s how my 8-week workshop came to be. I designed the workshop very much along the lines of my book, because I was writing the book at the same time that I was doing the workshop, so it worked out very nicely that way. The workshop ended up coming together in such a way that it was 8 weeks long. We meet for 3 hours once each week, and each week focuses on a different aspect for voice-over. The first 2 weeks are fairly intensive. We cover the foundation of voice-over—the acting techniques, tricks of the trade, things that the student can use to really do what I call ‘get off the page’ so they’re not reading a script, so they are communicating the message to their listeners, incorporating some emotions and drama, whatever is necessary to make the character that they’re playing become real and alive to the listener. That’s really where the acting techniques come into play, and that’s why I call it voice acting.

JV: “Getting off the page” is one of the toughest things for many radio people to do. Can you give us a tip we can use in the studio tomorrow that will help us get off the page?
James: I can give you three. These are also on my website at www.voiceacting.com . The three best things that you can do I call the ABCs of voice acting. The A refers to Audience. The audience is simply, who is it you’re talking to? What do they look like? What age group does this person fall in? How does this individual dress? What’s the individual’s lifestyle, behaviors? That sort of thing. The more you can know about who it is that you’re talking to, the more effectively you’ll be able to communicate with them. Now the real key to that A, Audience, is that you’re always talking to only one person. From my experience, I find a lot of radio people make the mistake of feeling their audience is everybody that happens to be tuned into their station. If they isolate their audience down to one individual and just really focus on having a conversation with that one person and understand who that person is, they’ll have a much better chance of getting the message across. That very concept alone, just the A, removes the announcer part of a performance or a delivery.

JV: That’s a good one!
James: The B is Backstory. Backstory is a very common concept in theater, but not a lot of radio people know about it. The backstory is really what has led you, or led the character that you’re playing in the script, up to this moment in time. Each of us as individuals has a backstory. From the day we were born until this very moment in time is our backstory. It’s every event, every situation, every moment of our lives that has brought us to this point in time, to what we’re experiencing, what we’re sharing. The same thing is true for a character that’s in a script.

I redefine the backstory in voice-over a little bit. In theater, film, television, and stage, the backstory is usually told by a story synopsis, which brings the performer up to speed so they know what’s been going on, what the background is for their character. In a stage or film script, the performer has an opportunity to really assimilate the character and understand a lot about the character, and they can do this over a period of time, several weeks in some cases. In voice-over, when we’re doing a commercial, we will sometimes get the script when we walk into the studio. That’s the first time we know what our character is. We may have as little as 5 minutes or less to completely do what I call woodshed the script, and that is break the script down, figure out who our audience is, what it is that we’re talking about, what the message is, put all the pieces together, come up with a backstory, why is it we’re talking, and be able to come up with a coherent, intelligent, effective performance. We have to do that very fast. That makes voice acting much, much different than theatrical acting.

So, because of that short time we have to put all that together, I’ve redefined backstory for voice acting. The definition I have is backstory is the specific event that occurs immediately before the first word of the script. Something happened that’s causing the character you’re playing to be speaking those words. What is it? Figure out what it is. If it’s not clearly defined by the script or the producer doesn’t tell you what might be going on, make it up. We’re actors; we can pretend. So, that backstory becomes really critical because that tells you what’s been going on between your character and your audience. It gives you a reason for speaking. It’s motivation. It’s the basic concept in theater. That’s backstory.

The C stands for Character. Who is the character in the script? Who is it you’re playing? What is the role that you are playing for the particular script that you’re working with? The most important thing about character is the character is generally not you; it’s going to be somebody else. Celebrity voice-over is a little different because many times the script is written specifically for the celebrity. But most commercials are written by somebody in an ad agency or maybe a sales rep at a radio station, and they’re writing the script based on their communication with the client, not taking into consideration who the voice actor that’s going to end up delivering that script might be. So as a performer, we have to come in and take that script and figure out who our character is.

So, by combining the Audience—understanding who we’re talking to, with what it is that just happened before our first word—the Backstory—and who we are as the speaker, combining those three elements gets us off the page. It can take a little practice to really get the knack of doing that, but those three things make a huge difference in the performance.

JV: What else do you cover in the workshop?
James: We cover the foundation, the acting skills and the acting techniques in the first two weeks. The third week we get into single voice copy, delivering for time. The first two weeks the scripts we’re working with are dramatic dialogs, theatrical dialogs, because they have emotion, drama, something we can really grab onto in our delivery. It gives the students a chance to really explore different ways of communicating on an emotional level. The third week is working a script for time. Figuring out who the character is, how to best deliver that character and get all those words in 30 seconds, understanding our own body rhythm, our body clock and how that works as we’re delivering a script.

The fourth week we do a week of improvisation. There’s no script. It’s all improv, totally ad-libbed. We do improvisational games, which are very common in other improv classes, but what we’ve done is we’ve taken the improv games and structured the whole evening in such a way that each improvisational game we play is designed for specific elements of voice acting and communication—communicating on an emotional level, interaction between characters, discovering a character, sustaining a character over a period of time, developing skills for spontaneity, and listening and responding. Everything is about listening and responding even if we’re doing a single voice script. We still have to understand what it is that we’re listening to that has caused us to respond in the way we are as we deliver the words. So, it’s all listen and respond. That’s what the improv night does. We get those skills developed for listening to our partners in the improvisational games, responding from the top of our head, getting out of the box, thinking in ways that we normally don’t think, stretching our boundaries.

The fifth week of the workshop is the character voice class where we take everything we’ve done up to that point and really focus on how to find the right voice for the characters we’re creating. Where are we going to place the voice in our body? How do we effect the tonality of the voice, the attitude of that character? What is going to be the best way to portray the character through our voice? That includes some thoughts and visualizations that go along with that character, so that as we’re delivering the words, we are truly becoming the character.

Then on the sixth week of the class, we do dialog. We’re now in booths. Two people are in the booth interacting with a commercial script, again, for time, this time creating real characters that are interactive, listening, and responding. The scripts we use are designed for that kind of a purpose.

The seventh week we move into a different aspect of voice-over, which is long form narrative. The long form narrative types of scripts include things like audio books, corporate videos, training tapes, anything that’s usually about two minutes or longer—messages on hold and those kinds of things are all long form narrative. The performing style is different. We’re not so much delivering for emotion and for character as we are communicating the message. Again, we have to understand who the audience is, why we’re talking to them, and who we are. But the way that we present the information is going to be treated a little differently. Let’s say for example you’re a doctor. If you’re a doctor and you’re just having a conversation with one of your other doctor buddies, you’re going to be speaking in a certain way to your peer. However, if you’re a doctor and you are explaining a medical situation to a patient, or you have to instruct the patient in how to use a certain piece of medical equipment that’s going to save their life, the way that you talk to the patient is going to be different than the way you would be talking to your peers. That’s what we work on in that seventh week. It’s a different approach to delivery.

Then on the last class of our workshop, we go to a different recording studio so we’re in unfamiliar territory, and we do a mock audition. We set that class up in such a way that it’s as real as possible. At the end of the seventh class, we give everybody a sheet of paper that says next week this is where you’re going to be. Show up at this time. When you get there, you won’t see any of us. You’ll get there and sign in. We do it as much like a real audition as possible. And then following the audition, once everybody has gone through their audition, we discuss the business side of voice-over—agents, the unions, demo tapes, how do you market, and that sort of thing.

JV: You also have a two-day seminar. Is this basically a crash course on the 8-week program?
James: Exactly. The two-day seminar we offer here in San Diego, and occasionally we take it out on the road. We’re working on putting together a two-day seminar I think in May. It’s basically a weekend seminar—Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. It’s the content of the 8-week. The difference is we don’t have as much individualized one on one coaching. But we cover all the information; the notebook is the same.

302-James-Alburger-BookJV: Tell us about your book, The Art of Voice Acting.
James: It’s a very comprehensive discussion of the acting techniques behind voice-over. Most of the other voice-over books that were out at the time, in fact most of the books that are still out, with the exception of mine, cover a lot of scripts. They tell you this is how you read a script, how you deliver a script. Most of them don’t really break down the acting techniques that build the foundation for doing that. Some of them get into it a little bit, but my book really gets into a lot of the details on developing the character and understanding the acting techniques. I also have voice-over exercises in the book—warm up exercises, articulation exercises, ways of improving the sound of your voice, improving your delivery. Some of these exercises would be great for radio personalities.

The second edition of the book will be coming out soon. It is tentatively scheduled to come out in March. I’ve updated all the material from the first edition. I’ve updated all of the scripts in the book. There are four chapters that have scripts for the different aspects of voice-over. Each chapter has about four to six scripts completely broken down and explained and detailed, and those scripts are completely different than what was in the first edition of the book. There will also be a CD that accompanies the second edition. On the CD is the original audio track for every one of the scripts that’s in the book. There are also a number of vocal exercises on the CD. A friend of mine in Los Angeles who works in character animation voice-over does about a 10-minute demonstration on how to find and place a character voice. I also have about eight demos from a number of people from around the world. There’s a .pdf file that can be loaded up on any computer, which has links to literally thousands of resources for voice-over. So, it’s far more comprehensive than the original edition, and I’m really excited about.

JV: What one exercise you’d recommend to radio people?
James: One of my favorite exercises is what I call The Cork. What you do is you find a paragraph of copy or a script or maybe a paragraph out of newspaper or a magazine and interpret that, find your best delivery, the best way that you can read it—audience, backstory, character. Figure out who your character is and how the character would speak those words. Just come up with the best interpretation you can. It takes maybe a couple minutes to do that if you’re taking your time. Then I suggest that you record yourself delivering that piece of copy or that paragraph. Now turn off the recorder. This is where the exercise starts.

Take the cork and insert the cork between your teeth lengthwise, horizontally. Put it so that the cork’s about a quarter of an inch behind your front teeth. For some people, its really uncomfortable to do that. They can also use a pencil or a pen. You just place the pencil between your teeth fairly close to the front. The idea is that you’re creating a situation where your jaw is in a fixed position, and your tongue is going to be obstructed a little bit either by the cork or by the pencil. Now take that same piece of copy that you just read and read it again with the cork in your mouth. And you do this out loud. You do this very, very slowly. We’re not going for time. We’re not going for emotion. We’re not going for inflection. The objective of the exercise is to improve articulation. The idea is to take the sound of every word in that script and over emphasize every sound including the ends of words, and especially the ends of words, so it’s overly articulated. Someone who’s never done this before, by the time they get through the script for the first time, their cheeks are tired. Their tongue is tired. Their jaw is tired. Their lips are tired. These are the muscle groups of your face that this exercise is really working out. It’s working the muscles of your vocal instrument, or at least the facial muscles of your vocal instrument. It’s helping to improve articulation. Once you’ve done this exercise a couple of times, usually a couple of minutes, and you feel that you got some real work happening in your face, take the cork out, turn the recorder back on, and redeliver that same paragraph. Record it again. Then listen to before and after. Generally, there’s a big difference in articulation—not so much that the words are overly articulated in the second delivery, because that’s not what we want to do. The objective is to create a more real, more comfortable, more listenable type of delivery. So what often happens is the words are just more clear. You can just hear better what the message is or what the words are.

Some people have a habit of what I call lazy mouth, where their lips and their jaw and their teeth just don’t move a whole lot when they’re speaking. This cork exercise helps overcome that because those muscles are being exercised and they’re being used. There’s an area on our website at www.voiceacting.com called Voice Over 101, and in that area there are lots of tips and tricks.

JV: What are some marketing tips for a free-lance voice talent?
James: For voice talent, the single most important thing is a good demo. Our demo is our portfolio. It’s just like a photographer would have a portfolio of what he can do, what his work looks like, his style, his technique. That’s what a demo is all about. It presents to the talent buyer or the producer what we can do, what we sound like, our ability level, our skills, our style, how we can communicate emotion, how we can communicate the sell of a commercial, how we say the client’s name. All of those things are important to have in a demo. Without a demo, it’s difficult to market yourself. That would be the first most important thing to have is a good demo.

A mistake that a lot of people first starting out will do is they’ll think that well, I’ve taken an 8-week workshop or maybe I’ve taken a couple of classes in voice-over, and now I really want to get out there and market myself, so I’m going to go put this demo together. I’ve got a good computer at home with some editing software; I can do all this stuff at home. They make a couple of mistakes. The first is that they think they’re ready without being ready. They don’t have a solid grasp on the performing skills. So, they’ll go ahead and start working on their demo. And the second mistake many people make is that they do it themselves. They come up with a demo that they burn off to a CD and start making copies and start sending out to people. Two things happen. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it shows through like a fish out of water. It’s glaring when you put a demo CD on and you start listening to it—a good producer, talent buyer or agent will know if you’ve got your chops. They can tell within the first five or ten seconds. They will know if you know what you’re doing. The second thing is, it costs money to put this stuff together, to duplicate the CDs, to do the mailing, to make the phone calls, and do whatever print materials are going to go with that. It could easily be just a waste of a lot of money. So, you really want to have a demo produced. You want to be ready before you put the demo together, and you want to have the demo produced by somebody who knows what they’re doing. That’s either somebody who teaches voice acting or a recording studio that works with voice-over talent a lot. They know what works. They know how to direct the talent. They know how to get the right delivery from you. It’s very difficult for voice actors to direct themselves.

Now, it is possible to do a certain amount of self direction, but what happens is, when we try to direct ourselves, especially if we’re truly doing the voice acting process and becoming the character on the script, what happens is we’re so focused on the character that we become the character and our objectivity kind of goes away. It becomes very difficult for us to really be objective in our performance. We might think that we did a killer performance, and then we go back and listen to it or have some other professional listen to it, and it’s not quite up to par. So, it really takes that outside director, that extra person to listen to it objectively and to be able to direct you as a performer into the delivery.

JV: How important is it to have an agent?
James: It is possible to do voice-over work without having an agent. I know lots of people in this business who do not have an agent. Agents are good however, because agents have access to resources that we as independent freelancers don’t have. They have connections with the production companies or advertising agencies who may have a tendency to call them first. They will call the agent first rather than just arbitrarily hiring a freelancer, even if they’ve got a stack of demos on their shelf. So, agents are a good thing to have. An agent can be hard to get however, especially in a major market like Los Angeles or New York. It can be very difficult simply because the market is saturated, and the agents may not have any room. They may not be able to get work for most of the people that are on their roster already.

JV: And they probably have the cream of the crop in that market on their roster, right?
James: Oh yeah, especially in union talent. Heavy union markets like LA, New York and Chicago, they’ve got the best of the best in those markets.

JV: So, unless you are one really good talent, you probably don’t stand much of a chance of even getting hooked up with some of the larger agents in the major markets. Would you agree?
James: Right. As far as working with the larger agents or the larger ad agencies or the larger projects, it takes time to get yourself to a level where you can be in that circle.

JV: Many radio people will market themselves to other radio stations looking for some commercial or imaging work. Outside of other radio stations, there are the independent production houses and the ad agencies. What’s the best way to approach both of these types of companies? Is it best to mail a demo? Is it best to go in person? E-mail a demo?
James: From my discussions with producers and people who hire voice talent, the best approach that I have found is one of two approaches. E-mail is a good approach if you have an e-mail address for whomever it is you’re trying to contact. Sometimes that can be hard to get. But if you have an e-mail address, you can compose a nice e-mail message and send off the e-mail and maybe attach an MP3 file of your demo. But what I usually recommend is that you make a phone call. Call the production company. Call the ad agency. Find out if they use outside freelance voice talent because a lot of these places don’t. And they’ll usually tell you if they do or not, or if they’re even interested in hearing your demo. So call these places. Try to get the name of somebody, maybe one of their producers or a director or whoever would be in charge of hiring voice talent. And if possible, try to speak with them briefly on the phone. If you can’t get them on the phone, then at least you want to get their name and find out if it would be okay to send them your demo. The receptionist or whoever you’re talking to will usually be able to at least tell you if they’re interested or not because they have other people approach them on this all the time. So, it’s not something totally new to them. It’s best to have that permission first. Unsolicited demos are rarely listened to. As long as they know that you’ve contacted them and they’re expecting something to be coming in from you, you have a much better chance of getting your demo listened to.

JV: You also offer one-on-one coaching in person as well as on the phone. What can someone expect in a one-hour session with you?
James: In a one hour session, the first thing that I will do is spend probably five or ten minutes to get a handle, an understanding, of where the individual I’m working with is, where they are as a performer. What’s their experience? What kinds of things have they done? What are they doing now? I need to know what their abilities are because that’s going to gage how I will coach and direct them. Most of the time, I’ll be working with some of the basic concepts that we’ve talked about, the ABCs, and I have a few other things that we will get into. Movement, physical movement, as part of the performance is another big aspect of doing voice acting. I’ll work with the techniques. Usually we’ll have a script or two that we will work with during an hour, and we’ll focus on a lot of the acting techniques that go into creating the real and believable characters for that script.

JV: You mentioned you had a production company. Tell us about it.
James: It’s called The Commercial Clinic. I put that together as a way of getting my voice-over work out there and doing voice-over work. My background is in television and sound design and audio production. I have 11 Emmy Awards and 5 Omni Intermedia Awards, so I’ve got a lot of award winning work behind me in 25 years as a sound designer in TV. I come from a technical background in that sense, but I’m also a performer. So I’ve worked both sides of the glass or both sides of the microphone. The production company, The Commercial Clinic, was put together as a way to take my voice, put it to good work, and create commercials that actually achieve something for our clients. We use creative production techniques and produce creative advertising. We work a little bit out of the box. Most of our scripts are story scripts, usually a dialog interactive script. We’re always telling a story. There’s usually something a little quirky about what we’re doing. We try to develop scripts that get the attention of our listeners, hold onto that attention, and deliver a message, usually on an emotional level. We do that in lots of different ways. We kind of blend traditional advertising techniques that have been done for years with some rather non-traditional things that help make the commercials interesting and keep the attention. That’s basically what we’re doing with The Commercial Clinic is those kinds of commercial projects, and we’ve had a number of commercials on in various places around the country. We have some things up in Canada airing right now as well.

JV: You have some other websites other than www.voiceacting.com. What are they?
James: One is www.commercial clinic.com for the production company, and I have a third website which is www.speakingmagic.com. Penny Abshire and I are professional speakers as well, and in addition to the 8-week workshop and the 2-day seminar we do, we also do professional speaking. We’ll go wherever people want us to talk and explain our techniques. We speak professionally for corporate trade shows and events, and we speak on how to get off the page. We’re dealing with CEOs and executives on how to deliver a scripted message to their audience so they actually have the audience paying attention. That happens a lot in corporate events where people will just get up there and just read their script and put the audience to sleep. So, we talk to those kinds of audiences and teach communication skills for the corporate community, sales and marketing people especially.

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  • The R.A.P. CD - September 2002

    Production demo from interview subject, Joel Moss at WEBN-FM, Cincinnati, OH; plus more great promo and commercial work from Richard Stroobant,...