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The VO Boss podcast blends business advice with inspiration & motivation for today's voice talent. Each week, host Anne Ganguzza shares guest interviews + voice over industry insights to help you grow your business and stay focused on what matters...

Feb 28, 2023

Video game acting is a unique art form that requires strong acting skills & an imaginative approach to storytelling. Anne is joined by special guests Dave Fennoy & Randall Ryan to discuss all things Game VO. Voice actors must bring their characters to life in a way that's authentic & impactful for players. Believe it or not, the average age for video game players is 40 years old, and these people have been playing games for 15+ years. These players are seeking a high level of story sophistication & depth of character when playing games. For a voice actor, Game VO recording is often a solitary and non-linear process due to logistics, but it still requires a deep understanding of the character you're playing, the world they inhabit, and their relationship to other characters. Invent as you go. Know your character, the world, and how your character would react in the moment. As with any genre, it’s best not to overthink things too much before recording, but instead trust yourself as an actor and allow yourself to get creative during the session itself. And if you want to work with the pros, stay tuned for a unique opportunity to relax, recharge, and level up your game VO skills with Dave & Randall…
It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I'm your host, Anne Ganguzza, and today I am pumped to level up my BOSS knowledge about Game VO, and I am so excited and honored to have the best in the industry, Dave Fennoy and Randall Ryan. Dave is a renowned voice actor and instructor based in LA with a vast portfolio of work in commercials, narration, TV promo, animation, and of course video games. He's best known for his character, Lee Everett in the Walking Dead Game, and has voiced characters for more than 500 games on some of the industry's biggest titles. And IMDB has named him one of the 20 best male game voices of all time.
Randall Ryan began his career as a musician in touring rock bands, and today is an award-winning composer and producer of gaming and commercial music scores. He co-founded Hamster Ball Studios back in 1995, where he's been directing talent and producing game audio for more than 20 years and has since contributed to numerous high profile video game titles. Also, co-host of Let's Talk Voiceover podcast and still performs the occasional live gig and thinks dogs make the best people. And I of course, think cats, but maybe that's for another podcast discussion, Randall, I'm not sure.
Randall: Who's your animal spirit podcast?
Anne: There you go. Guys, thank you so much for joining me. I am so excited to talk to you today,
Dave: Oh, it's our pleasure. Happy to be here.
Randall: Absolutely.
Anne: So what I love, BOSSes, is that I have both sides of the glass here today so that we can get a really comprehensive view of game VO as it exists today. So I'd like to start off with Randall and ask you as a casting director, can you give the BOSSes an idea of the game VO market as it stands today, let's say, compared to 20 years ago when you first started?
Randall: Well, yeah, that's almost an unfair comparison. I think what I would say is 20 years ago, games were just kind of coming into their own as even an art form. And now as I think a lot of people know, it is the gorilla of the industry. I mean, last year games sold more than film and music combined.
Anne: Wow.
Randall: Which is just amazing. And the other thing that I see that's very different from 20 years ago is 20 years ago, it was certainly the wild west when it came to voice acting. It was often like the person of the cubicle next to the developer, and they were just throwing some voices in. And if they hired actors, there was not a lot of, I don't know if I would use the word respect. It just wasn't really truly a real part of -- VO was an afterthought. And I think the difference is, is now is not only has gaming VO reached a really high place as art form, but the thing that I really see and, and it's the reason that I think you don't pay attention to game voice as your own peril if you're a voice actor, is it is changing every other genre.
Commercials are different because of gaming acting, and even for the people that don't know it that are writing copy, they've been growing up with games. They've been playing games, and they, and they also see other commercials that have been going to more gaming acting principles. And so even if they don't know that, that's where that creative is driving from -- bottom line is that is where that creative is driving from. So even if you're not going to be in games, I think it's really important as an actor to understand what it takes to be a VO game actor. It's kind of like, even if you're gonna be on film, you really need to understand theater. You need to understand all the principles of it. It's very much the same kind of thing. You may not wanna be a Broadway actor, but you don't study theater kind of at your own peril. I think it's kind of the same idea.
Anne: Well, probably if I had to count the amount of times you said acting --
Randall: Yeah. Well
Anne: Right, in that response? So acting is so very important. Not just I think to game view, but just to voiceover in general, especially now. And I'd like to ask you, Dave, let's talk a little bit about acting and your thoughts on why it's so important that voice talent today really have that acting prowess.
Dave: You know, when we talk in the general world of voiceover, acting is important, but it's more important when you are looking at video games. We become a good actor in voiceover to be able to be ourselves or a character similar to ourselves for commercials and narration, or even TV promos. But we're looking for something wider range, a much wider range of who these characters are and with a different purpose. If you're doing TV promos or commercials, your job is to get people to buy a product, watch a TV show.
As an actor in a video game, your character drives the story forward. Whoever your character is, whatever it is they are doing, they are part of a story, not part of trying to sell you something or get you to do a particular act. And what the audience for video games is now, one, they're averaging about 40 years old, and they've been playing video games for 15 to 20 years. And they want an adult experience, and they don't mean adult like chicka chicka wow wow.
Dave: But they're looking for cinematic performances, which means more subtle, more real. Your performance has to fit into the world that these games are in. It's not about your voice, no matter what your voice sounds like. It's about can you let this character inhabit you and bring this character to life with just words on a page and a microphone? And there are various techniques that really are founded in acting principles that'll help you get there.
Randall: And, Anne, I'm gonna add one thing to what you said too. You are right that your primary job in a commercial is to, I guess you could say, is to sell a product. But really in essence, even as an actor, is that really your job? Your job is still to inhabit that scripts, and, and this is where I think some of the changes are coming from. And so in the same way that there are certain people who are spokespeople that the whole celebrity thing has happened, but a lot of times you're putting the celebrity in because people like them. They aren't really selling --
Dave: Because people like them and believe them.
Randall: And believe them. Absolutely. And so people are putting him in there not to actually sell. You know, did Matthew McConaughey sell Lincoln? He didn't. He drove around and said some talking. But he's playing in essence, even though it's him, he's playing this character. And I think even in commercial, to understand what that character is supposed to be that the writing is, you still have to be that character more now than you ever did before.
Dave: Which brings us back to your point, Randall, that learning to be a good video game actor or good actor will help you across the board in voiceover.
Anne: Yeah. I'm just gonna say, with my experience working with students for not just commercial, but a lot of the long format narration, like corporate narration and explainers and, and medical, I mean, even then there is a role. It may not be as dynamic or as long played out as, let's say, a video game, but there is still that acting that has to come into play. And I'm gonna talk about how important I think it is, especially now with the advancements in technology. But I wanted to ask you about the story. Okay, so the story for a video game is a lot different than, let's say, a story that's laid out in front of you.
So like a story, if you're assuming that you're gonna be in a commercial, you're gonna be selling a product, there's a character backstory you can develop. Like you want it to end up that the person agrees with you and says, yes, this is a great product for me. If it's corporate narration, it's kind of a nicely wrapped up little story about a corporate story about their brand. But with video games, it's ever changing, and it's not necessarily all laid out in front of you. And I was gonna also do the example of an audiobook where you've got the entire book and the story's laid out in front of you. But yet with a video game, do you know the entire story right away? Or is it something that develops?
Dave: Chances are you will never ever see the entire script. The video game industry is very secretive. We have all in the video game industry signed hundreds of NDAs, non-disclosure agreements, because they're very secretive. They don't want anybody to know or share what's going on in their game. So even when you audition, sometimes you have to sign an NDA before you can even do the audition or send it in with your audition. And you're gonna get a few lines of whoever this character is, maybe a little bit about the game itself, but never "this is what the entire storyline is and this is what happens." You will never see that script. If you're an actor in a movie, in a play, in a television show, you'll see the whole script. You'll know your character's arc. Being a character in a video game is much more like being who you are. You have certain tendencies, a world, a belief system. But when you walk out the door every day, you don't know what's gonna happen to you.
Anne: That's a very different skillset, I would think. Because each and every time you are getting that script or that little tiny portion of it, you're either developing the scene, the backstory, and the emotion. And so that's like constant, like I would think acting requirement for that just is through the roof .
Dave: Well, you developed the character in that audition. But when you get there, say you did five, maybe ten lines, now you've got 100, maybe 500 lines. And some of them may be paragraphs or monologues. And it's a matter of being in character and going with what is this character thinking, feeling, doing, being, who are they talking to in this particular moment in time?
Randall: Yep. God, there's so many things that that just brings to mind, but, well, what is Mark Dale's quote, a mutual friend of ours, he's a director in London. Yeah.
Dave: This is the exhaust of the acting engine.
Randall: That's one. And then he is got that little spy thing, which I think when you're talking about how do you deal with a video game character, that to me is like, yes, that's actually it.
Dave: One of the things Mark likes to talk about is the spy who is in another city, another country, another place using a different name, dressing different, pretending to be this other person. And his life or her life depends on how well they roll with the punches, roll with a different situation, somebody else asking them particular questions, and it's constant improvising in character.
Randall: Yes.
Anne: I love that. That's such a different way to look at that. Okay, so when you're talking about how to, I guess, evolve that character is sometimes the story -- well, I imagine you would know this -- developed as you also developed the character and then the story might change?
Dave: Well, you know, it's interesting. Uh, during the Walking Dead game, sometimes I would arrive at the studio, and the script got there 20 minutes before me. So yes, actually sometimes the writing is right there with you. So sometimes they wouldn't have been able to tell you anyway because certain things hadn't been written yet. Especially in something that's ongoing, episodic like that, but whether they know it or not, you as an actor are not going to see the entire script. You are gonna live this character moment by moment. So you are living in the world of, what am I reacting to? What am I thinking? What am I feeling? What am I doing? Who am I talking to? And what's that relationship? Which we do as actors anyway, but now it's moment by moment.
Anne: Now Randall. So then in terms of directing a talent, right? What is that like for you? Because you also probably don't get the script right away either, and so you're directing and so what's that process like?
Randall: Well, I usually get it a little bit sooner than the actors, but you're right. It's not like I've been sitting there with it for months or weeks or anything like that. So everybody has got a different philosophy. I guess I'll tell you mine, but I think most directors I talk to will probably tell you something very similar to this. I think this is true of other genres, but video games, it almost has to be true. You cannot go in with this voice in your head or character in your head. Like, this person is going to be like this. It has to be a collaborative process, because you haven't, as a director, haven't had time to absorb all the stuff. But even if you did, even those occasions where you do, writers write, and there has to be a translation, and that actor is coming in with sometimes, you know, you're looking at Dave says 500, sometimes you're looking at maybe 500 lines for that character. You're looking at thousands of lines of script, and we're not gonna put people together, ensemble. And there are a lot of reasons for that. I, you know, I know that's a sticking point for a lot of people, but there are a lot of reasons that's probably not gonna happen anytime soon.
Long and the short of it is I have to trust the actor. So the actor and I both have to be working together to come up with this character. They come in with an idea, I come in with an idea, the writer comes with an idea. At some level check your ego at the door. We're gonna work this out as we go. And that's a lovely process when it works well because once it starts clicking, everybody's discovering, and that's where you get this magical performance that you couldn't have scripted it like that. But that also really derives more than anything else from actors who are comfortable with this, who aren't thrown by change, who are able to invent as they go.
And I think so much of that invention is that understanding what Dave said, where are you? What happened before you got here? What are you reacting to? How do you feel the other person? These are acting principles, but I think they're also just mindset principles that you have to get into as you're observing humanity and everything else. And some people do that extraordinarily well.
Dave: You know, one of the things I find working with students is generally they don't realize how much time and effort they need to spend in discovering everything about this character and everything about a particular scene that they're gonna do. I like to tell people, well, look, we've got words on a page or screen and a microphone, and we have to stay on mic and we have to read the words. An actor on stage, an actor on set has memorized their script. They are in costume. They have another actor that they're bouncing energy off of. There is blocking, they're gonna move from this place to this place. They know what the action is that they're going to do and they can do it. Once again, we're reading words on a page in front of a microphone.
But we have to bring the same level of acting to those words that are on a page through that microphone. And the only way to do that is to put yourself in the place of that actor, say on set, on scene.what am I wearing? You know, what does it look like around me? Am I sitting, am I standing? Am I walking? This person I'm talking to, what's my relationship with this person? Where are they in relationship to me? Or where are they when there's more of them in relationship to me? What just happened, I mean, in the last couple of seconds, that I'm saying or doing what I'm doing, what I'm thinking, what I'm feeling? It's that type of preparation and using your imagination that brings you to believable performances.
Anne: So Dave, when you're creating your character, before you're going into record -- and that might evolve, right, as you do that -- what sort of steps are you taking to envelop that character in a believable way for the script that you have?
Dave: Well, just the things I was talking about, you wanna take in the whole script. Too many people I think wanna start, oh, what are my lines? Oh, is my line, my line. Bullshit. Bullshit. My line, my line.
Dave: And we wanna start with the big picture. If there is a description of what the game is, take that in. Video games are very much like movies. As a matter of fact, they're like 70-hour movies. And whatever genre you can think of, including romcom, for a movie, there is an analogous one in video game. So where does this game live? What kind of world does it live in? Then who is your character? And as much information as they give you, take that all in. Now I realize sometimes it's three paragraphs of information about your character and then five lines. You can't fit everything about that character into those lines. But you can find how this character would react in this situation. What is their worldview? Create that.
One of the things I suggest to people from time to time is before you read the lines, read the character description, and then ad lib the character, talking about himself based on those descriptions. He was born here, his parents died, he was kidnapped, he was made a slave, he met a wizard. Tell your story, but without reading it; just off the cuff, improvise it based on the few things that are said there before you get into the script. And once you're in the script, you gotta pay attention to all the alternate lines besides your own and the stage direction. I'm amazed how often actors will -- they'll get their lines, but the alternate lines and stage directions they ignore. All of those are clues that you've, you've gotta take in.
Anne: Yeah. I say actually to my students that even for like something that may seem dry or boring like a corporate narration, the words are there for a reason. Somebody was paid to write those words, and every word has to have a meaning. And I think that there's so many people that just rush in to their studios, and like you were saying, just line by line, and they don't take in the whole story or try to imagine the story, that moment before. There's a moment before even I think in every piece of voiceover copy, there's a moment before. And I think if you can take the time, right, to develop that story, it will help. Let's talk a little bit about -- because I know you've got something happening, Dave, at Voiceover Atlanta, an efforts class, I think, or an X-session.
Dave: Yeah.
Anne: Let's talk about maybe not necessarily efforts, but body and how important your body is to be able to, I guess, express better acting.
Dave: Your body informs your voice. Once again, it doesn't start here. It starts with all of this. It starts with the look on your face. It starts with your honest reaction, your honest thinking, and those thoughts, those feelings will trigger a physicality that makes what you're saying come out in a certain way. Randall had mentioned something, we are translating the written word into the spoken word. They are not the same thing. I actually go so far as to tell myself, look, I'm not that into the words. They're not the most important thing. If you're crying or screaming, and there's a dialogue that's going on through it, and I can't quite understand what you're saying, for me, that's okay. Because what I really wanna understand is what this character's going through in this particular time. Now, if it's something very vital that has to be said, that leads to something else, yeah, we'll want to hear.
But voiceover 101, you wanna sound like you're smiling. What do you do? Put a smile on your face. You wanna sound like you're a little more important? Stand up just a little bit straighter and suddenly there it is. You wanna seem like you're a little bit more tired or something? Let your body relax, and there it is. How a character with a limp, or with a hunchback, or with a injury to their face, how they're gonna express themselves, or they're of a certain age and, and the voice has gotten tired from smoking and drinking alcohol -- these are what we're trying to find.
A lot of people will say, well, I'm putting on this voice, but why? There's nothing wrong with creating a voice, but why? How does this voice serve the character? What is it about this character that that voice is there? So your physicality, if you're somebody, maybe your head's off a little side from an old injury, or maybe you're that guy that's really tough and you're always got your chest out and ready for action. That's what changes your voice. Not something that you're putting on, but something that you allow to happen based on so many other things: your thought, your feeling, your action, your relationship and who you are, what your natural physicality or the natural physicality of that character is.
Randall: When you're talking about the body and you're talking about the voice -- I'll pull all three of these together, what I think at least is kind of simply -- you are acting in your emotions have nothing to do with your character voice. That voice that you put on is a filter. And where people get confused -- because historically this would happen. That voice that you're doing is somehow your character, and then that becomes caricature. That's not true. That voice is a filter. And when you talk about body parts, all the things that Dave just talked about, you could be the age you're at, and if you've got a hip injury, or you've got a limp, or you've got a lung issue, it's gonna sound a certain way.
So all you're doing after that with that voice is, it's a filter. If it's a guitar, it's, you're just turning the overdrive up a little bit on the distortion. But what you play is still gonna be what you play. It might make you play a little bit differently,'cause you got a little more sustain if we're gonna use the guitar thing. But ultimately you're gonna play what you play. And that's, I think the mental process it has to be. You are acting that emotion, you are acting that injury, you're acting that malady, you're acting that physical trait that you have. And then if it calls for it, change your voice placement, change your register, change your nasality, you know, all of that stuff.
Anne: Now Randall, you mentioned something earlier that I wanted to ask you, about when you're recording the characters, they're not typically done in ensemble format, right?
Randall: Right.
Anne: And typically the talent is recording from their studio or in a studio with you. Right?
Randall: Yeah.
Anne: Why is that? Why is there not -- because I would think if you're bouncing off other characters it might --
Randall: Yes, there would be. And sometimes you get that opportunity, but there are two reasons really. One, you have non-linear stories. In a movie and a TV and something of that nature, you have a beginning and an end. So it actually becomes very easy to say, well, we'll put these actors together -- we'll say a movie more than a tv. 'cause I think for TV set, you know, everybody shows up the same time. But we know we're gonna need you on these days 'cause you get at all your scenes that these people and they're gonna need you on these other days.
When you have 50 characters that are all speaking. And when you have interactions with any and all of them, the time to actually do that, the logistic issue to do that is almost impossible. And that's one of your absolute biggest reasons right there. When it really comes down to logistics, if I'm going to have Dave come in and do 500 lines, do 1000 lines, and in those lines he's got soliloquy lines, he's got 20 that are interacting with this one person, you just can't really pull that together in the same way. And the other thing in a movie that's different than, than a video game is there's all this back end -- of course movies are more than just about filming, about having the actors there. But that is so much of a focus, where in the game there's all this other stuff you have to construct. You know, think about a movie. If you actually had to construct the world in which you live, now make it non-linear, now make it so that there're branching storylines, or that if you go this way this happens, it actually becomes logistically almost impossible to do.
Anne: That makes a lot of sense. Now, in terms of, let's say the flow of what you do as a director, once you cast something, is it mostly just when the actors available they record their lines? I mean there's gotta be so many things, I would think that the story's gotta be there, right? The game writers have to have the story written. and then you have to get all of the characters to record their lines. And then -- so tell me a little bit about that process.
Randall: Well, that's a big thing. I'll try to make it kind of short. So one of the things you really have to do is at some point you gotta lock the script down. And trust me, that can sometimes be an issue. But you just do, you have to lock the script down, and you have to get everything that you're going to get. Of course there has to be some when the actor's available, if I, if an actor not available for a week 'cause they're on set doing something else, of course you can't use 'emthen. But really that becomes the puzzle piece that comes on this end of scheduling everybody. Dave, I've got this time on Monday and Tuesday. I don't have anything till Thursday. Do any of those fit with you? Bam. You lock it down, you, you do that.
The other thing that is also different about games that -- I mean as budgets go up, maybe this will change, but at least for now, again, some of it is logistics and some of it is budget -- I cast Dave to do a role. By the way, when Dave shows up, sometimes he knows ahead of time, but a lot of times it's like, hey, there're probably gonna be a couple more, just letting you know. And he shows up and because you've got soldier numbers 1 through 10 and townsperson number 1 through 20, it's like, Dave, can you pick up a townsperson? Can you pick up a soldier? By the way, they can't sound like the character that you're actually in here to do. You know? So that's another thing that happens all the time.
Anne: Yeah. And I always like for talent to understand what happens like outside of their little bubble of just voicing something. And so that's why I think it's wonderful to have the two of you there, 'cause it can kind of see how you really have to work together in order to produce and do something successfully together. So it's good to know like what you have to do as a producer or director. And of course the talent has to really, I think, be able to perform pretty much on demand, is what I'm thinking. That's what it's sounding like to me.
Dave: Exactly pretty much on demand. . And it's interesting from my perspective, whether I'm in my home studio or I go into another studio, there will be a producer there, the writer might be there, the director might be there. And I, I think the director's job is, the director's the person who knows how to communicate with actors. The writer may be able to tell you, well this is what's going on and so forth. But they have a tendency to keep talking too much, and they're more invested than they need to be to get the performance you want, whereas the director is your guide. When you are at home doing your audition, you are your own director. You have to make choices. But when you arrive on your gig or the gig arrives at your house, and you're on camera there, now you have somebody to take some of that weight off. And maybe they've listened to your audition and said, well you know, you made a good acting here, but that was the wrong choice. What actually is happening is this, and our job as actors is to be able to create the thought, feeling, attitude, movement of a character, and if it's something different, it's up to us to just make it different.
Anne: I love that you said that cause there's so many people I know that seem to be afraid of making that decision whether it's right or wrong and committing to the acting, because they don't necessarily know what's happening and so therefore they just play it safe.
Dave: And beyond playing it safe, they don't really know. They haven't made a definite decision. And the person who is listening to that audition come in, it doesn't say anything to them. You're probably going to do better making wrong strong choices than no choices.
Randall: Absolutely. Or safe choices. Absolutely.
Anne: I love that. I love that. I got so excited that you said, 'cause I was just like totally connecting with that. Let's talk a little bit about talent that might wanna get into video game voiceover and maybe the demo, which I think is probably an important part of helping them maybe get their foot in the door. Let's talk about what's important in a game demo.
Dave: It's interesting. We were talking about this with each other just the other day. I always liken video game acting --I always tell my students, look, I want you to think of yourself as a character actor. When we think about character actors, and even movie stars who started as character actors, there's something about them, the way they speak, the rhythm of it, their look that we have a reaction to, an emotional reaction to. And every one of us has some of that. You may not feel like you are ABC to yourself, but people who encounter you, that's what they see. So we wanna find out who you are, and now we wanna display that character, that you, the truth of you in a variety of characters from a variety of times in a variety of places with a variety of points of view. So we might be in space, we might be medieval, we might be futuristic, we might be post-apocalyptic, we may be a doctor, a lawyer, a soldier, a wizard, a swordsman, a thief. We wanna bring all these characters with dissimilar energies, dissimilar worlds together to demonstrate all the things that you can do.
Randall: Yeah. Be authentic first. I mean, I like to listen to a demo. I have a 1 and a 1A. 1 is be authentic. That has to be it. I have to stop listening to you as an actor 'cause there's time for that after the demo's done. When I hear a snippet, whatever your 12 seconds or whatever the time is with that character, ideally, and I know you, you can't always do this, but ideally when that clip stops, you're like, no, wait, what happens? 'Cause you got invested in it, you know? And then the second thing is a certain amount of versatility. Now, I think unfortunately to most people, versatility they think means different voices. And it is true that that is part of it. There's no question that you have to be able to demonst --'cause if there're gonna be three characters in a game, I can't hear the same voice. So yes, you do have to be able to learn to change your register, to change your voice placement, to change accents, to do all this other kind of stuff.
But ultimately it really comes out of your attitude difference and your emotional difference. And being -- if you're hyped, if you are just in this manic place, your voice is just gonna sound different than if you are at the bottom of the well depressed, even being the same person. So find those things, not just the emotions of them, but what does your voice do when it does that? How are you delivering things in a different way when you find that? And that's where you get all this variance and you hear different people out of it. So that is definitely 1A. If you, if you're a one trick pony, if it's a good trick, you might get booked a lot, but you're just gonna up your game and up your bookings the more legitimate tricks you can show. I probably shouldn't use the word trick. The more legitimate shades of yourself that you can show, the more legitimate shades of what you do, the better it's gonna play for you.
Dave: And let me just say this, there are people who can do lots and lots of accents, lots and lots of different voices, and sometimes that can kind of hurt you on your demo. If you've done so many different things that they don't come away with a sense of who you are.
Randall: Right.
Dave: You might not remember the name of so-and-so who did all these voices. None of them were the same. They may have all been really good, but you don't remember who this person is.
Randall: Right.
Dave: So I always say, look, start with who you are and keep coming back to who you are. You may have some in different accents and different voices, but start with you and keep coming back to you.
Randall: Yep. I agree.
Anne: So is there a time period -- I know that I work with so many students that are new, and they always wanna know, well, how long will I have to study? Or how long will I have to do this before I can create a demo? If you had to give your experience, how long would it take for someone to -- I don't even wanna think that it's all about the demo because really it's about the acting. Right? And it's about who you are as a voice actor. How long should a student expect to study acting in video game VO? Is it the same for everybody? Is there a length of time that you think, oh, after five years, this will be great? Or after one year, what do you guys think?
Randall: Absolutely depends on the person. I think mentally, if you're talking to people who are getting into the business or are wanting to get into, even just, I've been doing commercial, I wanna do video games. Even if it's that, so somebody who has been working. I think if you mentally think two years of hard work, that's a good baseline. Now there are gonna be people who have all the tools that they need, and in six months they're just rocking and rolling. There are gonna be people that after two years, they're just now starting to figure it out. And it's gonna take 'em five. How do you know? But I think you need to be mentally prepared. Kinda like if you start a business up, I think this is gonna take me a $100,000 in a year. Double it or triple it and then you're probably safe. I think it's the same thing.
Dave: And in so many ways, I think people getting into voiceover and not just for video games or animation, but for the various genre, each of the genres calls for something a little different. There are some rules of the road for all of them. I just think when you get to video games especially, from the smallest whisper to the loudest shout, from characters who very much might be like the disc jockey you used to be, or to the used car salesman that maybe you remember -- you're gonna see all those kinds of characters. If you come with some characters, with some idea of playing like you were when you were a kid, when you were playing cops or robbers or spaceman and aliens -- whatever it was, you weren't judging yourself. You were having a good time. And you put yourself completely into it.
One of the big things I see with a lot of grown up people who now suddenly wanna do this, or maybe they've wanted to do it for a long time, but there's a timidity. Oh, I'm a little, I'm a little scared. I don't wanna, I don't wanna, I don't want anybody to think this is silly or -- you gotta give yourself to it and that holds people back. Your ability to read can hold you back. Because especially in video games and voiceover in general, we are reading in the moment. We've gotta take the words off the page and connect them to somebody. So I have run into people who've come to me, not often, but a couple people, I've said, look, you don't need me. You've got this. Get your demo done, you can do it with me or somebody else. But you're ready. There's some other people I've worked with for a long time, and I see improvement, but it's slow. But if that's where you really want to go, and you are getting better and getting better, stay on the road.
Randall: Yeah.
Anne: Yeah. It's a journey. It's a journey. So you guys have an exciting event coming up at the end of April I saw for Game VO. Tell us a little bit about that.
Randall: Well, this really came out of an outgrowth of Dave and I; we talk a lot. We've known each other for a long time. And one of the things that we have not seen along the way is what I would call a throughput. There's nothing wrong with this. In fact, there's some wonderful things to do this, but you go to most conferences or retreats or whatever you want to call them, and there's not a real throughput. You get the promo person, you got the commercial person. And there's, there's some real value to that, you know, especially if you're working in multiple genres. But what we don't see anybody doing is, okay, we're gonna strip this down to the basics and take you through -- you know, you don't get to cherry pick. We're gonna take you through this whole thing. Okay. You went to drama school and you're like, and you wanna roll your eyes? I don't know about going back to drama school.
I had a student, I shouldn't even call him a student, an extremely well known voice actor who took one of my recent two-day workshops. And when I saw his name on there, I was like, really? Well, that's interesting. I wonder why he's doing this. And you know, the thing that was really interesting is there was a technique that really truly went back to original acting. And this is a guy who's a drama school, totally trained, accredited, all this other kind of stuff. He's done so much other stuff that he literally had -- now it was easy to getting back in there, but he had forgotten to some degree like, no, you have to start here. He's got all these voices that he can do. He's a wonderful actor. You know, if you had mentioned your name, maybe he'd be like, really? Well that's the point. Somebody like that even didn't have that beginning. So all this throughput we have not seen. And so the idea that we wanna do is take people all the way through what it takes to really truly be a video game voice actor, from let's start with basics of acting all the way up to we're gonna do sessions, and you can't skip the steps along the way. You've gotta do this to this, to this, to this.
Dave: I have to echo the same thing, that I've worked with students who have been on camera, on stage. And for them, the world of voice acting is completely different. And because they're used to memorization, and being in costume, and having another actor that they're working with, they are lost all too often when it's words on a page and a microphone. And sometimes it's just coming from this genre to that genre. If you're doing promos, TV promos, you can have a style. If you're a narrator, you can have a style. If you're doing commercials, you can have a style and work and do very well. With video games, style isn't gonna carry you but so far. You have to be an actor.
Randall: It's a bigger thing. You know, it's, it's actually a bigger thing. You can't have a style.
Dave: Style can be this big, but if you're gonna be an actor --
Randall: No, that's true. It's a range. It's not just a style, it's a range.
Dave: Yeah. And learning how to connect to that, to your range.
Anne: And now, so when is this event and how long is this event?
Dave: Well, it's called Game VO Mexico 2023. It is happening in Akamal, Mexico. That's on the Yucatan Peninsula. And it's the 27th through the 30th of April.
Anne: Okay. Three days.
Randall: Three days.
Dave: Three days.
Anne: All right. Three days of intensive classes, sessions?
Dave: Intensive classes, sessions, and it's gonna be fun. And in one of the most beautiful places in the world. We were doing some location scouting a couple of months ago. I was down there with Randall, and we went to a restaurant, and that night they said, oh, come back and watch the sea turtles make their little baby walk to the sea. It's those kinds of --there's iguanas around and toucans. You'll hear the monkeys in the tree. I mean, it's, it's an amazing place and it's very much outside of your norm. I don't know about you, but have you ever been someplace, you got outside of your house, outside of your city, a different place, and suddenly you could think differently?
Anne: Oh yeah. It'll change your life.
Dave: This is gonna be one of those places, one of those events that you'll be able to shed some things that have been holding you back and embrace some things that are gonna carry you forward.
Anne: I love it. So end of April, where can people find out more information and sign up for this?
Randall: Well, it's the website. It's So just like it sounds.
Anne: All right. Awesome. And for the BOSSes out there, you guys are going to give us a special coupon?
Randall: That is correct.
Anne: Just for the BOSSes. So if you guys want to, you are definitely getting a discount.
Randall: It's a $500 discount. So it's, it's basically 10%. It's a sizable discount.
Anne: That's awesome. Woo. So a $500 discount, you guys can go to that website and enter a coupon code, VO BOSS, to get that discount. That's amazing. So Coupon code VO BOSS to get that discount. And how can BOSSes get in touch with either one of you? Let's say Dave, if they wanna get training?
Dave: Oh, I'm so easy to find, they can email me at They can go to my website, and get in touch with me, and they can check me out every Wednesday at 6:00 PM Pacific for Ask Dave Fennoy anything. I promise I will talk about this.
Randall: This is true.
Anne: Yay. And Randall, what about you? How can people get in touch with you?
Randall: The two easiest places, and I say easy because I've got the long email addresses. My company, what I do the direction through, is Hamster Ball Studios. So it's Randall, But on the other side, the stuff that I do as far as teaching and coaching and consulting, I probably shouldn't say coaching 'cause I don't, you know, Dave's the one on one guy. I'm more big macro, big picture, hey, wow, dude. But it's
Anne: Awesome. Thank you, guys, so very much. This was so informative, so wonderful, and we so appreciate that discount. BOSSes, check that out. Use that code of VO BOSS, get yourself a discount. BOSSes, I want to ask you a question. Do you have a local nonprofit that is close to your heart? Did you ever wish that you could do more to help them? Well, you certainly can. And visit to learn how. Big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. You too can connect and network like BOSSes like us three today. Thank you, guys ,so much again, find out more at Everyone, have an amazing week and we'll see you next week. Bye.
Randall: Take care, Anne.
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