Amy Garrison and her daughter, Katie Garrison, had an interest in being voice actors. So when Niagara University announced it was bringing voice coach John Gallogly to the campus as part of its adult education offerings this spring, they both jumped at the chance to participate.
Afterward, both seemed rather enthusiastic about what they'd just experienced. After sitting through Gallogly explain the basics of being a voice actor, from the types of jobs there are to how to go about getting a paying gig, and actually recording a brief script reading,
"I feel it was really educational," Katie, a student at Niagara University and Niagara Falls resident, said.
"It gives a realistic picture," her mother, Amy, added. "I thought I could go in there and just do it. But that's just not the case."
The mother-daughter team joined a group of 10 others this past week for Gallogly's semi-annual trip from Albany, where he's part of a group of working professionals that specialize not only in producing professional voice-over work, but also training the next wave of actors. The class has been offered throughout Western New York's many adult education programs, offering insider tips ranging from getting out of your own way to how to successfully record a demo producers will use to make hiring determinations.
It's particularly demanding getting into voice acting, Gallogly said, and often leads to more people exiting despite thinking they have the talent than the reverse.
"I have a tendency to talk people out of this class," he said. "And I don't do it on purpose. It took me a while to figure out why people were leaving and I narrowed it down to two principles."
The first may seem like a negative to some, but it definitely separates those who'll make money from those who're not going to work hard for success. Being a voice actor, he said, is about creating and managing your own small business focused on your voice. People always ask him, he said, how one can break in to the voice acting business.
His answer? "Be relentless."
"The reality is you get a job in the voice-over industry the same way you get a job anywhere else," he said. "You don't just send your resume and expect to have the job fall on your lap. No, you follow up. You have to do yourself a favor and follow up. And follow up, and follow up and follow up."
Talent is also a big part of the game, though it isn't only about how great of a voice you have, he said. Instead, voice actors need to be able to have conversations while reading a script. It's called conversational reading and a vast majority of people can't do it, he said.
"People think this is about talent," he said. "That's a prerequisite. Of course you have to have a good voice. But it isn't as important as other things you can do. And those things can be learned with a little practice and some coaching."
The coaching is exactly what Katie Garrison and her mother think could put them into position to make some extra money. Because the world of voice over work is extremely lucrative, given it was an $11.7 billion industry in 2013. For 30 minutes to an hour of work in the studio, the lowest average paychecks come in at about $150 to $250.
Once you go beyond regional work, the dollar amounts skyrocket for those who have the talent and the marketability. National campaigns, audiobook readings, cartoon and Japanese animation shows and others come with a slightly larger time commitment and a dramatically increased payday to coincide.
They said they're both willing to take it to the next level should they have the opportunity to work with Gallogly and the team of instructors at Voice Coaches Creative Voice Development Group LLC, owned by David Bourgeois in Albany.
"I know if I want to do it, I'm going to have to put something into it," Amy Garrison said. "I'm going to need a game plan."
Anyone who wasn't aware Niagara University was hosting Gallogly, there's a second class coming to the Lewiston campus this fall. Gallogly returns for his second introduction class, complete with professional recording instruments, Oct. 22.
To reserve a spot, call 286-8181.
More information about Gallogly and Voice Coaches, including how to sign up for the company's professional training, can be found online at www.voicecoaches.com.
Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.