Voice over Coaching with everett oliver
Everett Oliver has built a career in voiceover, Animation, Career Building, Booth Director (directing actors on auditions at a leading LA Based Talent agency), Remote Auditions, Private One on One Directing and Online Directing. In animation and commercial demo recordings, he’s directed actors on animation characters and commercial projects. With over a decade of experience in voiceover casting with titans of the industry in animation such as Disney, Columbia Tri Star, and Film Roman/Starz, Everett Oliver developed skills that prepared him to put on a director’s hat and bring out the best reads for his clients on their auditions.
33:45 Carrie's Quick Intro
33:45 Carrie's Quick Intro
Carrie: I'm going to do a quick intro for Everett, and then we'll jump right into some coaching questions. I know he has a lot to offer. I'm super excited to get his take on some of these questions. So Everett is, according to his website, a 25-year veteran in the entertainment industry, currently operating his voiceover company, formerly known as My Booth Director, specializing in professional directing for voiceover auditions. Such an awesome and needed skill out there. He was an animation demo co-producer, a private coach for commercial and animation, as well as a career building consultant. In 2017 he was nominated for the co-producing directing service award in the category of outstanding animation and gaming demo reel, best voiceover. He received another nomination for directing a narration demo reel, in the category of outstanding narration, demo real best voice over. So quite a list of accomplishments there.
Everett: I was going to tell you to up your arms because it was just so long, and you were losing breath. She was like, I was like "Carrie, you might want to just up your arms, open up that diaphragm."
Carrie: So great, I need that coaching right here already. I love it all. You can bill me later.
32:31 What's your background? Are you a voiceover talent
"No, I'm actually, well, right now currently, I'm a voice acting director. So basically, I got started behind the scenes. I never thought that I would work in animation. So I really picked up directing by just knowing my actors. So I have done, I will say this, I have done one or two characters. It is hard. I was like, I gave it to a colleague of mine, I send in my sample and he's like, "you teach this stuff" And I'm like, now I understand on the other side of the glass, but no, I'm basically just voice acting director."
31:30 Do you coach beginners?
"I do, in a sense, but here's the deal I like base stuff on my summer camp. So when I was working in like swimming instruction, that's how I based the students also. Like beginners, advanced beginners, intermediate swimmers, basic pros would-be swimmers. So I really like to take advanced beginners per se, because at least I know that they have some sort of acting background, improv background, and they've done a little bit of coaching, just a very little bit. But they have to bring something, not just taking, coming right off the streets or just coming like, "oh, I went to college and I want to get into voiceover." Yeah, I'm like, yeah, I needed to do a little bit more work. But it's a case by case basis, you know, I would say that."
Carrie: Yeah, I can see that some people when, you know that, they are beginners, you can put them in the booth and you go, whoa, there's some talent there. There's something raw that I could cultivate from the beginning, and other times, it takes a little bit more, like you said, just digging, maybe studying with some of those coaches who do specialize in beginners first.
"Right. I mean, like I said, you could just instantly tell with them not, you know, just reading, I'm like, mmm. Yeah."
29:50 So would you recommend, if I'm a beginner and I just really want to study with you, how would I go about figuring out if I'm at that level?
"Oh, I will have a personal conversation with you. And based on what you say to me and a little bit of your background, I would recommend you to basically take your acting class first and then, you know, go take your improv. And I've done that before and told actors to, you know, connect with me when at least they've done that process."
Carrie: Perfect. I love that you have that standard. And it's also a sign of integrity because there's some coaches that will just, that will take anybody's money.
"I do not do that. I do. You're right. I do have integrity. I am a person who likes to get to know my students really well. In fact, I tap into them and kind of figure them out within probably the first, depending on the day, I would say 2 to 3 minutes, I could really figure out. And, you know, just basically on conversations and feelings and just by stuff that they say to me. So that's the kind of coach that I am. It's very personable. You're right. You'll be surprised. Some people are just shocked, so well, that's the way to see about that."
Carrie: No, that's, that's exciting. Now I want to experience it but yeah, I think that personal touch is something that is really desired because as an actor, you want to be seen. You don't want to feel like you're just another actor coming through the cycle.
"Everyone who comes to me, at least I make them feel that way. They get whatever they get out of me, and I'm also the type of coach that I share, and then I send them to other people. If I can't pull what I need to pull out of them, go see this person. And then when you finish, just come back, I'll take it from there."
27:47 What are your specialties? What genres of voice over do you coach in?
"Animation is top top priority that everyone comes to see me in a commercial. Everything else I hire people when I do workout classes to come teach, and I just sit and host, and smile and take notes and give feedback. I do give feedback to my actors the following day, so I'm paying close attention."
Carrie: So great.
"That's my special touch."
Carrie: So great, because you're not trying to be a jack of all trades, you know what you're awesome at and you know, other people who are awesome at that. So yeah.
"Yes, I like to have a good time. I know I'd like to have a good time, but when it comes down to business, I could totally, we get down and play, but this should be a fun medium for you to work at. So I just want to experience everything. I'm pretty much like, open, so I allow people to go ahead and freely contact me even if calling me late at night. Oh yes, that's the type of person. I don't know if I should have said that."
Carrie: You'll be getting lots of calls now. I love the emphasis on fun because I think that's the only way you can really be successful at this, is if you're enjoying what you do.
"Right. This should not be, oh, I have to do this because of my health insurance, you know, I need my health insurance. The more fun that you're having, the more likely you will wind up booking."
Carrie: Oh, that's such a, I shouldn't have interrupted because that was such a good quote. I should have let you go on that.
"I see that and that was gone, it's over. That's the motto of today. Yeah, I mean, you know, I run into a lot of people who are just stressed out over, you know, I'm not booking, I'm not this. And then I am really one home and figure out why. This is the situation, why it's not your market, why you're not booking, you know. You're too over the top, you're too wind up. You need to just relax, you know, you're not having fun at this, you're just pushing and pushing, but it's just not working out, you know, so we need to figure it out why the solution to the problem and you know, and turn that around."
25:17 What's important for voiceover talent to look for in a coach?
"Personality. I'm one for personality. I mean, I think you should study with people who you really resonate with, to get the performance out that you need. I will say that I'm probably one of those tough people."
Carrie: Tough in what way?
"Tough, in a good way. You know, you have to be tough to get the performance out of an actor. You can't be just passive aggressive. That's just not going to work. And there are some people who will baby you, to that I am one to hmmm nope. There's no baby. You have to stand up on your own two feet, blah blah blah. But it's all about personalities for me."
Carrie: You want your students to do well, so you can be honest with them.
"I am. I'm honest and direct in a very loving way. I say it with a smile."
Carrie: That's working clearly.
"Well. Take the sarcasm out. That's who I am. Sorry, it's what you get."
24:03 When should a voice talent seek a coach? Is it ever too early?
“Well it's never too early but you know I got to do career consultation. So my career consultations, I just really have to get the whole ingredients. I got to get the whole package, before I can go ahead and say, here's my answer. Because people are going to tell you what they're basically doing is they're going to test you to see what kind of person and coach you are. So for me, I'm like hmm, let me see, let me home in. I pretty much home in, you can pretty much higher, too much stuff for me, I figure you out and depending, you know, I haven't, and I will say that I have an intuitive side that picks up very clearly and very fast, depending on the day. You know, sometimes I've done it in two or three minutes, sometimes I've done in 10 minutes. So it's that, once I know I said, yeah, you're still in the beginning stages, you still need to do this, go back and do that again and then come back. And not to say that I'm always right, but I have some people who have gone to other colleagues, and I would say it's not the right fit, they weren't the right fit for you.”
Carrie: Yeah, you have a strong instinct.
“And I go with my gut on that. You know, for sure.”
Carrie: I can see how you. I'm sure there are some people listening to this right now is thinking this, that's exactly, that sounds great. I want somebody who's going to feel it out and be really intuitive. But there are a lot of other people too, that I know, voice talent, who are more technical and they want it to be more on the page than results, right?
“And like I said, it's a person. It all depends as to who you are, you know. And that will, like I said, it will determine who's right. Yes, I've turned people down, I believe, like male to male coaches. There's some people have told them no, you need a dominant female coach. You need somebody that's really gonna go ahead and kick your butt because you have allowed the people who are not as dominant to not really get what you need from them. They can't really pull it from you. You get bored easily, you're not in there, you're not at present, you're not in the moment. So that's when I go ahead and say, yeah, this who you need. And like I said, I share with everybody.
So, yeah, as far as to ask, that's the answer to your question. As far as beginners, that's my whole process and how I, you know.”
Carrie: I love that because that's a dynamic that, I don't know that a lot of people really consider, but I love that you even take that into consideration that, you know, this is the type of coach that that would be best for you and and kind of give that recommendation is to your students or potential students.
20:41 What do your students learn from you?
“I think you learn everything, how to ground themselves. I see people put up walls. Immediately their walls are up. So I'm teaching them how to pull layers and knock down the wall and tell me that's not who you are.”
Carrie: Oh, I love that.
“I have to be very gentle with people. I have made maybe one or two students cry, but it's a crying if they were able to connect to their emotions. You know, it's not like they're boo hoo and I'm like, you, I've done any purpose or two on so sorry. She was like, no, it's good. I'm good. Okay. I can be a little harsh. So that's what yeah, that's what a lot of students, I would say probably 85-95% of my students learn to just knock that wall down, just be who you are, come play.”
Carrie: That's huge. I love that. And that's one of those things that aspiring voiceover talent, that's not on their radar as far as you know, what do I want to learn? I need to learn how to drop my walls. It's not really a thing that they know that they need, but I think the good coaching does that. I've left coaching sessions feeling like I left a therapy session.
“Right, right. So yeah, I mean, like I said, it's just work as one of my colleagues was, they were more than just coaches, we are like therapy, you know. I'm kind of like everybody's uncle, the millennials, dad, maybe grandpa, we're not gonna go there. Sometimes they mamas, I'm like, oh, here we go. So, you know, I just, I've been told I'm a great listener, and then I like to figure out your problems. That's my epiphany for February 1, 2021. That has happened to me, literally that this is the epitome of my purpose in life. And so now I'm like, ok, this is what I'm supposed to do.”
Carrie: I love that. Thanks for sharing that.
18:00 How long do you typically work with students? Is most of it kind of one-off audition stuff? Or do you have students for years at a time? What is that process?
“It varies on each student. Some people will come to me one time, you know, audition time because they have to stay, important audition, and I go, oh, okay. And I don't know who you are, I don't know your skill set, I don't know who you've coached with. And normally that audition takes a very long time because I'm like, cool, you've got this big job and you look at the dollar amount, which is a no-no in my book.”
“So I go, ok, that's my look of "you really think you're gonna book this". Okay. Then, I have other students who will come to me and they'll come to me for, you know, a session or two. Then they'll leave. Then what I do is I check up on them, either by email, but it's more fun to call. Let me catch them off that, you know, because it's one of those things of, you check your emails and you're like, hmm I haven't heard from people in a while, let me text them. And if you don't respond, you know, to my text or whatever. Or the funny thing is hello, Let's start off really quietly. Hello? I go, oh, it's Everett. And then you hit that silence because it's like I do something wrong. I just had two minutes. I'm just checking in. Are you all right? Is everything cool? So yeah, so I do that. I will do that.”
Carrie: You got to keep it entertaining for you too, right.
“I go that extra mile to see, you know, where they are, and you know, if there's anything wrong, that's just probably part of my personality, you know.”
Carrie: So great. Built in accountability.
14:19 What's your take on demos?
“When they're ready. When they know they're ready, when the coaches told them they're ready. I do animation, I've done animation and commercial demos when I have the time to it's all on that people are really, really connect with on a personal level. Then people have asked me and I have worked with them on the demos. What was your other question? I had it in my hand.”
13:35 When do students make them? Do you make them? And then, the other one I haven't asked yet is do you have preferred demo producers that you recommend?
“I haven't, I haven't recommended anybody first because I usually do it myself, you know, it just so happens that because I know their style, I know the person's personality and style, why would I shipped them off to somebody else? Because it's going to take the time for them to know them because we all teach differently. Yeah. I might as well, you know, if they asked me, I go ahead and normally go, okay, which means the face means it's just that it's gonna take me some time because I'm constantly, you know, with classes, private coaching, auditions, career building. That's four things. If I was on the road, it would be, there's no way, you know. Now that I'm home, I'm able to do a little more, you know? So that's my final answer.”
Carrie: It sounds like when it comes to producing your students' demos, it's a pretty full service thing, your involvement, it's everything from coaching them to, yes, you're ready to do it to scripts and what, you know, how to keep it together.
“Yeah, so I find, I mean I do have a small team put together to help me with the scripts. I sit down, in fact, I have a couple of people that I sit down with, I have a meeting with. I get the actor on me, we've discussed personalities, what characters that we want to put on the demo, what topics do we want to cover commercially. And then I go ahead and I pretty much, I try to just direct, that's my main thing is I just direct demo, I will oversee the engineer if I have to oversee, and put on the producer's hat. I have done that, it's just a time thing with me from structural because it's just like cut that, dude, do that, you know.”
“So I'm one that takes half the money up front just to just direct, and take the back end of it after the demo was done, because then I can go ahead you know once I allowed my editor just ended everything, send it to me so I can listen to it, make my cuts, get the talent on there to listen, you know with me, you like it, you hate it blah blah blah. Let's do another round of cuts. And then I make sure that the packages all tightly have a bow on it and we can send it out. And then it's up to them to put it on social media, if they like, and hashtag the hell out of it. Because you have to promote it, not because it's just something I've worked on, but it's your calling card. You know, so it's a matter of making sure it's just marketed really, really well.”
“And actors don't really think about that. You just think about, here's my demo, what do I do with it? And then I say to them, well, it's time to start, let me send you to somebody who can start professionally training you, to start marketing it, to start getting on people's rosters rather than you sending it out to agents, and with everything going on, the agents might not have time to respond to you or the best solution that I would say is find somebody who's being represented at that agency, and see if they would speak on your behalf.”
09:42 If someone gets to that point where they've graduated, they've got their demo. Is that what you would recommend as far as next steps, or how involved are you in the next steps that they take?
“Well, it depends on the case. I'm a case by case basis. You can tell I have, I will say this, I was probably gonna come out wrong. That's okay. I have sent demos to various people in charge, like agents and yes, I've done that, and it has worked. I will say that. I do go above and beyond. I didn't just like go see me. I don't want to be inundated. Everybody comes to see me and think always gonna give me an agent. If you're good enough, we'll get. I'm honest about that. You know, I'm serious about that. It's like, there's some people, I'm just kind of like, it was an okay demo. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's agent worthy because I've worked at a talent agency. So I know, you know, specifically as to what they're looking for.”
Carrie: Right. I love your emphasis on case by case, because I know too, with talking about your name, your brand is behind these things. So you're going to help promote it, and help do what you can for the students that you believe in and the ones that you, you know, again, and holding with that integrity. It's not a matter of spamming and mass emailing out these things. It's if you believe in that student, in that demo.
“I'm hard. That's probably why I'm hard because it's, I am one that's driven to make sure that, you know, you get to where you need to be. It's a service that I provide, and you're right. It is about my integrity. I'm not just putting my name out there just for, you know, laughs and jokes. I'm really serious about, you know what I do, but I have to have a little fun enjoying what I'm doing. And if I feel that you're not up at, you know, at part to be a certain, you know, agencies or sending a certain rosters, I won't even recommend you. I have done that, for people, even though they don't know. I don't think you're ready, and I'm honest with them.”
Carrie: Yeah and that's what's really helpful. You know it's not really helping the talent if there's a false sense of readiness that you get.
06:47 So brag on yourself and your students a little bit. What would you say is your greatest accomplishment as a voiceover coach?
“I never brag. I will say this, one of my students said to me I'm very humble. I got that probably from my dad. I don't really brag about stuff. I mean it might come across that way. I've had success in some of my students. I can't think of anybody to have just had failures. Because I pray. I have so many of them. I'm located on both coasts. So I have students around the whole U. S. and Canada, and other in England, and Australia. So I've, you know, marketing. There might be some spanish countries too. And like I said bragging to me is it's not Everett thing to do. That's just not Everett, you know.”
“It's really, I'm humbled by it. So, but there have been success stories that everybody has taken off and you know, shipped away, and they come back. So I have books, I have not that, I'm thinking about it because it just hit me. What about those actor who booked in Canada twice? I'm like okay, too serious because sometimes they don't even tell me. That's what, that's one of the things that I just don't know sometimes, you know, since when I go and that's why I go when I check around. Oh, I booked that. That's serious. Oh, so you tell me what, I hadn't seen you in 6 months. Sorry, I got busy. Okay. So that's a little brag.”
Carrie: Ok. We'll take it. And other than that, I guess we can google and linkedin and your website and all of that and see so many things.
“I am, I will say, I will say this, I'm on all social media platforms. I'm working on my Youtube channel. That's my new thing. You can subscribe to my Youtube channel. I think it's EverettOliver dot com, voice acting director, but I would go whatever the office tell, just to be safe. You know, I'm on instagram, I linkedin, and I do respond to people when they, you know, reach out to me. So I am one to do that. So you probably think that how do you find the time to do all of these? It's randomly through, going through social media.”
Carrie: That's rough. I commend you on that because information, you know there's so many platforms, and so many communication tools if you can stay on top of it you are... I'm impressed.
“I'm well, it's funny, because I just told a client in front of us today. So my social media platforms for me it's like because I come from the T. V. World it's like my ratings television. So I use all of my social, when I post I post the see likes hits and comments because that's what they did in television back in the eighties, nineties, and today. So I have to go and check my ratings to see oh is this a topic that someone was really interested in?”
Carrie: Yeah, that makes sense.
“There's a lot of people are gonna go ahead and give you points. A lot of people are going to go in and comment on that. You know, what was really helpful in that specific message? Or that video? Okay. That's how I look at it. My art, my art's on the way.”
02:51 Is there something you'd like to share with us? Something you want to promote? I know you mentioned workshops a little bit.
“If you want to get on my mailing list, I'm at E.O. at voiceactingdirector.com. I have workshops every month with different guests that come and teach. I sometimes teach towards the end of the year. But I teach at other organizations of the studios around the country. I have some things that's coming up then I'm really excited about, so which I, you know I have an N. D. A. Clause on myself, so I'm really excited about that. You know, if you have auditions, I like to know like ahead of time like you know you know I know sometimes it comes up last minute but if you have that urgent audition that you need help with, you can also contact me, you know through my email. I'm around, I do lots of consultations. Lots of actors are confused about who they are, what's going on in my life. I don't know what I'm doing. And they just need that sort of stuff. So they contacted me, they reach out to me. I do the private coaching with everybody to, you know, everybody. Oh, I got all these voices in my head. Okay, well, let's see what you can do with these voices on your head. Let's put let's go on and put you to the task. Let's do it. So I, you know, set up a session and let's see, you know what you can do it and I'll tell you this will work, this will work, this is not gonna work, keep this, you know, um I'm like a sponge of knowledge of information, you know, and one person has told me that payment for the information, but I'm willing to share, and to give you and let least guide you and tell you, you know, to put you on the right path or send someone to one of my colleagues. I do a lot of sending people to my colleagues and saying this is the right person that fits your personality. I'm not going to just send you to some random person. You know, it's all about, for me, it's all about a connection and once I go ahead and I connect with you, then I'm able to help guide you and mentor you.”
Carrie: It's great. Well, I love your philosophy and your coaching style. Thank you so much for agreeing to spend some time with me here, and I know this is going to be really helpful information for aspiring voice actors and existing voice actors who are wanting to level up their game. So thanks so much.
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