This time on “Questions for the Pros”, I’m asking Jim Kennelly, Owner/Producer of Lotas Productions, about the changing face of voice over, why he created Realtime Casting and his thoughts about the future of voice over. It’s important to understand the VO industry from the perspective of producers and how to work inside the advertising world and there’s nobody better to ask than Jim.
When did you first get started in the VO Industry?
In 1982, I joined John Lotas Productions in NYC as a studio producer. We were the first “one call does it all” recording studio. We cast voice-overs, directed the talent, recorded and produced the session and served as paymaster for out of town ad agencies and production companies. I was able to learn all aspects of the voice over business.
Did you always want to work in the industry as a producer?
I started as an audio engineer. I recorded many great voice over sessions, but I enjoyed directing and producing the most. It’s thrilling to work with creative writers, talent agents and talents to find “just the right voice” for all sorts of productions.
What are some favorite sessions that you’ve produced?
I produced the voice over you hear as you first enter EPCOT Center in Disney World. I worked on both Clinton/Gore campaigns and many other political races. Currently, I help The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a number of other global initiatives striving to improve the lives of people on our planet. Still, I recently tweeted: “Be true in small voice over projects because it is in them that your success lies”. I know this is true.
How has the VO business changed since you first got started in it?
The industry moves much faster and agency producers are challenged by heavier workloads. But, creatives still share the same passion for great voices, beautifully executed, that engage audiences irrespective of platform, device or venue.
Tell us about Realtime Casting…
Today, very few industries are immune from a complete reinvention of their business. Three years ago, I decided to build my vision for casting voice overs online. Realtime allows producers to post projects, get auditions at warp speed and allow the proactive voice talent to actively create, improve and take responsibility for the success of their careers.
What are your thoughts about the future of the VO business? What direction do you see it going?
Voice over talents need to become the best possible production partners. Advertisers are under constant pressure to make sure their production approach is streamlined, efficient and consistent. It’s up to today’s talent to reflect and support those needs. Invest in your career, constant training that offers professional feedback, a home studio with a great microphone and sound and an understanding of online casting.
What do you love most about working in the VO Industry?
I love the people. And I love to listen. Listening requires focus. It means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice. And I love learning about how we communicate with one another. We are all different and that’s a good thing. I love helping others share how they feel: their ideas, their stories. That interests me.