We end off our The December Man blogs with a lovely chat with voiceover actor Graham A. Yeates.
(Graham A Yeates - Photo Credit: Ange Clayfield)
Graham is a simple man. He loves medieval history, has a library full of books, has a wonderful wife and psychotic cat whom he loves.Graham has been a member of the KWLT family since 2001, when he caught the acting bug in his first production: Much Ado About Nothing as Don Petro. Since then he's been doing various things, including acting, directing, stage managing, and is even a former president or KWLT.
It was through KWLT that Graham found voiceover acting and wanted to learn more about that medium.
“I was a stage actor through KWLT and I wanted a way of doing that but with [a further development of the craft]. I took classes [and workshops] for voiceover and I have a particular love of that. A number of years ago at KWLT, we did a radio theatre-of-the-mind kind of weekend, so I’ve long liked that sort of background...The nice thing is that it allows me to give back to KWLT because I don’t really have time anymore to do shows, but since 2015 I’ve done voiceover work for KWLT show [on average] one a year. It’s nice; it allows me to keep my hand in.”
After taking all the workshops, Graham was able to transition that practice into a career.
“It is very entrepreneurial based. You have to go and hunt down all your own clients; unlike the more traditional acting stream, where you get an agent and your agent gets business for you. There is some of that in voice acting, but the vast majority of it is making relationships with businesses that need voice over work."
Graham’s work is very client based. He records a lot of industrial narration, explainer videos, and some e-learning tutorials, where the only people that know that it’s him are the client and himself. Although he would love to get into bigger projects like animation, that particular part of the field is very 1%. It’s union work and very prestigious. He was lucky enough, however, to do an animation pilot once.
When it comes to being an independent voiceover actor, it takes a lot of networking.
“It’s a lot of networking and a lot of cold emails. [You have to contact] people who make explainer videos, people who make documentaries, or anything like that. Any place that might need a voice over, I say, 'Hey! My name is Graham and I do the work you need someone to do. Here’s my website, where you can take a look at my demos'.”
There might be times he may go to their studio, but mainly he works from home in his own studio. Fun fact, he actually recorded and edited all the voice over clips with the other actors from The December Man in his studio! Pretty good eh?!
(Graham at work)
As any good actor knows, whether it’s for a play, a musical or even performing daily tasks, like talking to clients/customers, vocal warm ups are extremely important! Graham makes sure he is always ready when doing a voiceover.
“The key is to warm up. Every actor hates doing warm ups - I know I do - but they are incredibly important. They can’t be skipped. I find I have to do it for about 20 minutes as a minimum. [I also] read out loud for about 30 minutes to an hour a day to keep the muscles up. It’s not just warming up your voice, it’s also stretching your face muscles, because if your face is tired, you wouldn’t enunciate much or articulate as well.”
Graham also believes in having the proper training and coaching. He thinks that it’s in the best interest of the actor to always stay informed; keep learning from coaches who know what they are doing. Graham says, he isn’t quite qualified to teach or train, but is he willing to share what he has learnt.
“I’m happy to share with people the things that I’ve learned, but I’m in no way qualified to teach it. I can tell you the most important rule: Don’t touch the microphone!”
The reason this is such an important rule is because, in most studio’s, the microphones are very expensive and therefore only the sound engineers are allowed to touch them, even if it’s just to adjust it to the right height. That is some sage advice to any up and coming voice actor, and Graham has a few more to add to that:
“The key about being a voice over actor is that it’s acting! Study acting, get into improv, take various workshops, get some coaching.. You don’t have to worry about the microphone; you’ll get there eventually. It starts with the training. It’s actually better to get a quality place to record than having a microphone.”
Come out and hear Graham’s and the other voice actor’s beautiful voices perform in this haunting beautiful show. You only have three more chances to see this amazing show until it is gone forever! Tickets are at the door and online at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/kwlt-presents-the-december-man-lhomme-de-decembre-tickets-78987470651. And don’t forget, tomorrow (December 6th) is the 30th Anniversary and the proceeds from the show will be donated to Victim Services of Waterloo Region. Help support this great organization and show our love for our community be coming down to KWLT. Wer’d love to see you there
COMING SOON: I venture forth towards learning more about East of Berlin which hits the KWLT stage on January 30th.