What would it be like to have breakfast with Jeremy Clarkson, coffee with Gordon Ramsay, lunch with Gok Wan, Tea with Paddy McGuiness and Dinner with Sir David Attenborough? As a professional voiceover artist specialising in characters, accents and celebrity impressions (as well as, the usual guy-next-door reads), that's generally what my day looks like!
I've made this video to show how I approach voicing celebrity impressions.
This morning I have to voice a Jeremy Clarkson impression for a company's web video. Jeremy is a smoker and all that puffing has taken its toll! For him I lower my voice and feel it in the back of my throat He has a very distinctive speech pattern where he'll say the first half of his sentence going up at the end... pause as if to leave you hanging in mid air ...and then go back down in pitch to finish! This ads weight and drama to what he's telling you.
I send the produced file to client and get an email back saying that they're thrilled and are looking forward to syncing it with the video.
Later I get a call from a producer who wants to book me to voice a Gok Wan sound-alike for a radio commercial. This one will be a live session via ISDN. He sends me the script and says he'll dial me up in 15 minutes.
Gok Wan is higher in pitch than Jeremy, but listen to them back to back and you'll hear that he has a very similar vocal inflection! (I bet that's the first time you've heard Jeremy Clarkson compared to Gok Wan!) As well the his trademark camp tone he smiles a lot, so that should come across too. Think "work it, girlfriend!"
The session is great fun and I end up giving him an Alan Carr impression for his voicemail!
An email lands in my inbox from someone wanting a Michael McIntyre impression for 2 radio ads. Although it's not very common to hear impressions on adverts as the celeb would usually voice it themselves, I do get called to voice sound a likes. Michael's great fun to do because vocally he's all over the place! He's fairly well-spoken and voice is generally quite deep, but he has this natural break like a teenager, so when he gets excited it breaks and goes high... a little like Scooby Doo!! He also has a subtle quirk in the way he pronounces his R's (similar to Jonathan Ross), so it's good to get that in too! If you watch Michael when he performs he's very animated and will gesticulate and nod his head a lot, so I'll mimic that as copying a persons mannerisms definitely helps with the character and voice.
After lunch, I get an email from a client in the US asking if I can voice a local TV ad as Gordon Ramsay! Now Gordon is famous for losing it and shouting at his chefs but his natural speaking tone is breathy and gentle, he's actually quite softly spoken. He'll clip then end of his phrases like he's in a hurry and punctuate the adjectives: "Beautiful!" "Delicious" or his favourite exclamation, "damn!" He can get very animated and you often see him bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet in an impatient manner, like he's on the edge and about to burst!
We have a scream on the session and I end up swearing a LOT but this won't ever be heard... I hope!
The day's work ends with a regular in the armoury: a Sir David Attenborough impression to narrate a short web video. David is beautifully spoken and has that gentle whisper in his voice, as if he's fully aware that if he talks too loud he'll frighten the nearby antelope who's drinking from the watering-hole! You'll often see David crouching down near a river, in the middle of a rain forest, desert, or by an ice-hole in the Antarctic. He'll be describing the scene in a super-hushed tone so as not to disturb the animals nearby! One thing to stress is that Sir David is now 78 and his voice has dropped in pitch, it's also got a slight gravelly texture due to his age, so it's important to reflect that. I self-record the piece and send it off.
It's taken years and a lot of hard work, but being a voiceover artist is great fun and the variety of work I get asked to do always keeps me on my toes! In a day I can go from voicing a corporate script about toilet flushing mechanisms, to car ads where the client requires a relatable, everyday guy voice, to playing a King with a west country accent, a sports commentator for on a tv advert for a kids toy, a Paddy McGuiness impression for a nightclub radio advert and ending with a booming voice of God for an awards ceremony!
To check out my showreels, characters, more celebrity impressions and to watch videos of my work, please visit the website.
If you require a voiceover, do get in touch and I'll be happy to help.