Expertise and Focus

Expertise is directly proportional to the focus you pay a certain skill or talent in your life. Practice eighty hours a week and think about nothing else in between and you’re bound to be the best. Some people focus so intently on their work or passion that even menial skills cannot compute. If you want to master a skill or trade, are you willing to give it your all? And I don’t mean some vague notion of heart and care. All of your time. All of your focus. Oftentimes at the expense of other aspects of your life. Are you prepared to make those sacrifices? If not, do not lie to yourself or pretend to be something you’re not. You’ll sleep better at night if you accept and understand your priorities.

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Reputation

It takes a lot of work and time to build a reputation. Making an impression is one thing (and certainly an important part of the battle). But the real challenge lies in being what you claim to be. If you want to have the reputation of a genius or comedian, then you actually need to be smart or funny. The shell of a person is only so thick and easily shattered. At the core, you must be everything you want to be and more. Until you are who you want to be on the inside, there’s no way you’ll ever be the person you want to be on the outside. Never waiver in your character or dreams; that’s where reputation comes from.

Artists: Do Not Fear Your Old Work

Most people shy away from, try to forget, or openly reject their old projects. They have “learned so much since then” and are outwardly disgusted with the thought of revisiting outdated work again. If you feel ashamed by the portfolio of your past, don’t be. It’s natural to laugh at the work you did, the person you used to be (pubescent years, anyone?). But do not fear it. Do not avoid it altogether.

As an artist, it’s important to understand who you are and where you came from. You must iterate from old pieces – learn from what worked and discard what didn’t. Develop a genuine voice over time, understand the reception of your craft, and grow. Revisiting past projects helps you appreciate the trajectory of your skills and values. It helps you remember who you were and stay true to yourself. It helps you improve and move on.

Do not ignore your past. It is the key to mastering your craft. It is the compass for your future.

Pick Your Battles

Let’s face it: you are not proficient or informed about hundreds of thousands of things. No single person knows everything or masters every skill on the planet. There are countless battles you cannot win. That’s difficult for many people to hear, especially me; I am as competitive as they come. But you must face the facts and learn to let go. I am not very athletic or musical; I tip my hat to and tap out of matches with people who are. Choose your battles wisely. Know what battles are worth fighting. Know what battles you stand a chance to win. Invest yourself completely. Focus on meaningful, personal battles. Discard and ignore the rest. It’s far less stressful and humiliating to accept failure before you actually fail.

The Life of a Voice-Over Artist [Film Friday]

Have a great voice? Want to work from home everyday? Want to have a lot of time on your hands? Then consider being a voice-over artist!

There is a large army of people out there who have recording setups at home and read scripts into a mic for a living. As a voice-over artist, you can make between $5 and $200 per word you read (the pay varies depending on where your voice will be heard – television, web, theater, radio, etc.). Reading just one paragraph a month for average-priced spots can earn you a livable annual salary. Because audio files can be sent back and forth digitally, you can live anywhere you want. Most VO artists have their workflow optimized online so that they never need to speak to another human being again (except through email).

Want to get started? Buy yourself a decent microphone, hide in a closet or sound-proof room to record, and post a demo reel to a site like voices.com. Most projects solicit and cast from web networks like this one. More legitimate voice talents hire an agent to represent them and drive higher-profile, lucrative projects. You can graduate from infomercials and web spots, to theatrical movie trailers and documentaries, to animated feature film characters.

With enough unique character and range in your voice, you can make decent bank for as little as three hours of work per week.

Talent Is the Most Valuable Resource

People are important. To a business, their skills are important. Skills + People = Talent. Talent should not be undervalued or underappreciated.

I understand that most businesses and projects must start small to afford necessary tools and have room to grow. Money runs out, and you need to work within your budget to avoid the crash and burn.

If you ask for a favor, make sure to repay the favor with a service or a raise. Raises demonstrate that the sacrifices made are appreciated. Appreciation is key. If you do not demonstrate appreciation in some way, your talent will burn out or resent you. Your “savings” from not paying them more will end up costing you more long term. You will run out of favors eventually and you will fail.

If you cannot handle giving people money, do not be an employer for a living.

Talent

Today, I am taking a break from our regular programming to announce the launch of our latest web series, Talent. For those who do not know, I currently produce and supervise post production for the New Media division of Alloy Entertainment. We have been charged with tackling large scale narrative form on the Internet.
 
Talent is our latest and greatest, little over four months of hard work in the can. We wrapped production in February and have been busy cutting ever since. Below, you can find Episode 1 of a ten episode series. New episodes will launch every Tuesday and Thursday for the next four weeks. Enjoy!