Tips For Interviewing Voice Actors Jun 17, 2018 22:23:55 GMT -8 Rebekah Amber Clark and benedict like this
Post by LadyStardust on Jun 17, 2018 22:23:55 GMT -8
So, you're trying to get your podcast or online show off the ground, and you want to interview some voice actors. Great! But remember, being prepared and being professional go a long way towards building a good rapport with your guests and getting new potential guests on your show. Ideally, an interview should be mutually beneficial---you get an interesting guest to chat with on your show, and the actor gets publicity for their work. Interviews should be fun, of course! But if an interviewer doesn't treat it seriously and in an organized manner, the actor can end up feeling like...well, like they're working for free for an hour.
As someone who's done probably hundreds of podcast interviews over the years at this point (and am currently in the process of trying to cut down), here are some tips and things to keep in mind to have the best experience getting actors to come on your show...and to enjoy being on it, too.
In the initial e-mail…
Introduce yourself and your show.
Don’t just say “Do you want to be on my podcast?” That doesn’t really give the guest any information or incentive to say yes. Mention the name of your podcast or publication, where it will be distributed, and give them any supporting links (such as YouTube, Soundcloud, or Twitter) so they can check out your previous episodes, past guests, and following. If your following is still very small and you don’t have much experience interviewing yet, you may not want to aim too high for starting with big-name guests until you’ve built up your show and network a bit.
Briefly mention why you reached out to this guest specifically.
If your interview request feels like a form letter that was just sent to a whole bunch of actors hoping that one of them will say yes, it doesn’t feel personal. Don’t suck up, but give them a reason why you want THEM on your show (for example: “After hearing your work in game X and game Y, I thought it would be interesting to hear about your experience working in the visual novel sphere and where you hope to see yourself in the future.”)
Keep it short.
While you want to include enough information for the guest to be able to decide if they’re interested or not, avoid writing a whole novel that they won’t have time to read and respond to. Briefly introduce yourself and your show, tell the guest why you’d like to have them on, and the timeframe you’re thinking of. (The more you’re able to work around the guest’s schedule, the better your chances of finding a time that works for both of you.)
Don’t take a “no” personally.
Some actors just don’t like doing interviews or don’t feel comfortable doing them. Sometimes they’re too busy working and want to spend the little free time they have with their families or on hobbies. Maybe they have too many interview requests they’ve said yes to already. For very prolific actors, perhaps your show simply doesn’t have a big enough following yet to be worth taking an hour or more out of their day to answer questions for you that they’ve probably already answered a million times before. That sounds harsh, but chances are it’s nothing to do with you, so don’t feel bad. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad interviewer or that your show is boring or that you’re a nobody, it just means that for whatever reason, this particular person isn’t able to be on your show. That’s okay! There are plenty of others out there you can try asking.
If you don’t get a response, follow up once—-then be prepared to move on.
A follow-up is okay in the sense that it’s easy for interview e-mails to get buried in inboxes, missed, or forgotten about—-even if the guest saw it and meant to respond to it at a later date. Wait a couple of weeks and respond to your original e-mail just saying you wanted to make sure they saw it and wanted to see if they’d be available anytime soon. If they still don’t respond, take it as a “no” and look into other guests you might like to interview. Continually hounding people will only annoy them. You can always try reaching out to them again in the following year or two once your show has gained more traction.
Before the interview…
Know at least a little about what the actor has done and what their biggest roles are. Some actors may be very outgoing and have no problems going off on tangents for days, but others may be shy or less experienced with publicity appearances, so you can’t rely on them to carry the whole show for you.
Have your questions ready in advance.
Be aware that some actors will want to see your list of proposed questions before agreeing to an interview. Having questions prepared can also make the interview flow more smoothly and minimize awkward pauses (a host who has to constantly hem and haw trying to think of the next question is a marked sign of unpreparedness). Some hosts like to give listeners the opportunity to send in questions as well, so give the guest a heads-up if that will be happening in case there’s anything they’d prefer to avoid answering.
Be unique and creative with your questions.
Every actor on virtually every Q&A ever has answered “How did you get started in voice acting?” a thousand times over at this point. Most of them are sick of this question as it feels like beating a dead horse and this information can be found easily online. If you ask the actors the same exact thing everyone else has already asked them on other podcasts, there isn’t really anything that makes yours unique at that point or gives people a reason to listen. Come up with more interesting twists on your questions, or even ask them about something unrelated to work!
If planned more than a week in advance, send a confirmation the day before or the day of.
This ensures that there are no sudden surprises with a mistaken day or time or someone forgetting. Be sure to include the TIME ZONE in your e-mail as well. If you just say “6 pm”, for example, but your guest is on Pacific time and you’re on Eastern time and they don’t know that, you don’t want to be logging on at what would be 3 pm their time and sending an angry e-mail asking why they’re not there. (Limit to a single reminder, by the way—-messaging them every day asking them to reconfirm is unnecessary and obnoxious.)
Understand that scheduling conflicts may come up.
While actors will generally make every effort to let you know as soon as possible if they can’t make the interview, please understand that the nature of the voice acting field is very last-minute. We can schedule an interview a week out, for example, and then a client will e-mail a couple days later wanting to book a session during that time frame. Please understand that anything we are actually getting paid for MUST take priority. In the majority of cases, we cannot make our paid work clients schedule us around an unpaid interview. If you want to minimize the chances of having to reschedule, evenings and weekends may be a good option. If your show is done live at a set time each week to where rescheduling would be a huge problem, let your guest know this so they can plan accordingly (and potentially have a backup plan just in case.)
Do your best to minimize technical difficulties.
Log on a little early to make sure that your connection and equipment are stable and working properly, and that you’re able to record everything on your end (test it out beforehand if need be.)
During the interview…
Introduce your guest.
This is where being prepared comes in handy. Suddenly asking actors to do their own self-intro when they’re live can send them into a minor panic because they have to scramble to come up with something then and there. You can always ask in the email if there’s any specific roles or other info they’d like you to mention when you do your introduction. (And if, for some reason, you’re not sure how to pronounce the guest’s name properly… ask them before you go live so that you can avoid an embarrassing situation of them having to correct you.)
Record everything on your end.
You should have everything set up and ready to go on your end that can capture both what you and the guest are saying in real-time. Don’t try to make the guest record everything they’re saying on their end and then attempt to send you a huge file when it’s all done…that’s rather archaic and too much of a hassle. Know how to record audio from a Skype or Discord call before you do the interview.
This goes for both you and your friends/co-hosts that you have on the show with you. Avoid being too much of a fanboy/fangirl—-this is, in a sense, a work engagement! Note that professional doesn’t necessarily mean formal. Be casual, be yourself, have fun! But you don’t want to make the guest feel uncomfortable by continually gushing over them and putting them up on too much of a pedestal. Think of it more like taking a friend out to coffee and chatting with them about life and work.
Avoid saying or asking things that might make the actors look bad.
You might happen to know an embarrassing “blackmail” story about something dumb the actor did ten years ago, but unless you know ahead of time that they’re OK with discussing that, bringing up actors’ (non-work-related) past can create an awkward situation. Remember that anyone who is in the public eye even on a very small scale has to be conscious of their image these days and they may not wish for others to perceive them as the same person they were back in their very early days.
Understand that there are certain things actors can’t talk about.
Most actors have non-disclosure agreements that prohibit them from talking about upcoming things they’re working on or whether a certain game is getting additional content or a show is getting another season… and half the time, we don’t know any more than you do in regards to what’s happening on the development side! Don’t ask how much they got paid for a project or what their union status is or try to get them to badmouth other people they've worked with.
Keep an eye on the time.
If you told your guest in the e-mail that the expected time commitment would be about an hour, don’t keep them for two hours! Chances are they have other plans scheduled for after the interview, but they can’t exactly ask on-air when exactly you plan on wrapping things up. It can be easy to get carried away in conversation, but consider asking them ahead of time if they have a “hard out” (a specific time they need to be finished by) so that you don't hold things up.
After the interview…
Edit as needed.
Assuming it was a prerecorded interview, it may be good to edit out any mishaps, flubs, or awkward moments. A polished interview will look good for both you AND your guest!
Don’t expect your guest to put you in contact with other castmates or people in their industry.
Do your own research and find the contact info for that person—-most of the time their e-mail is available on their website, or you can even try reaching out to them through social media. If you can’t find anything, you can always try asking your guest, “Hey, I notice you’ve worked with John Doe on a few projects and I was hoping to have him on the show. Do you have an idea of the best way to get in contact with him?” They may be willing to pass along the person’s email for you or know the social media account they check most often. But just saying “Hey, you’re friends with John Doe. Can you ask him to be on my podcast too?” comes across as a bit rude and puts them on the spot.
Link them to (or tag their public accounts in) the finished interview when it’s done, but don’t pressure them into sharing it.
Most people won’t mind giving a quick retweet or share if they’re tagged in something they did, but if they don’t, please don’t hound them about it. They may have specific things they prefer to post about, or maybe they’re not thrilled about how they came across in the interview or feel like they accidentally said something that maybe they shouldn’t have. It’s okay to say in your email, “Here’s a link to the interview we did earlier this month. I tagged you on Twitter—-if you’d like to RT, it would help me out a lot!” But don’t continue to beg them to share it or ask them why they didn’t; it comes off as tacky and desperate.
Don’t expect them to be available to chat afterwards.
Assuming you don’t already know the guest personally, having done an interview with them doesn’t suddenly mean they are a friend you can hit up anytime for a chat. An interview is generally still a business transaction, so if the guest gives you their personal info such as a Skype name, Discord ID, or especially a phone number, please remember that they gave you this information for the explicit purpose of conducting the interview, and it shouldn’t be used for non-work-related purposes.
Sample of a good proposal e-mail (but remember, make it your own!)
My name is Jane Doe and I run a podcast called "Inside Voices" which airs weekly on YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud. We are currently an up-and-coming show with about 5,000 subscribers on our channel, but please feel free to check us out here (link) to see interviews with a few of our past guests, including your colleagues Mary Smith and Ryan Jones. I am reaching out to you because I've been following your work on Twitter for some time now and feel like our listeners would be interested to hear about your unique path to success.
Should you be interested, we'd like to have you for an hour of your time on Skype or Discord for a prerecorded interview. We typically record on Wednesday or Friday evenings, but if those don't work for you, let me know and we can make alternate arrangements. Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
I realize this list may seem intimidating, but remember that none of these are hard and fast rules, just guidelines to help you interview like a pro. Above all, have fun and be prepared, but also be yourself! (And if you found this guide helpful, please consider buying me a coffee.)