Building a career as a voice actor or director may be a daunting task. Given that the media industry is insanely competitive, opportunities may seem scarce, and it may be hard to stand out from the crowd.
Chuck Hüber is an actor, director and script-writer at FUNimation (USA), has endured difficulties in his career, and has overcome is challenges with flying colours. Having worked several notable projects, such as Yu Yu Hakusho, Soul Eater, and Dragon Ball Z, Chuck shares his top three tips about staying in the game.
Tip 1: Network with your Clients
Balancing Multiple Opportunities and Searching for New Jobs
According to Chuck, FUNimation’s employees include in-house employees, who are employed by the company on a full-time basis, and contract directors, whose employment lasts for a certain duration.
Prominent companies in the media industry – such as Industrial Light Magic (ILM), which has completed visual effects for Bumblebee, Rogue One, and Strange Magic – follow a similar model.
Although this model provides safety for full-time employees, Chuck admits that contract directors must balance multiple jobs, and are constantly searching for more employment opportunities.
“The challenge is always the next job.” Chuck explains. “Full-time FUNimation employees have a bit more stability, but contract directors and actors work many jobs at once. They’re always figuring out ways to make ends meet.”
Networking to Find Opportunities
In order to increase an individual’s chances of securing employment, Chuck recommends developing relationships with a studio’s business partners.
In the media industry, many post-production studios rely on their repeated clients as a constant source of work, and many of these clients may be content creators in foreign countries. Similarly, FUNimation dubs and distributes Japanese projects to an American audience, and its directors must ensure that they maintain good relationships with their clients and collaborators.
In order to foster strong relationships between voice actors and their clients, Chuck advises voice actors to be honest with their collaborators. This may be done by communicating an individual’s strengths and weaknesses – practicing honest, open communication allows clients to align an employee’s strengths with their projects, whilst implementing strategies to overcome their weaknesses.
“Being kind and honest is extremely important.” Chuck advises. “In order to foster a good collaboration with your partners, and ensure that your product is the best that it can be, you must be truthful. However, you have to be able to do tell the truth in a way that is acceptable.”
Chuck also suggests the following ways to network within your industry:
Tip 2: Develop your Skills
Amongst many other things, being an actor or director requires ability and persistence. In Chuck’s opinion, you should continuously develop your skills, as well as dedication for your craft.
“You should take acting classes to be sure that you want to pursue a career as a voice actor or director.” He suggests.
Not only would attending practical courses will enable you to build your skills, but they may allow you to network with industry professionals.
By taking classes that are hosted by professional voice actors and/or directors, you would be able to acquire the contact details of industry professionals, which may translate into future opportunities for collaboration or employment.
You may also conduct your own research on studios that you may be interested in working with in the future. In order to educate yourself, you may read articles or attend seminars that allow you to understand the responsibilities of each position, and the skills that are required to fulfil these duties.
For instance, FUNimation, one of America’s most prominent audio post-production studios, dubs and distributes Japanese content for an international audience. According to Chuck, it “take[s] beautiful multimedia projects that Japanese creators have produced, and use our voices to make them accessible to American audiences.”
According to Chuck, his role as one of FUNimation’s ADR Directors requires technical and creative skill, which would enable him to shape the artistic vision of a project, and understand a project’s cultural elements.
“FUNimation’s directors oversee the project’s writing to make sure that it makes sense culturally to an American audience. At the same time, we have to make sure that the project’s Japanese references are as correct as possible.” Chuck explains.
Tip 3: Put Yourself Out There
Move to Entertainment Hotspots
Proximity is also an important factor to starting your professional career. According to Chuck, you should be as close as possible to where work is available, and he advises aspiring professionals to move to where shows are produced.
“You also have to live in the cities where [audio-visual, multimedia] shows are being made.” Chuck explains. “In America, most shows are created in Dallas, LA, New York and Chicago.”
If you aren’t able to move to these entertainment hotspots, technology has made several opportunities accessible for you. You may always find openings by scrolling through message boards, contacting agencies that may represent you, or communicate directly with companies that you’d like to work for.
Digital opportunities, such as online competitions or giveaways, may also allow you to catch the attention of industry professionals. For instance, Chuck’s Now Voice This competition allows aspiring voice actors to challenge their skills, and gives its winner a bit-role in FUNimation’s shows.
If you’re worried about the credibility of these opportunities, you may always contact your friends within the industry for a second opinion, review their ‘About’ page to ensure that their activities are legit, or refer to reputable third-party sites for external reviews about the organisation.