Our yard has a lot of foliage. Trees, bushes, flowerbeds, a vegetable garden, the whole shebang. Our yard also has a large pile of brush that has accumulated over the five years we’ve lived here—or it did, I should say. Over the past few weeks, we’d begun to notice just how unruly our “little” brush pile had become. It was a serious eyesore, impossible not to notice when glancing out the window. Honestly, it looked like the mutated vegetal offspring of the Audrey II and a Sarlacc. Needless to say, we were sick of it and decided it was time to take action and clean house…er…yard. One of the nice…okay, not nice, but convenient things about living in Lesotho is that there are no laws against burning things on your property. A couple times a year the cemetery across the street from us is set ablaze to clear away weeds and pests, and we’re frequently gifted the succulent aroma of burning heaps of rubbish. Knowing we weren’t undertaking anything nearly as large or heinous, we figured burning one brush pile would be a piece of cake.
And we were absolutely right! I took precautions to clear away surrounding flammable materials and I thoroughly watered down the perimeter of the brush pile to ensure a controlled burn. A small spark added to the dried leaves, grass, and branches and I soon had a glorious inferno on my hands. I’d be lying if I said the little pyromaniac in me didn’t revel a bit at the fiery display. In addition to clearing out the unwanted brush, I was also able to dispose of some wood from an old fence that had been taking up space for years. Two birds. One stone. Beautiful.
As prepared as I was to monitor and manage the fire itself, there was an unexpected negative consequence that neither my wife nor I had accounted for. While it may be relatively simple to regulate a small fire, there is something that always accompanies the flames that is far more difficult to control. What might that be? Yeah, you guessed it. Smoke. The saying goes: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. In our case, we should’ve been more conscientious of the fact that where there’s fire, there’s smoke. And anything smoke touches inevitably smells like…right again! Smoke. And the wind, it can blow that smoke around pretty easily. And when the windows and doors of your home don’t exactly seal completely, the smoke can seep in and leave a lasting impression on… Just. About. Everything.
Now, instead of enjoying our brush-free yard and relishing in the memories of a lovely conflagration, we were looking up solutions to remove the smell of smoke and airing out the house like our lives depended on it—and it certainly felt like they did as we were breathing in that overpowering stench. In regards to managing a fire, I was five-by-five. When it came to managing the smoke, however, I was about as prepared as a grouchy lion prince planning fratricide in order to gain the throne. It all sounded good in the moment, but things quickly got out of hand.
He wasn't prepared...and neither was I.
In a lot of ways, jumping into voiceover as a complete newbie can be a bit like my brushfire experience. You can do lots of homework, plenty of research, and feel totally prepared for what’s to come. You take that leap and, while you may find yourself completely adequate at handling the pieces you planned for, you inexorably find there are just as many, if not more, parts you hadn’t considered beforehand. At best, maybe you discover that this whole voiceover thing isn’t for you or will simply take longer than you’d expected. Worst case scenario, though, you can end up digging yourself into holes that are nigh impossible to escape, ending your VO career before it even begins. You can’t be prepared for every possible outcome. If you tried, you’d never actually do anything. But in anything, there are rudimentary things to be aware of and prime yourself for. Fire yields smoke. It’s simple. It’s basic. It’s SO OBVIOUS! And yet, I overlooked it and now, as a result, I’m praying that the bowls of vinegar and lemongrass oil spread throughout my house will succeed in removing the smell of smoke from nearly every room. Take the time to learn the basics. Don’t rush into something and come out with a laundry list of regrets.
Simply getting connected with the incredible VO community, chatting with folks who have been honing their craft for a few years, will do wonders at helping you be prepared for what you may encounter as a voice artist. They can recommend who to coach with. They can tell you the importance of having a good demo. They can explain how to set your rates and act like a professional in this industry. They can help you avoid the cesspools of the internet where you might otherwise search for work—which can even get you blacklisted from scoring professional jobs later on if you’re not careful. Taking a moment to cover your bases and be as VO savvy as possible before making first impressions can make all the difference. Do your homework. Take your time. Be prepared. When you do, you’ll very likely avoid getting burned…or in my case, smoked! Until next time, friends, keep telling stories.
UPDATE: Since initially writing this post, we have managed to exterminate the smoky smell from our home without sustaining any damage or requiring professional help! I may need other types of professional help moving forward, but that's a topic for another day.
__________________________________________________________________________________ Are you in need of a quality voiceover for your next project? I'd love to help tell your story! Request a quote or check out my Demos. I look forward to working with you! Tyler Robbert Voiceover Artist | Storyteller email@example.com www.tylerrobbertvo.com Like what you read here? Looking for more ways to sate that hunger for VO-related content? Try checking out some of these other awesome blogs from within the VO community!