COACHING RED FLAGS
There are a lot of voice-over classes and coaching scams out there, and some of them are rather convincing. But just because a self-proclaimed "VO teacher" has been in a few big titles, DOES NOT mean they are qualified to teach... Always do your research and ask long-time industry professionals before committing to a VO teacher. It could be detrimental to your career if you are being taught wrong or out-dated information, so be careful who you are learning from. Always consider their years of professional experience in the industry, how often they work each year, the number of major companies they do work for, etc... You can find a lot of this information on IMDb.com when searching for someone who specializes in character-based voice-over work, but make sure to always ask professionals before making a decision. Below is a list of red flags and tips to make sure you don't waste your money learning incorrect information from an amateur, or outdated information from an instructor who is without knowledge of the current voice-over market.
Red Flag 1. The information they give is not specific: There are many coaching platforms where companies bring in guest speakers to teach voice-over classes. It's not the platform itself that matters, but the instructors and their experience. If the website does not tell you WHO is teaching each class, that is a RED FLAG... Another piece of information that's important is what GENRE of voice-over the class is about; (animation, video games, anime dubbing, commercial, promo, narration, audiobooks, etc...). It's imperative that you know what the instructor's actual experience is in that specific genre of voice-over that they are teaching. You don't want to take an animation voice acting class with someone who's only expertise is in commercials. Having a few animation credits does not mean they are qualified to teach you.
Red Flag 2. If the studio or teacher includes a demo reel: This usually tends to be offered in group classes. Typically everyone in a group class is at different stages in their training, and not everyone is going to be ready to record a demo reel after just a few weeks of training. The demo reel "package deal" is sometimes just a way to bait people into thinking that they will save you money. But recording a demo before you're ready will only set you back and be a WASTE of money.
Red Flag 3. If they make false promises: If a teacher promises you a "lucrative career", it is a scam... Nobody can promise you work in this field. This is not a "get-rich-quick" business... Another subject that I feel ties in with this is "class completion certificates". Those certificates do NOTHING for your career. It's just a piece of paper with no power to propel you further in your career whatsoever.
Red Flag 4. If they don't have current work: If the instructor has not done work in the professional industry in the last 5 years, this could be a possible red flag. You need to learn from someone who continues to work and knows the current industry (whether as a professional voice actor, casting director, or voice director). You don't want to learn outdated information from someone who is out-of-the-loop. If you're learning from a voice actor who is barely booking for themselves, what makes you think they're going to help YOU book??
Red Flag 5. If the coach has only ever worked with a limited number of studios: You need to learn from a teacher who has the career that you want. It's better to learn from someone who has worked with VARIOUS major companies, rather than just one or two studios in one state. Always do your research and see what companies they have done work for (either as a voice actor, casting director, or voice director). If they have no in-studio experience, or if they have only worked for indie studios and have no experience working with major companies, then it's possible they have a limited idea of how this industry works. You don't want to learn from someone who has little to no knowledge of the professional industry or little experience working with major companies over the course of their career. (Although remote recording is an amazing opportunity for talent from all locations to book work, that does not make everyone qualified to be teaching on certain genres of voice-over if their experience is limited. Keep in mind that most character based voice-over work is recorded in-studio. We're all hoping that remote recording can eventually become the norm so that opportunities can be more accessible, but until then, this is where things stand in the character voice-over industry...)
Make sure you ask:
1. What VO market are they working in? (The US, Canada, the UK, etc...)
2. What genre of voice-over do they work in primarily? (Animation, video games, anime dubbing, commercial, promo, etc...)
3. How often do they work each year in the genre you want to pursue?
4. When was the last time they worked in the industry?
5. How long have they been working in the professional voice-over industry? (Disney, Nintendo, Square Enix, SEGA, etc...)
6. Does the coach genuinely seem invested in their students? (There is always the possibility that the teacher is just looking for side income to supplement a slow acting career. Their motivation matters)
If you are interested in voice-over coaching, click HERE for a list of vetted coaches.