I spent years producing these wizards of breath. Here’s one story.
Denizens of the Voiceover Booth
This is a story of a city night in late October, years ago now, and a time of particular pleasure, brought by the best work. Selling pizza, or beer, or burgers, or perhaps a train trip. I do not remember which, and it doesn’t matter.
What does matter is the location, a recording studio in midtown Manhattan, and the people, engineers and producers and the stars of the show, the corp of actors, both women and men that made up the professional ranks of the VoiceOvers.
Close your eyes.
The important instruction in these stories, because this is a world often grandly, perhaps unfairly weighted by cliché, called Theater of the Mind. It takes place beyond the eye, so to say, beyond every physical thing, in a world forged in inner imagination, dreams almost. I mean, it is a boundless world and one I’ve always had an affinity for.
Our story of this night begins in the most mundane of places; a commuter train to New Jersey, the car stale and pale in the florescent air.
A man sits on the train. I don’t mean to peg this story to a man. It could have been a woman, and these days gender being utmost in our minds, I suppose, I best revert to the pronoun of ‘them.’
They sit on a train; they are tired; they lean back into the chair exhausted. A day in the city is exhausting. The traffic. The noise. The dense air. It wears a body down.
They lay their head back into the seat and closes their eyes. Forty minutes on the train and they’re home. A home built by the spoken word. Imagine such a thing. It is possible. I’ve sat and had fine dinners in many such homes. The world of voiceovers is a place to earn. It is a place of commerce.
The train car is quiet, that pre-roll sort of quiet. Soon the doors will close the train will begin a clakety roll home. In that muted linoleum quiet, their cell phone rings.
Can you come back? You’re needed.
They have been doing this for years, before the age of phonic mobility. The thrill is still there.