Hugh and Peter have been busy boys, because the UK version of this conference ended last Sunday. Some of our colleagues are even attending both!
Because of COVID, these two conferences use a hybrid format. You can either attend in person or online. Most contributions will be available for viewing after the event has ended, thanks to the Reattendence virtual platform, developed and owned by Edwards.
TALKING ABOUT SEX
I’m a huge fan of voice over conferences, but whenever I write about them I get grief from people who’ve never been to one but think they know all about them. Between you and me, they sound like Catholic priests talking about premarital copulation.
Most armchair critics think these events are all about VO VIP’s peddling their coaching services and books to ignorant newcomers. They point at the vendor area where companies exhibit the latest voice over gear. Wow, that sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
Imagine, experts in the field teaching from years of experience, giving you nugget after nugget of actionable information you can’t pick up from a YouTube vid.
Imagine running into a casting director at the bar, and creating an instant connection you would never get by sending an unsolicited email.
Imagine making friends with colleagues who completely understand what you’re doing because they are doing it too!
Imagine being offered a nice conference discount on voice over equipment or services?
Or are my glasses too rose-colored? Am I too close to the organizers of these conferences, and have I completely lost my sense of impartiality?
MY UNDERCOVER INFORMANT
Well, maybe it’s time to let someone else do the talking. In fact, I know just the person.
In the late summer of 2019 I called my Dutch colleague Machteld van der Gaag, who happened to be on a ferry in Amsterdam. She still claims I talked her into signing up for the previous One Voice Conference in 2020, which was entirely online.
What can I say? I’m a voice over. It’s my job to talk people into things.
I’ll let Machteld take it from here. She just came back from the London conference. Full disclosure: Machteld wasn’t really my undercover agent. I asked her to write about the conference after it happened.
“I knew I had to jump through some hoops to get to OVC21, but it was worth every hoop!
After attending the online conference last year, I jumped for joy at hearing there would be an in-person conference this year. Alas without Paul. He usually walks around in clogs, so as the Dutch voice ambassador present, I adorned a Delft Blue dress. The other Dutchman around, V123 CEO Rolf Veldman, stood out just by being very, very tall.
I’ve just gotten home and am still dizzy with all the information I got, all the lovely people I met…
HUGS AND EXPECTATIONS
I had no idea what to expect. The nearest thing to an industry conference I came to, were several visits to the Lions ad festival in Cannes. Very big. A lot. A whole week. Long time ago. (In a past life, Machteld was a very successful copywriter, penning advertising slogans every Dutchman still knows by heart PS)
So, the fact that this was just 2.5 days already got the thumbs up from me. And London, where I lived from ’76-’81, was a bonus. Was I daunted about coming on my own? Not one bit. I knew there’d be more people coming alone – after all, we are a solitary bunch, so we’re used to showing up alone. Plus: I met quite a few voices online last year, knew their faces and got my first hug from Nic Redman within 2 minutes of walking into the bar.
So I dove right in, making sure I wore my Dutch name on my sweater, so people could start practicing how to pronounce it. Everybody passed with flying colors of course. Hey, they’re professionals, right?
Actually, the social part was amazing and felt so safe. You’d just go up to people and talking to each other is really easy, maybe because I was on my own.
MAKING AN IMPRESSION
I even got to chat with a lovely man on opening night. He was sitting at a table on his own, so I joined him. We had a lovely chat, about the Netherlands mostly. He turned out to be the keynote speaker for the next day. Okay. Still didn’t ring a bell. Only in the evening did I find out he was a very famous British comedian and impersonator, Rory Bremner.
(My English cousin was very jealous that I got to meet him, haha). I had no idea as a Dutchie (who left the UK in 1981) – so I guess I had the longest conversation ever with Rory Bremner using his own voice 😉 – the next day he had me in stitches with all his impersonations.
So, what about the serious stuff? You know, like learning new things? Asking really intelligent and clever questions? Taking notes that make sense later? Swapping business cards with VIV’s or VIA’s? (Very Important Voices & Very Important Agents) Well, I got to do all that too! Although I will say, as a Dutchie, I strategically chose my battles, my workshops, and my talks.
MOSTLY UK CENTRIC
I’d say about 70% of OVC London edition, is geared towards the English speaking market (mostly UK, some US) – but even that was interesting to me, as I could compare how things are done in different markets. As I operate in the Dutch, French, and International English market, there was still plenty, and I mean PLENTY of info to be gobbled up. In fact, more than I could handle.
From legal stuff (Marcus Hutton) about the EU Copyright Directive and Beijing Treaty to the (very polite) ‘battle’ of the online casting platforms, via learning about how agents operate and the latest news on TTS/AI… to name just a few highlights.
And I didn’t dive into any character building workshops, or SEO tips & tricks, or radio imaging, or promo stuff this time, as I thought I’d stay sane and limit myself. Meaning there is so much MORE that’s still waiting for me to rewatch or attend at a next conference.
The expo was great too. With a bonus of being able to book a StudioBricks booth for emergency recordings!
THE FINAL TAKE
I’ll just sum it up in a few words: as a Dutchie operating in international voice markets, OVC21 exceeded my expectations.
For me personally it’s been a very valuable investment, both in terms of contacts, work, and information.
I’m afraid where Paul had been a lone Dutch wolf at past conferences, he is likely to see more of us pop up at conferences to come.”
ONE VOICE USA STARTS NOW
Machteld, many thanks for being my fly on the walls of the DoubleTree Hotel in London! I cannot wait to see you and other Dutch colleagues at these conferences in the future. We should be easy to spot because the Dutch are the tallest people on the planet.
If you have been to One Voice UK, or you are at the One Voice USA conference, please share some of your impressions in the comment section. You’ll be helping your colleagues out in making a decision about going to a future conference or not. Thanks in advance!
PS Have you seen “The State of Voice Over survey 2021” that was just published? One of the things it reveals is how much a majority of voice overs really make per year. You’ll be astonished! Click here to watch a short video with a summary of the most important results.