Moving Blog to Website!

For the foreseeable future, I’ll be moving my blogging to my website, www.goldentonsils.com.

While I’ll keep this address (who knows!), I’m trying to cut down the number of places on the web I have to manage for my Social Media presence.

Alan

 

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1st Anniversary!

he first year of my “retirement” from corporate software sales, and returning to pursue my “first career” of acting and voiceovers is coming to a close.  It’s been quite the learning experience.  I’ve taken lots of classes, attended plenty of workshop, started working with two coaches (one for audiobooks and another for “speech/voice”), and I’ll probably add another in the next month or two.  Progress has been slow but steady.  I’ve narrated 8 audiobooks, acted in a few student films, auditioned for a number of Equity productions (haven’t gotten anything yet!)… and have made less than $100 in the process!  :>)

Of course, I didn’t expect to negotiating for million dollar movie contracts right out of the gate (or for the foreseeable future), but that wasn’t the goal anyway.  I enjoyed the job I had at AvidXchange, and was happy to be part of the start of a company that is experiencing meteoric success—but it wasn’t “feeding me,” creatively, in a way that was satisfying.  When my dear friend, Jon Cavaluzzo passed away unexpectedly last year, that was the “wake up call” that it was time to move on.

So… here I am, at the start of “Year Two” of my new (old) career of being an Actor and Voiceover Talent.  I’m in the process of establishing my goals for the new year, so keep your eyes on this blog, but part of it will be focused on generating income.  Primarily, I expect that to be in the Voice Over arena, doing: audiobooks, eLearning and narration.  I joined the Audiobook Publishers Association this year, and plan to get more engaged in that industry.

More to come.

PS… while I’ll keep this site (it’s Free!), in the future I’ll be blogging from my website (www.goldentonsils.com).  Between my Website, Blogs (WordPress), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Soundcloud, Youtube… and more(!), I’ve got a social presence that crosses around 20 different sites!  It’s a full-time job just to keep up!  By consolidating my blogging to my website, that’s just two less locations (WordPress for Alan Sewell and Goldentonsils) I have to manage.

AlanSewell Social Media

“Stock Market Investing for Beginners”, Now on Audible

The “Market” is at an all-time high! Have you thought about trading stocks but didn’t know how to get started?

Take a listen to the audiobook I just narrated, “Stock Market Investing for Beginners” by James Harley.

StockMarketInvesting-Harley, James

Stock Market Investing For Beginners: Stock Market Investing for Beginners as Well as Experts Gives You the Tools to Start Investing Wisely and Successfully

2nd Improv Class – Think on your Feet!

Another class and another step forward toward freedom of expression!

On my train ride into New York for class I was reading the Upright Citizens Brigade workbook on Improv (yes, there is a book!).  Really interesting.

They have a phrase, “play at the top of your intelligence.”  By that they mean “emotional” and “social” intelligence.  Another way of saying it is to “understand how a real human being would react in a given situation”.  It is about “allowing yourself to have a true, honest emotional response… in the moment”

In Meisner Technique, this was given to us in another way as part of the initial definition of acting that Bill Esper taught us; to “behave truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”

A truthful reaction to some given situation is where the humor or pathos lives.  In improve, “trying” to be funny” is like putting your finger on the tuning fork after it’s struck.  It kills the natural vibration, which in a human context is the empathetic, vibrational response the audience feels in identifying with what’s happening.  This is true in Improv, but also in acting and voice overs (even golf!  This is a fundamental truth!  Allowing the “moment” to happen [or the “swing” to happen in the case of golf], confident that it is “enough”– without feeling the need to “add” something, or manipulate something, is one of the foundational, transcendent truths of Art, and Life.

Man, that was deep!  :>)

But seriously, having the courage to “let go” in all things: acting, voices overs, singing, golf– pretty much everything, is at the core of living life as an expression of personal creativity.

That was deep too!

Maybe I should just try and remember my lines and not bump into the furniture!  :>)

IMPROV 101, “Let the Games Begin!”

Yesterday, I took my first class in Improv 101 at the Upright Citizens Brigade in NYC.  The teacher for the class is Alexandra Dickson.  I like her.  She’s funny.

The class runs over 8 Tuesday’s from 3:30-6:30pm.  Yesterday we were just getting our “sea legs,” learning the basics of “long form” improv and trying to remember each other’s names.

At the end of the day, I don’t know if Improv is “my thing,” but that’s really not the point.  I’m there to “get out of my head” and be more spontaneous.  That’s the beauty of Improv… “thinking” doesn’t help.  You just have to react, in the moment, and trust that whatever comes out is OK.  The more “truthful” you are, the better (and generally, the funnier!).

I know this will help me in acting, but also behind the mic doing voice overs.  It’s all the same, responding in the moment, truthfully and fully, with no self-judgement.

One funny thing that happened there is that one of the other students in the class is someone I went to school with at Mason Gross in 1985.  She looked at me when we walked in and said, “I know you!”  She was Debbie Durkes back then.  A lot of water has flowed over the dam in the last 32 years for both of us, but we’ve both come back around to our first love… acting.

More to come.

My first Audio Book has been Published!

This has been a banner week in the life of Golden Tonsils! I’ve passed a milestone. My first book has been published on Amazon.com! The book is, “Ethics beyond the Law” by Pete Geissler.

It was quite the learning experience! One thing I learned is that I have to get a lot faster and better at narrating, basic audio processing, and editing. I have two other audiobooks that I’m starting to work on now. I won the contracts through audition. This first one was only an hour and 15 minutes long. The next two are over six hours each. Fortunately I found someone to work with to help. Her name is Amy Golan, and she runs a business in LA called Narrator Helper. She was recommended by George Whittam, Audio Engineer from Edge Studio. Amy does proofing, editing and mastering—and help me put together the first book. Even so, I estimate it took me more than six or seven hours at least to produce that one and a half hour audiobook. I don’t know this to be the case, but that strikes me as a lot! I did find, as I went along in the process, I did get faster and better. And, when Amy gave me edits, I recorded whole sections or sentences instead of just a short phrase like she requested. So, even there, I added time to my work. That said I still learned a lot! As I start the second book, I’m keeping meticulous track of my time at each step. I need to understand where the bottlenecks are.

One thing I’ve clearly identified is that I still have a sibilant “S.” Egad! Part of that is caused by the crowding of my teeth. My mouth is very narrow and I find that the back of my tongue has a hard time flattening out when articulating certain vowel and consonant combinations because it can quickly “fit between my teeth.”

There’s also a lot to learn, obviously, on the audio processing side. Both Amy and George have told me my audio gain is too low. When I boosted it seems like I get a low hum in the background I’ll have to ask George about that. I’m planning on having him set all of the settings for Adobe audition, for EQ and mastering.

Acting

In addition to the audio work, I’m taking a lot of workshops in acting again. I’ve done a few at the Red Bull Theater in NY. The focus mostly on Classical Theater. Great classes. I’m signed up for a few more in the future. One is a four day workshop on Checkov with Olympia Dukakis.

And I just completed an “on camera” workshop with Tim Phillips. That went well too. Got a lot out of it. George was recommended by Michelle Colt, but Kevin Kilner worked with him as well. Jordan talked about him too. The class had two parts: Sherlock Holmsing the Text (breaking down the scene) and “on camera” performance. Everyone brought in a scene they selected and Tim worked with everyone in the class. His assistant, Zillah Glory was the “reader.” The scene was a father apologizing to his son after the son’s announcement that he was marrying his gay lover. The scene was very heartfelt and apologetic. Zillah and I were both crying by the end. That’s not what I was expecting, but it just happened… mostly because of her “openness” as a Reader in the scene. Tim had us do it twice. He gave me an adjustment and filmed it again… which was even more powerful. I watched the scene afterwards, and for the first time on video/film, thought that the character I was looking at was believable. That’s a pretty big step forward after seeing some of the video classes I’ve done at Actor’s Connection! Technically, I could see myself moving around in the frame too much, and I had some “tension” in my mouth that I saw as a habitual behavior that I need to be aware of… but generally, I “left myself alone,” and what came out was very simple, truthful, honest and believable. Tim is coming back in November. I can’t make that one, but plan on going back for another session the next time he’s in NYC.

Peeking behind the curtain at the AAPC Conference

I recently attended a Regional Conference of the AAPC (American Association of Political ConAAPC Logosultants). I had signed up for a webinar the week before on doing Political Voice-Overs, and one of the participants in the webinar had talked about the AAPC as being a source of information and contacts. I checked out their website, and saw that there was a conference just about to happen in Philadelphia. So, I signed up.

It was interesting. It was a little smaller than I expected, maybe 80 or so political operatives in attendance. I mingled. I schmoozed. I networked, and met some really interesting people, some of which might lead to potential business doing political voice overs. But the most interesting thing was the experience of being there and hearing what the issues of interest were for people in that industry. It was sort of like peeking behind the scenes and seeing “how the sausage was made.”

The topics covered a range as wide as the” latest technologies in voter tracking and customized message delivery,” to how the Citizens United ruling was beginning to drive money down to even Municipal elections.

The speakers were all excellent, and a convivial group. Some of them were also Corporate Consultants to the largest companies in the world, and work on elections internationally as well. One thing I noticed, that emerged as a pattern as they each introduced themselves, was that they were by-and-large Partisan. They were either Democrats or Republicans. Left or right. There were a “few” that were somewhat agnostic, and didn’t seemed too concerned about which side of the fence they played. They reminded me of that parody song from many years ago from the political satirist, Tom Lehrer about Werner Von Braun (https:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V7me25aNtI), “Vonce ze rockets go up who cares vere zay come down. Zat’s not my department, says Werner Von Braun.” They saw themselves are hired guns.

The rest played for one team on the other. A number of them talked about getting into politics accidentally, and not being even sure of what “brand” they favored… but after a few weeks they realized, “I’m a Democrat, or Republican, or Liberal, or Conservative! One of the “hired guns” said, “at the end of the day, it’s all about winning… and I love to win!” I could see a few of the partisans on the panel shaking their heads. In response, one them said, “yes, it’s about winning… but I believe that there’s a social impact to what I do. That’s what I’m passionate about. Yes, it’s about winning, and on Election Day there’s an unambiguous outcome to your plans and strategies. But what winning means to me is that what I believe in has a chance to impact society.”

I found that message compelling. It resonated. I’m  a “Left of Center” Progressive Liberal. I couldn’t do a Voice Over for a Conservative that was promoting their voting record with the NRA (even though I own a couple of handguns), or railed against the “immigrant horde” or “gay agenda.” “Those” people are my friends. My family.

I believe in Single Payer Healthcare and cheap access to higher education. I think the banking meltdown a few years back was a criminal act, legalized by a cowardly congress that didn’t have the nerve to pursue indictments. I support legislation that funds programs that support the poor, and provides more opportunity for people to move up the economic ladder… even if that money comes from higher taxes on the wealthy.

Hmmm…. maybe part of this comes out of my experience of being a child of a single parent household… and the struggles I witnessed my mother go through after being widowed at 37 with me and my two sisters to care for.

OK you Leftist Democrats… if you need a strong, authoritative, trusted voice to sell your Agenda… call me! :>)