Categories
Uncategorized

Back to Work … 🍏

It’s that time of year again, the apples are falling from the tree, there’s a chill in the air, and kids across the land have been donning their uniforms for the obligatory pose in front of a door (our own included).

Yes… Summer’s done, and it’s back to school for the Littlest Voiceover and back to work for me.

After 6 weeks of flying solo, Ian is looking forward to me getting stuck back into the family business and helping out with his hefty workload. But I must admit, I’ve been struggling to get my head back in the game.

One thing that’s been distracting me has been apples. Because when I say the apples are falling from the tree, I really mean it, our little apple tree in the back garden has gone crazy, and when I walk out to the studio, every day I could make 4 family sized crumbles with the fruit that’s fallen and paves my way.

Whilst Ian thinks I’m back in the saddle, getting on top of the invoices and Q3 projections, 

I’m actually sitting here thinking about apples.

Now I like a good crumble, but I can’t eat 28 of them in a week. So I’m googling apple recipes (Apple Crunch sounds good). I’m sneaking out trying to give bag fulls away to neighbours and friends. I’m ordering tupperware for stewing and freezing them. I’m even considering giving some to Amber to take to school  (an apple for the teacher ? you can’t get away with that kind of sucking up these days. The only apples the teachers are seeing, are the electronic ones they’re confiscating). 

Truth is after 6 weeks of keeping a 6 year old entertained, I’m not ready to get straight back into it. 

I want some time to get the house clean, I want to sit and enjoy a cup of tea before it goes cold, I want to watch Netflix, I want to lie in bed eating biscuits. But I can’t, I’m indulging myself with a mindless morning of googling apple recipes and making the apple crunch, but then I have to get back into it. 

Because the Summer has been very busy for both of us, in very different ways.

While I’ve been fielding each day’s unanswerable questions en route to whatever activity we had arranged…

Why does a Manx cat not have a tail ?

Which planet is nearest to a black hole? 

What does infinity mean? 

What is gravity ? (something to do with an apple falling from a tree?)

What is gravy for ? 

Ian has been holed up in the studio. As well as making our regular podcasts, he’s been voicing radio commercials including national ads for Pets in a Pickle and CEF, he’s done an audio tour guide for Holker Hall in the Lake District, done in store commercials for ASDA, NISA & SPAR, and traversed the UK doing commentary for British Speedway Network. And alongside that he’s had to do all the back end work that I usually do.

We know we’re lucky that running our own business means I could dedicate that time to being with Amber in the holidays, but now I need to get back to work. 

So pushing the apples to the side (both literally and metaphorically), first on the agenda is to help promote the new Speedway podcast Ian is producing and featuring on, “Tatum Talks”  with British Speedway Legend, Kelvin Tatum. 

“How’s it doing?” I ask …  “It’s launched at number 2 on the Sports Chart”.  

“Which Sports Chart?” “Apple” he replies … 

Categories
Uncategorized

Client Spotlight – Northumbria University

We are proud to work with Northumbria University, producing their monthly podcast series, Why Small Business Matters. 

We work directly with Newcastle Business School’s Help to Grow Management delivery team, to deliver a podcast that is entertaining, engaging and inspiring to the local business community. 

Over the last year we’ve featured a wide range of guests on the podcast series, starting off with Oli Barrett – the most connected man in Britiain and the man who introduced speed networking to the UK, and this week’s instalment features Dame Tanni Grey Thompson, talking about safeguarding in sport, and the parallels between sport and business. 

We enjoy a great relationship with the team at Newcastle Business School, they are pro active and fresh thinkers, and we love working with them to bring those ideas to life. 

Recently one of the ideas that was floated was to celebrate a year of the podcast series, by filming it as a real time episode in front of a live audience, available in vision – as well as in the usual audio format. We worked together to make it happen. The iconic Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art was secured as the location, with the Tyne Bridge as the backdrop for the esteemed panel of local business leaders and entrepreneurs. 

We brought in expert videographers Exstream Media, who we already partner with on British Speedway Network, where Ian provides the commentary. A North East start-up themselves, they had the specialist equipment required and the expert skills to allow us to produce a slick TV production. We used multiple cameras to give us a selection of angles, all vision mixed live, meaning the whole show was able to be produced in real time in 1 take with no edits.

The panel put together by the team at Northumbria University’s Newcastle Business School were fantastic; Nick Downing Transformation Director at NPH Healthcare Group, Phil Robinson-Atley Operations Manager at Armstrong Direct, Kelly Maxwell founder of Kelly’s Heroes Private Tuition, Elaine Stroud CEO of the Entrepreneurs Forum and Reshma Begum North East of England Development Management for the Federation of Small Business. All expertly chaired by Caroline Theobald, CBE, Director of North East Initiative on Business Ethics (NIBE).

What followed was an hour of considered, thought provoking and inspiring content, showcasing the brilliant business community we have here in the North East, highlighting the Help To Grow Management programme provided by Northumbria University and the transformative impact it has had on the panel.

A close relationship with the client and thorough planning meant it all came together perfectly and delivered us a very happy client. Dr Matt Sutherland, Associate Professor in Marketing at the Faculty of Business and Law, Northumbria University gave us this feedback after the event … 

“Working with Ian is amazing, he has transformed the way we communicate with our customers and broader stakeholders. Over the last 12 months, we have worked closely with Ian and his team to establish, record and launch the ‘Why Small Business Matters’ podcast series. Without Ian’s help, none of this would have been possible.

More recently we recorded and filmed a live podcast event at the Baltic in Gateshead. Here, we drew upon Ian’s network and delivered a fantastic event that provided a novel and interactive platform for discussing issues important to our regions businesses. We look forward to working with Ian in the future and building upon the successes of this year”

You can watch this special edition podcast here

Listen to our podcast showreel here

 

And to get in touch, go to our contact page.

Categories
Uncategorized

The reality of running a family business

We love running a family business, and the freedom and flexibility it gives us. 

We all get up at 730, with no stressful commute on our itinerary. The Littlest Voiceover gets dropped off at school at 845. Then if we’re not up against it Ian and I might sit out on the patio and enjoy a cup to tea and some breakfast before we clock on.  

Ian then takes the 10 steps to his studio, and I’ll stay in the garden with the laptop on my knee if the weather’s kind, or I might even put my feet up and work from bed. 

At 3pm my laptop is shut and I’ll go get Amber from school, take her to whatever club or play date she’s got that night, or go to the beach for an ice cream. 

But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. 

There’s no off button. 

We’re self employed, and we work from home, Ian does the voiceovers, I do the admin side of things and the little one does voice over work too. And that’s it. If we don’t find the work, deliver the work, invoice and chase through to payment, then the bank is going to be empty come payday. 

No one is going to bail us out (no furlough or government assistance for us through a pandemic). There’s no guaranteed salary, no minimum earnings, no safety net, no security and nothing to fall back on. If we don’t feel well there’s no one to cover.

Deadlines are met, always, because if we lose a client, then we lose money.

So the boundaries get blurred. We may occasionally have leisurely eggs at 9am, but we’re often un-leisurely editing at 9pm. 

I’m writing this on Thursday morning with wet hair, because truthfully getting up at 730 isn’t enough time, and the inevitable bobble drama with the 5 year old meant I didn’t have time to shower before school drop off. And now we’re nearing the end of the month my hair is dripping on the laptop faster than the payments are dripping into the bank account. So I’m chasing up the unpaid invoices before I have breakfast. 

This evening, we’ll more likely be looking at client pitches than drinking pitchers because we rarely get chance to catch up during the day, with Ian usually in the studio in voice sessions.  

We’re just getting over the sleepless nights brought on by the tax bill that arrived with an extra zero than was expected. Unfortunately the taxman doesn’t scent his bill with the same fluid due date that seems to perfume some of the invoices that I send out. 

But we’re still exhausted, because last night Amber was up coughing all night. Cough cough cough, relentlessly.  Ian and I got about 2 hours sleep a piece. And today we are scheduled to record a video podcast with one of out clients at the Baltic. Amber thankfully bounced out of bed, and bounced off to school. But not as resilient at our age, Ian and I are drowning ourselves in coffee and hoping no one notices our eyebags hitting the floor.

Once all the voicing, editing, pitching and invoicing has been done, it doesn’t stop there, no cleaner will anonymously come in to clean up after hours. So I’m inevitably tripping up over Ambers toys and cleaning up cat sick as I’m answering clients calls. 

But sometimes there are quieter days and when we’re on top of things, we might sneak off and have a nice lunch. And we’re quick to react to any emergencies with no boss to ask for time off, like the time when Amber fell at school and bust her mouth or Tuesday afternoon when I was editing, a job that I enjoy but find hard… when I remembered that I promised Amber I would make her a guitar headband for ‘Rockstar Day’ at school on Wednesday. I hadn’t done it and wouldn’t have time Tuesday night. So Ian picked up the editing while I picked up the glue gun. Crisis averted.

And that’s it in a nutshell running a family  business, constantly finding yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place. But loving every second of it. 

Categories
Uncategorized

Managing a Child Voiceover

 Amber’s been a Child Voiceover for nearly a year now, and this is what we’ve learnt … 

1. GET YOUR DUCKS IN ORDER 

First of all, you have to get a license from the council before your child can do voiceovers, paid or unpaid. Our initial application was refused on the basis that we were requesting a 6 month blanket licence and the council had historically only issued licenses on a per job basis to child performers. But when we went back to the council and explained the fast paced nature of the voice over world, they were happy to listen and approved the blanket 6 month period. 

We keep a work diary for Amber, which details any time worked, which is a condition of the licence being granted. 

2. EXPECT SOME DUCKING AND DIVING

Amber fell at school the day of her first Voiceover job and we had to collect her from school with a bloody mouth, a fat lip, a wonky tooth and a lisp. You couldn’t make it up !

So the voice session was hastily swapped for an emergency trip to the dentist instead.

She was so excited to do the job she tried when she got back from the dentist, but 

her speech just wasn’t right. So we explained the circumstances to the client and they were happy to wait a few days. 

These things are going to happen when you’re dealing with children and you’ve got to be flexible. 

A fall might stop the production of a voice-over …but not the consumption of an apple-turnover.

3. MAKE SURE IT’S ALL WATER OFF A DUCK’S BACK

Always spend time getting them ready and comfortable for the session. We warm up before doing silly voices and pulling faces to loosen up the face and voice, above all else make it fun. And of course lots of water to get the best possible articulation and clarity from your child’s voice.

4. DUCK FOR COVER

A 5 year old knows best. (Or at least they think they do !)

“I know what I’m doing Daddy” 

“Stop telling me what to do” … 

… the unscripted words ringing out of Amber’s mouth in this week’s session.

As her confidence grows, and now that she can read the script herself without Daddy’s help she wants to be in charge ! Above all else the session needs to be fun, for your child to be interested and for the client to get a good delivery. Let them take some responsibility and play about with it. If it’s not going in the right direction, praise them for what they’ve done and try suggesting a different way. If it’s not happening don’t force it. Try again the next day, at a different time. Before school can be a great time to catch them, fresh and maybe a bit more open to direction.

5. AND HOPEFULLY THEY’LL TAKE TO IT LIKE A DUCK TO WATER… 

Amber is really confident and relaxed in the studio because she’s hung out in there with her Dad, and watched him work as a VoiceOver since she was a baby. So to be in front of the mic feels natural to her. She’s recorded made up stories, played about with mic settings and voice effects and had fun in the studio long before she became a voice over. 

When she was 4 she was actively saying she wanted to be a Voiceover like Daddy, and so we took the lead from her. She’ll only do it as long as she is interested and enjoys it. 

We tell her what the jobs pay and let her buy treats with her own money, she can’t wait to get in the studio and get to it when she hears about the money on the table (it’s usually shoes she wants, so she doesn’t take after her Dad 100% 😂).

And here’s Amber’s latest venture into the voice over world … Quack Quack 🦆

Categories
Uncategorized

Winner !

So ….. 

Awards night happened. Nominated for Best Radio Commercial, Male Voiceover Artist of the Year, and Best Outtake at the One Voice Awards, Ian was pipped at the post for the first two, but was fourth time victorious, in the best outtake category. 

Here he is in all his winning glory, completely unable to deliver the line “Thank you for calling Incontinance Supermarket … please hold 

Ian Brannan the undisputed King of the Cock Up. 

If you’re consistently winning awards for laughing and enjoying your work, then that is no bad thing in my eyes. 

Meanwhile, whilst Ian was living the high life in the Big Smoke, enjoying 3 course meals at The Hilton, the Littlest Voiceover and I enjoyed a picnic in the field nearby our house. A field in which she got stung by a nettle within her first few steps on the grass. 

The ensuing screams would have been more at home on a battle-field than a picnic-field. 

The much looked forward to picnic was subsequently consumed via a wobbly lip and accompanied by a hastily found and administered doc leaf to the foot. It also had to be enjoyed in character. Amber is 5, and loves a bit of role play, I was barely allowed to break character all weekend. If I tried I was hastily reminded, “no you’re not Mammy, you’re Anna remember !” Amber of course was Elsa. Frozen is having a renaissance, after Encanto briefly reigned supreme, it’s all change and we’re back to the old frosty favourite. However, I have to report there’s only so much Frozen role play a woman in her 40’s can endure.

Administering a doc leaf, asking what she wants for Breakfast, wrapping a birthday present, Facetiming with Daddy (Olaf!), requesting she tidies away the shoes she (Elsa!) has scattered across the house (Arendelle), all has to be done in the style of a Disney Princess, faux American accent et al. That is, if it’s to be done without complaint or resistance. 48 hours of relentless Elsa and Anna role play … surely it’s me that deserves an award ! 

The Incontinence King was due home Sunday afternoon, and we were onto the millionth re-enactment of Elsa’s ascent up the North mountain, the littlest Voiceover strangling her vocal cords belting out Let it Goooooooooo, when I spotted Ian’s car, I was thrilled. Thrilled he was home after being away from home most of the week with Speedway & the One Voice Awards …. But mostly thrilled that “Olaf” could now shoulder some of the role play burden. 

And so Anna ran off for a quiet bath, whilst Elsa bossed around a tired and emotional Olaf, who just wanted to sit down and enjoy a warm hug. 

So if you’re looking for a voice over this week, we’re now specialising in a northern male voice who can’t hold it in, and a child voice over who just wants to Let it Go. 

Categories
Uncategorized

Award Nominations … and the hunt for a new dinner jacket !

We’re very proud of Ian for being nominated for 3 One Voice Awards. It’s the UK’s largest Voiceover Awards, with 3600 entries received this year. Ian has had nods in the Best Radio Commercial category, Male Voiceover Artist of the Year and Best Outtake. 

He has form in the best outtake category, famously struggling to deliver lines for the following in previous years … 

The Cock Inn

Cwm Farm Charcuterie

Sandy Balls Holiday Park

And this year he’s nominated once more, for “The Incontinence Supermarket” and their on hold marketing’s request for customers to “Please hold …. “

It’s the awards ceremony next Saturday and he needs a new dinner jacket. So we decided to have a Bank Holiday trip to Newcastle, and take the Littlest Voiceover with us to help pick out his new glad rags. 

Not a good plan. The 5 year old INSISTED that a pink linen suit (with shorts combo) was the right look for this auspicious occasion. We promptly abandoned the suit shopping with Ian stating  “Ibizan mid life crisis is not the look I’m going for”. 

So we tried again when Amber was at school, obviously in a more flamboyant mood this time he surprisingly announces en route … “I’m not closed off to the idea of crushed velvet”

I drilled down into this, and discovered it’s actually UN-crushed velvet he’s open to, which still seems a tall order for our local shopping centre, 5 mins down the road. 

But as serendipity would have it, the first shop we walk into has a rainbow selection of velvet dinner jackets, in bottle green, midnight blue, milk tray man black, scarlet red and party purple. Unfortunately they only had his size in the scarlet red, so that was reluctantly tried on to check the fit. 

The jacket hunt now looks like a fox hunt.

It’s a touch roomy, and “Master of foxhounds” even less the desired look for the occasion.

He tried on his preferred midnight blue in the smaller size, it fit … but only just. Unbuttoned was fine, buttoned was borderline ok, pre 3 course meal. They offered to order it in the next size up, but couldn’t guarantee it would arrive in time. So a slightly small, mighnight blue, velvet, dinner jacket is now hanging in the wardrobe awaiting awards night.   

Amber and I will be home in our pyjamas next Saturday, while Ian slips into his new jacket, and finds out if he’ll be bringing home any silverware. 

We’ll be cheering him on in all his nominated categories, Male Voiceover Artist of the Year, Best Radio Commercial, and, of course, Best Outtake, and whilst he may struggle to urge those incontinence sufferers to “please hold”, we’ll have everything crossed that on the night he can hold it together, hold his head high and hold it in !

 

Categories
Uncategorized

Working with Covid

Covid 19 finally got us !

It started with the Littlest Voiceover. 

Ian was out for the evening, commentating on British Speedway Network. 5 minutes before bedtime, the five year old spoke the doom-laden words… “I feel sick”. 

I try to brush it under the carpet, “go to sleep now, and I’m sure you’ll feel better in the morn…” 

Nope. 

I saw the panic in her eyes, and the sick was no longer under the proverbial carpet, it was very much ON the carpet.

As Ian was elsewhere in the country shouting about the high speed action at the speedway track, I was trying to calm Amber, whilst also changing her pyjamas & bedding and scrubbing the carpet. Thinking that’s strange, this sick has no smell … 

Ian returned from the Speedway past midnight to carnage. 

He was greeted in the hallway by a 5ft teddy bear covered in luminous pink vomit.

Said bear having been abandoned en route to the washing machine because the next wave arrived quicker than the dash to the kitchen. Likewise there was abandoned sheets, bedding and pyjamas strewn across the now treacherous path to the washing machine because the waves kept coming, and they were relentless. 

One minute he was on TV screens across the world, the next he was up to his armpits in vomit. The glamorous life of a self employed voice over. 

I tried telling him of my surprise that this vomit does not have a smell, but he was too busy vomiting on top of the vomit to listen. His vomit also gloriously anosmiatic to my nostrils.

Over the next week one by one we all got the 2 lines of doom come up on the lateral flows. Amber first, then Ian a few days later, and a few days later mine – though the odourless vomit foretold of its inevitability. 

We were all poorly with it, gastro symptoms first, followed by the ubiquitous covid cough. Ian and I have both had 2 jabs and a booster, and whilst unwell our symptoms were thankfully manageable at home for all of us. 

But there’s no ringing in sick for us. Being self employed means no work = no money, so we had to muddle through the best we could. Triple vaxxed met triple vexed. 

With a poorly 5 year old who needed her Mam, followed by an isolating but hyper 5 year old I had my hands full. So Ian was having to do all the off mic work I usually do, as well as the voice work. 

Who had it worse is difficult to say, looking after a 5 year old whilst feeling ill yourself is its own brand of hell. But doubling your workload and having to juggle it with running to the loo every 5 minutes and coughing non stop, was certainly a challenging set of circumstances for a professional voice over. 

It’s fair to say that there was more washing got done than working. But we’re out the other side of it now. 

The long awaited joy of the one line LFTs, meant we finally managed to get out of the house the second week of the Easter holidays.

Amber’s Encanto obsession is at a new level, having watched it approximately 1 gazillion times. Any voice overs that require a child singing “we don’t talk about Bruno” … she is definitely your girl ! 

Ian managed to make it through a hastily re-arranged remote commentary, swapping his usual VO mic for a lip mic to disguise the coughing, and he even got away without having to use the emergency bucket shamefully positioned in the corner of the studio. 

And after swapping invoices and presentations, for convalescing and crafts, I’m catching up with the backlog now with the Littlest Voiceover back to school. Ian is safely ensconced in the studio producing podcasts without the danger of vomiting (or worse) hanging over him. 

The only reminder of our covid experience being the stubborn refusal of my sense of smell to return. So it’s all systems go – if you need a Northern Male Voiceover or a Child Voiceover with an Encanto obsession give us a shout, and we’d be delighted to work with you. 

We’ve defeated the ‘rona, and it would be time to sit back and enjoy the sweet smell of victory … but well, I still can’t smell anything 👃🏻🤪

Categories
Uncategorized

Ian goes full throttle with a new job and a new microphone !

A new streaming service launches this weekend, with award winning voiceover and Speedway Superfan Ian Brannan as lead commentator.
Ian is delighted to be part of the commentary team on the new live streaming service, British Speedway Network, when the tapes go up this weekend!
A life long speedway fan, Ian grew up as a fan of Halifax and Bradford through the 80’s and 90’s, but now gets to bring the future of speedway viewing to fans all over the world.
British Speedway Network will bring over 30 matches from British Speedway’s 2nd tier ‘The Championship’, live or on demand across the season. Ian is proud to be providing the commentary alongside Great Britain (and Speedway of Nations World Champion) joint Team Manager Olly Allen
Across the season Ian and the team will visit all 11 championship clubs, and if you can’t be there, you’ll still feel a part of it as BSN brings you all the latest news and interviews, all the action from the track and latest updates from the pits.
There will also be additional insight for fans with recently retired rider Paul Bowen sharing his track knowledge and the key areas & angles riders will be looking to exploit in order to gain an advantage. Paul will also be joined by Hayley Bromley in the pits to bring rider and manager interviews throughout the meeting.
It starts from 630pm this Saturday, with Ian and the team bringing you all the drama, the thrills and spills, as Berwick Bandits take on Birmingham Brummies. And there’s some exciting battles expected with Berwick providing the biggest track in British league speedway, with 2 British Champions going head to head as Chris Harris and Adam Ellis  make their first league appearances for their new clubs.
If you want to watch this season’s top meetings from the British Speedway Championship, and hear Ian’s dulcet tones bringing it all to life in your living room (or wherever you choose to watch it !) visit British Speedway Network on line to subscribe.