What. A. Blast.
One of the professional development goals I set for 2018 was to attend at least one voiceover industry conference. I set that goal a little too late to make VOAtlanta this year, and so I set my sights on the Mid-Atlantic Voiceover conference, which happened November 9-11, in Washington, DC.
MAVO is run by the indomitable Val Kelly, and she’s designs this conference intentionally as a smaller one to keep the conference itself and the sessions within it more intimate.
I can tell you she hit the mark. I came away with the feeling that I had truly had the time and space to meet and spend time with attendees and presenters. I made so many friends! I admit that I cry when the goldfish dies, but it was really emotional on Sunday when it was time to say our So Longs.
That said, my main goal was to learn. And that I did.
I signed up for one breakout session with promo legend Joe Cipriano. I’ve been following Joe’s career for the last 30 years, since I was an intern at 98 Rock in Baltimore in 1988 and used to see Joe Cip’s radio imaging classified ads in the back of Radio and Records magazine.
I could not have asked for more of a thrill. There were about 15 of us in Joe’s mini-master class, which was about 90 minutes. He started with an overview of TV promo work, what it is, how the sessions run, the pay, and the lingo.
Joe made sure that everyone got to do at least 1 read and at least 2-3 takes under his direction. And yes, I got to read and be directed by him, too. What a rush.
Mission accomplished. Hitting the timings to the SOTs on a TV promo and to be directed by a guy who’s done it all is a thrill I can’t describe.
Joe is even more impressive in person. He took time to speak to each and every person who approached him and his lovely wife Ann all weekend long. I said it in social media and it’s true: a more generous guy you’ll never meet.
Another big thrill was meeting Marc Scott, whom I’ve followed on Facebook for quite sometime. Marc is from outside of Toronto and runs a Facebook group called VOPreneur, which focuses on the business side of VO.
He presented on 5 essential business goals for every VO. I was super reassured to find out I had already put all 5 of them in place, but getting that confirmation was a shot in the arm.
He and his wife, Mary Ellen, could not have been nicer, and I look forward to chatting baseball and VO more online and when we meet again.
I can’t say enough about the quality of all the presenters. There was a nice cross section from just about every genre. The keynote speaker was the amazing Kari Walhgren…inspirational, practical, approachable, real, and funny. I’ve had a position where I was once responsible for programming professional speakers, and I was blown away.
Yes, MAVO checked the professional development box, the networking box, and the educational box, but I keep coming back to the people I met.
People like Brad Hyland, who first attended MAVO in 2016, and has since seen his career blossom, including a roles in his first animated movie. Brad is simply crushing it. His story is so inspirational for me and lots of others. And he could not be a nicer guy.
I made so many new friends, it’s impractical to list them all here. And that more than anything is what blew me away about MAVO.
All that said, MAVO starts with Val Kelly. In addition to being a voice actor, teacher, and dedicated Mom, Val pours her heart and soul into this conference. She has a little help, but not much, and she absolutely killed it. One testament to that is the number of people that I chatted with that had been to MAVO before and have come back, both attendees and presenters. That’s the proof in the pudding.
If you’re a voice actor and haven’t been to MAVO before, make plans now and I’ll see you in 2020.
To all my new friends, thank you for inspiring me. #getinspired