By Hannah Richardson
Sometimes a voice can make all the difference. This is especially true when it comes to commercials, radio and television announcements, audiobooks and more, all of which require a professional and commanding voice. When Andy Field found his passion in voiceover work a few years ago, he threw his heart and soul into it and it is now his fulltime job. He’s even recently created a home studio where he can record his projects more efficiently. Field, a former teacher, is also continuing to teach others when it comes to the field of voice acting.
Field, who is from Natchitoches and joined the Louisiana National Guard after graduating from Natchitoches Central High School in 1989, came back to live in the City of Lights around December. He spent 13 years in Mississippi and two years ago, the Army Reserve called him for active duty in El Paso, Texas. “We realized our kids are grown, where do we want to go?” said Field. Natchitoches was on the list of places to relocate and his wife wanted to be close to family. They closed on their current residence back at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. While his wife moved into the home in the summer, Andy got there in December. “I’m really glad to be home,” said Field. With Field’s line of work, he can continue his work as a voice actor as long as he has the right equipment. But how did he get into voice acting in the first place?
In 2013, he was teaching in Mississippi in the highest paid school district in the northern part of Mississippi, but it was still very poor. Field was still in the Army Reserve, driving for Uber on some weekends, and he and his wife, Kate, owned a tutoring business. “One day, I was in the kitchen and I was imitating a stadium announcer for the University of Mississippi and my wife just said ‘Oh my gosh, you should be an announcer!’ And I’ve always kind of entertained the idea that maybe I could do that as a side hustle,” he said.
During this time, there were several tutorials and resources on the Internet on how to make a career out of using your voice professionally. After spending time doing his research, Field told his wife he could possibly make a little money doing this, and she told him to go for it.
“I only had a microphone left over from when I was in a band in college. I had a computer for work,” said Field. “I joined this little website and I started recording. I bet I did 200 auditions that month and didn’t get anything. Then I realized, none of my gear was even working, I was just recording on the microphone plugged into a laptop. It took a few months and I finally got one little gig, then another one, and then another one. The next thing I know, I was making a couple of hundred dollars a month. As a teacher, that’s one of your bills.”
The gigs eventually led to bigger jobs, such as a character voice for the popular horror video game franchise Five Nights at Freddy’s. Then he was getting paid to attend Comic-Cons, or comic book conventions, and picking up more clients along the way. “Three years later, I thought my teaching job is getting in the way of my voice-over job. If I could have those 40 hours a week, what could I do to market myself?” said Field. In the voice-acting world, it’s not all Nike commercials and video games. A lot of it is for small video production firms, radio stations and even for car companies in areas such as Natchitoches. “All of those jobs can add up to an income, so I quit teaching in 2017, and I even hired a manger to help me,” said Field. He said leaving teaching was terrifying, but also liberating. “You don’t realize how much of your time is not yours when you’re a teacher.”
Field still loves interacting with children in his career as a voice actor. At conventions and online forums, they ask him questions about his upcoming projects and if he can give them details on their favorite games. “I do like it because I miss the kids from teaching so much,” he said. “Going to conventions and meeting them is so fun.” Although with conventions having been cancelled for the past year due to coronavirus, he can still communicate with fans online, and they come from all over the world since Five Nights at Freddy’s has such a large reach.
Field has offered his voice to so many video game companies, but he has also done commercials for small businesses, car dealerships, video firms, corporate narrations, an audiobook, restaurants and is also the voice for a law firm study guide called Quimbee. Field said the weirdest job he has had was recording positive affirmations in a calm, meditative voice for a man who just wanted to hear how attractive and fit he was while working out at the gym.
Field created his own office and booth space to ramp to the production quality of his voice overs- and it is located in his own home, above his garage. The area used to be just storage next to the attic and he decided to have it decked out for his career around August of last year. Field was still living in Texas, but he flew back and forth for the progress on his office and booth space. “I flew here so many times in 2020 that I got platinum status with America Airlines,” he said. He has a computer system with an audio interface in his office space, but down the hall leads to a soundproof booth for recording scripts. The double-walled, insulated room with a steel-clad exterior door is covered head to toe in soundproof foam and features colored lights, a desk with a microphone, double monitors and a doorbell for when his wife needs to call him downstairs.
On a day-to-day basis, Field usually starts by checking out current auditions and printing them out, then goes to record them. If he has any paid jobs from clients that need urgent attention, then he will focus on them first. He also spends time marketing himself on websites such as LinkedIn and making connections. Field will record several scripts, but it is up to the companies to decide if they will end up using it for their projects. He has several agents in the country who will send in auditions- one in LA even got him a callback for a Honey Nut Cheerios commercial. “Commercials, E-learning and video games- it’s all just acting,” said Field. “It’s telling a story, even if the story is a Labor Day sale on the Ford F-150. It still has to sound convincing and mean something, otherwise the listener just tunes out.”
Field said if anyone is serious about this line of work, you have to put 100 percent into it and that includes looking into a business coach. He also teaches a class for voice actors on Tuesday nights via Zoom about the business of voice-overs. The youngest that has taken the class was a fifth grader, but he has taught many high school students. “Some of them have took off with it and were killing it before they were 17-18. One of them was doing online learning before COVID and signed with an agent and was booking commercials and making money,” he said. “I’ve had students in their 60s. Some people take the class and realize it isn’t for them, but it’s money well spent. The student I had that had the most hustle just poured his time and money into it, and made $27,000 his first year and was recently in a Nike commercial with Michael Jordan in it as the announcer’s voice in the back ground.” Field also voiced a Nike commercial and was very excited for his student to be given a similar opportunity. Field says the bottom line is all about hustle. “You are self employed, you are a business. Comparing it to having a lawn mowing business, if you are not ‘finding people’s lawns to mow,’ then you’re not making money.”