On March 18 and 19, the SAG-AFTRA Conservatory was visited by Sean Pratt (SAG-AFTRA/AEA), a working actor for three decades. Pratt was a company member of the Pearl Theatre, an off-Broadway classical repertory theater, and he has appeared in motion pictures and television shows. For the past 21 years, Pratt has also recorded more than 900 audiobooks in just about every genre but he didn’t just fall into it.
“Narrating audiobooks is like being a conductor of an orchestra,” says Pratt. "That means the narrator must know the piece and be in tune and rhythm with the author’s voice. You’re only going to be as good a narrator as you are a performer,” he said. In other words, this is another way to make money under a SAG-AFTRA contract, and you must be as proficient in this discipline as you are a professional actor.
Members listen attentively at the audiobooks workshop.
On day one of the workshop, participants were given an introduction to the audiobook industry, including a discussion about how audiobook work is different from other voiceover work, guidelines for putting together an audiobook demo and information on the basic equipment needed to get started practicing the technique.
Attendees on day one were also treated to a presentation by National Director of Organizing Steve Sidawi and part of the team working to bring more audiobook work under SAG-AFTRA contracts. Since there isn’t a national audiobooks multiemployer agreement, Sidawi spoke about the different agreements covering audio publishers and producers, as well as how work for independent authors can also be covered.
Day two focused to how to build your home narration studio without going broke. The beginner and budget-conscious voice actor were provided the details on how to set up a work environment.
We were lucky to have Pratt and Sidawi spend the weekend with SAG-AFTRA members. A number of the attendees intimated that they intend to further investigate audiobook narration as a way that they, too, can branch out as performers.
If you’d like an updated list of audiobook producers who employ SAG-AFTRA talent, email Steve Sidawi at email@example.com.
The audiobooks workshop was popular with Miami members.