Paul Alan Ruben

Paul Alan Ruben

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Figuring APAC

Today is APAC day. A perennial question related to the event seems to blossom around this time of year as well. I’ve heard it intimately murmured by conversing narrators, mostly as an unplanned aside loosely interjected and then loosely dismissed during conversations about other things that matter to them. The perennial question is, does APAC represent a worthwhile experience for narrators? Does its perceived value measure up against the registration fee, and for those attending from out of town, the additional travel and lodging expenses? (FYI, Aunt Mary has informed me that APAC is awesome if you know how to work it and she will be utilizing her unique “escalator” job acquisition strategy she conceived and has perfected. No gigs yet, she reported in her last missive, but her strategy is, she assured me, “foolproof.”).

Aside from AM, whose opinions appear to me to be reflexively triggered by something inherently unrefined, a more considered unpacking of APAC’s value might include asking narrators what they most desire from this event and then looking to the participants most capable of responding to that desire for their take on APAC. In lieu of a survey that specifically addresses narrator expectations, let’s invent a prototypical narrator and invite him (I’ll reverse the gender for my second prototype) to tell us what he’s most hopeful for upon entering the Javits Center.

Meet Pat. Pat has some pretty solid credits. Pat recently moved to Phoenix where he works out of a home studio. Before leaving New York, Pat recorded several audiobooks for major publishers at JMM and CDM. He was even once lucky enough to have worked with the awesome director, Paula Parker. He has an agent who, mercifully, gets audiobooks, but sadly, not Phoenix. Pat now seeks work independently.

PAT: Thanks, Paul, for this opportunity and for saying you’ll listen to my demooops, did you drop my card? Here’s another—and for references to other publishers and for telling me really useful stuff, like, there’s a lot of work out there for good storytellers. Totally inspiring. And did I tell you I just love reading stories to my kids? Later. Okay, so, what do I want from APAC? A JOB, A GIG. AN AUDITION. SHOWCASE MY STUFF. ASK HOW TO GET A RESPONSE FROM PUBLISHERS AND PRODUCERS I’VE EMAILED, CALLED AND REELED PROSTRATE IN FRONT OF, ALL TO NO AVAIL. Now, is there anything about what I want most from APAC that you don’t get? Oh yeah, I also like the panels. I’ve learned neat stuff over the years, like how to liquidate mouth bubbles with an apple and how to create a more boffo sound with more boffo equipment and of course, reuniting with friends, peers and fellow beseechers. But really, succinctly, categorically, I JUST WANT TO WORK!

Thanks, Pat. I hear you.

To be sure, Pat may not precisely represent every narrator’s outcome. But I’ll argue that if you’re a narrator attending APAC today, you will relate.

What about participating publishers and producers who do the hiring? Do they envision APAC as an employment “combine” (used as a noun, as in a place to scout talent)? I created a prototypical publisher who speaks unguardedly (my imagination was cranked up, eh!). She’s attending the conference for the umpteenth time and definitely hires talent. I asked, is hunting for narrators at APAC your priority?

Samantha: Well, funny you should put it that way. There are a few narrators my publisher has regrettably employed and I did feel like hunting them down when I got here, but I don’t think that’s capturing the spirit of your question. APAC provides me various opportunities, including the chance to meet new narrators, renew old acquaintances with those I already employ, and forget about others as soon as I can cordially relieve myself from yet another narrator palaver-fest I didn’t solicit but understand I must patiently endure. Except that out of control Aunt Mary who once got me on the escalator and then, I swear, had it turned off. The longest fifteen minutes of my life! Anyway, besides working with my colleagues and attending to various job-related directives issued by my superiors, am I actively seeking to employ narrators, even those with no experience? Sure. Will I retain the card or demo thrust into the palm I kindly opened for the sake of protocol rather than my sake? Absolutely! Would I hire a narrator I met for the first time at APAC? Why wouldn’t I! What are the chances I will? I once did. More than once, actually. Well, let me think on that.

Thanks, Samantha. I hear you.

Well, that’s Pat’s take on APAC and Samantha’s take on Pat, or APAC’s Pats. All to suggest that if securing the next gig (or first one) is a narrator’s priority, does APACalong with its ubiquitous panels, occasional mini-audition- and numerous schmooze-oppsmeet the narrator’s fundamental need? Let’s assume Pat and Samantha feel reliably close to attendees (including ourselves) we’ve all witnessed distractedly skittering nonstop around APAC. If they do, might reflecting on their commentary stimulate new insights that address whether forking over the bucks required to attend APAC should be regarded as de rigueur, or merely whimsy?

The eye of the beholder may be the location for life’s most salient truths. Through that lens, when assessing APAC as a value added proposition, might one argue that narrators should consider not only what’s in their eye but the eye of those they behold?

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