Interview with Brent Allen Hagel
February 2, 2023

We interviewed Brent Allen Hagel today, Source-Connect user and an outstanding voice actor but what you might be surprised to learn is that he’s also an incredibly gifted teacher and VO coach. Brent is also the founder and owner of Trailer Voice Artists, a casting and talent development company for top tier voice actors in the promo and trailer genres.

Here is Brent Allen Hagel answering our questions today:

 

Let’s start with some ice breaking quick questions

– What’s your favorite food?
Panini’s – toasted bread and cured Italian meats with melted cheese. Common’

– Mac or PC user?
iMac

-What was the last software or hardware you purchased?
Warm Audio Program Equalizer EQP-WA to bring some analog EQ to my voice.

-What’s your favorite Digital AudioWorkstation for editing sound?
Adobe Audition

-What is the last movie/series you loved?
The Last of Us on HBO

-What are your top 3 favorite music bands?
Alkaline Trio, Tyler Childers, Rise Against

-What’s your favorite VO actor or actress?
Howard Parker / Scott Rummell

-What is your favorite place in the world?
Malibu, California

-What’s the most famous person you’ve met?
Taylor Swift, I was working security at the beach in Malibu, and she came in for lunch with a friend. I had to guard her.

-Imagine if you could meet a person you wish, who would that be??
Probably the comedian Bert Kreischer so we can have beers and laugh.

-Any place in mind for the next vacation?
We just got back from touring most of the south of France by train which was epic. I’m going to enjoy being back in southern California for a bit.

-What a normal day in your life look like?
Wake up and get the kids off to school, cook breakfast for the family, and then head over the my studio facility and check emails to see which projects are coming in. If I have downtime I will start shooting social media. I will usually be in the studio for 6 hours then head home and spend time with my family. VO has amazing flexibility. 

 

Career path & insights

-Please, tell us a little bit about yourself!
Brent Allen Hagel, 37, Thousand Oaks, California, some college. Most of my life has been food service, catering, and wedding DJing.  I was an executive chef before going full time in voice over work. My hobbies now are raising my kids and helping my wife with the things she needs to get done for the home, which is a full time operation.

– How and when did you start and how did you start as a VO in the industry? Tell us about your education, training, certifications, mentors, clients, importance of union/non union, agents, … 
I started “officially” in voice over in 2012 when I began my paid training at VoiceTrax West in Studio, City California. But, before those sessions I interned at 3 radio stations in California learning how to cut commercials and use Adobe to produce spots. After 7 years of coaching in Promo – which has always been my main focus – with many network coaches, producers, and working promo voices I got hired as a promo voice for NBC, with William Morris Endeavor as my agent at the time.  

Agents are important business people that have connections and pricing knowledge. They are an asset to a VO career. Having said that it is up to the voice artist to run their won enterprise and work to collect clients and build lasting relationships.

– Why did you decide to star tin the VO industry?
Life Long Dream. But dreams take financial investment, opportunities, and luck.

– What keeps your motivation up in the business?
The need to provide for my family and to innovate the world of Voice Over.

– Do you have agents? If so,What’s is the importance of it?If not, have you ever had one?
Yes, I do. Agents know producers that purchase voice over. If you do not live in a major city and do not personally know any producers or “buyers” of voice over work then you will need an agent to make that connection. An agent is someone who “knows people” and is a resource to those creatives workflow systems.

– Current projects or clients you have at the moment that you can tell
NETFLIX, Discovery Channel, TLC Channel, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros, Dominos Pizza, FOX, etc..

– Can you tell us some of your future projects?
I’ll be producing my first podcast to document all of my knowledge I’ve learned thus far in the voice over business and post in on my Youtube Channel. “Making a Podcast with Brent Allen Hagel”

– Could you tell us some of the projects you enjoyed the most? Your outstanding project or client!
Netflix Comedy Special Trailers are always fun, Social Media spots for BLACK ADAM was a huge win for me, and being the campaign voice of Night at the Museum for Disney Studios was great last year! All voice over work is good work to me. I’ve been getting into radio station imaging this year and now I’m heard by millions of people daily. It takes me back to my radio intern days. 

– Do you have one or more people in mind who have helped you , or guided you, on this journey? How did these people help you?
So many people have helped me family, friends, coaches, producers, editors, sound designers. I’ve reached out to most of my voice over heroes and spoken with them in person or on the phone. They have given me advice that was passed to them by their heroes. It is a journey that takes a lifetime of trial and error. The ones who gave me a chance and put my voice on their projects when they had hundreds to choose from are the ones I owe the credit of my career to. 

– What are the biggest challenges as a VO?
Gaining repeat clients who reach out directly and book often. Once you finally build a solid client base who believe in your storytelling and skills you can become a full time voice over artist.

– What else besides the voice do you need as a VO?
Oh this is the hardest thing for new voice artists to understand. It is running your own small business and talent need to do everything a bakery or mechanic shop would have to do to stay in business. I enjoy the process of managing my businesses but it is an 80 hour a week job to keep it all running smooth. If I get a call during off hours I do whatever needs to be done.

– I love your social media amends and specially TikTok. How did you start them? What benefits do you find out about having your profile really active and engaging? Do you have a strategy behind your channels?
Dustin Rubin – a fellow voice artist – came to the studio and told me to start a TikTok. I told him it was a terrible idea and did it reluctantly. I just posted behind the scenes of me doing my work. People found that interesting I suppose. My strategy is just to document my journey and continue to try to get better as a voice actor. Pretty simple.

– Can you tell us what is Trailer Voice Artists, how did it start, what’s it about, how many artists are there…
TVA is a talent management company. I started it because every talent manager turned me down. Talent Managers here in the states control 90% of the movie marketing “trailer voices” which has always been my #1 goal and passion. I applied for 3 years to managers before starting my own competing agency. I think we are 50 artists now? We work with mostly networks and trailer houses, it’s a speciality agency for entertainment marketing. (Promos & Trailers)

Trailer Voice Artists website:
https://www.trailervoiceartists.com/

 

“So many people have helped me family, friends, coaches, producers, editors, sound designers. I’ve reached out to most of my voice over heroes and spoken with them in person or on the phone. They have given me advice that was passed to them by their heroes. It is a journey that takes a lifetime of trial and error. The ones who gave me a chance and put my voice on their projects when they had hundreds to choose from are the ones I owe the credit of my career to.”

 

Home Studio for remote recording

Let’s get nerdy about techie stuff!

– Do you have your own studio?When did you start building up your studio and how did it grow? Could you tell us what setup, tech & hardware it consists of? How did you build it? Which kind of interface, DAW, setup, mic, headphones, speakers…
Yes you can see photos on my studio in my Instagram @trailervobrent. It is now my 8th generation studio and we are sponsored by zzounds.com for new gear to try out which has been awesome.  My first studio was a cardboard box with a hole in the bottom to put a microphone in. Probably a $100 investment. 

I love gear and for a while I went purely digital with the Apollo System and the Townsend Labs microphone modeling system which is a perfect zero self-noise system to deliver voice files. Last year I went back to a full analog system when the owners of WARM Audio came out to the studio to set it up with me. You can see a video tour of the studio on my social.

– What are your favorite places to record?
My studio. I do enjoy going to recording studios in Los Angeles where I can just be the talent and not have to worry about self-engineering my sessions.

– Which kind of services do you offer with your studio?
TVA is purely a vocal studio. I have done some radio commercial production work here in the studio and some demo production for other artists.

– Do you record outside your studio?How do you record when you travel?
I have recorded while traveling with the Apollo Twin and a Sennheiser 416 shotgun microphone. 

 

 

Remote working with Source-Connect

– What percent age of your work is remote now and in the studio?
100% of my work is remote.

– When did you start with Source-Connect? Why did you decide to start with Source-Connect? How was your beginning with remote recording sessions? Tell us some nice stories, emotions, anecdotes… 
I had gotten a call from William Morris in 2017 that I had a directed promo audition for CBS network for a new drama they were marketing. This was at the end of the ISDN line days but they were still using it. I did NOT have ISDN so I used a Source-Connect bridge through a local studio that offered that service. I then downloaded the app did the directed audition and ended up booking the campaign to be a voice on their network. I then purchased Source-Connect and have been a client ever since. I just finished a year long campaign with FOX Network where we used it every session. If you are interested in working in promo for major networks it is now the industry standard. I’ve used Source-Connect from a Motel 6 room and from a room in Lake Big Bear, California. It allows a voice artist to truly travel and work at the same time. 

– What has been your favorite recording session with Source-Connect? Could you tell us some of the benefits of having remote collaboration tools? Tell us a lot!
My brother was having his 40th birthday party in Lake Big Bear California and a lake mansion we had rented for it. I was still on call with FOX for a promo campaign I was working on last year…..so I grabbed my mobile equipment, drove off hours up to the mountains, and used a spare bedroom to build my “studio pillow fortress”. The session was a really big one and paid for the entire trip…. and the audio quality was perfect just over WIFI. I did not have to miss the event due to my session and the client was happy with the work. 

– What is your favorite thing about remote recording?
I like building studios out of whatever I can find in the place that I am recording from. I auditioned for a major movie studio film trailer from my hotel in Paris this month. I just threw my heavy rain jacket over my head and a wall of pillows and got to work.

– Are remote collaboration tools here to stay?
YES! I haven’t been to a studio in a while. It is now a novelty.

– What benefits brought to your career the remote tools?
The ability to take my family on a vacation or travel for life events and not have to miss employment opportunities. Having said that, I love the sound of my main studio and so do my clients.

– What challenges have you faced when working remotely?
It is depending on WIFI receptions and internet speeds. Often that can be out of your control.

– Which are the places or countries you mostly record to/from?
USA, Mexico, Australia, France, Italy, Finland…..I think that’s it.

– How did you learn about remote recording tools and online collaboration?
From my talent agent at William Morris and then from my own research online using the Source Elements online tutorials.

– What advice would you pass on to someone who’s trying this sort of remote workflow out for the first time?
I would test it first with a friend and run simulations so you know how to use the program and set it up correctly. You don’t want to lose a client because you don’t know how to troubleshoot anything that goes wrong, a drop-out, etc… 

 

“If you are interested in working in promo for major networks it is now the industry standard. I’ve used Source-Connect from a Motel 6 room and from a room in Lake Big Bear, California. It allows a voice artist to truly travel and work at the same time.

 

Industry, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

– How would you describe the VO industry? 
VO is a numbers game, audition as much as you can, and stay positive.  It is a very small community of professionals and EXTREMELY competitive. It takes a while to build a sustainable business and to become known in the industry. It is a very supportive community of artists once you start to meet other artists. I love it.

– How is the VO community around you? Do you belong to any platform, community or group?
I belong to SAGAFTRA. The Los Angeles voice artists community is full of really fun and creative characters.

– Would you like to change anything in the industry? If so,what would you change?
More union commercial work.

 -Which congresses, events or festivals have you been participating in? Which one do you recommend?
PROMAX BDA, The Golden Trailer Awards, and The Clio Entertainment Awards. Also, the SOVAS for training and connecting with other VO’s.

-What’s your perspective on diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry at the moment? It is the best it has ever been. Just because you are a certain diversity doesn’t mean you will win the job by default, it will still come down to who is the best at acting within that diversity.

– What’s the future of the industry looking like from your perspective? 
With the global internet and the current world of “content creators” the need for voice over will only expand. As long as there is a need for humanities oldest tradition – storytelling – there will be a need for organic human voices.

“With the global internet and the current world of “content creators” the need for voice over will only expand. As long as there is a need for humanities oldest tradition – storytelling – there will be a need for organic human voices. “

 

 

Advices to other VO artists/sound engineers/people in the industry

– How would you describe your job to those who don’t know the industry well? 
It is acting behind a microphone to sell the emotions of a tv show or film. Commercialized storytelling. No different than auditioning to be on camera in a drama or tv series.  

My advice is not to put a made up timeline on your VO journey. It could take 6 months or it could take 6 years. Keep the intentions in your thoughts and continue your journey of self-discovery to tap into your acting. The answers aren’t “out there somewhere”, they are the emotions inside of you that you need to share with the microphone.

 

“My advice is not to put a made up timeline on your VO journey. It could take 6 months or it could take 6 years. Keep the intentions in your thoughts and continue your journey of self-discovery to tap into your acting. The answers aren’t “out there somewhere”, they are the emotions inside of you that you need to share with the microphone. “

 

– Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Some nice words to Source Elements maybe?
🙂

 

Brent Allen Hagel Official Site
https://www.brentallenhagel.com/

Trailer Voice Acting Official Site
https://www.trailervoiceartists.com/

Brent Allen Hagel TikTok:
https://www.tiktok.com/@trailervobrent

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