Willmott Communication Services began in 1980 as a “Profile Marketing” company
Dan Willmott has been very active as an Actor, Voice Artist, Host and Broadcaster for most of his life.
Early on Dan discovered that if performers tapped into who they were and what they knew, and utilized that in their craft, instead of trying to be some omnipotent broadcaster or actor they were trying to copy, two things would happen;
- They would be far more comfortable and therefore more confident in what they were doing,
- They would develop into a polished professional Broadcaster, Performer or Actor far quicker.
In the industry at the time, it was thought to take about 5 years to develop a personality. Dan believed, and still believes, that you already have personality… so start there. Broadcasters that worked with Dan were finding their way to ‘Major Markets’ within months rather than years.
Profile Marketing was the missing link that Dan believed most talent and artists were lacking. Profile Marketing, a term Dan coined, was originally designed as a tool for Broadcasters, later showing promise for Actors, Performers and Professionals in completely unrelated fields (ie Chartered Accountants, Psychologists, etc.)
The basic concept was; there are ways to raise your profile in the community through visible marketing, (ie volunteering, participating in community events, contributing to trades, publications and blogs, etc.). In doing this you make a connection, the community gets to know you and it will begin to rely on you as an expert in your field or endeavor.
Profile Marketing (and Networking) became a far more effective and memorable type of free advertising. Much more effective and lasting than any paid advertising.
Dan was very lucky. His training was as an actor. This allowed him to tap into his ability to make stuff up.
While in University, Dan needed a job. He was asked to audition for a radio station in Regina.
He had no idea what he was doing so he just made it up, “acted” like what he thought a radio DJ should sound like. He booked it!!
Because he had no formal training in Broadcasting he pretty much had to observe and learn on the fly. (In other words, continue to ‘make it up’ as he went.)
Then Dan discovered VO and fell in love… (insert harps here!)
The industry was changing (dramatically) shifting away from the authoritative Announcer style and moving into a more real person style.
Once again Dan was extremely lucky. He had no idea what he was doing. So using his acting skills, training, plus a bit of what he was observing… he made it up.
He had a riot! It utilized his acting abilities, his sense of fun and just a big chunk of himself.
This became different than what everyone else was doing, and learning how to do, at the time.
While Dan was raising his family in Calgary he had a very successful TV, Radio, VO, Theatre and Film career. He polished his Profile Marketing skills. Dan began mentoring performers in many differing disciplines. What he found was that what you learned in one discipline is usually transferable to another. Dan began lecturing at various schools, colleges and universities across Canada about Broadcasting, Performance, Mic and Camera work, Passion and particularly Voice Over.
At this time a small misfortune, which turned out to be a very lucky for Dan, occurred. His work began to saturate the Calgary market. The amount of VO work he got in Calgary began to slide, because he was EVERYWHERE! Why was this lucky? Well because it forced Dan to start to work outside of Calgary. Dan then discovered ISDN!
Okay he didn’t really discover it, just that it was available. (ISDN is a way to be in a studio in Calgary, and record in another studio, in say Toronto, in real time with the Director and Engineer being in Toronto.) Together with friend and fellow Broadcaster & Voice Artist Paul Boucher, a business called ‘Premium Voice Connections’ was formed with the slogan “Instant Oral Gratification”. Okay, the slogan didn’t last long. They bought their own ISDN box and then the fun began.
The beginnings of Voice Spot WCS
In the mid 90s Dan noticed that a lot of the voice work in Calgary was being done in Vancouver and Toronto. In fact there were instances where Dan would do an ISDN audition from Calgary to Vancouver or Toronto and book the job. The irony was, the job was for Calgary or other parts of Alberta but was cast in Vancouver or Toronto because the belief was there wasn’t any professional talent in Calgary.
This got Dan thinking that Calgary talent needed to start talking and working together. We needed to find a better way to market ourselves as talent in Calgary and elsewhere. We needed to be better trained, so that more of our own work could be done in Calgary for Calgary and Alberta.
One idea that Dan and Paul had was to produce a CD and market it to every city in the world that had ISDN. A pretty bold move at the time. It was hoped that it would not only market Calgary talent around the world but also help pay for the expensive ISDN fees at the time (clever boys). They gathered together other professional Calgary and area VO talent. Everybody threw in some cash and the CD “Fresh Voices” was produced. Those that were involved with either Fresh Voices Vol 1 & 2 in some cases are still receiving work from the contacts they made. Not surprisingly this coincided with the time that Dan was getting a little too busy. He was a single dad, a full time actor, TV and Radio performer, lecturer, coach and becoming an International Voice Artist. It was clear he needed an assistant, but how to pay them?
Dan had been asked by various organizations to give lectures and classes, teaching his new “Real Person” style of Voice Over. So if Dan could get someone to collate all the information he had put together and help set it up, he could put on a Workshop. Plus use the proceeds to pay an assistant. Along came Annette Lagasse Dan talked to the Calgary studios and to Engineers and Producers all over the globe, getting their input as to what they wanted in Voice Talent. He put together all the performance concepts he could think of. After Annette spent 6 months fine tuning and tweaking it all, they were ready.
In April 1996 the first Willmott Communication Services (Introduction to Voice Over) workshop was launched at Sync Spot studio.
The goal was to involve as many of the Calgary studios as possible, so that the fledgling new Voice Artists could get as much exposure to the engineers doing the auditioning and get their points of view. Also to give the talent as much information as possible so they could confidently go out and start to build their VO business. Dan wanted to create a VO community where, new and existing talent would have a resource that would support, help develop, and share information about the industry and the community. As Dan would make new discoveries and learn from his own career, Annette would sit in the back of the class with a laptop to make the additions to the curriculum.
For the next few years the classes grew into 2 levels as the demand grew and the information became impossible to give in just 2 days.
Some of Calgary’s top talent and some who would become Calgary’s top talent (Voice Over and otherwise) have come to the WCS workshops.
In 1999 when Annette moved to BC, Daina Anton came on board. As Daina took over she became the workshop manager and was instrumental in evolving the Willmott Communication Services Voice Over Workshops into VoiceSPOT WCS. As Dan was working more and more in Toronto, Los Angeles and Vancouver other world class Voice Artists and Actors who lived in Calgary and had worked with Dan, agreed to become facilitators. They continued to teach the classes that Dan had so carefully developed adding their own take on the industry and particularly within the Calgary Market.
Paul Boucher, Jonathan Love, Mariette Sluyter, Kathy Shane and Dana Negrey, Voice Artists at the top of their games and most of which are still teaching with us today.
Dan would always come back a couple of times a year to update what he and all of the facilitators had learned and how the industry was changing, locally and internationally. If he was good, he would even be allowed to teach one or two of his beloved classes.
Over the years VoiceSPOT WCS has evolved and grown to be one of the most respected programs in North America. Dan is still teaching and is being requested all over North America as well as overseas.
In fact he has an offer to teach in Cancun (NICE!!).
The advantage that VoiceSPOT WCS has and continues to maintain is that it is made up of International Voice Artists who live and work locally, working to develop local talent, in a safe fun environment.
Working together with professional recording studios, talent agencies and ACTRA Alberta, VoiceSPOT WCS focuses on excellence for Voice-Over performers.
Our mission to:
- strive to build a strong and vibrant voice-over community
- develop individual expression through integrity, commitment & excellence
- facilitate talent in finding their own unique voice
- enhance the quality and potential of Voice-Over performance
- be a reference and developmental force in the ongoing enrichment of the Alberta Voice-Over market
- promote Calgary and Edmonton as a talented and professional competitive market