"My first break was doing a character named Tommy the Tequila Worm, which basically sounded like a cross between Ren from Ren and Stimpy and Speedy Gonzalez. It was definitely funny, but not anything I took as an indication it could be something I could do on a regular basis," Gabe Kornbluh '08 said.
As an avid fan of film and television, Kornbluh, a former film reviewer for the Orient, is now a voice-over artist and associate producer for a production department of a DC-based communications firm, Greer Margolis Mitchell Burns (GMMB).
During his years at Bowdoin, Kornbluh said he "tried to take as many Trisha Welsch classes as [he] could, was a proud patron of the Evening Star and Bart And Greg's DVD Explosion and was taken in by the great crew at [Bowdoin Cable Network]."
With humble beginnings getting his "hands dirty with the [BCN] news crew," Kornbluh now does "radio, television and video for political clients and...issue advertisers."
In addition, Kornbluh has "done radio and TV ads for some great clients" and said he travels quite frequently.
According to Kornbluh, he became a voice-over artist rather serendipitously. While working at GMMB editing a piece, he often recorded the script with his own voice "just as a rough base to start editing in order to get a sense of the timing."
According to Kornbluh, clients would listen to the rough cuts with his voice as a stand in, and "would come back saying—'Hey, we kind of like that voice.'"
Kornbluh said his first big break came while editing a piece for Visa.
"[Visa] ended up liking my scratch track so much they used me for their entire Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaign, so I was in a few national television ads and internet videos."
In addition to Visa's CSR campaign, Kornbluh has also done voice overs for the Obama for America Media Team during President Obama's campaign and the American Academy of Opthalmology, according to Kornbluh's Web site, http://gkvoiceover.com.
Currently, most of Kornbluh's work takes on "a calm type narration read," which contrasts starkly with his initial work, doing commercials in the voice of a Mexican Tequila worm.
Because of Kornbluh's experience as a producer, he has a deeper understanding of the voice-over industry.
"Usually, I'm on the other side of things, directing talent and trying to get desired performances out of them. And, of course, directing is easy. It's fun," Kornbluh said. "You're in control and you know what you're trying to get from folks, whether they are experienced talent, or normal people we're using in an ad."
Kornbluh acknowledged that the voice-over industry does come with its share of challenges.
"Taking direction. Now that's the tough part," said Kornbluh. "It's performance on the fly with minimal rehearsal, immediate changes and adjustments. Thank God you get to do it in a sound booth where no one is looking at you."
Kornbluh said he appreciates his ability to break into a competitive and inconsistent industry.
"I'm very new at this. It's an industry that's very hard to break into, and I'm lucky I did. It can be fun and very lucrative. But it will take work to keep at it and continue to get jobs and actually get good at it," Kornbluh said.
Describing a career as a voice-over artist as rewarding and fairly simple, Kornbluh suggested that many artists who make it big are those who get steady work and have clients come see them in their private studios at home.
"I know a lot of voice-over artists that are basically quietly famous—that is, they are very sought after, but no normal person would know who they were. You've heard them though," Kornbluh said.
Kornbluh joked, "Remember the movie preview guy with the raspy 'voice of God?' We joke that the best voice over artists can just sit around, drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes all day and call it working on their craft. That's the dream. Doing the ridiculously over the top voice over for the sequel to Die Hard 14."
"Someday I'd like to work on [voice-overs] more seriously, more devotedly," Kornbluh said.
"For now I'm focused on my current job, but it's a great thing to be a part of," Kornbluh said. "And it has its roots in my production experience at Bowdoin."