There’s a specific performance technique I developed for our SOUND ADVICE clients I call ‘stretching the canvas’. It’s based on the notion that much like the artist, Jackson Pollock, you need to risk well beyond the narrow limits you might initially demand of yourself as a voice actor. You need to spread out a broad canvas to perform on and not be afraid to make a mess. Great masterpieces will ultimately come from it if you challenge yourself to venture beyond your standard comfort zone. So, rather than holding back, and ‘ramping up into your performance’, as so many talent do, it’s imperative you allow yourself the freedom to go further than you might initially think is necessary from the very first few takes. If you hope to succeed, to discover, and to make a habit of trusting your impulses—‘stretch the canvas’! In other words, risk it all from the very start.
I know what you’re thinking. How can that help? It’ll be too over-the-top and exaggerated. The performance will be manic and ridiculous. Au contraire! Quit editing yourself before you’ve created anything.
Try it with a cold script. No dialects or accents, please. Slow and overly animated. Your emphasis is not about pitch, volume or speed. It’s about expression, exuberant life, and over-articulation. In fact, I prefer you elongate your delivery the first 5 to 6 times. Make it too long. Over enunciate the first 4 to 6 takes. Dramatically animate the take far beyond what might honestly be required of your performance from the very first take, then drop this device on the following read. You’ll be giving yourself far more room to create and play right from the start, rather than ramping up into it. Now drop this device and simply… deliver. And there you are; unencumbered, conversational, and honest. That’s YOU. Honestly and naturally YOU. And that’s all anyone wants from you in this world. All that wonderful residual energy will spill over into the following take. But only if you allow yourself to go further than you think is really necessary (or possibly even appropriate to the project) from the very start, rather than ‘ramping up into your performance’ as a bulk of talent tend to do. If you give yourself too long a runway to fully animate your read—you’ll never get off the ground.
But if you honestly allow yourself to ‘go too far’ at a session with a cold script, it’s very likely you could still go further. They’ll pull you back if they feel you’ve gone too far, however (in more than 35 years) I’ve yet to see that happen. In fact, when surveyed, producers consistently ask, “How do you get talent to go further?” It’s your responsibility to continue to explore, play and develop this muscle so you can rely on it on a moments notice.
The truth is you should never hold back if you hope to create an impact with your performance, and you’re creating precedence with your first few takes. You’re always capable of so much more. So stretch out a large blank canvas before each audition, before each take, and slap some paint around—don’t be afraid to make a mess. There’s nothing but discovery in it.
Challenge yourself to go too far from the very beginning of every performance to garner the greatest results. You’ll come to trust yourself, develop greater agility, come to rely on the unexpected. And you’ll offer far more dynamic deliveries if you do.
That’s… how you become a valuable talent!
Copyright © 2016 by Kate McClanaghan, Inc. All Rights Reserved.