How To Go Further & Become A Valuable Voice Talent

There’s a specific performance technique I developed for our SOUND ADVICEclients 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 limits you might initially demand of yourself as a voice actor. And like Jackson Pollock, you need to spread out as broad a canvas to perform on as possible, and not be afraid to make a mess. Great masterpieces will ultimately come from it if you challenge yourself to venture well 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 much further than you might initially think is necessary during your first few takes. If you hope to succeed, to discover, to surprise even yourself, and to make a habit of trusting your impulses— you must ‘stretch the canvas’! In other words, riskwell beyond your initial comfort zone from the very start in order to create anything worthwhile or extraordinary.

I know what you’re thinking. How can that help? It’ll be too over-the-top and exaggerated. You’re concerned your performance will seem manic and ridiculous. Aw, contraire, my friend! Quit editingyourself before you’ve createdanything. PLAY!

Try this with a cold script. (No dialects or accents, please. They establish precedence, and become too difficult to back out of, on the average.) Pace yourself. Start slow and overly animate your read. Your attention is not on your pitch, volume or speed. This is all about expression, offering life with interest and exuberance. Over-articulate, over-enunciate. In fact, I prefer you elongate and over-enunciate your delivery with your first few read-throughs. Slow down and take too long with the read. Dramatically animate your performance far beyond what might honestly be required of you from the very first take, then…again after a few takes of “going too far”, drop this device entirely, and just read the script out loud. What you’ll most likely discover with this technique is: by giving yourself far more room to make a mess, createand play from the very start, rather than ramping up into it. You’ll hit a bulls-eye!

After you drop this device and simply deliver, you’ll discover… there you are—unencumbered, conversational, and honest. That’s YOU. Honestly and naturallyYOU. And that’s all anyone wants from you as a talent, on or off screen.

All that wonderful residual energy from the first few takes will spill over into the following take out of sheer muscle memory. But only if you allow yourself to go farther than you think is really necessary, or 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.

Instead, if you honestly allow yourself to ‘go toofar’ at a session with a cold script, it’s very likely you could stillgo further. They’ll pull you back if they honestly feel you’ve gone too far. However, in all the years I’ve been acting, directing, producing and coaching—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 continually develop your performance muscle so you can rely on it on a moments notice. If you leave it alone or barely exercise it, it will atrophy and won’t support you.

The truth is you should neverhold 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 very 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 farfrom the very beginning of every performance to garner the greatest results. You’ll come to trust yourself and your creative instincts. You’ll develop greater agility, come to rely on the unexpected. And, as a result, you’ll offer far more dynamic deliveries if you do. 

That’s… how you become a valuable talent!

Copyright © 2018 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.