September 2016
“The harder I work the luckier I get.”
– Samuel Goldwyn

Cool Sign

Auditioning for Voice Over

Most voiceover auditions are recorded from simple home-recording setups, while the remainder is done at the local talent agency. Few, if any, are held at casting agencies any more, unless you live in New York and even then, it’s only about 15 to 20% of the time, if that.

There’s a learning curve to recording and editing your auditions from home. You’re likely to record an excessive number of takes before settling on the take you care to submit. It can be a painful process in humility, but it has to be done if you intend to master making your auditions as seamlessly exceptional as your performances during your bookings.

Novice talent often audition for projects “just for practice.” Or so they think. Talent auditioning for jobs they have no intention of accepting put us all at risk. NEVER audition for anything unless you intend to accept the job. You’re always expected to behave professionally regardless of your experience level. Your agent, the casting agency, the producer and everyone else involved in the production are all counting on you to do so.

Those hiring you want to know they can count on you to come through, but if you send up countless red flags that you’re not a team player or you don’t know your job you’ll instill doubt rather than confidence.

There are generally three things you never change: pitch, volume, and speed. Beyond that, what’s consistently required of you is a variety in inflection from take to take. Of course, when it comes to performance, there are no absolutes. The point is: As long as you’re in front of the mic (or in front of the camera) you must continue to create with each take. It’s your job.

A talent agent will certainly interview or audition you before agreeing to represent you. Agents need to be reassured you can deliver what’s promised on your demos. So, during your initial interview (either in person or over the phone) you will likely audition for him with material that is meant to be more of a challenge in order to test your mettle. They may want to see how you respond under pressure.

Some local talent agents often prefer you come into their office for your voice-over auditions for the first six to eight months and to develop a professional relationship with you. Although most agents will happily e-mail you the script in order for you to record your audition at home and e-mail back as an MP3.

If the audition is a dialogue, expect the audition to be held at the agency. However, every talent agency has its own policies and requirements when it comes to auditions.

Certainly if the agency is in another state, you will be required to have your own home-recording setup and either have access to ISDN (digital patch) or have it at home—free of charge.

Should you be auditioning at your local talent agency, you may have as many as eight auditions to record at a time, which is why they are not as likely to give you more than one or two takes. They simply don’t have time.

Arrive 15 minutes ahead of time to run your auditions out loud a number of times before you step into the booth to record. Your cold-reading skills and your ability to break down the script on the fly will certainly be tested.

The only direction you are likely to get with any consistency is: “Just be yourself.” Direction or specifics (also known as specs) vary from one production to the next. But by and large, they are looking for someone comfortable in their own skin, and you are simply expected to offer a natural, honest version of yourself.

Even if you’re only just beginning, it’s imperative you carry yourself as the pro you intend to be. ›

Ballon Wind Surfing

Endless Summer

What makes a great summer movie? If you’re asking me, it takes adventure, discovering lifelong friendships and lessons, great story, suspense, facing your fears, facing down monsters, and there’s almost always a boat, a bike, a train or a contraption of some kind involved.

Lucky for you, the following list includes all that and then some. Here are 10 extraordinary movies you might not have seen, that will rival “Jaws” in becoming your favorite summertime film of all time. See for yourself!

  1. Head Above Water (1996)
  2. Dead Calm (1989)
  3. Captains’ Courageous (1937)
  4. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
  5. Raider’s of the Lost Ark (1981)
  6. Stand By Me (1986)
  7. Paper Moon (1973)
  8. Alien (1979)
  9. A Room With A View (1985)
  10. Captain Fantastic (2016)

Why PLAY Matters To Your Performance

As an artist you need to give yourself plenty of room to play. You need room to create and discover, often under time constraints and the pressure to deliver your very best on the fly. At SOUND ADVICE, we refer to this technique as ‘stretching the canvas’.

We call it that simply because far too many talent attempt to ‘ramp up into their performance’ anticipating a longer runway than we are typically given, especially at an audition, where we‘re often given only a single take or two (if we’re given the luxury as voice talent of auditioning in front of those most likely to hire us). By giving yourself a broader playing field right off the bat you’ll more than likely deliver a far more impactful, desirable performance rather than revving up into it and, ultimately, offering only a mere passable take.

We create a certain muscle memory the first time we do anything, so giving ourselves the freedom to create and ‘go too far’ from the very start allows for room to fully animate even the most dry and unimaginative text.

You could say there are two types of actors in this world: character actors…and everybody else. If you’re not a character actor and you ‘stretch the canvas’, so to speak, and allow yourself to go ‘too far’ right from the start—you’ll hit it out of the ballpark rather than inch-worming your way up to the performance you’re okay with (which far too many talent do). You’ll most certainly hit a bulls-eye right from the start provided you’re willing to really take a leap of faith. And if you are a character actor, drop the over-the-top delivery of ‘going too far’ on the following take and simply deliver the read. All that color, expression, and residual energy will spill over into every take that follows. You’ve set a precedence of play!

The goal is to continually surprise ourselves with each and every take. Every true professional embraces this precept, which is in part what makes them valuable artists: The ability to honestly explore and create right from the start.

In fact, Peter Bart, former editorial director of Variety, once asked Ben Kingsley whether he would have handled any part of the role of Gandhi differently, and he said, “I don’t think so. I think I might have been more economic. I think I would have done less. That comes with practice. It was my first real feature film. And having been blessed with a decent career since then, I’ve been able to hopefully minimize what I do between action and cut. So, that what I do is precise and precisely services the scene. And I try to add fewer and fewer ‘fancy bits’. So that take two I do less than take one. Take three I do less than take two. Hopefully, so that by take nine I’m almost Zen-still, hoping that something will still come through.”

Of course, it’s not hard to peg what sort of actor Sir Ben is. Granted he’s a ‘character-lead’, but, without hesitation, he is a character actor of the highest order.

You have to allow yourself to discover what too far is BEFORE minimizing your efforts in your performance. You can’t edit yourself prior to creating anything. You have to allow yourself the freedom of finding how far… is too far. ‘Stretching the canvas’, as we refer to it here at SOUND ADVICE, may not be immediately intuitive, you need to expose yourself to it repeatedly in order to allow yourself room to create. So, get in there and slap some paint around, Jackson Pollack. Don’t be afraid to make a mess. Embrace what can be learned from all that play. And be willing to do just that from the very first take! It’s a good habit to get into. œ

Going too far

Copyright © 2016 by Kate McClanaghan, Inc. All Rights Reserved.