Before you even open your mouth to utter the first syllable from your script—before you even set foot in the booth—there’s already an internal monologue going on inside your head. In fact, I can hear it all the way over here like a small child incessantly banging on a tin pan. That noise is judging and coloring your every move going forward.
That remarkable mind of yours is going to keep chatting away all through your performance whether you like it or not, unless… you direct it. This requires practice, which isn’t immediately intuitive. But, whatever you’re thinking—whatever you’re telling yourself will directly impact your performance.
Here’s why: you can’t tell yourself how NOT to do something.
It’s fruitless. Try it some time. Give yourself a command, such as, “Whatever you do, DON’T think of a banana!”
You thought of a banana, didn’t you? Exactly.
My point is your brain doesn’t register “don’t” when you’re telling yourself how to do something. Instead your mind receives, “Think of a banana.” (Or whatever you were telling yourself NOT to think of or do.) This train of thought ultimately concentrates on what you DON’T want as a result, that is precisely how your performance will play out. I call this “banana directing”, as if you’re telling yourself, “Whatever you do, don’t think of a banana.”
Therefore, much like life, if you concentrate on what you DO want in the performance equation, with proper conditioning and a handful of extraordinary techniques, you’ll develop the agility necessary to risk and ultimately trust your creative impulses with each take.
This speaks to the core of your job as a talent and ultimately to what makes you valuable.
Voiceover, like all acting is a ‘time-art’. By that I mean you’re expected to continually create with each and every take, rather than craft only one-single, solitary (repetitive) delivery or performance. ‘Matching’ a read is one thing, but offering usable, effective options with each take is quite literally what you were hired to do as a professional talent in any recorded medium, not just voiceover.
I understand it may seem as if I’m suggesting you offer dramatic departures with each and every take. I’m not. But by allowing yourself to play the moment and offer some variance in your expression within the context of the piece you’ll likely discover you’re capable of a limitless number of remarkable, realistic reads.
Maintaining your creative muscle, applying game-changing techniques, and your ability to fully commit to any direction you may be given—even if you disagree with the direction offered—is required of you regardless of the genre of voice acting you may be voicing.
This is literally the difference between a stealth professional voice actor, and a novice, and the basis of our training at Actors’ SOUND ADVICE.
You might be surprised how many talent, regardless of experience or skill, bemoan the fact they aren’t getting much direction, yet the very same people often completely reject any direction once offered—typically without noticing. And why might that be? Because they aren’t accustom to receiving much direction, modifications or corrections to their performance in the first place. A bulk of our sessions and auditions are done solo today and recorded from the privacy of our home recording set-ups or studios, so receiving bona fide direction has become the anomaly, rather than the standard.
Therefore, applying direction in full on the next take, when it is offered by an experienced director, coach or otherwise, has typically gone unchecked. Instead talent tend to perform out of sheer muscle memory and completely repel (or scarcely apply) the direction they are given.
Many talent will rationalize to themselves they have followed the direction in full, or expect those “directing” to supply them with precisely how to say the read. This errand impulse is far more common than you might think, and precisely why it’s imperative ALL talent continue to train no less than twice a year if you hope to remain honest with yourself, and artistically sharp.
Self-direction is required of you as a talent from the very start, however it is not immediately intuitive. It’s nothing new, although this concept may be new to you. No one can do a thing with you until you first do something dynamic, interesting and creative within the context of the script offered.
If you’re drawing a blank, rest assured—you’re not alone. However, expecting a potential client to imagine you will miraculously rise to the occasion when necessary is a pipe dream. The burden falls to YOU to offer your imagination and point-of-view (POV) with your performance, not the other way around. (And that recording booth can become something of a sensory deprivation tank as well if you’re not careful.)
Keeping your imagination engaged and your delivery playful takes practice. It requires telling ourselves what we want included in our performance, and what to effectively modify with each take. This is where training comes in.
Developing the necessary conditioning to be prepared and valuable at a moments notice, but especially during the production is in part why we train.Challenging your comfort zone to achieve this result is another. This will always be your homework as a professional talent.
Your confidence and therefore your ultimate success depend on how well you establish your self-directing skills that build and maintain your greatest assets and abilities—instead of leaving your voiceover career completely to chance. No one can direct you if you can’t first direct yourself. Defining what you want to achieve with each and every take requires training.
Give us call, regardless of your experience level, at 877.886.3366 to schedule some coaching right now. You may even surprise your self.
Copyright © 2019 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved