But isn’t there always a director during a Voice Over gig or an audition? If you’re a working Voice Over artist who’s done any work online, you know that a lot of these online gigs and auditions require for you to read the specs and decrypt the directions to give your best performance. And in all fairness, many of them have very specific directions. But some of them are very vague, leaving many of us talent with a big question mark over our heads. So, what to do?
Today we cover the importance of learning to self-direct. It’s one thing to be at an audition and follow the directions of the Casting Director or Producer, which is a very valuable skill, but self-direction is a different skillset that will make you stand out from the VO crowd. First of all, nowadays you’re expected to have a home studio as a lot of agents and producers want a quick turnaround on auditions, and they want to save some money by receiving online auditions instead of paying a pretty penny per hour for a casting session at a plush Manhattan studio.
Here are some examples of Audition instructions and best ways to approach each one of them:
- When you’re instructed to sound conversational, natural, like an everyday person: That means avoid at all costs sounding like an announcer. Make sure to visualize the person you’re talking to, and vary the energy in your read between kinetic and psychological energy. To learn more about kinetic vs. psychological energy, check out one of my past blogs:
- When instructed to give a warm read: Put your hand over your heart as you’re reading your lines. You’ll automatically soften your tone.
- When instructed to sound like a celebrity: Study that celebrity. Look them up on You Tube, listen to their quirks, look at their mannerisms. Yes, look at their mannerisms, because believe it or not, our physicality affects our performances and our sound. And the more you match those mannerisms, the better you will capture the full character. Match their energy, the placement of their voices (head, nasal, throat, adenoidal, chest, or a combination of these). Match their clarity, their presence, their tempo, their volume, their inflections and their pauses. Record yourself as you’re doing this exercise so you can check if you’re sounding as close as possible to the person you’re imitating.
These are just a few examples. And when you’re given vague directions: Go with your gut. What does your gut tell you? Just roll with it and don’t deliberate over your choices. As the saying goes: “Fortune favors the bold.” So be bold, and go forth and conquer!
Please try this out for your next online audition and let me know how it goes. I welcome your thoughts in our comments section!
For more great Voice Over tips, info on Voice Over Coaching, Bilingual Voice Over production and Songwriting, please visit the Berne Media Enterprises page. May ‘The Voice’ Be With You, and thanks for spreading the word!