In everything we do as storytellers and performers, it seems the same principles apply whether it’s on-camera or on-mic.
And if you read carefully, almost every article in magazines like Backstage, that point out best practices in stage or on-camera acting, all have similar applications to voice over talent.
A recent article by Anthony Meindl is a great example: it’s about what to pay attention to when auditioning. And although the words point to what to do when auditioning on stage or on-camera, here’s how you can use what Anthony says when you find yourself in front of a mic for a VO audition.
Here’s the article, by the way:
Anthony’s a coach here in LA, and his studios are in the space in which I learned acting from Howard Fine. I’ve spoken there a couple of times, and although I’ve never met him, I love reading his articles.
The thing about auditions is that they are their own creature. They are not work, they are not a place to expect to be given training, and yet, they are designed to help the casting office give someone work (maybe even you), and you really can’t help but learn something about acting and VO (maybe something life-changing) when you get one.
Here are some examples, and how they apply to your voice over practice.
Anthony says, “The audition isn’t all about you.” When you get an audition, don’t be thinking how you can show off that new “Seth Macfarlane as Peter on Family Guy” voice you’ve developed. Always look to your casting/production partner about how you can solve a voice problem for them. As you perform the script, imagine how well you can help them achieve what they want with the finished audio – the story – not how great it would be to get the booking. Serve. Offer. Be useful.
He also says, “You can be the most amazing actor and not get the role.” Your job is to book the room, first and foremost. The number of factors that have nothing to do with your voice and your performance far outweigh those that do. You may sound exactly like the producer’s ex. You might sound exactly like the celeb they have as the voice of the lead. And a hundred other reasons. Take not getting the role as part of the job description. Do the best you can every time, and don’t worry about getting the gig.
And he says, “It’s all listening.” We spend so much time thinking about how we can say things better, bring a deeper tone to our voice, how things are pronounced, whether our processing or mic is as fantastic as they could be that we forget that the job is about listening: to the script, the effects and how they are mixed, to other voice talent in the room, to the director, the producer, the writer and to the story. If we listen harder, our voice work becomes easier. The strong choices are more obvious. Take the time to listen.
Anthony’s got 7 more tips, all of which are applicable to your voice over career. And as I make clear in one of our VO2GoGo classes on the subject, it’s the same mutual muscles that we use no matter what area of acting we’re engaged in.
Hope this helps.