Here’s a voiceover tip: stop talking. Oh that was just fun to write. Seriously, though, there are many levels to listening that can enhance your voice over authenticity. I was actually inspired to write on this subject from an article written in the voiceover times. It was lovely and insightful and I actually discovered it was written by an actress that used to audition for me many times in NYC. Fiona Jones. Just to give credit where it’s due.
Fiona Talks about how the voice actor can learn technique by listening to other performances and hearing the subtleties in volume, pacing, phrasing, emotion, etc. She also dicusses the merits of being able to listen to take direction, to keep up with pop culture for references to other actors that directors may wishfully refer to for the type of performance they want, and to keep up with styles and trends. Right on Fiona.
I would also like to propose other levels of listening in voiceover . . . that occur outside of voiceover. Listening to your everyday conversations, if it’s possible. Recording a phone conversation might be easier for reflection and review. But in a conversation with anyone, especially since they don’t know that you’re “listening”, study them. That right there is NO PERFORMANCE. That right there is what books the job. You are watching a live example of the ultimate authenticity!
Listening can be stretched to the art of “listening to the writer.” What this means is – again, don’t talk. Don’t DO your “read.” You can’t yet. Not until you have listened to whisperings of the writer. He has left you clues all over the script as to HOW he wants you to be. It’s always there. “We’re the best.” This tells you he wants confidence. “We’re hoping you’ll give us a try.” This tells you he wants sincerity. And yes, the actual writing in a script will be less obvious than that, hopefully, but you will SEE if you are looking. I am shocked how few people look, how many just start reading. And reading is exactly what it sounds like. So listen. Listening books the job every time.
Take this script and see if you can truly hear what the writer wants. Write down adjectives, story, whatever you can to form a feeling for the direction you will go in. Then practice. Record yourself and listen to see if you brought to life the vision you received from the writer.
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