Dealing With Direction

Chapter 7
– Dealing With The Direction That You Are Asked To Perform –
“Good, bad, sad, glad, mad, happy, snappy, crappy, nappy, lappy, lippy, snippy, dippy, lead, plead, greed, bleed, smell, dwell, yell, kvell, heavy, light, mean, delight, please, thank you, I don’t care, neat, sloppy, well aware, I told you, scold you, hold you, revere, steer, hear, discover, like, dislike, stand close, lover, joy, annoy, wonderment, dismay, detached, ignore, attentive, pray, brag, gag, lag— olé!”
…and of course, “oy vey” (to be read with a deep sigh, close to a tear or cry), or a “not me” deny…
     And now for the second question. Oh, the first question was, “Has da harv really lost it? Well, no. Ask yourself: Could I perform if these were the directions I was given? Let’s say you have before you possibly the most beautiful flower in the world. Would you need someone to explain what you should be feeling if you were asked to describe that flower? Or your child looks up at you as they take your hand to cross a busy street. What were you feeling at that moment of endearment?
     Then a friend calls in need of your shoulder. Could you receive that call? Could you be the friend calling? Can you merely display joy over being quiet? These are questions actors must ask themselves. These are the questions human beings must deal with on a day-to-day basis. And these are situations appearing as the mainstay of commercial copy—our script. And all of these are situations and reactions to situations that a director will be asking you to portray.
Sharing my own personal and secretive note: to always fall back to music and lyrics, ever reflective.
“As Time Goes By” (by Dooley Wilson in the movie Casablanca 1942)
…And it does so, faster and faster because I truly believe in the premise.
“That’s Life” (by Frank Sinatra 1963)
…If only the littlest piece of pieces you beheld in reflection, your truth once more to behold.
     Typically your audition will allow five, ten, twenty, thirty, or sixty seconds to tell any and all within the sound of your voice how you feel at any moment of life’s natural impact. The fact of the matter is that the true job of the director is to function as your audience—to listen with the intent of ascertaining whether or not you have painted with the kinds of strokes that will allow your audience to feel and understand with you. The director is not providing an acting workshop.
     What does it mean when a director asks you to pull it back some or tone it down? Perhaps your strokes are too strong, heavy-handed. Your colors are too vivid. Your performance is just that—a performance. Perhaps all that the director should say to you is simple, “I don’t believe you.” Or maybe ask you the question, “Who the hell are you talking to?” Each year we find that our commercial listening audience requires more by accepting less. Less in the way of footwork. More in the way of truth. If our audience could totally have everything they want, have it all their own way, what would they ask us to do? They would ask that everything we say in our advertisements was totally the gospel. That all we said was the truth.
     Isn’t it an interesting state of affairs when you consider that every citizen would like their political choice, their candidate, to be a completely honest individual? All of us seek the truth, whether it’s buying a new car or establishing a wonderful relationship, the truth wins out. Those of us who can convey our honest feelings and emotions will more than likely manage a great deal of success in our world of voiceovers.
Where’s the Director?
     Okay… What’s a Phone Patch? Answer: Who cares! The answer is simple because if you’ve ever used a telephone, you know what a phone patch is. Well, maybe not exactly. It may take ten seconds or so to explain it.
     What used to be a special kind of recording session, was known as a “phone patch”. Today, many still refer to it as a phone patch. By the use of a phone line, it allowed an individual, usually a producer, writer, and director type, to communicate with the chosen actor from another location. Across the city, across the country, and sometimes from a different part of the world. Our telephone, simply stated, is the communication vehicle that makes it all possible.
     In order to conduct a phone patch audition or an actual session, our recording studio must have a phone line that connects to the assigned recording booth and or stage facility. By use of an ordinary telephone, our caller makes contact with our studio. Our caller’s voice is then connected, patched through to our engineer. It is the engineer who is in charge of controlling the sound transmission. The engineer has the ability to communicate with the incoming caller, the actor in the booth, and or all parties at the same time. The engineer is in total command of our outgoing or incoming sound mix. The booth actor is in contact with the caller by use of a headset. Headsets are also referred to as earphones or cans. The actor’s voice is relayed to our caller by use of the same microphone the actor is being recorded with.
     It’s become almost all old news. Our industry has without warning, once again completely changed its methods of voice and music delivery. Today, it is no longer the exception; most professional working voiceover actors have their own personal home studios. From voiceover auditions, all the way through to the actual session, performances can be accomplished within the actor’s own home studio. Often directed via a cell phone call from the director to the actor’s cell phone (aka phone patch). Or in the home studio via a connective phone technology such as ISDN or Source Connect, or via whatever else was invented today… such as Zoom! Whatever you choose to call it, our director most likely isn’t even in the same city as our working actor. The phone patch of the past has become a mere remembrance of the way we were.

“Those were the days my friend. We thought they’d never end.”
– “Those Were the Days” (1968) –

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