Outtakes & Intakes

I have never saved an outtake. I may have recorded them during a session or an audition, but by the end of the day, that same day, they were erased and discarded forever. Going one step further, I have never shared a recorded outtake with anyone other than the actor who had delivered the blooper in the first place. What I do admit to is retelling an incident, and making sure not to name the party I was relating the story about (not even to my own wife).

There just aren’t many things from my past any funnier, or for that matter, more poignant, and sometimes even sad than an outtake. Day in, day out, there’s thirty-plus years of them. Each time I think I might have seen or heard them all, a new situation occurs, creating a new outtake. And so the beat goes on. I’m not looking for outtakes; they present themselves, almost as often as the newbies who come to me in search of the “Actor’s Holy Grail.”

Often the nature of the scripts we will be reading forewarns of the mishaps I may be experiencing along the way. A good example of what may be an extra display of emotional upheaval are a variety of public service announcements where the subject matter hits a little too close to home.

We were conducting auditions for a family abuse center. The script had to do with child abuse. After slating her name, the actress in the booth began reading the script. It only took about ten seconds before she stopped reading and began to cry and apologize to me simultaneously. Needless to say, I was affected by her honesty. As I listened to her reasons for the display of emotion, it became my turn to mirror her feelings. Yes it was an outtake, but it was also a pure and truthful slice of life.

NOTE: She was able to complete the audition, and when the sponsor made the selection, lo and behold the lady got the job, or as we say: “And the winner was…”

When you do anything enough times, especially when it’s a repeat of the same language, over and over again, the law of averages is working against you. There will be a mistake (outtake).

The person to be auditioned enters my recording booth and awaits instructions. As the director, I almost always say the same thing to them: “Slate your name and try one.”

For whatever the reason, after saying the same thing a few thousand times, this time I changed it: “Slate my name and try one,” I said. And the actor, with a straight face and deadly seriousness said: “My name is Harvey Kalmenson.” After a split second of silence, we both lost it to raucous laughter.

Then there was the total klutz.

She entered the booth with her hand wrapped in a bandage. When I asked about it, the answer was like “nothing of great importance.” “Slate your name and try one,” I requested. She said nothing, but affirmed by nodding her head. I had the pot open to record the first take, as she nodded and hit the end of the microphone with her forehead; the sound startled her, and she moved even closer in an abrupt fashion which knocked over the music stand which held the script. As she bent down to pick up the script, she attempted to also straighten the stand into an up right position. By now I was trying to hold back my giggling from turning into full-fledged laughter. It didn’t work. Each of her sounds was being recorded inadvertently. I hadn’t stopped the recording process. Finally she pulled it all together; I had stopped laughing and we were once again ready to roll. “Slate your name and try one.” It worked. She slated just as her cell phone went off to the sound of “Beethoven’s Fifth.”

After she left the booth, I listened back to what I had recorded. It was one of those perfect real life moments I would never be able to stage or recreate. Her self-inflicted sound effects were hilarious.


Then we have what I have coined as “Intakes.” These are the occurrences happening around and to me personally.

NOTE: Some of the happenings, which I take personally, are perhaps uniquely mine. In other words, there are many who might choose to ignore what had transpired, as not being worth reacting to or even committing to memory.

I admit to taking almost everything personally.

I’ve never been able to figure out the advisement: “Oh, don’t take it personally. He (she) talks to everyone that way.” Excuse me… I don’t happen to be everyone. I’m the only other party in the room, and the offensive one is speaking directly to me. Explain to me how or why it isn’t a personal thing. For me, it’s an “Intake.” I always react to “Intakes.”

But reacting to an intake doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to say anything to the party I refer to as a “supplier.” I call them suppliers as opposed to using a descriptive expletive as a character identification. That’s not to say, I’m not guilty of thinking about an appropriate name for the supplier; I merely have found enough self-control in order to keep from verbalizing how I really felt at the moment a supplier was doing their thing. I’m sure the same would apply to each of you at one time or another. I believe its called “biting your tongue.”

DISCLAIMER: There have been, on a few occasions, incidents when da harv was not able to control himself, and presented a particular supplier (or a few suppliers – or quite a few suppliers, on a number of incidents – actually on a large number of incidents) a variety of sweeping assertions regarding the mental acuity of the supplier, be it male or female doing the supplying.

Suppliers come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and of course may include family, friends, strangers and enemies. The selection of suppliers is definitely endless. Please note, I have not included professions on my list of suppliers. But in the event I had chosen to include work categories, on the very top of my list would be two occupations; critics and politicians – not necessarily in that order.

(It is far too difficult for me to ascertain which group of these less than stalwart human beings is guilty of insulting the intelligence of the greatest number of us folks, at any one period in time.)

My great aunt Molly was one of them. She was considered an all pro for her era. The woman found it necessary to keep talking, whatever the circumstances.

She was definitely a full-blown “Yenta.”

(A woman who is a gossip, or busybody.
ORIGIN 1920s: Yiddish, originally a given name.)

I was with my dad on a visit to a relative’s home when Great Aunt Molly appeared. She greeted my father and ignored me. Her first words to Dad: “What’s a matter with him, Charlie? Da boy don’t look so good.”

Wasn’t that a nice thing to say within earshot of an eight year old kid?

It must have made an impact on my young mind, when you realize I’ve carried it with me all these years.

Summing it all up, my experience with actors in general has been an uplifting experience. Our work is the auditioning process, and without hesitation I can attest to a bottom-line absolute personal evaluation: The vast number of voice over actors are a professional joy to work with. Sure, I’m able to think back and recollect incidents that weren’t a fun-time experience. But who among us can possibly give testimony to a life with day-to-day total laugh-a-minute perfection.

My advice is simple: Only remember the intakes and outtakes that make you smile.

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