Most experienced actors; the successful ones, that is, enjoy being given performance notes by a director. Make no mistake… giving an actor performance notes is a distinct craft within itself. Some consider it to be the art of psychology at its highest state. Some actors have been known to be a little touchy, considering any suggestion to be a personal criticism. If an actor feels that way, the chance of improving his or her performance diminishes dramatically.
Each of us is equipped with a great listening device. It’s called a brain. (Well, actually the ears come first. Even actors have them.) Albeit, not all actors use what they were endowed with: The ability to listen. While the brain allows us to listen to and cipher information, some human beings have a habit of turning off their receptors before the message is complete. As a director, my strongest virtue must be patience. When an actor interrupts to say they get it, and I haven’t had the time to complete my notes to them, I almost always doubt their ability to win the job. I’m rarely surprised; most likely the next take will be a waste of my time. Not that I feel my words or advice are the end all in assuring an actor’s success, but many actors have the malady I refer to as “premature election.” They’re willing to move on to what they feel is a new read, when in fact they’ve secured and mollified themselves with the old.
Few actors have any real understanding of how commercial voice casting works. There is much more to it than putting out a casting call in an attempt to find a certain sound. Oftentimes our casting team is involved in a multi-person casting meeting with the powers that be. I’m referring to the possibility of a writer, producer, creative of some type, and even the sponsor’s representative; all offering a malaise of information. These are a group of supposedly intelligent personalities attempting to set forth information, which will solve all of our directional and casting needs. They think! Following the conference call, we begin putting together a statement in writing which we intend using as the substance of our casting call to go out to the variety of voice agents we deal with.
(As an aside… many of the voice agents are also guilty of “premature election.” They often fall into the “we know what they’re saying” before we say it category. And then there is the problem of the agents submitting what they have in their stable even if the actors being submitted aren’t remotely right for our call.)
Professionally, we have been practicing our trade for thirty years. That alone should guarantee the actors would be tuned in to what we have to say to them.
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