The origin of the Kalmenson Method was much more than a single thought or a single time sit-down-and-write-it kind of a thing. My method was, and remains, an evolution. My words have evolved as have the time and presence we live with, by making use of our God-given skills and the ability to use every texture that our memory can and will provide when stimulated.
While I can verbally convey many of the ingredients, the most important factor to be cognizant of is that ours is best served as an applied method. Each singular element must be used in order to ensure the final truthful performance by the purposeful application of each actor’s individual signature. In other, and simpler, terms… we stress the importance of each actor conveying the truth. I mean your truth conveyed within your personal signature.
What do I mean by the word “signature”? Your signature?
Begin by describing yourself, honestly, to yourself. What are you able to say? Are you sweet and soft-spoken? Are you a little edgy, and able to tell it like it is? Are you a touch on the sarcastic side? What about happy-go-lucky? Bizarre? Romantic? Playful? Droll? Dry? Drip? Pip? Flip? Clipped? Stipulate? Manipulate? Grandfatherly? Grandmotherly? All-American boy or girl next door?
I can go on almost forever. The point is, that the above-mentioned types can also be referred to as your signature– providing that’s who you really are without “going for it”. Who or what you honestly come across as is what we try to uncover, or discover, during the first few weeks of our applied method.
Once we have your signature in place, and you are on the way to having the confidence of using it with the courage of your convictions, we encourage you to try its use during our duplication of the exact game conditions that an actor will be experiencing during auditions in the Los Angeles area market place.
Our Kalmenson Method provides coaching to actors in the art of self-direction and copy interpretation. Self-direction is one of the most important tools an actor must have in their arsenal. Rarely, will an actor receive the kind of direction one might expect in a major league market like Los Angeles.
Commercial voiceover auditions are amongst the more difficult assignments for even the more competent directors. The problem is that there is a shortage of professionally trained directors. I know I’ve never talked to any of my contemporaries and heard them expound on how they always dreamed of directing voiceover auditions.
In Los Angeles, the vast majority of voiceover auditions, for decades, were being conducted at the agents’ offices; rarely would that give an actor a chance to expand their horizons. The agent sees and hears you a certain way. When you’re in the agent’s booth, they, the agent, will ask you for what they feel you can do.
Time is always a burden to an agent. In the agents’ offices, it usually takes on a “get them in and get them out” mentality. A great many of the scripts that an actor will audition won’t call for that particular actor’s signature. But, in what appears to be a pacification program conducted in order to satisfy the actor’s desire to read on a wide variety of scripts, the actor finds themselves reading more and winning less.
I’ve listened to some of the most insane directions being handed out by inexperienced agent directors. i.e.: The actor is handed a script and told they’re looking for a “big” voice. Does that mean they want a voice like James Earl Jones or what? It’s a quandary.
Ask an experienced voice actor about the quality of direction they receive– many will say it’s lacking. Every commercial voiceover actor must have a solid track to run on. A track that the actor must practice on a daily basis, in order to establish a solid foundation; it is the solid foundation, which is the actor’s enabler.
Great instincts become meager reactors without the benefit of a solid foundation. Daily reading (practicing the “scales”) is an absolute necessity in order for success to be achieved. In short…it’s impossible for an actor to become a creative force if they’re unable to read.
There may be an actor out there, somewhere, who became successful in the field of voiceover without being a good reader. During the course of my career, and the thousands upon thousands of actors I have personally directed, I have never come in contact with an individual who made it without being a proficient reader.
Our Kalmenson Method requires good reading skills. Any normal person has the capabilities of becoming a good reader; that is if that person is willing to practice on the Kalmenson track. We insist on our actors working hard on the basics in order for us to concentrate on helping each actor free up and enter the “skin peeling” process, wholeheartedly.