Working Reality

Ever dread being in front of a particular somebody who, even in his or her own dreams, wouldn’t be referred to as a director? Usually a guy or gal who epitomizes the true meaning of the word “ego.”

Forget about it, my friends. You’re going to have to deal with it, whether you like it or not. It’s your work, your profession, and perhaps what happens in order to feed your family. Just grin and bear it. Tomorrow will be a better day. Remember, mediocrity is not limited to politicians. There are many folks within our industry whose positions of attainment are quizzical at best. Total wonderment, to say the least. How did they get where they are?

As said a million times before da harv came along, the audition is your life’s work as a voice over artist. The gig itself is really the icing on the cake. Bad direction during the audition presents nothing more than a work-around for the experienced actor. All of us develop little tricks, allowing for our own good taste, in order to interpret the audition script. But the little tricks you will develop must never be hurtful or cause embarrassment to the person who is there to direct you. It’s just like being in a restaurant: Don’t insult your waiter or waitress. Good to know the food you’re about to eat doesn’t have any “getting even” quality to it.

The same applies to your audition director. It’s nice to know your audition makes it to the powers that be. Treat your audition director with reverence whether he or she has earned it or not.

The actual session, on the other hand, is a different story. You’re being paid to be there, and to take and follow directions. Please don’t fall into the terrible trap of doing an analysis of the director’s personality (reserve becoming a psychologist for when you are a paid professional).



Most of what I am going to impart will apply almost entirely to commercial sessions, as opposed to theatrical performances. Reason being: The commercial session more often than not brings with it far more cooks than should be in the proverbial kitchen. This phenomenon requires much more tolerance on the part of the director, as well as the actors involved.

I.e., at one session which I was hired to direct, there were no less than fifteen people in the control area with me. That’s not a typo. Fifteen people who, (borrowing from Orson Welles) within the depths of their ignorance, still managed to offer an overabundance of unnecessary babble for the actors to cipher. That is, in the event I’ve allowed them to do so. Some were from the advertising agency, while others were with the production company responsible for the animated characters we were there to create the voices for. While this represents an extreme situation, it did happen, and it exemplifies the necessity for the actor to be and stay focused on what the assigned director is requesting of them.

NOTE: If the director happens to be yours truly (ME), you can expect total courtesy.

Your job will be to listen and look at me when I’m speaking to you, or in the case of multiple actors in the recording booth simultaneously, to pay equal attention to me (as your director) even when I am offering direction to one or more of the other actors involved.

The people positioned behind me are not privy to my facial expression.

(I make sure to position myself so as not to allow a reflection of da harv to appear on the glass, which separates the control room from the recording booth.)

Unless the lead producer insists on speaking directly to the actor or actors in the booth, I will be the only one (as director) giving you instructions.

(I set this up in advance with the assigned engineer, who makes sure I have the only button to activate the microphones on our side of the glass.)

In other words… if the people behind me have anything to say, I’m the one who will act as the translator between them and the actors. Here’s the way it is in a nutshell. I speak the actor’s language, the entourage behind me doesn’t. But, at the same time, we must never lose track of the team’s objectives. Yes, there were far too many people present during the session. All of them in attendance had the same target to focus in on; the best voice over performances possible. If however they were all allowed to communicate their thoughts to the actors, we might all still be there trying to complete the project. I will admit, fifteen people in the booth at the same time could be a record attendance. What is mind-boggling about the session I’ve described for you, is the same mistake is constantly being perpetrated throughout our industry. Once again, what it all boils down to is: Too many cooks spoil the broth. They simply don’t get it.

The bottom line: Our job as the actor or director is to do the very best we can.

I find the easiest way to accomplish this goal is to stay in the game no matter how difficult conditions may become. It’s not an audition.

The fact is, we’re being paid to listen and to do.

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