I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about the art of listening. It’s something every actor needs to master. Without listening, we are bad actors. Just memorizing lines, and saying them how we’d say them to ourself in the mirror. When you listen, things becomes active, and in the moment. Your fellow actor says a line, and how they say the line will affect how you say your line.
Let’s take things a bit further now. Every actor needs to find their voice, and that’s extremely complicated. Once you put a microphone or a camera in front of a person’s face, their performance will inevitably change. Why does it? Insecurity plays a part. We feel as humans that we’re just not good enough. Therefore, when a camera gets in our face, we feel the need to “put some ketchup on it.”
We are always listening, and we don’t necessarily know that we’re doing it. When someone is talking, we give off the appearance of listening. Start listening, see what happens. Don’t formulate the next thing you’re going to say halfway thru their monologue. That’s not listening. Here’s the question… Are you listening when you’re talking? Yes, we are, when done well. You don’t know when the person is going to talk next, so when you’re talking, and want to have a good conversation, you should be listening as well, because you never know when they might interject with something, to add to the conversation.
After a year of auditioning for voice-over gigs, I’ve learned a couple things. My recent discovery is you should be attuned to the possibility of someone saying something back to you while doing the audition. Ok, that doesn’t make sense, Clint. Well if you want to give the impression that your audition is conversational, you should be “on your toes” if something perhaps magical happens, and your computer starts talking to you, so you can realistically respond to that. I know that’s probably not going to happen, but you should be in that mode of thinking.
Another discovery I’ve made is maybe we’re not trying to find our voice, but we’re trying to find our breath. In a voice-over audition, you should not take a huge breath before you start speaking, and rush thru the lines. That’s not realistic. After doing it a couple times, you need to find the places where you breathe. I think this is a breakthrough idea. Perhaps it’s not the words we say that is important. But it’s where we find the moments to NATURALLY breathe that is most important.
Besides smokers, I think people are inherently afraid to take a deep breath, as if God mights say, hey, man. You’re taking up too much air! Don’t be greedy. To find your voice, a big part of it will be to find your breath.
Then you’ll start booking some voice-over gigs, like I hope to do. God knows I have auditioned over 100 times, and nothing yet.