Little victories

This evening, I had my first private coaching session with a new director. I’d heard from others that this director had a reputation for being difficult to please (I’d heard another student comment that he had “worked her over” in a recent session). All trepidation aside, I was looking forward to working with this individual, who has an insider’s perspective on the casting process.

My concerns — and my initial nervousness — proved to be for naught.

The session was fast-paced, exciting, and yes, even fun. And never once did I feel “worked over.” It was as successful an hour as I’ve spent since I began my voiceover journey.

Since we hadn’t worked together before, the director took a few moments at the beginning of the session to talk about my background and interests. Then, we were off to the races.

We worked through six pieces of copy during the hour, under conditions very much like a live audition. The director handed me a script, gave me a minute or so to read through the copy and make a choice about my read, then we slated and recorded. After the read, he’d offer brief comment about things he liked or didn’t like, gave me direction for the next take, and we’d dive in again. A little more direction, and a final take. A couple of times, we didn’t even need a third take to get to the read he wanted.

My customary tendency toward excessive analysis and self-critique evaporated in this environment. I simply didn’t have time. There wasn’t an opportunity for writing an extended breakdown of the scene, a character bio, or answers to my five key questions. I had just long enough to make a decision about what the copy was saying and what approach I wanted to bring to it, and the tape started rolling. (I know, everything’s digital now — no actual tape was involved. You know what I mean.)

I loved this.

For one thing, it felt much more “real world” than sessions where I have far more leisure to address the copy. I know that in most actual audition scenarios, I’ll have just enough time to make a swift, solid choice, and go big with it. So, it was excellent practice under lifelike conditions.

For another, I work better when forced to go with my first impulse. After all, that approach has served me quite effectively on my Jeopardy! appearances over the years. It’s also what I do several times a week in a speaking situation — rely on my preparation and instincts, and not sweat every turn of phrase.

And, to be honest, it’s the way I manage my daily workouts. I open a copy document, find a piece of script to read, look it over in short order, then start recording. Most of the time, I’m more than pleased by the second or third take. And I haven’t burned out my brain pan conducting in-depth analysis. It’s not that I don’t analyze. It’s just that I don’t let myself over-think.

For me, that’s what works.

I felt encouraged by the work I did this evening. I found myself relaxed, confident, and energized throughout the hour, once the initial jangle of nerves passed. I liked the choices I made, the voices I found, and the characters I created on the spot — at least a couple of which were entirely brand new to me, and you’d better believe I’m going to record them before I hit the sack tonight, so that I can firmly ingrain them and pull them out again sometime.

I’ll write more tomorrow about some of the other lessons I learned in tonight’s session.

But for right now, I’d just like to bask in a little momentary victory.

Explore posts in the same categories: Jeopardy!, Reflection, Strategy, Voice acting, Voiceover, Voicetrax

One Comment on “Little victories”

  1. […] leave a comment » Now that I’ve had a night to sleep on it, here’s a summary of the lessons learned in yesterday’s coaching session. […]

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