Thursday, February 15, 2007

Need Directions?

A good director is the most important part of a great voice over project- often more important than the actor themselves in my opinion. No, I am not trying to butter anyone up, nor am I trying to get a job (unless you're hiring!).

A good director works with the voice talent to bring out the best possible read. They are patient and encouraging. They have tons of energy and constantly push you to do better.

I say this, because I have had 2 experiences in my career that quite frankly baffled me.

The first was a commercial I recorded a few years back (which is why I now feel comfortable writing about it) with a brilliant male voice actor I had always looked up to. It was a radio commercial in which he played Santa and I played an elf...fun, right? However, he clearly was not in the "Holiday Spirit"! Not only was he very late to the session, he actually complained and cursed through most of it. The poor director tried to keep things light by laughing as if it was all a joke, when it obviously was not. This man went on and on about how much he hated the business, wanted out, was bored...etc...all while recording a paid gig for a client!

It was almost like watching the real Santa curse- a disturbing thought, huh?

My second experience came with a director that honestly made me question my own career choice as a voice actor. I won't give any specific details- I will only say this director has had complaints in the past from other voice actors. During the session (which was about 20 hours over 3 days) the director would make comments like, "Do you know how to read?", "Are you not able to act?", "Are you sure this is the right job for you?". On day 2 I asked the director if they would be more comfortable finding another voice actor for the part- I explained that my feelings would not be hurt. The answer? I was exactly what they were looking for.

It was the longest 3 days of my career.

There is a valuable relationship between a director and a voice talent. In my opinion, we need them more than they need us. A good director can bring things out in you that you never knew were there. A bad director can make a great voice sound like a croaking toad!

We all have bad days. We just have to leave it at the front door- don't let your negativity ever penetrate a studio's walls. I realize I am fortunate to work from home, even if most of my days are spent in a padded walk-in closet!

Even during the worst recording session of my life I somehow managed to keep my enthusiasm high. It turns out the engineer of that session enjoyed my acting and passed my name on to another director...you never know who is listening!!

The client is always right, and it's our job to deliver the read they love...with a smile before, during, and after :)

2 comments:

Rich Gates said...

Great post Kara! I agree with you wholeheartedly even though I've been fortunate enough to not ever deal with an abusive director.

My producer was telling me that half of being successful in this business is being easy to work with. If you have a good attitude, you will go further than someone who is a problem. Even if your acting chops aren't quite as good.

Kara Edwards said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comments Rich! During the session, I just reminded myself over and over how much I love my job. For every negative word she said, I smiled even more! A positive attitude and being easy to work with will make all the difference. Whether it's take 1 or 101- at least you are doing what you love!

Thanks again!
Kara