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Second Guessing Your 1st Choices Gumbo

Second Guessing Your 1st Choices Gumbo

Posted by jharris in News


In a large head, mix together:

  • 5 parts various training
  • 50 parts personal judgment
  • A generous variety of opinions and techniques

Blend together with:

  • One home studio
  • No director
  • New trends
  • An OCD personality
  • A confused mind and more


The important part of this recipe is trusting in the ingredients.  Blended well this can be a very confusing recipe.   It’s important that while you are cooking up your concoction that you try a variety of options to obtain the best results.  The challenge is finding which options will work well for your clients.

Many times your first choices are your best options but if you like to offer a bit of variety it becomes easy to second-guess your first choices.  You may find that you made so many choices that you have a hard time picking just one.

“I like that take, but I think the client wants me to smile more at the end….then again the client might like the fact that I’m not smiling there.  Shows off confidence….”  So many choices and even though we are not directors, we are forced to make director decisions and trust our choices.

This can be very hard for most of us, especially for those of us who like to offer more than one take.  Making that final decision of which final takes to put on the audition  and in what order can be most difficult.  Let’s face it, if we make the wrong decision, it will in fact, cost us the job.  The truth of the matter is, there is no such thing as a right or wrong choice, only a client’s choice. As much as we might try to think for the client, we’re not the client and the only one who knows what is right for the client is the client themselves.

One of the advantages of working in your own studio is that you are in full control of what you send to the client and one of the disadvantages to working in your own studio is that you are in full control of what you send to the client.  LOL.  I can’t help but second-guess my decisions in the editing room.

My auditions vary due to time, investment and clients needs.  Sometimes I have the time to do a ton of homework on the project and other times I am forced to trust my instinct and wing it (the old “rip and read”).  Both have their advantages and their disadvantages.

Usually when you have time to do homework, it’s very reflective in your audition, however there are times when you can over do your homework and put too much effort into it and your natural instincts get lost and then all we can hear are your choices, instead of your acting.  Or to put it another way, then we lose sight of the reality of the scene and only hear your “Acting”.

I see this all the time in my coaching sessions.  I will have worked with a student a few times and have given them many different tools to try to get them in their comfort zone.  They have so much information to absorb once they get up to the mic that they are overwhelmed.  When you get to the caliber you should be – it won’t be about technical choices, such as who, what where, when why, or audience, back story, character moods etc., instead, once you understand how to apply these tools, all you’ll need to do is focus on is showcasing the personality of the character in the copy.   All the technical stuff will usually fall into place, either because you’ve done the homework and now you don’t have to think about it or you’ve been at this long enough that it just happens naturally.

The bottom line is if you go into your audition and you’re mind is on all the choices you are making or you can hear your mistakes or choices, then you truly aren’t doing your best.  It’s like the singer, they connect best to their audience when they are lost in the song.  As much as you need to rely on the tools, and techniques that help you understand what to do, you also have to be in the moment, which means to forget about all the stuff in your head and go with the flow.

This is especially true when you’re in the moment and you do something that you sure is NOT going to work.  Just allow it to finish through – as it could be magical when you listen back.

Once you’ve finished playing in the recording room, then it’s time to make the decisions.  I always leave my first take until the very end as many times I’ve tried so many things by the time I go back to my first take, it has a more simple take on it and sometimes that it was the client needs.

There is no way to teach you exactly what take the client wants, but there are many clues within your copy and audition specs that will help you make the decision that is best for the client.  I consider the following for my first choices on my auditions:  What are the clients needs?  What will everyone else do?  Which one is too risky?  Which one is safe?

I’ve said this many times before, but I like to give more than one take on my auditions – when I’m allowed.  Never more than three, but having two takes allows me to go with what I think the client wants and what I know would be better or what I feel is a risk.  Sometimes my risks are just offering a mainstream safe read – especially in today’s market.  The reads are slowly leaning towards the broadcast side combined with the actor so what was once an excellent take to offer – is now too risky.

Again, you never know here, but trust that your first instincts are usually good ones and worth considering.

Until next time.

All my best,
VO Chef Deb

02 Jul 2012 No Comments

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