GUEST POST: Finding Your Voice
Felicity Jurd is one very busy lady! She not only manages to appear in films, television, commercials and more, but she also owns and runs Pitch, Pause, Pace. I can say first hand what a treat it has been to have her help me when I’ve been preparing for a Voice Over job or another professional piece. And just last week I asked Felicity if she wouldn’t mind sharing with the B.A.B.E. audience some of the common questions that actors and voice over artists, who are starting out, ask Felicity. Enjoy.
Finding Your Voice
-By Felicity Jurd
Well rather than thinking of it as hard, I like to say that it requires a methodical and consistent approach; regular practice, recording as often as you can, practicing fluid sight reading. Like any aspect of your craft it often requires more hours than you might initially think.
Why do I need a voice over reel to become a voice over artist?
In voice overs your reel is equivalent to your headshot. No actor can work without a headshot so no voice over artist can work without a reel.
It sounds obvious but recording a reel is really the first and most important step in starting your voice over career. All voice over artists are continually updating their voice reels with real examples of work. It is also perfectly acceptable to record a voice reel which is not from real recorded jobs. However, it is recommended to find a great studio to record in as they can help guide you for a good range of scripts and genres of work and will be experienced in designing the order of a reel. If you are just starting out, I highly recommend Stellar Sound in Sydney, Sound and Images in Auckland, JP at The Showreel in London and Motivation Studios in North London.
I thought I would need to audition live in the studio rather than send a reel for each job to show what I can do?
You will most often book a job directly from your reel and based on recommendation from previous work. Your voice over agent will submit your links and have your sound clips available in a variety of formats for studios to consider. However, occasionally, in the world of commercials you will need to audition live in the studio. In this case, you will be short listed for an audition with your voice reel and then the live studio audition will be with the client (sometimes as many as four people on an ISDN line in another city) and an engineer. In this case, the audition is most similar to a call back and they will ask for you to prepare the script in the same way as one of the excerpts that they liked on your voice reel.
What if I don’t have a voice over agent to submit me for jobs?
There is no reason why you cannot seek out your own work before you are represented, but being represented by a reputable voice agent is the best way to make sure that you will be recommended to great clients and working in fantastic studios with very talented engineers and script writers and earning Equity approved rates.
How do you prepare for a job once you are booked?
In most cases, the voice artist is given the script in the studio and must interpret the text immediately. That means the only way you can prepare is to do some sight reading practice and find out as much information as you can about the job. If you are a fluid reader, with good breathing technique, half of your problems are solved! Accuracy is key in the recording studio as it is expensive to run a studio, so the more accurate you can be, the more often you will be asked back to record.
Do you have any tips for recording in the studio?
Your ears are your most important feature as a voice over artist as listening is really the key to working well in the studio.
Write down any key words that the engineer and client are using to describe the style required for the job.
Write down the sound engineer’s name at the beginning of the session on your script. Write down any other key names, such as the name of the client, at the bottom of your script. It is surprising how often during a recording you will benefit from this.
Breathe deeply and listen to the backing tracks or existing commercial or supporting elements of the script. Really listen to the timing and the overall time frame that is required. The client and the engineer will always provide this information at the beginning of the read through and if they don’t, after your first take, they will tell you if you are too slow or speaking too quickly.
What about protecting your voice and keeping it healthy? Do you have any tricks?
Stay hydrated. Check that there is water in the studio and check if you are allowed to drink it in the studio. Almost all studios will have this, but occasionally I have recorded in studios where they prefer not to have water in the studio so it is always a good idea to bring your own bottle as well. Take a banana in your bag or a high protein snack that is quick, easy and not messy to eat on a 2 minute break. Have a good solid breakfast about two to three hours before you record. There is nothing more annoying than doing a perfect read and the engineer has to ask you to record again because your stomach is rumbling.
If you are a lover of espresso or strong coffee, I do recommend waiting until after a recording to have your coffee. It will make you speed up too much in your recording and if you haven’t eaten enough or you are slightly nervous the caffeine will have an even more intense effect on your body and, therefore, your voice.
And finally, what about if I am sick or coming down with the flu?
I always drink hot water and honey in the morning if my throat is sore. If my throat isn’t sore, then I drink camomile tea. If you are coming down with a cold or flu, avoid Vicks, lozenges with menthol and eucalyptus before you record as it will actually dry out your throat and mouth. If you really need something then a butterscotch lozenge will do more wonders for your throat than a Strepsil. I learnt this from a terrific musical theatre director I worked with in Sydney and it really truly is worth following.
Avoid being around cigarettes and cigars the night before especially if you are likely to be at the theatre or a networking evening the night before.
About our B.A.B.E. guest writer Felicity:
Felicity Jurd works as a communications coach using applied theatre and vocal techniques to enhance communication of individuals and groups within corporate business in the UK. She also coaches actors privately for auditions and role preparation. All her courses draw on the elements of Pitch, Pause and Pace and are designed to help the actor perform confidently whilst remaining flexible and open to their specific audience, whether that be an audition for a new BBC drama, an independent feature film or a promotion interview to become Head of Accounts.
To find out more information about course material, availability for booking a group or private session in acting or communications, please click here: Pitch, Pause, Pace