Thursday, January 16, 2014
So we're studying Communications and Information Management at Bay Path College, fine. And here we are in the second semester and I have heard this reoccurring theme, not only in class and in the books, but also from people in the world I respect.
Create value, by being unique.
You see, in the world of V.O. some people will say, "It's VERY competitive!" and that's true and it isn't true. You have to be good at this; a good reader, a good actor, someone who can interpret a script, etc. But NO ONE is like you.
Market that uniqueness of you.
It's that old philosophical idea of "be yourself." Don't be like Madonna, or Tiger Woods, they got to their level by BEING THEMSELVES!
And that's the trick of it really. It's hard to not be influenced by the world around you, and you will be influenced, but as many times as someone says that I remind them of Jackie Gleason or a young Nathan Lane, I am not them. I like those guys, but alas I am Monk.
Presently I'm in the process of going through a branding exercise with Celia Siegle whom I met at the last FaffCon in San Antonio TX. I hired her to look at my branding and give me a going over. She said that monksvoice.com was good, but it didn't have my "Personality" represented. The font didn't give people enough insight to what it would be like working with me. To formal. And my demo needed updating.
Good solid advice. So we're booking time with a director in New York, going to head to a studio next week, and we are going to get a new demo done. When talking on the phone, David, (the director) wanted me to talk about myself to find out who I am. What's my style, where did I feel the most natural.
I'll keep you posted on that as we move into next week.
The thing I'm looking forward to, is being more me. Letting the me, be me. Because there's no one else quite like me.
Or you. And that has value. And that value, is your sustainable advantage in the market…
Friday, October 18, 2013
And I want to give a huge thanks again to the amazing Peter O'Connell, who helped out with the session. The man knows how to run a room.
Who is this Character?First off, I don't do impersonations. However the voices I hear do INFLUENCE the voices I use.
Let me use an example, right now as of this writing, I'm in a production on-stage playing the roll of Lawrence Garfinkle, aka "Larry the Liquidator" in the show Other People's Money. The book states that Lawrence "Larry" is a third generation guy from the Bronx. Not to be played too heavy on the accent.
Ok. So here's a guy, he's in his 40's, overweight, and pretty well off. He dresses well but is not highly read, his sentence structure is still that of his youth on the streets of the Bronx. "You doing your job good." for example.
He's street smart, and is good at his game. That's the surface.
|Lawrence Garfinkle and Kate Sullivan|
as played by Monk and Colleen Lovett
Peel The OnionThere's more to him and here is where I go deeper into figuring out this guy. He says in the show that he used to be skinny, well, skinny-er. I see him as the fat kid in school that was bullied. Little Lawrence Garfinkle was never "Larry" in grade school. He was teased, he was pushed around and then he grew up. And he turned into a bully himself. That kid that once knocked his books out of his hands in the hallway, was just let go from the factory that "Larry the Liquidator" bought and shut down. I can almost see Piggy from Lord of the Flies.
So he's got power and money. When he dates women, he doesn't go for prom queens or cheerleader types. He dates the waitress or the secretary from the office pool. Someone he can control and impress. But it's shallow and he'll never marry them because of his own dim view of his self.
All the bluster of a bully, and all the self loathing of a fat little kid in grade school.
Voices of InspirationAs I mentioned, I don't do impersonations, BUT I hear and picture people that can add a facet or piece to this character. For Lawrence I picture a couple of people. The late great James Gandolfini for his physicality and ability to be light on his feet. Lawrence is heavy, but after a lifetime of heavy, he's strong enough to hold himself up and move. The other image in my head is Robert DeNiro. DeNiro has one character, he does it well and even makes fun of it in some movies, but it's always the same. I sum it up with the phrase, "You...."
Say it while pointing. "You... all of you.." It's an attitude. He is commanding the room, looking at each person in the eye and making a promise, not a threat.
DetailsLawrence Garfinkle is from the Bronx. Now I'll admit, I have a slight handicap here as my family is from South Boston. Good old Fackin Southy. A Bronx accent and a South Boston accent are different in many ways, and similar in others. For the longest time I thought that Archie Bunker was from Southy.
The subtleties are in vowels, Southy is Cah, Dawla, Cahfee. Bronx is Caw. Smawt. Dahlah. Cawfee.
Not over the top, it has to sound natural. But if you say Cah, when you should have said Caw, that audience member from Flatbush is going to catch it and call you on it later. Work on it. Get someone to listen to you and call you on it. It helps that I have a lot of New York friends to call on.
PhysicalFor me, I have to get a character into my bones, into my muscle memory. A troll for example is top heavy and generally needs something to lean on. A police sergeant is chest out, hand on the butt of a nightstick or barton, head up and jaw set.
Lawrence I see in some ways as a boxer. After growing up fat, he took some boxing lessons because he read an add in the back of a comic book, you know the one, some guy kicking sand in his face, so he goes and gets buff. Only Lawrence never changed his eating habits, he still consumes way to many donuts. But he stands balanced, never really resting on his heels and never caught with both hands in his pockets. If he relaxes for a second or two, he may put his left hand in a pocket, but only for a moment. I think Lawrence could throw a few mean punches, and in reality would throw you down a set of stairs and keep hitting you once you passed out. Again, the anger of being bullied as a kid.
Now mind you, NONE of this is in the script. It's all backstory that I create to develop a character. Which brings me to the next point...
Make it Your OwnI don't imitate, I get inspired by others. And I even go so far as to NOT see someone else's version of a character. If I know of a show or movie of the show I'm doing. I DO NOT go see it till afterward. The reward is hearing, "I liked your take on the character." or "You made it your own."
When you imitate you get drawn into someone else's choices. And you run the risk of getting compared to that persons work and character creation. It may happen, I have heard that I remind people of Jackie Gleason or once "A young Nathan Lane." (Comparisons I can live with!) But you don't want to get stuck doing something that a director or person has heard a hundred times before.
Give the character dimension in your own mind, it's all make believe, but don't give it a short shrift, know who this troll/elf/cowboy/office worker/tailgunner is. It works for me.
SummarySo I visualize, write down details, create a history, and get physically into a character. When Lawrence Garfinkle walks out on stage, he is the sum of his past and the people I know. He wants to be attractive, but damn, donuts taste so freakin good. Want one?
Monday, October 14, 2013
Faffing : "The excessive use of time for nonsense activities.
My Fourth FaffCon
Why go EVERY year?
Take Sessions - Lead Sessions
Connections, Connections, Connections
One of the goals for me this year (and last year) was to amp up my marketing, I can guarantee you that I will be sitting down with Celia Siegel and talking about how to get more people to know who I am. I will be calling Cliff Zellman down in Dallas for some guidance on my Automotive demo as well as my commercial demo. I will be going through all my notes and will endeavor to join a stand up group to keep the pressure on.
It's a lot!
There were quite a few new Faffers at FaffCon6, and it felt good to sit and talk with people about the business and ins and outs. It's great being HELPFUL! I learn, and I share. The "Rising tide lifts all boats" mentality.
Only Once a Year
I can go into detail with what I learned in various sessions, and I'll share some things in following posts to keep you up to date. But here's the skinny.
As a Voice Actor, you're often alone in a booth, alone in a studio, it can be an isolated lifestyle with only a internet connection to people. The great thing about FaffCon is that it is a safe place to be with fellow talent and you can be open and honest about what roadblocks are in front of you. And then, people actually HELP you get over those hurdles. FOR REAL! IN PERSON! THEY UNDERSTAND!
I don't know how I was so lucky to be guided to FaffCon, but wild horses won't keep me away. I'll see you there.
So I've always struggled with the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I never had an answer to that, and to this day, I really still don't.
First of all, what does "Grow up." mean? In my brain, and I'm willing to bet in yours, I'm still 23 or 24, even though I am now twice that age. I have more responsibilities, own a house (well, the bank does anyway) run my own freelance company and work a day job at a respectable college.
Is that grown up?
Being an actor and a voice talent is where I've ended up, not through any pursuit of passion, it just all fell into place. My technical background of theater brought me to radio, radio brought me into staged readings, then I was on stage in a show then voicing commercials. It all flowed.
DilbertI recently saw an interview with Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. And I realized, that my varied background, has allowed me to succeed in what I do TODAY. And today, will help me move into what tomorrow brings.
Passion can grow from success. For me, curiosity feeds an interest, that interest will feed some research and perhaps even an experiment. The worst that can happen is that I'll fail. But at least I TRIED.
Do What You Love?I've heard from a couple sources, to "Follow your passion, and the money will follow." or, (and this is my worst problem) "Focus, and become the best at that one thing."
There are not enough hours in the day to do what I want to do! People who say, "I'm bored." I do not understand.
PassionOk, back to passion. It's a struggle! It's hard for me to define what I'm "Passionate" about. I like good wine. Enjoy a motorcycle ride through the fall colors but I'm not a sports fan. I don't follow any sport or team to get all cranked up about. Pirates win! Pirates lose! Meh, who cares. I do like superhero movies and I'm a big Star Wars fan, but am I willing to get into an argument about Jar-Jar? Nah. Me no think so. Is that passion?
As I get better and better at this voice and acting thing, I can see how I can begin to focus on it more and more. But to have it be my one thing? I can see how if I focused, I could become spectacular at it.
Oy. Can't do it. Focus on ONE THING? but what about the rest of the cool things?! Where would I be today if I focused on just one thing? Who knows?!
But I'm willing to bet, I wouldn't be as happy. And I really do love a well polished pair of dress shoes, and I'm a big fan of shoe trees. (Don't even start me talking about watches... oooo a Submariner!)
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
My latest creation is a speaker and amp built out of a cello.
The whole build is here.
It sounds pretty decent actually and looks wicked pissa cool. (to my family from Southy!)
I'm already toying with the idea of creating a short stage piece using it somehow. Perhaps a short story of a cello player and a small napkin in the breeze...
If you want something done, ask someone who's busy. Wait till you see the next great thing.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
sheesh. So I started the summer theater season at the Mac-Haydn Theater playing the part of Mortimer, the man who always dies, in The Fantasticks. And told the theater that I was really planning on doing just one show this summer, then going to go sailing, fishing, and work on the house.
The director, John Saunders, mentions to me, "Would be interested in doing another show?"
Fantasticks wraps, our A Cappella group is on a mini tour, and I get this email. Would I consider playing Thenardier in Les Miserables.
So there ya go, three weeks of rehearsal and a two week run, 8 shows a week...
|When the sewers run with blood....|
Then right into rehearsals for an indie movie short. Who needs sleep?
Thursday, May 2, 2013
You knew there was going to be a but, right?
The audio I was capturing, didn't sound 100%. It was time to fine tune, get into the details of it.