Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wearing the Actor Hat

In addition to being an author, I'm also an actor, and mostly do on-camera and voiceover work. While I love theatre and there are so many great productions in Chicago, low pay and high time commitment (perhaps four nights a week from 7-10pm) make it a less viable option for me (assuming I'd even get cast).

Acting can be roller-coastery. Yay, I booked it! Nice, a former client offered me something out of the blue. Oh well, I didn't get this or that or that. Hmm. What a slow week. Or two. I have to keep the faith that more opportunities are on their way. I do my best to keep a lot of things in the pipeline, but just as you never know how many books you'll sell, you don't know how many auditions you'll get or if the client (and their client) will choose you even if you do a great audition.

Naturally, when it rains, it pours. Monday I had a voiceover job about 40 minutes from me at 3pm, which wasn't confirmed until late morning. It was what's called an explainer video: I'd narrate an animation informing company employees about something. Two clients listened via phone, offering direction. It went very well, and only took about half an hour. That night, I was the speaker at my local RWA chapter's meeting in a different suburb. And had two voiceover auditions waiting when I got home.

I record, edit and home and send the vast majority of VO auditions as MP3s. The turnaround is often less than 24 hours. Yesterday I had two rush auditions, which is rare. One arrived just before noon and was due at 4pm. The other came just after 3pm and said due now (very rare). If you're not available to record, you miss the opportunity.

Tuesday morning I had to be an hour and a half away by 8:30 (the same day FOLLOW YOUR HEART  released--so I'd arranged help get the word out) for what's called an industrial--a corporate film.

It involved five people and a very long script with some complex corporate speak. The best way to cover this much copy is by using an ear prompter. You record your lines on a small tape recorder that has an earpiece similar to the kind TV news anchors wear. Then you hold the recorder or a remote in your hand or hide it in your sleeve, press play, and repeat the lines you hear in your head.

This is a learned skill. I've practiced by repeating what classical radio hosts say, and took a class. You have to appear natural and engaged in the scene, not like a deer in the headlights listening to what's going on in your head. If the recorder doesn't start in the right place, or you stumble or mishear a word or two, you lose your place and have to start over.

With five people, the pitfalls multiply. You have to record together as precisely as possible. Someone counts down, "3-2-1," then on 0 we all pressed record (or play) at the same time. Even then, different recorders play at slightly different speeds, so keeping up can be a challenge. Fortunately we made a great team. We were released around 7:30pm, so I didn't get home until around 9pm. A long, productive day!

In other news, FYH is being featured today at

What's next on the horizon? Stay tuned....

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