Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Idol Decompression Session

This is a bit more of an actual "Voicetrax Class Report", something I'd begun posting over on the VTX ning.com page (a feed of which is currently visible on the left top of this page.) But, since they keep threatening to turn that into a Facebook Group, it sounded like it might be time to begin embedding them here (and maybe put a copy on the ning.com page - which looks like it may be a copy/paste task as ning.com doesn't appear to support an RSS feed. Of course, the FB Group pages don't support an inbound RSS feed either... but, I digress...)

Tonight was a low-key pizza & beverage get-together and "I love you guys, but..." beat down for those of us who went through the recent Voicetrax Idol SF competiton - modeled after - yep, you guessed it! - another contest which you may have noticed on television recently. Basically, it was a three round performance competition which ended with the winner getting representation with Stars, The Agency for six months.

The third and final round took place a week ago, and the winners were to be announced live (...after the break).

Before we got to that though, we got to share our experiences, failures and lessons learned with one another. Obviously, there was a "carrot" to chase and everyone wanted to win the prize, but this was above all a class - and as such a grand opportunity to learn how we react under different pressures and audition situations.

I don't have too much to share about the later parts of the competition as I got spat out the back with a dozen others in the first round. This actually led to some good lessons and realizations, but I don't really have the time or energy right now to delve into those. Let's just say that it was a good kick in the pants reminder to focus, execute and trust the teachings which have been shared with us. I took my frustration with not advancing and focused it into the prep for my demo.

It was interesting tonight to hear how many other people encountered a lot of the same difficulties. Nerves seemed to be universally shared thread, for example.

We also got to listen to everyone's Round 1 auditons. As Sam mentioned, no one was stellar and the folks who advanced seemed to be the ones who made the least errors.

She may have termed it a little more directly, now that I think about it.

The listening helped to remind us how easy it is to sound the same - hit the same notes and fall into the same types of traps. We did not listen into the second round auditions, but by then the first round jitters seemed to begin leaving those who had made the cut and Sam said that the quality of work definitely improved. By the last round, the reads from the six finalists created significant discussion among the judges at Stars and they gave strong accolades to all who made it that far.

I guess this would be the "after the break" part I mentioned earlier.

There was a final "Selection" to be made, of course, and none other than Mark Middleton nabbed the first place. I've had a lot of classes with Mark, and it's great to see his talents and energy pay off.
Ralph Boethling took second place. He also received word tonight that he had been signed by Stars for representation. Another frequent classmate who just always "brings it."
Louise Theron took third place. I've only bumped into her rather recently in classes, but she has done very nice work.

Congratulations to everyone!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Demo Day

Monday was the first actual, really-truly "Red Letter" day on my calendar. Back in early April, I'd had a private session with Samantha, and she felt that it was time to set a date to record my Commercial Demo. When I wrote down the scheduled session on the calendar, I actually rummaged around and found a nice bold red Sharpie, boxed the day in right and proper and put "DEMO SESSION" in big, block letters. (I even did the same on the month of May, as it fell on Monday, June 1st. Like I was going to forget it or something... I am such a geek.)

It deserved something, and a little graphic energy around the day did seem appropriate. But, thinking about that now, I can't recall ever doing that before.

Of course, the actual session was important, but there was a bit of work beforehand. She had me submit a significant number of scripts a couple weeks before the recording. This meant that I had to go through my files, and received some excellent scripts from fellow voice-actors and teachers, then analyze those things which seemed to best demonstrate my range in commercial copy and decide how each script fit into the scheme of things. As I mentioned earlier, it was a highly iterative process.

But, that work paid off, and we came up with a good number of diverse scripts. All I had to do was be brilliant...

Well... yes and no.

I mean, yes, I had to do them as well as I could.

On the other hand, it wasn't going to take some miraculous act of divine intervention for me to get them right. That sounds abruptly pompous, so let me explain slightly.

In most classes I've taken, scripts get chosen for various reasons. Sometimes, that reason is specifically to cause us to fail. When you have a dozen people at roughly the experience level, and all of them miss the same thing in the copy, I have to assume that we were supposed to miss it, so it could be pointed out clearly, so we would learn and recognize it in the future. Learning by failure.

The Demo Session on the other hand was nothing like that. I had my dozen scripts. We'd pulled out the parts we wanted to use. We had definite attitudes and situations which I was to portray. This was not a time in which anything was going to be a surprise or be designed to trip me up. It was time to show what I've learned.

I'd scheduled a Private Session with N. the Thursday before, where I read through three of the scripts we'd chosen for the Demo. He knew I had the recording session coming up, but hadn't been part of the script selection process. We were working on a couple of other things first. Then, I read through the scripts-for-demo set. After I read the first one, he said, "I know you have a demo session coming up, but if you haven't thought about using that script, you really ought to consider it." Talk about a confidence-builder...

I was also trying not to go through them too many times, as it was important to keep my reads fresh. I spent some time refining what my approach would be - all the good acting choices about what had just happened, who I was talking to, etc. But, I only read through them once or twice more before the session. Enough to know where I was going with them, but not enough to "overwork" anything.

Brought a bunch of other scripts along and warmed up on them beforehand. Right on time, Sam fetched me and we headed over to the main studio. Chuck ran the board and we dove right in.

And it was fun. I lost all sense of time - would've believed it if someone said it took 20 minutes or 5 hours. Even though I had to head into work for the afternoon, I was buzzing and happy all day. Even had trouble falling asleep that night.

Good, good stuff. Which, hopefully, I should be sharing with you soon...

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