microphone-bHonest-to-goodness wanted posting for a voice actor:

We’re looking for a male narrator whose a Jack Nicholson/Joe Pesci/Vincent Price type for a low budget, unconventional horror film that’s currently in post production. The ideal candidate’s vocal presence should invoke intensity and suspense intertwined with crass and a sense of humor.

That post came from a Google Alert I set-up long ago for the keyword “narrator”.

Doesn’t it just make you roll your eyes when you see the reference to a name actor like that?  Lately, if it’s not Morgan Freeman, then it’s Mike Row, Tim Allen, Peter Coyote, or Jeff Bridges.  But I don’t see that Jack Nicholson, Joe Pesci, and Vincent Price sound AT ALL like each other.

So you know what this means?  This means the director has no bloody idea what they want other than a certain genre.  The adding of recognizable names (or sometimes a link to a YouTube video voice they like) — honestly — I think makes it into the specs because they feel they have to put something down.  I’m not disparaging well-meaning clients.  We’re on the receiving end of these directions, so we see it over and over…and clients have no idea of the mind-numbing similarity that often pops up in the specs.

I’m no VO coach, but I’ve listened to enough of them hear the following advice, so I’m passing it along:

Read the specs.  Give ’em one read that way…then give ’em another read that’s all YOU.  Often, I think they’re HOPING for something original that’ll knock their socks off regardless of the direction they gave.

–OR–

Forget what the specs say, and just give ’em the read only you can bring.  You know what’s the magic of THAT read?

You’re the only one that can offer it. 

It comes with your experience, your tone,  your emotion, your understanding, your interpretation, your history, and your intention…and no one else has THAT.  Sure, the client might still give the job to the guy who sounds like Vincent Price, but he then again, he may LOVE your take.

….and do you really want to be able to do a good Jeff Bridges?… or create YOUR brand, perfect YOUR voice, hone YOUR delivery?

I like Tim Allen, but I’m working hard on Dave — so that some day, some director will put in his specs:  “I need a Dave Courvoisier-type voice…”

You?

CourVO

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