Hundreds of shows, thousands of plots, and even more “celebrities”.
TV viewing should be closely monitored and self-regulated, or the day is gone.
So alluring is this medium; especially with a universe of ever-expanding distribution modes, and catering to niche interests, that virtually no arcane special category of creativity is now ignored.
Much is trash (and I include the “news” in that assessment), and the rest is so slick, so seductive, that you don’t even realize you’re being drawn in.
At the heart – as always – the BEST of TV survives because of story. Excellent story. Unique story. Creative story.
Lately, I’ve spent my allotted two hours/day of TV-watching on Ken Burns’ new documentary of Country Music.
At its essence, this is a superb storyteller telling a tale of singular story-tellers (songwriters).
Country music is neither a favorite nor taboo on my music appreciation spectrum. Truth is, I’ve wandered away from most ALL music for the last two decades. As I guy, I had always skated past the song’s words, in favor of the melody.
In his dissection of the roots of country music, we voice actors can find a lesson for success.
Time and again, not only does the evolution of country music borrow from ethnicities, diversity, geography, rock, R&B, hillbilly, soul, and blues…but it also tolerates – time and again – a metamorphosis that causes the genre to struggle with its own identity.
Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson – two of Country Music’s most celebrated singer/songwriters – were at one time near abject failure…both financially and psychologically. Johnny Cash and George Jones struggled with drugs and booze. Many of the biggest country stars died around the age of 30 or younger (e.g. Hank Williams).
Yet, it was their unprecedented, rebellious nature to “go it their own way” that led to their ultimate success in almost every instance.
What would be easy to miss is that along the way they did pay homage to the traditional formula for music success: living off TV dinners, or worse, practicing endlessly, making the pilgrimage to Nashville, and following predictable paths through agents, producers, and nightclubs.
In the end, though, it was their unique passion to do their own thing — something new — that brought them unbridled commercial and creative success.
They had to live in the tension between the tried ‘n’ true, but still had to be true to their inner voice.
This is why all the work we do listening to those who have been before is not lost as we build our experience, build a booth, buy a mic, and get traditional coaching.
But did “conversational” just happen? No. Someone perfected it (like bluegrass?), and everyone wanted it. Was Don LaFontaine an original (like Elvis?) who created a new style of movie trailer? Yes. But he learned the basics first.
The droll voice of Carl’s Junior ads or the smart-aleck Jack in the Box character came from someone doing something DIFFERENT.
Cover your bases.
Do the work.
See how others got there.
Make something unique…your own…driven by your own passion and singular expression of you. Is it easy? Decidedly not! How hard to choose the path that everyone else is advising against!
But THAT is what your clients wants. Something that stands out.
And only YOU can bring YOU.