The Key to a Natural Voice Over Performance with Bradford Hastings

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    It seems like everyone is looking for a voice that is authentic and believable, but what does that actually sound like – and how do you nail it in your voice over performance? Voice actor and coach Bradford Hastings joins Stephanie and Julianna to break down this ambiguous but incredibly important vocal quality. Every voice actor is going to want to hear Bradford’s insights and tips, including how to navigate punctuation in the script so that you instill your own natural thoughts and beats into the flow, and why ‘no line is an island.’ Learn how you can make every breath, word, and line matter – and land more voice over jobs as a result. 

    About Bradford Hastings

    With over 20 years of experience, Bradford has opened up the opportunity for others to get coaching both online or in person. With the philosophy that your voice, your actual and real voice, is the only one of its kind and therefore is the greatest selling point of your career, coaching should be designed to foster and support that authentic voice.

    With one on one coaching you will learn how to use subtext, emotional states and your physical body to achieve authenticity. You will study the various positions of your throat, when using it for different read types. But mostly his coaching perspective is to give you the confidence that your actual voice is exactly what most casting directors are looking for….but, ironically, it is also the hardest voice for most actors to find.

    Hosts: Stephanie Ciccarelli, Julianna Jones, with special guest, Bradford Hastings.

    Links: 

    Inspired? Get your practice on with Voice Over Sample Scripts: https://www.voices.com/blog/category/tools-and-resources/sample-scripts/

    Learn more Bradford Hastings online at his website, https://www.hastingsvo.com/ and hear his voice on Voices.com, https://www.voices.com/actors/hastingsvo. Contact Bradford via https://www.hastingsvo.com/contact-1 to book a free 30 minute Skype session to discuss what areas you want to work on.

    About Mission Audition: Mission Audition is presented by Voices.com. Produced and Engineered by Randy Rektor.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Hi there. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli.

    Julianna Jones:
    And, I’m Julianna Jones.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Welcome to Mission Audition. We are pumped for this episode. We are so excited, in fact, wouldn’t you say? This is absolutely-

    Julianna Jones:
    Oh my goodness.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    It’s all about being-

    Julianna Jones:
    Back in the studio.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah, but being a brand voice and back in the studio. You might recall our last episodes were all live. So, for those of you who were at Voice World. Thank you so much for coming out. That was a great time. Again, here we are in the studio. Julianna, as you know, and Randy is over here. He’s engineering. We’re going to have a lot of fun because today we’ve got Bradford Hastings with us. This is so cool. Bradford, welcome to the podcast.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Hi, hi, hello. Thank you very much. How are you?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Very well.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Excellent.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Thank you.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Excellent

    Julianna Jones:
    Oh yeah. Ready to roll.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. So, Bradford, I know that there are some people out there who may not know you as well as we do. They’re a couple of things I did want to highlight before I asked you to share more about yourself.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Sure.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    The first thing, which I think is super amazing, and we just had the great privilege of actually meeting your dog, is that you have a fantastic dog and he is in your headshot, on your website, just the most phenomenal. His name is cool, too.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Yes.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So, could you tell us a bit about your dog?

    Bradford Hastings:
    Sure. I will talk about my dog for the entire duration of the podcast if you want.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s okay.

    Bradford Hastings:
    He’s seven years old. His name is Admiral Cabbage Von Slobbernoggin, and he is a boxer. He is everything in the world to me. He’s in every picture. You know, they always tell you when you do your website, lead with what you know and also make it personal. To me my dog literally is everything to me, so I was like let’s just run with it. Yeah, Cabbage is everything. My license plate is Cabbage, which I went to the DMV and they were like, “Would you like a personal plate.” I was like, “How many letters?” They’re like seven. I was like C-A-B-B-A-G-E. I’m like, “Try cabbage. It’ll never work because there’s got to be some vegan out there that like took cabbage.” She’s like, “It’s available.” I have never laughed so hard and for so long, like just driving home. I came home and what did I do? I got the dog and I was like, “I’ve got your name as my license plate.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Ah, I’m sure he appreciated that. But, we know that you were more than just a dog owner, and certainly a loving one at that. Bradford, tell us about your journey. Where did you start in voiceover, and how has your career been so far?

    Bradford Hastings:
    Okay. Technically, it’s hard to say where voiceover started. Officially, I guess I started in radio in 1994, in Austin, Texas. Then, moved to L.A. and realized I had no other skillset other than talking. A friend of my mom’s daughter was a casting director, and she was like, “You should try voiceover.” Now, here’s the hilarious thing. I was like, “What’s that?” She’s like, “You did radio for how long? Do you understand people make those commercials, right?” I was like, “No.” It like never crossed my mind.

    Bradford Hastings:
    So, fundamentally I made a shift. Things didn’t really kind of take off. I did a few things, a couple of national spots which was super lucky. Then, unfortunately, my father passed away, but that also gave me an opportunity to pursue the dream that I had always had of going to Berkeley College of Music in Boston and studying recording engineering and songwriting. Just always wanted to do it so I did. Then, after that moved back to Austin. Was still doing the music stuff but also doing the voiceover stuff. That started to take off a little bit more. Then, voiceover started just more and more and more and more. Moved back to L.A. to really kind of get into the system. That’s when it sort of just began to really dig in for me. Ultimately, I’ve been doing this for about 20 years, 25 years.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s wonderful.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Now I’m here doing it still, doing it and doing it and doing it.

    Julianna Jones:
    I mean a little bit of luck, a little bit of hard work, little bit of it kind of chose you it sounds like, too.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Sure, Oh yeah.

    Julianna Jones:
    Followed you around.

    Bradford Hastings:
    It is. It’s one of those things. It’s funny because you don’t notice it at the time, or to least I didn’t notice it at the time, but now that I look back it’s sort of like Slumdog Millionaire, like everything that I did kind of led to this. All of the things that I was doing performance wise, acting wise, playing around with voices, and the people that I knew, and the relationships I had, it sort of just all ended up here for a reason, whether I wanted it to or not.

    Julianna Jones:
    Absolutely.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    All right. So, I think we need to get into the auditions now. We have eight auditions today. As is our custom, we will go through each one individually. In the middle we will have our moments of commentary and usually we will throw to our guest first, and Bradford will be giving his thoughts at first. So, when we get to the end then, as we all know, we’re not going to say who wins because Julianna and I don’t know. The only person who knows is Bradford Hastings today.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So, get your pen and paper ready. You might want to take some notes as we go through some of these auditions and see if you can pick up some tips along the way, because no doubt there’s going to be a whole bunch of them that you’ll want to just put into practice the next time you hop into your studio. All right, so we’re going to talk about this job posting, and the job here it’s calling for male voice. This is for an internet video. We’re looking at the agriculture business, building and construction. This is a noncommercial brand video. It’s going to live on a client’s YouTube channel. So, this every man voice, Julianna tell us what do we need to do, or what do we need to hear, from these gentlemen that would help us to get into the mindset of this every man, and how can they best persuade us?

    Julianna Jones:
    Sure definitely. So, like you said, every man, strong, and confident, but also relatable. We want you to be conversational, real, authentic, and very important is to make sure that you’re timing is right. You want your lines to land.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. There’s a lot of just hard work going on here. So, anyway, without further ado, we are going to queue up our first audition. We’ll see what this gentleman is bringing to the table.

    Audition 1:
    Getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets, on the 14th straight day on, when your muscles are tight and your skin is bruised. The strong worker isn’t out there to get fame, or glory. The strong worker doesn’t show up for trophies or accolades. They don’t leave at the end of the day wondering if anyone noticed what they did not get done. The strong worker works.

    Julianna Jones:
    What a good script. I’m so excited. What do you think, Bradford?

    Bradford Hastings:
    So, ultimately on this one … You know, there’s always those watch words, conversational, authentic, everyman. They mean almost nothing, realistically, because what those three words to me says, be yourself. Be you. Don’t be anybody else. Be you because you are every man, or every woman, or you are authentic, you are conversational. That’s a fundamental thing I think people have a hard time with is actually accepting their voice is the right voice. No matter what. This guy does a really good job of sort of being who he is, at least I’m getting that sense. The drawbacks are he’s rushing through the script. There’s times to ignore punctuation and times not to and he missed some spots that he could really dig in and kind of chew on the copy a little bit, and show his personality.

    Julianna Jones:
    Well, I guess I was wondering, what parts of the script would you dig into and why?

    Bradford Hastings:
    Well, I think … If you’re looking at it, getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets on the 14th straight day on when you and your muscles are tight and your skin is bruised. There’s a lot right there to just chew on. You can fundamentally look at it as getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you as one thought, right? Then, and the crickets becomes, it frames that whole thing. They’re painting a picture. They’re painting a really beautiful picture. If you just rush over that you’re missing it. On the 14th straight day on. That gives you so much, because now you’re tired. You’re gaining all of this energy and perspective. When your muscles are tight and your skin is bruised. That tells me not only is it the 14th straight day on but I’ve been working hard that whole time, and that’s the fundamental thing. It’s me doing this. I need to be able to personify this. I’m not just pointing at somebody going, “I understand the perspective is you’re getting up in the morning and I’m pointing at you.”

    Bradford Hastings:
    The reality is I have to have empathy for those things. So, it can’t just be, Getting up when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets on the 14th straight day on comma, when your muscles are tight comma, and your skin is bruised. Nobody cares. But, if it’s more of like. Getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you, and the crickets, on the 14th straight day on when your muscles are tight, and your skin is bruised. All of a sudden … Do you see what I’m saying. You bring some personality to those lines. That’s how you get into the script. Then, the strong worker isn’t out there to get fame or glory. That’s a nice qualifying statement that tells you what we’re about as a client. The strong worker doesn’t show up for trophies or accolades. Now we’re looking at you, saying you’re that person. You’re quality people. They don’t leave at the end of the day wondering if anyone noticed what they did, or didn’t, get done. The strong worker works.

    Bradford Hastings:
    I found that most of the auditions the strong worker works line most of them got it. To me it’s very much the strong worker, pause, works, because we’ve done this whole list. The strong worker isn’t, the strong worker doesn’t, they don’t leave at the end of the day. Here’s what they do do. The strong worker works. Do you know what I mean? We’re contrasting that with everything we’re saying they don’t do. So, to me if you miss any of that stuff you’re missing stuff to dig into. That’s all I’m talking about, if that makes any sense.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah, it’s like you’re missing all the setup that makes that last line land so much because you have that contrast.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Right.

    Julianna Jones:
    So, it’s not just the last line it’s like everything before it that makes that so much more powerful.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Every line in every commercial either refers to a line before it or a line after. No line is an island, not even a tag. But even like a tag where it’s just like, So and so insurance. Even that is referencing everything that we said before. So, no line is ever an island. There’s a reason for that. If you realize that there’s a reason for every line in every spot, even poorly written ones, then you can bring life to it, because then you can bring a perspective to it and, hopefully, it’s yours.

    Julianna Jones:
    Absolutely. So well said.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Wonderful. Well, we have audition number two right now.

    Audition 2:
    Getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets on the 14th straight day on, when your muscles are tight and your skin is bruised. The strong worker isn’t out there to get fame or glory. The strong worker doesn’t show up for trophies or accolades. They don’t leave at the end of the day wondering if anyone noticed what they did not get done. The strong worker works.

    Bradford Hastings:
    So, yeah, the thing. He missed the last line. The strong worker works. He kind of just … Do you see what I’m saying? He sort of kind of washes over it. So, this guy to me comes from radio. These are pure conjecture. I don’t know who this person is, but that delivery. The strong worker works. That sort of scooping, up and down, lilted sort of pattern of speech, really over enunciated a lot of words, which is going to keep you from sounding conversational. It’s just going to destroy that whole descriptor and direction. My first suggestion to him would be flatten out all the pitches and just kind of relax. Let it just be what it is. But, what he does have is that folksy sound which can really get you into a lot of really cool spots.

    Bradford Hastings:
    A lot of these auditions they’ve got their idea down. They’ve got the text under them. They’ve gotten to that level where they know what they’re reading, and they’re comprehending it, but they’re missing bringing in themselves and being able to go, Who am I in this? Who am I talking to, who am I, and how do I feel about it? There’s this idea that they read these things like every man authentic conversational and they’re like, “Who is that?” Well, no that isn’t anybody, that’s you. Who are you in relation to those things? That’s what’s important.

    Julianna Jones:
    Absolutely.

    Bradford Hastings:
    I think he brings that folksy sort of thing but I think he missed out on sort of that real person. A thing that I like to do with students is I send them the line, “Let’s get ready to rumble,” and I say read it. Every single one of them does the same thing, which is they read it like the guy says it. I’m like, but that’s the point, you heard it that way so now you’re just being that guy. What I want you to do is read it like you, and that’s the hardest part because we’re seeing these words that aren’t ours and we’re being asked to say them as ourselves so that becomes the challenge. How do we make these words that aren’t ours ours? you know what I mean?

    Julianna Jones:
    It’s that idea, yeah.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Having that attitude of, It’s not that important, because it’s not. It really isn’t.

    Julianna Jones:
    Take the pressure off yourself.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Absolutely, 100%.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah, you don’t have to do it perfectly, you just have to do it.

    Bradford Hastings:
    You just have to do it, and do it as you, and you’re good. Yeah, for sure.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah, and the reasons the coach would hire you isn’t because you sound like our client would hire you. It isn’t because you sound like somebody else, it’s because you sound like you. That’s why they go through and they listen to the auditions like, Oh, does that exactly match the voice I had pictured in my head, yes or no? If you sound like everybody else, and everybody else isn’t what they’re looking for … you got to be you.

    Bradford Hastings:
    You have to be.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah, I really like that.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Nobody else can be you. I treat my career sort of like a linebacker in the NFL, just keep your feet moving, just keep pushing forward, and at some point in time somebody’s going to hire you for something and you’re going to do that. It gets you paid, which is great, and it validates you as an artist, but ultimately you can’t rest on it. You can’t go, “Ha ha, I did a regional spot for a theater company. I’m amazing.” No, like do another one. Do more. Do as many as you can.

    Julianna Jones:
    Go on. Yep, definitely.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Something that we need to remember also is, yes, be yourself, be all those great things that you said when you’re interpreting script, but you also have to remember that you as a voice artist are not the hero. It’s the listener, the audience, the person that you’re trying to help to persuade, so any thoughts on that, especially with a read like this. Do you feel anyone right now that we’ve heard so far has actually put the audience member as the hero, or are they themselves trying to be the hero?

    Bradford Hastings:
    Well, I think that goes back to my point of, no spot comes from negativity. You should always be coming from a place of maybe not necessarily specifically you are the hero but more of just like there is a hero here. The hero could be the product and you might be the representative of that product. But, with regard to this, to me the hero in this story is that person who’s getting up in the morning. So, yeah, there’s always a hero in every spot, and I think, like I said, that comes from that whole, that helps you get to that place of every spot is written from a positive place instead of a negative place. So, bringing some of that in when you can is always helpful.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Absolutely. All right. Well, let’s move on to audition number 3.

    Audition 3:
    Getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets of a 14th day on, when your muscles are tight and your skin is bruised. The strong worker isn’t out there to get fame, or glory. The strong worker doesn’t show up for trophies or accolades. They don’t leave at the end of the day wondering if anyone noticed what they did not get done. The strong worker works.

    Bradford Hastings:
    It’s funny to me how important this first line is. The way he read that first line was kind of stilted and weird to me. Getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets, on the 14th straight day on when your muscles are tight and your skin is bruised. It just seems a little odd to me that he chose to ignore all the commas and put one in in a place that could have just been … It might have been a breathe, it might have been something, but he also had that folksy sound to him. I’m going to say he has a background in radio. It’s neither a bad nor a good thing but I will say it took me five years to get radio out of my voice, and consciously working and working and working and working at it. Because the watchword of the day is conversational getting some coaching to help get that out of your voice will pay dividends.

    Julianna Jones:
    Do you have a favorite tip that you use to get out of your radio voice?

    Bradford Hastings:
    If you’re talking you’re being physical, and if you’re not doing any of this when you’re in the booth you’re missing out on a lot of stuff. If you’re not moving your hands, or doing whatever. But really, checking in with who you are when you’re having a conversation. If you’re having an emotion, if you’re finding you’re very happy just check in really quick, what does that feel like here and here? But yeah, checking in with yourself, listening to commercials, listening to people having conversations and how they talk, that’s the key. That’s everything because you need to be a student of the world. You need to be a student of conversation, and you need to be a student of speaking.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah, it almost sounds like you need to be a student of listening, as well. If it’s like half as important as the being able to deliver.

    Bradford Hastings:
    100%.

    Julianna Jones:
    It’s so funny … Yeah, you were talking about when you say your name you get into that mindset. It’s crazy how you use that same thinking for when you’re trying to be these other characters. That’s such a great idea. It works for you both ways when you’re aware of it. That’s just it, it’s all about being aware of what makes you that voice, like this voice. Yeah, I just really like that tip because I can see myself … The hand thing I’ve been recording these premium, these webinars weekly and I can see myself in the camera as I’m going and my hands are like up here and I’m like pausing and I’m like into what I’m saying and I’m just going a mile … Then, I listened back to it and I was like, I feel like that’s some of my best performance when I’m just like totally not even thinking about the copy. I’m just like trying my best to talk to people. That’s so much of what voiceovers are. Yeah. No, I agree. I use those tips all the time actually. They’re great ones.

    Bradford Hastings:
    I try and stay away from words like performance, especially when you’re talking about that. When you’re moving towards more natural it’s like, yes, I see what you mean when you say it’s some of my best performance because you’re recording, you’re doing a podcast, you’re doing a thing. It is “a performance,” but if I was teaching you I would go, “Let’s stay away from that word,” because it automatically puts you in the mindset of acting. Whereas, I would rather you just go, “Wow, that sounded super natural. That was when I wasn’t thinking about where my hands were or what I was doing.” That’s when it becomes effortless. That’s when you see a great actor …

    Bradford Hastings:
    Listening is also important because if you’re working in a session and a director says something you have to hear it. Listening is key and so silence in a session for me … After doing a bunch of sessions where I would record, obviously, I’d do a phone session so I’m recording and I’m hearing myself as they’re talking, the first few sessions I never shut up. They were like, “Okay, so that was a great take. What we need more is …” I’m like, “You need me to like smile it up a little bit,” and I would just cut them off, and I would talk too much, and now, literally, it’s just blocks of me reading the script and then silence as I just listen to what they say, because you’ll miss stuff, and you’ll become difficult to work with and you won’t get called back. If you listen really well, and you are directible, you will always get called back.

    Julianna Jones:
    If anything that takes the pressure off you, as well.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Yep.

    Julianna Jones:
    You don’t have to be thinking like a voiceover actor and a director, you just have to be the voiceover actor.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Yeah, just be the vessel.

    Julianna Jones:
    So, I feel like I owe you for the tips that you just gave me. How much is the coaching fee, because I’ll be using those later?

    Bradford Hastings:
    $85,000 per minute.

    Julianna Jones:
    I’ll make the check out to Cabbage?

    Bradford Hastings:
    Admiral Cabbage …

    Julianna Jones:
    Admiral?

    Bradford Hastings:
    … Von Slobbernoggin, yes ma’am.

    Julianna Jones:
    Totally. No problem. It’s in the mail.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Good.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    My goodness. So many good tips in here. This is going to be an hour-long episode if we don’t keep moving.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Oh, I’m sorry.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So, I’m going to move us along. That’s okay. No problem. It’s a lot of fun. I’m sure that we’ll, Randy will probably take some stuff out in post.

    Julianna Jones:
    Or not.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Or not. No, because it’s amazing what is being said, so anyway. It’s all good. We got to keep going, though, because people want to hear our next auditioner. This is audition number 4.

    Audition 4:
    Getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets on the 14th straight day on, when your muscles are tight and your skin is bruised. The strong worker isn’t out there to get fame, or glory. The strong worker doesn’t show up for trophies or accolades. They don’t leave at the end of the day wondering if anyone noticed what they didn’t get done. The strong worker works.

    Bradford Hastings:
    What am I going to say?

    Julianna Jones:
    How’d he do?

    Audition 4:
    Smile.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Again … So first things first, when I hear his voice the first thing I think of, and I think if you listen to the world, the first thing you hear is law and order. These are the things of the such, whatever that intro is. The thing is that last line. The strong worker works. You can make that line … He could say that line the way he said it, The strong worker works, but because he said the whole spot before it just like it that line no longer has any real meaning. To me, The strong worker works, if your choice was I’m going to make it very serious, the strong worker works. Well, then what that tells me is I need to kind of lighten up beforehand. Otherwise, everything’s going to sound really dark.

    Bradford Hastings:
    So, they don’t leave at the end of day wondering if anyone noticed what they did or did not get done. The strong worker works. So, like I can bring it down. But, I’ve started up here which makes this line that slows down and gets darker actually stand out more. Whereas, if I read everything that way that line almost doesn’t exist.

    Julianna Jones:
    Do you … When you’re looking at a script do you have to, because you were talking about making sure if this is going to be quieter, make this louder. Do you go through and mark it up before …

    Bradford Hastings:
    No.

    Julianna Jones:
    … you do an audition, or is that, now is that just because you’ve been doing this for so long?

    Bradford Hastings:
    It helps. It definitely helps but, no, the thing for me is I’m not super conscious of breaking down the script right away, because I want to read through at first and see if I can see where the natural beats are for me. Yes, that is because of time. I’ve been doing this a very long time, and you can kind of understand how scripts get written. Something like this, when I’m looking at a script the first thing I do is I read through it, and I record that read through just in case I have it, and in case I want to listen back and go, “All right where did I pause, and where did I naturally take a breath,” or “Did I add a word somewhere, or take out a word?” Just make sure, just see how it sounds as naturally as possible, if that makes sense.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah, I liked what you said, a absolutely makes sense. I really liked what you said about being able to look into your own life, for examples, and your friend’s father, like that’s a real picture and an image that’s clearly imprinted on not only your mind but your heart, right?

    Bradford Hastings:
    Oh yeah.

    Julianna Jones:
    Whenever we talk from our heart then the real you will come out and that’s something that will make your read distinctive, nevermind it just feels better and is easier to do. It actually will set you apart, because no one has exactly the same memories, or experiences, or things that they’ve, people they’ve known in their life. If you can draw on something that is really core to who you are and also just has a connection, then that’s something that no one else can replicate.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Right. I was doing a session for the California Health Board, or something, last week, and I was reading a bunch of wild lines about something called Valley Fever, which apparently is horrible. One of the wild lines was, Valley Fever killed my dog. Now, we’ve already discussed how fundamentally important my dog is to my life, and I had to bring that in. I had to bring that in and I had to know that it wasn’t going to hurt me to be vulnerable. It wasn’t going to hurt me to pretend like Valley Fever literally killed my dog. So, I put myself in that position of what would it feel like if something just inexplicably took my dog from me, and I’m feeling it now just by thinking about it.

    Julianna Jones:
    Oh.

    Bradford Hastings:
    No, no, no, but that’s a thing. I have access-

    Julianna Jones:
    It’s so powerful.

    Bradford Hastings:
    I have access to that, though. A lot of people don’t. Their first inclination is when they have a real emotion is to push it away. Mine is to go, bring it, bring it, okay where is it, where does it feel, how do I feel? I know at some point in time I’m going to need that again. I said the line and the director was like, “Wow.” I was like, “Yeah, I got a dog.” I get it. It is a little bit “crazy” to go from that real true emotion of something killed my dog and then once the line’s over then pull out of it and just go, “Okay, cool, what do you need?” It can feel a little weird to some people. I’m used to it and maybe I’m insane.

    Julianna Jones:
    No, I wouldn’t say that. I think it goes back to if you have seen the movie Inside Out, and just the idea of having core memories …

    Bradford Hastings:
    Yep.

    Julianna Jones:
    … and to know that you are safe enough to pull it out. It’s okay to go there because you know what your limits are, and you know how to express it in a way that you can still control that emotion when you’re reading a script. These are all the reasons why when we say voice acting is so much more than reading words off a page.

    Bradford Hastings:
    It’s not voice reading, it’s voice acting. If it was voice reading everybody could do it. That’s the thing. You need to be able to read and comprehend. Now it’s like now you’ve got to invest in it. Now you’ve got to believe that for that 30, 60, 15 seconds, whatever it is what you’re saying is true. What you’re saying is true and it’s what you believe, and it’s in your life.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    All right. Well, on that note we’re going to move on to audition number five.

    Audition 5:
    Getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets, on the 14th straight day, when your muscles are tight, and your skin is bruised. The strong worker is not there to get fame or glory. The strong worker doesn’t show up for trophies or accolades. They don’t leave at the end of the day wondering if anyone noticed what they did not get done. The strong worker works.

    Bradford Hastings:
    So this. I like the tone of his voice. I would like it a little more positive, but I also get where he’s coming from. This has sort of the opposite problem of the other ones wherein he sees a period, or he sees a comma and he falls into it, and then he goes on to the next sentence. To me it loses … It still has to have momentum. Instead of falling in and leaving that space it also created sort of this cadence of him talking about things, and all of a sudden as a listener I am expecting the silence. So, finding ways to break that up, tools, and having those little tools, and tricks, and tips to like break those habits up. There’s a melancholy and a mellowness to his voice that I like with regard to this spot, but I do feel like his pacing could have been up a little bit more.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah, that was great. Yeah, I like that one. It’s a good actionable tip. Plus, I like that as we’re going on the things that you’ve been saying I can start to hear in the voice over, so as soon as this guy started talking I was like, “Oh, he sounds sad.”

    Bradford Hastings:
    Yeah.

    Julianna Jones:
    I see what he was saying. He’s not trying to be sad. He’s just trying to give it that seriousness and like what a fine line to walk between you don’t want to be too happy but you don’t want to be too somber. You don’t want to be too serious but you still want to keep the pace. Yeah, I can see. This is why having somebody who has a trained ear is so helpful, especially when you’re new, because there’s nothing wrong with the fact that you just don’t know that like that’s what’s going on with your read. Once you have a couple coaching sessions and you’ve got that voice in the back of your head saying, “Okay, this is what you’re doing. Okay, this is what you need to be doing.”

    Bradford Hastings:
    Right.

    Julianna Jones:
    You can apply those kinds of tips to like so many different kinds of voiceovers that you’re doing, and it’s just, it’s really awesome to see the talent that we’re listening to just kind of get better and better as we’re going on. I’m really enjoying, and the critiques that are coming in are so just like genuine.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Yeah, I used-

    Julianna Jones:
    Oh, wow, yeah that’s what I’m hearing.

    Bradford Hastings:
    I used to have a teacher that almost every time I read when I first started out who would always at the end of my read would go, “Why are you so mad at me?” That’s the thing. You have to understand, you’re talking to people in their cars, or wherever. If you don’t smile, if you don’t come from a place of lightness, at least a little bit, then you’re going to be like, “Wow, that person’s like super mad at me, or they’re just angry.” That’s never going to sell a product in the right way.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Now, painting a picture from a place of where this guy’s coming from is great. Again, I like his mindset of it’s delicate. There’s a delicateness that he’s trying to bring of it’s early morning. This guy’s getting up. It’s 14 straight days on. He’s tired, and he’s coming from that place but he’s missing a little bit of the pacing. He’s also missing a little bit of that lightness. Yeah, he’s getting up early and it is tough but you got to allude to the fact that coming up is something really good.

    Julianna Jones:
    You know what, speaking of people’s emotional places, like the number of talent that I’ve talked to who are like, “I’m just not booking. What’s going on? How can you help me?” Of course, and we go through everything and they’re doing all the right things. We’re just chatting and they’re like, “Yeah, actually I had a really hard month. Like this and this happened in my personal life.” I’m like, Okay, let’s talk about it. Do you think that maybe like … You know what, I think that that’s what’s affecting me. I was like, “Yeah, it does.” It comes through in like being able to like when you like walk into your studio like put whatever is happening at the door and just like be whomever you need to be in that script is not easy, and I applaud people who put their personal stuff aside and come to work. It’s not just voice actors who have to do that. We all have to do that.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Sure.

    Julianna Jones:
    When you have to work you got to work. You got to put things in a little box and keep going with whatever you’re doing.

    Bradford Hastings:
    I learned it by dating my cohost in radio. We broke up and we still had to work together. So, yeah. But, we did it and that was the thing. We both had …

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah, professionals.

    Bradford Hastings:
    … the understanding that, Look we got to work together and that’s fine. It was not easy but you do it, and you do. I would suggest anybody that’s having a tough time, and that’s their mindset, get a dog. No, I’m just kidding.

    Julianna Jones:
    Or a cat. That’s an animal.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Cats are-

    Julianna Jones:
    Oh, come on. Okay, I have two cats. One’s name is Millie and one’s name is Lilly, and they are the cutest things.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Nice.

    Julianna Jones:
    They bring me so much joy.

    Bradford Hastings:
    I had a cat named-

    Julianna Jones:
    It’s just that you get that whatever works for you.

    Bradford Hastings:
    I had a cat named Hendrix who lived 21 years.

    Julianna Jones:
    Wow.

    Bradford Hastings:
    No, cats are fun, dogs are better, but whatever.

    Julianna Jones:
    We’ll just fight about it later.

    Bradford Hastings:
    That’s fine.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    As someone who was raised in a household that had cats, and many cats, I do lean more toward cats, but everyone has their own preference.

    Julianna Jones:
    I know, I could talk about pets all day.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    I know. It’s a fun topic but we’ve got another audition. This is audition number six.

    Audition 6:
    Getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets on the 14th straight day on, when your muscles are tight and your skin is bruised. The strong worker isn’t out there to get fame, or glory. The strong worker doesn’t show up for trophies or accolades. They don’t leave at the end of the day wondering if anyone noticed what they did not get done. The strong worker works.

    Bradford Hastings:
    So, he’s got some great gravitas in his voice, that rumble. This to me is more of like a promo read. There’s intensity in it. I think, though, however, this is probably coming from a place of this is somebody who has some sort of broadcasting experience, or what have you, and they see something like this and they see promo, because that’s this. That’s this promo guy where he is just sort of telling you what’s what. There’s no real emotion to it. There’s gravitas, and there’s that, but there’s no kindness in there. With something like this you have to have, as we said, empathy for this person who has worked 14 straight days on. Their muscles are tight, their skin is bruised. We wouldn’t tell you that unless it was important. You have to decide whether it’s important because you it’s showing their tough, and then you can come from that place. Or, we’re telling you that because we want you to empathize with their pain. We want you to understand that this is what they do. This is hard for them.

    Bradford Hastings:
    The problem that this one has is not being what the direction calls for, which is relatable. It’s certainly confident. It’s certainly strong. It could be considered real and authentic if that’s how he reads, but it’s certainly not conversational every man or relatable. There are multiple lines in here that you need to land. I think he just kind of missed out on bringing some lightness and humanity to it, which is why I say it sounds a little more promo.

    Julianna Jones:
    I just want to circle back to the Hal Riney read you referred to from earlier. Is that read capable of having the empathy and the kind of what you were hoping to hear, as well, or is it … From what I understand, and I’ve heard that of others read for well over a decade now is that it’s a very flat read, and there isn’t a lot of emotion, the range. I also come from music so there’s not a lot of fluctuation in terms of pitch. So, how would that one stack up, because you said it could work for this spot. But, how does that differ from what you’ve just said about this fellow’s read?

    Bradford Hastings:
    So, Hal Riney. You’re talking about Hal Riney is what you’re talking about, right?

    Julianna Jones:
    Yes.

    Bradford Hastings:
    The Hal Riney read to me is it’s super folksy. It’s very much more like it would be a read very similar to like … So, this guy is very getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets on the 14th straight day on. That’s how he’s reading it. Hal Riney to me would be more of like, Getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you, and the crickets, on the 14th straight day on when your muscles are tight and your skin is bruised. There’s that folksy sort of lilt to it.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah, yeah, I think it does. It’s just funny because I remember someone saying it was more of a flat sort of read before, but that doesn’t sound to me like it would be.

    Bradford Hastings:
    No. I think they might … If they’re saying he’s flat I don’t hear him as flat. I hear, the guy who did the rest of the story, And now, the rest of the story. I forget-

    Julianna Jones:
    Paul Harvey.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Paul Harvey. Thank you. He can come off a little flat, because there was a Budweiser commercial not too long ago where he was like, “Now we think of a farmer, and the farmer did this, and he did this.” He’s still folksy because of just the timbre of his voice, but his delivery is a little more flat and sort of punchy, I guess. Very statement of fact.

    Julianna Jones:
    That’s great. No, for someone who doesn’t exactly have your voice type but wants to have the same sort of, I guess, model for their own voice, like who else would be another example of that read. If you were to point to another celebrity, down home folksy but not your specific voice type?

    Bradford Hastings:
    Down home folksy but not my voice type? That’s the thing, that gravitas, that lower register kind of lends itself to it, but John Krasinski is very, very folksy, the Esurance commercials. Esurance. He, basically defined that whole conversational thing. That’s when you started seeing the Esurance commercials, and those Esurance commercials basically set the tone for everything that’s come since, I think, because you see John Krasinski as a reference all the time, and it’s almost always referencing that, that sort of, Esurance, we do this. We’re not selling you anything. You also had Justin Long in the Mac commercials. A Mac, that’s a PC, blah, blah, blah. Shrug the shoulders. It is what it is. I’m not trying to sell you anything, I’m just giving you the facts. We sell computers. If you want one great, if you don’t that’s fine, too, but we’d really like you to buy one.

    Bradford Hastings:
    So, it’s Justin Long has sort of a folksy sort of sound to him. Joseph Gordon-Levitt can go that way. Folksy just means being honest, being true. It can mean Sam Elliott, “We’re going to talk like this, and I’m going to let you know what the truth is.” But, it can also just be me going, “Man, I remember that time. There was a porch swing, and she looked beautiful.” It depends where you want to go with it.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah, I was wondering when Sam Elliott would make an appearance, and there he is. Perfect.

    Bradford Hastings:
    I get a lot of Sam Elliott stuff, which is always fun.

    Julianna Jones:
    I was going to say, when you were talking about the porch swing, I was like, Oh, I’m right there. Oh. Goosebumps, yeah. That was awesome.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Ah, that’s wonderful, and I suspect that to be able to act as that kind of Sam Elliott-ish sort of voice the earlier it is in the morning the better.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Always. I always book those sessions at like 8:00 in the morning. Earlier in the morning when I can have that in my voice for sure. My mom always said to me one time we were out to dinner and she’s like, “I can always tell when you think the waitress is attractive.” I was like, “Why,” and she goes “Because you’re talking to me and then you go, “Yes, I would like to have … I’m thinking about having a …” She’s like, “Your voice gets like two octaves lower.” I was like, “Really?”

    Julianna Jones:
    I didn’t notice.

    Bradford Hastings:
    I hadn’t noticed, Mom. What are you talking about?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s funny. All right. So, let’s move on to audition number 7.

    Audition 7:
    Getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets on the 14th straight day on, when your muscles are tight and your skin is bruised. The strong worker isn’t out there to get fame, or glory. The strong worker doesn’t show up for trophies or accolades. They don’t leave at the end of the day wondering if anyone noticed what they did not get done. The strong worker works.

    Bradford Hastings:
    So, first line he missed a beat, I think. He just kind of rushed through it a little bit but, man, what a great voice for something like this. This is very much that Coors, the Bank Wood Beer. He has that gravitas, and he has that folksy sounding thing going on. Notice, it doesn’t sound intense, and angry, and furrowed brow. It just sounds like he’s narrating a scene. That’s how this should sound. I really like this one. I think he can probably do with a little less processing. If we’re going to get into the technical stuff, I think he could probably … Or, back off the mic a little bit, because you’re processing can do a couple of things. It can work against you. If you have too much compression no matter how conversational you are you’re going to sound like you’re on a radio, and you’re going to sound like a DJ, even if you’re talking normally. If you’re super compressed it’ll fight you.

    Bradford Hastings:
    But, at the same time if you’re super on the mic, also you’re just bringing in all this low end. If you pull off a little bit and you let the air surround you it’s going to sound a little more human, because we don’t hear people talking to us like this. We hear people talking to us from here. So, I would suggest maybe a take two for him being a little more animated and a little less gravitas, if he can find a way to sort of take it out of his voice and lighten things up a little bit I think if he gave a take two that was a little more animated and a little lighter I think the director, or the casting director, could look at those two takes and go, “All right, even if I need something in the middle I know he can get there.” That’s the thing. You’re trying to make the casting director not work too hard.

    Julianna Jones:
    Do you help your students with this, with their home studio and what it should look like, what it should sound like, what their editing should look like?

    Bradford Hastings:
    Absolutely, I will. I will if that is certainly something that they want to understand. As I said, I’ve built recording studios. The booth I’m in right now I built. Yeah, I have no problem. I’m very comfortable in that area, so I have no problem. I tell my students, I have no problem with them sending me audio during the week, and that we can talk about it the next time we get together, or I can evaluate it if they’re like, “Hey, how does this sound?” We can have that conversation.

    Julianna Jones:
    Totally. That’s helpful. I know that’s one of the biggest things that new, any voice actor can struggle with is how does their home studio sound. Sometimes you don’t realize you have room noise because you’re so used to it, so it’s good to know that that’s a big part of what you can do for people.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Absolutely, yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Well, very good tips. Nice to know that you can also consult on the audio, as well.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Sure.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Now, we have our last audition, audition number 8.

    Audition 8:
    Getting up early in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets on the 14th straight day, when your muscles are tight and your skin is bruised. The strong worker isn’t out there to get fame or glory. The strong worker doesn’t show up for trophies or accolades. They don’t leave at the end of the day wondering if anyone noticed what they didn’t get done. The strong worker works.

    Julianna Jones:
    What a great last sentence.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Yeah, and there’s that folksy sort of vibe. He’s a little … My mom’s calling me. Mom, I have to call you back. Okay, bye. I hope nobody’s in trouble.

    Bradford Hastings:
    He’s got that nice Hal Riney sort of folksy thing. It’s very loose. It’s very easy for him. I love the read. Yeah, it is that folksy, down home. He definitely sounds like he’s salt of the earth kind of guy, which is a great quality, which is going to help a lot with a lot of different reads.

    Julianna Jones:
    Perfect for this script, too.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Yeah, oh yeah, absolutely.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Wonderful. Well, we are now at the end of the show where it is your great honor and privilege to pick a winner. So, Bradford, who is going to walk away with today’s Mission Audition?

    Bradford Hastings:
    It was tough. After listening … So, I listened to them all before, and now I’m listening to them again sort of under the microscope here. It was tough. I think, I love, I like number 8, but I think I got to go with number 7. I just-

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Nice.

    Bradford Hastings:
    I really liked his-

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    He was good.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Overall I think he was there. I think he just needed to kind of, like I said, I think that was the one where it was like just that second take could be a little bit different. Yeah, I like number 7 a lot.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    All right. Well, Randy, can we hear audition number 7 once more.

    Audition 7:
    Getting up in the morning when the only thing stirring is you and the crickets on the 14th straight day on, when your muscles are tight, and your skin is bruised. The strong worker isn’t out there to get fame, or glory. The strong worker doesn’t show up for trophies or accolades. They don’t leave at the end of the day wondering if anyone noticed what they did not get done. The strong worker, works.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Yeah. Again, there’s a couple of small things but I think take two on that would probably book him the gig. I’m glad he didn’t audition for this one I did.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Awesome. Well, there you go. So, Bradford, you obviously coach. How can people get ahold of you?

    Bradford Hastings:
    Hastingsvo.com is my website. I always offer a 30-minute Skype session for free just to kind of get to know me and then I can kind of asses where you’re at, because, look, maybe I’m not the right coach. There’s lots of coaches out there that do a great job. So, yeah, Hastingsvo.com.

    Julianna Jones:
    And you can coach remotely, like is there a tool you prefer to use>

    Bradford Hastings:
    I use, … God I use everything. I use Skype, Google Hangouts, Facebook, whatever. Whatever they need to get in and do the work is totally fine with me.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Awesome. Well, it’s always nice to know what kind of tools the coaches are using, and that’s just one thing to say is, a lot of people do coach remotely, so for anyone listening you don’t have to go into a workshop, or to someone’s actual studio to get this training. A lot of what this coaching is about is being able to sense something through what you hear. I just want to thank you so much, Bradford. This has been a real treat to get to hear you, to see you, to see your dog. Now we know Cabbage. That’s a highlight for sure.

    Bradford Hastings:
    That’s my baby.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. I learned so much. Thank you.

    Bradford Hastings:
    Oh cool. My pleasure. My absolute pleasure. Thank you guys for having me. So much fun.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Great. Well, I guess that’s it for us. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli.

    Julianna Jones:
    And I’m Julianna Jones. We love being on this journey with you. We wish you so much success. Happy auditioning everyone.

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    Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.

    4 COMMENTS

    1. Exactly what I needed. Thank you so much for doing this. Very informative and positive!

      How does a member of Voices.com put their auditions in the mix?

      Thanks again!

      • Hey David,

        Thanks for the support!

        That’s a great question. Whenever we’re looking for auditions to be featured in a new episode of Mission Audition, we post a casting call on Voices.com. These job postings are typically titled “Voices – Call for Audition Reviews.” Jobs like these are posted pretty regularly, so I’d recommend just keeping an eye out and then auditioning when opportunity strikes.

        Best,
        Oliver

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