Podcasts Voice Over Experts Directing Yourself With Tommy Griffiths
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Directing Yourself With Tommy Griffiths

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Stephanie Ciccarelli
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In this episode, our featured coach, Tommy Griffiths, shares the importance of directing yourself as a voice actor. Tommy, a seasoned voiceover coach and actor, emphasizes that making choices is the essence of acting, whether on stage, screen, or behind the microphone.

Discover how specific choices in attitude, audience, and environment can make your auditions stand out and increase your chances of booking jobs. Tommy provides a real-life script example and demonstrates the power of connecting with the intended listener.

By leveraging your unique personality, imagination, and life experiences, you can create compelling performances that set you apart from the competition. Don’t settle for a generic delivery—make deliberate choices and bring scripts to life.

[00:00:00] TG: Welcome to Voice Over Experts, your monthly educational podcast helping you bring your voice acting career to the next level with insightful lessons presented by voices.com/voice-over-coaches.

I'm Tommy Griffiths your voices.com, featured coach of the month. I'm one of the first voiceover coaches to work with voices.com. I'm also a voice actor and a private voiceover coach. I've been doing this voiceover thing for a long time since I was 17 years old, in fact, really is the only way I've ever earned a buck. Not only that, I've been taught by the best of the best on how to coach. If you need voiceover coaching, you can contact me at (757) 404-0833 or visit my website, tommygriffiths.com.

As a voice actor, you know that you are your own talent, you're the engineer, you’re the editor, you're your own marketing departments, your own accountant, janitor. But one of the jobs that many forget about is who is the director. Scripts need to be directed, and if you don't direct yourself, you'll hear me say this again, and again, you're just reading the words. Anybody can do that. There are so many people out there with wonderful voices that know how to read. But if you don't direct yourself, you're not making choices.

Making choices is what acting is all about whether onstage, on screen, or as a voice actor, and what are choices, namely attitude. To whom are you speaking? Who's your audience? What are the confines of the environment in which you are saying these words in the script to whomever you're speaking to. And the more specific that you are, in choosing your choices, the better you'll be. The more unique your take will be, the more unique your audition will be, the better your batting average will be when it comes to auditions. You will, at least, be shortlisted more often, you'll get more work. And that's the key, you need to be unique. You need to be who you are. Use your personality, use your imagination, your creativity, your life experiences, all the things that make you, you, should go into the read.

So, how do you make those choices? Let me explain by using an example from a script that I did for the Maryland Department of Transportation, a commercial for don't drink and drive or PSA, if you will. This will air during the Superbowl on local television in Baltimore, DC. The script, and I'll just give you the first few lines to make the point. The script reads, “Looking forward to watching the game with friends. If you plan on drinking, don't drive. Designate a sober driver.” We’ll just leave it at that. Choices. Now, if you just read the words, the way I just read it to you, that's not making choices. And anybody can do that. And anybody can use as I call it, the default delivery. “Looking forward to watching the game with friends. If you plan on drinking, don't drive.” That's garbage. I mean, that really means nothing. Is gratuitous. It's using vocal range, going up and down, sounding like an announcer, and it's not connecting to the meaning of the script. It's not connecting to the intent of the writer.

What you want to do is talk to a real person. So, making a choice, one of the choices is, well, who is the person you're going to speak to? Let's say, I'm going to talk to my son, who says he's going to watch the game with friends at some sports bar. Secondly, another choice, what is my attitude? Now, I could be very warm and compassionate and I really care. I could finger wag and almost give him a speech and a lecture. I mean, there are so many different ways to do it. As long as the methods or the choices that you make are appropriate within the confines of the scenario that you're visualizing, you can't go wrong. You must make choices. If you don't, you're just reading words.

So, choices. Let's go with the compassionate, the warm read. I really care about my son, Justin, I don't want him to get into an accident. So, I would almost ramp up into the script and say, “Listen, Justin, I know you told me you're going to watch the game with some friends at a sports bar. It's something that I just – I need to tell you this as a father. Looking forward to watching the game with friends. If you plan on drinking, don't drive. Designate a sober driver.” Now, if I'm going to lecture him, a different attitude, I would be like, “Listen, dude, don't screw up. Please don't get into an accident. Don't get a ticket, don't get arrested. Because I know. Looking forward to watching the game with friends. If you plan on drinking, don't drive. Designate a sober driver.” Here are the two different attitudes, the two different choices.

At least it's not that default, crap generic delivery, that you just feel comfortable with. If you do that with each script, every script is going to sound the same. If you make choices based on the content, based on your attitude, based on the scenario that you imagine, that you visualize, every script that you record, whether it's an audition or a job is going to sound different, and you're going to sound completely different than the people you're competing against for jobs. You're on voices.com. So, I implore you make choices. Visualize, see in your mind's eye, to whom are you speaking? What is your attitude? Even more specifically, where are you? What is your relationship to the person you're speaking to you?

We can talk to different people in different ways. You talk to your parents differently then you talk to your kids then your siblings than your boss than a stranger. Make sure that you are specific in how you identify your choices. I promise you, you will do much better as a voice actor, you will improve, make this a habit, your batting average goes up when it comes to auditions and winning jobs. Therefore, you make more money. If you need more coaching, you can contact me Tommy Griffiths at tommygriffiths.com or give me a call, (757) 404-0833. Good luck and make choices.


Stephanie Ciccarelli
Stephanie Ciccarelli is a Co-Founder of Voices. Classically trained in voice 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. For over 25 years, Stephanie has used her voice to communicate what is most important to her through the spoken and written word. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, Stephanie has been a contributor to The Huffington Post, Backstage magazine, Stage 32 and the Voices.com blog. 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®.
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