This week, in my pursuit of mastering enough technique to voice two of the animated characters I’ve created, I took an “Intro to Voiceover” with Andy Roth, Andy is one of the top casting directors in NYC and I learned so much.
He made doing the booth work where you actually read copy into the mic easy. “I’m all about the tricks,” he said, “There are six actable emotions:
I asked “Okay fine, Andy, so how do you find those when you have 30 seconds to prepare?”
Andy laughed, “It’s all about the tricks, remember? The main ones you’ll use are the first 4 which add up to the acronym, CUSP. For caring, say aloud, “I’m here for you.” For upbeat, smile wide as you want the read to be “big.” For sarcastic, say “Really, dude,” as meanly as you can, and for professional, think crisp.
Another big takeaway for me was “When you’re reading, ignore what’s going on in your mind. What we’re looking for is how your personality expresses itself through the words. Use your intuition, which I define as using all that you know decisively and with no self-doubt.” Wow. This idea is similar to the way I teach writing, and I loved his definition of intuition.
When it was my turn to read, he laughed and said, “Are you a writer? You read this like you were pitching a show.”
I laughed, and did the read again. It was ad copy of for an allergy medication. The group applauded. I was surprised. Andy said, “Much better, and that’s where the storytelling can help you.” His comment was spot on. Since the class, my dialog writing has improved since I’m more aware of tone. I’ve found that studying the actor’s craft is a huge boon for dramatic screenwriters.
I was recently a judge for the Voice Over contest at the School of Media Studies. On May 3rd, portions of the student’s screenplays will be read to an audience of peers, students and industry professionals. Read more about the annual script reading event here.
On another note, I was reading about first time successful screenwriters, and found this excellent article on how Liz Hannah decided to write the 2017 film, The Post, based on the book. It’s an inspiring story, both of Graham and of Hannah, who’s both talented, modest and very practical.
With the right aim, timing and talent, and confidence, the right doors can open for all of us. Read the interview, be inspired, and get busy!
Here’s to your successful writing!
Professor Marilyn Horowitz