Wednesday, May 1, 2013

In Your Own Self Image


...you are what you eat.


Narcissus by CaravaggioThere's a little Narcissus in all of us, especially those of us in the world of performing arts. Is that a good thing or bad? We have to be self promoters in the world of voiceovers. If we don't “toot our own horns” how do we expect others to do it for us? Just the thought got me thinking about life experiences and how they relate to what I do as a voice talent. 

(Painting illustration: Narcissus by Caravaggio gazing at his own reflection.)

There was a pop culture film back in the late sixties that had limited popularity but it's title has been bantered about for years. It was a hippie, flower children documentary of sorts that had cameo appearances by such notables as Paul Butterfield, David Crosby, Frank Zappa, Peter Yarrow and Tiny Tim.  I can't remember much about the film except the title: "You Are What You Eat."  That about sums up today's topic.

I look back on where I have been, what I have done, people I have met and things I like to do now. Are they important to the business of voiceover? You bet. I believe they add perspective and enhance the ability to take on roles as a voice actor.

So does having had the experience of working on a dairy farm as a youth help me in voiceover? It does when the product is a something like Udder Balm or a special herbicide or even a tractor for that matter. The voice talent in the radio or TV spot has to be able to relate to the product. Having first hand knowledge is extremely valuable.

Let's say you are going to do some travel documentaries. The fact that you have actually been there makes the job so much easier. So, in my case having actually traveled extensively makes it easier to place myself at the actual destination: Chiang Mai, Thailand; Gozo, Malta; the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, the top of Mt Etna in Sicily, the Bad Lands of the Dakotas, Yellowstone Park, The high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains, or James Bay on the Arctic Ocean. I have been there and done that and I can relate.

I love photography, computing, nature, canoeing, boating, camping, hiking, and cross-country skiing. I'm an avid genealogist and love family history research. I have baked bread all of my adult life and am an expert in making artisan breads and would be right at home doing a voiceover about baking.  I'm a home DIY guy and I can relate when it comes to selling a table saw or cordless drill. But, am I the guy that should be doing an NFL film or a documentary on the history of basketball? Not on your life. That's because I don't follow the sports, don't know anything about them and have no business even trying. Heck, I was born in Cooperstown, NY and lived a few miles north in my youth and still have never been to the Baseball Hall of Fame. So, I really shouldn't consider, even if asked, to do a documentary about the history of baseball. Why is that? Now this can and will be disputed, but I believe the audience can tell when you deliver the words if you have no knowledge of the topic, even if you are a good actor.  

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