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Adam Creighton, Voice & Film Actor (Ramblings) (Subscribe)

People, by nature, have some interesting things to say. Here are some of my things. Some about acting. All about living ...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Acting is a lot of work

I was writing an encouragement / what-I-do-when-audition-opportunities-are-lagging note to some voice acting colleagues, and it struck me just how much work there is to do as an actor, and how little excuse there is to be "bored" or not honing my craft 24x7.

For background, here's the example list I game them:

  1. Focus on the business part of the Biz - Send postcards to past actual and potential clients, call sound studios and ask to whom I can send my demo, etc. There's a truism that says "The Biz is 90% business and 10% art".
  2. Training -- Brief hour sessions with my voice coach in a studio setting, doing quick reads so I can be on mic, she can let me know what I'm doing right, and what still needs work. I re-read James Alburger's book, The Art of Voice Acting, and do all the book and CD exercises, etc.
  3. Create my own project -- Currently, I'm writing/editing/producing my own animated project, where I'll do the voices. One of my film coaches told me, "If you don't have work, make work." It doesn't have to be full-blown animation, if I don't have the time. Get a digital camera and take picts of comic or comic book frames, and do the VO for each character in each panel.
  4. Exercise other parts of my craft -- I've been memorizing new (tough) monologs, writing a stand-up comedy routine for an open mic night (no, I'm sooo not a stand-up comic), etc.
  5. Remind myself of why I do this -- I got into voice work for cartoons and video games, so I spend a lot of time watching and playing to see what works. Seriously, things like Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block is a cash cow for Turner, and MTV Networks is looking for their answer to it.

And then I had a ton of other things I do rattle through my head:

Writing -- I try to write for a minum of an hour a day.

Research -- This is everything from watching episode after episode of Inside the Actors Studio (those folks got there, yo?) to watching shows filming in Texas (Prison Break, Friday Night Lights) or shows with roles I could so do (How I met your Mother, Two and a Half Men) to reading comic books with great dialog (stuff written by Brian Michael Bendis, Jeph Loeb, Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns, and on and on) to watching the special features on DVDs where directors talk about how they made things work, actors talk about their technique, whatever.

Inspiration -- This follows closely with research, but I'm constantly stopping when my attention is arrested -- TV, movies, comic books, toys, music, people (known and total strangers). I really try to evaluate and hold onto whatever gave me joy or pause or whatever.

Audtion for everything -- This is a harder one, because I've gotten to the point where people are calling me for small gigs, which is keeping me busy. Don't get me wrong, the cash flow isn't there, but I am in this good place of "relationship project making". When that slows, I audition for stuff from the Austin Film Casting user group, student films (which I'm choosy about, since I had like three severely unprofessional experiences in a row, and swore them off for a while).

Read scripts -- There are so many ways to get scripts (for films made and unmade), it's not even funny. I read scripts to figure out my breakdown techniques, practice cold reads, etc.

Memorization -- There are a lot of ways to memorize. I'm trying several to see what works for me. I've gotten into some situations lately where I needed to memorize stuff quickly, and there wasn't enough time to "brute force" memorize (which I want to get past anyway), so I've been trying other memorization techniques (3-5-7 chunking, etc.).

Voice workouts -- This is pretty much endless. Create and lock in new characters (which creates new voices; don't go the other way), breath strength and control exercises, work on my internal clock (so I know when a 58-second commercial has run out), etc.

Look for opportunities -- If I see an announcement of a new game studio being formed, I write to them and send my demo. I do a lot of stuff like this, but I don't limit it to stuff that benefits me. For example, I saw an announcement from a toy company, and an unrelated licensing announcement from one of the big comic book publishers, and I wrote to the licensing departments of both and said, "Hey you two should ..." They're interested, and this kind of thing is always interesting, because they're sure I've got some "angle". Nope. I saw an opportunity, and I couldn't do anything with it, so they might as well to make the world a better, more creative place. OK, actually seeing that in print does seem a little wonky.

Create "something else" -- I'm a voice and film actor. I'm creating an animated series, but I've also written a video game proposal, comic book script, built models, tiled a floor, roofed a back porch, remodeled a corporation's Austin offices, and other stuff that lets me create in new ways.

Getting uncomfortable -- I'm not sure humanity was meant for routine, so I'm trying to get out of mine, which has really freed me up to create. I drive different routes, which sometimes get me stuck in a dead-end street. I'm growing a beard. I spike the hell out of my hair. I wear stuff "I wouldn't normally wear". (I'm hoping the role for "Looks-like-hell-guy" comes up as an opportunity soon.) I listen to country music (I am so not a fan) or Austin Catholic talk radio (I'm neither Catholic nor like talk radio).

Connect -- It's already been a wild, full acting ride in a short time. I'm trying to get back with people who have been part of it, or people that I know see in my acting prehistory who got me here. I use Email, phone, and quick lunches to be inspired by the most inspiring thing around me -- you folks.

For me, I've chosen my craft (or it's chosen me), because it's a representation of who I am -- so I should be doing it all the time.

If I love something, I stay with it; if not, why do it?

Freaking busy and exhausting and never done. It doesn't get much better, and it helps me see the bigger purpose above the mundane, and it helps me diligently work through the mundane.

Reality keeps happening. God willing I can make the most of it.

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