All scripts should be approached as a dialogue. The person to share this information with should be someone you know, not an imaginary person or group of people. Selecting someone you know opens you up emotionally. This adds attitude and option to your message. It could be a parent, spouse, sibling, coworker, best friend, boss, lover, child, or even a movie star about whom you've fantasized. Thinking about this person should open up your heart and make you emotionally alive and accessible. If you are really "present" and "in-the-moment" you will be aware of this new emotional life. Breathing pattern, pulse, voice, and body position should alter as you react to that person's image. You become a whole person that someone can relate to, rather than a stick figure delivering words without any feelings.
Choosing a substitution may be difficult at first. The tendency is to look at the copy and say, "I'm going to talk to a person in a store who is wearing a blue shirt because that shirt is mentioned in the copy." Or, "I'm going to use a friend's experience because I do not have one of my own that involves a professional pizza chef cutting up meats and veggies." Or better yet, "I'm going to talk to a bunch of guys standing on the corner wearing cowboy boots and ten-gallon hats because that would be different and interesting." All may intellectually be the "right" choice but do not stimulate truthful emotional reactions. Generic stories do not work. You must evoke
1. GROUND YOURSELF - Place one or both of your hands on your heart. Feel it pumping blood through your body. Don't think but feel as you listen to your body and reconnect with yourself. Are you feeling happy or sad, nervous or calm, or nurtured and loved? Breathe in and out a few times and let out a long, soft, audible sigh. The soothing rhythm and the release of tension from the breath should relax and ground you. Let this hand-on-heart exercise minimize outside interferences and elevate awareness of your current emotional state. If you do not feel anything at this moment, you have "checked out" temporarily because you are living in your head and not your heart. Repeat the process until you feel relaxed, happy, grounded, and connected with your pulse, breath, and body.
2. PERSONALIZE YOUR MESSAGE - Image a person in your life either doing or telling you something at a specific moment or place. See the location in your mind, hear the sounds around you, and smell the air. That person's words or actions should elicit a body movement and an emotional response. It may make you roll your eyes, shake your head, smile, jerk your head back, or shift your weight. These little movements help connect you to that person and deliver the words more realistically. If you wait until that natural response is over and compose yourself, it's a wasted exercise. Acting is reacting.
3. ENERGIZE YOUR VOICE - Before recording, warm up your body, jump up and down, shake out your hands, and laugh. This will put a twinkle in your eye, oxygenate your blood, and make your voice sound energized. One producer I worked with called it, "Spraying some chrome on the voice." You'll be pleasantly surprised how it makes the voice sparkle.
4. USE YOUR BODY - Some scripts require a strong, tense read while others necessitate a more relaxed delivery. How we use our muscles is reflected in our voice. When reading something that requires a lot of energy, tense specific parts of your body or every muscle from head to toe. Practice reading a script three different ways: (1) your fists clenched, (2) buttocks and thigh muscles tightened, and (3) palms of your hands pressed firmly against each other. Read the same script three more times, this go-round with fingers relaxed, bottom wiggling, and arms waving in the air. Every move we make creates a new and unique sound. Learn how to use your body, rather than your brain, to create the desired sound. No matter how much you think you're doing something, if your body hasn't gotten the message. . . no one is going to hear your fabulous idea.
5. ANSWER A QUESTION - Directorially, we are required to emphasize specific words or phrases. In order to justify this, we need to know what question has been posed. Imagining a question and using the script to answer it helps jump-start the read.
Excerpted from third edition of "There's Money Where Your Mouth Is," by Elaine Clark. Due out November 2011. To pre-order your copy visit: Amazon.com