Monthly Newsletter
Number 102

     July 2013  
Upcoming Classes
All 2013 Classes


Home Recording I  -  7/11


Small Group Workout  -  7/12

By The Book
  -  7/13-14,  20-21

Styles  -  7/15-16

Comedy In 60 Seconds  -  7/15-29

Unlocking Your Emotions  -  7/16-23

Making It M.I.N.E.  -  7/17-18

Home Recording II  -  7/17

Spontaneity  -  7/19, 26

Character Intensive  -  7/22-25

Professional Invitational  -  7/25

Bringing Voices To Life  -  7/26-28

Narration Simple  -  7/29-30

Advanced Narration  -  7/31-8/2

Long Form Narration  -  8/3-4

Home Recording I  -  8/6

Video Game Challenge  -  8/8-15

INTRO: Starting Out  -  8/10


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How To Decode The Specs:  

What The Director REALLY Wants ...
"Looking for a real person delivery that adds emotion to the top part of the copy and hits the selling points at the end. Not announcer-y but serious with a subtle sense of humor. Think Morgan Freeman or Matthew McConaughey (without the accent) with a touch of
Adam Sandler and Meryl Streep. Should be read slowly with lots of energy. A relaxed read that's quick paced, and pulls on the heartstrings without being sappy or saccharine."  

Specs. You gotta love 'em. 

Sometimes they sound like a committee wrote them, each person offering his or her own advice. They want it faster, slower, intimate and energetic all at once. And we're supposed to figure out what that jumbled mess means. 

The answer is, deliver all of it at once.... somehow!  


The best spec direction I ever received was, "Just make the most of this silly ass copy."  It's plain and simple. And making the most out the copy is what we need to do every day.
So let's take a moment to break down the above specs. 


1.  Celebrity references. They obviously don't want us to sound like them, but to give an essence of their personas. Morgan Freeman has a depth that allows the listener to connect with his soul and inner thoughts as he shares his personal history. Matthew McConaughey is personable, friendly and sexy. Adam Sandler is funny, ironic and sarcastic. Meryl Streep is a revered actress who approaches her roles with intelligence, a solid technical background, and emotional depth.  

2. Transition between emotional beginning and selling points at the end. Well, that just summarizes the three parts of almost every script: 
  • Set-Up (establishes the problem, which is often emotional or humorous);
  • Body (knocks down the problem and gives a positive solution to the problem); and
  • Resolve (refers back to the problem and motivates the listener to take action so they'll feel good).  
3. Energy and pacing. Don't sound tense or speak too fast because they've over written the script. Ground yourself, breathe, relax and read quickly without sounding rushed. Use arm, head, shoulder and other body gesticulations to help energize the read and make it sound natural.  

4. Negative comments. Comments like - "don't be sappy or saccharine" - mean two things:
  • They've heard other people read the copy and they've not connected emotionally with the message and consequently it sounds fake. Or,
  • They want someone who believes what they're saying, honestly, deeply, and whole-heartedly.   

Bottom line, when you read the specs always remember to keep it real and believe in the product and its overall message. Don't spend time on negative thoughts - like wishing you could rewrite the copy or how you would never use the product. That is sure to prevent you from booking the job. Instead, decipher what emotions they want, connect with that part of your personal history, and sprinkle a variety of the desired direction throughout the script.   


There's no way you can deliver all that direction in every word. Some writers and directors hear what's missing. Others hear what's working. Yet they all want the same thing - a good read that listeners connect with emotionally and intellectually, and which motivates them to use the product or service. So the next time you get what appears to be long, convoluted, or conflicting advice, step back for a moment and read between the lines.  Decode the specs and deliver the message as it was intended.
Look Who's Talking
Mic Small

* Senya Hawkins signed with Look Models and Talent.
* A few actors have been called in to interview with a leading SF talent agency after a recent showcase class. More news in future newsletters.
* Sarah Kramer was on on-camera host for Paperless141's new software program.
* Lisane Drouin booked her paid first VO job - a localization project for Microsoft.
* Shannon Riley recorded a narration for "The Campaign," a documentary about Prop 8 and LGBT history. It premiers at the Frameline Film Festival in late June and will then air nationally on PBS in August.

* Nancy Battey recorded VO for the Center of Investigative Reporting in Berkeley.
* Keri Fishman recorded a McAfee spot for PC Magazine. 
* Noam Smooha recorded a web spot for RelateIQ, a training video for Levi Strauss and multiple roles for the popular EA game, Sim City.   
Congrats to all who've recently landed agents and jobs. Send us your good news and we'll add it to next month's Newsletter.   
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