Continuing my occasional series of voiceover hints and tips from the late, great Brad Lavelle. Here he talks about studio etiquette...
“Do indulge in verbal play and banter with the director/producer and the engineer and other studio staff to a degree but don’t overdo it and eat up too much recording time. Don't just sit there being the great actor waiting for the minions to begin and don’t get in the way when they’re trying to work out a problem. Making a recording is a team effort, become part of the team and don’t worry when the rest of the team ignores you, if the talkback is switched off they’re probably just discussing a point that doesn’t concern you.
Don't tell everyone that you'd rather be doing a season at Stratford or appearing in Shakespeare in the park. It’s boring, tedious, great actor behaviour and doesn’t make you sound like you want the job you’re being paid for.
Don’t eat up expensive recording time telling everyone that you’re giving your Hamlet or Ophelia in whatever theatre be it off off off off off Broadway or on. If after you’ve finished your session you’d like to invite the studio along, do it then.
Don't make a meal of it if the engineer says they forgot record your last take – you can do a good read more than once right?
Do practice your reflexes so that when a piercing feedback ploughs through your headphones (cans) you can get them off before any damage is done to your ears. Don’t over egg this when it happens; save your hearing, make your point and move on.
Don’t overlord it. As a voice artist you're probably getting paid more per hour than the studio runner gets a week. You may be worth it, but who's to say you are. Leave your big fat ego outside the studio.
Don’t not ask questions (I know it’s a double negative). Always ask something; asking questions make you look like you’re on the ball. Every pro does it and if you want to be pro, shouldn’t you? Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a take to say, "Oh uhmmm how do you want this word pronounced?" Don't begin your read without asking (if you can’t tell) 1) to whom you are reading 2) what the intent of the script is.
Do befriend the receptionists and runners at the studio. Clients will ask reception to recommend a good voice. The more the receptionist likes you, the more your chances of a recommendation. Runners will one day be engineers and could go on to being directors…their memories are better than an elephant’s.
Don't overstay your session unless you’re invited to hang out, just tell an amusing anecdote, say goodbye and leave. There’s mixing and other stuff to be done and you’re not needed for that.
Do have fun in your sessions, enjoy them, this job can be a lot of fun and you’ll meet some really terrific and talented people. Don't get aggressive or abusive if you don’t like the way a session’s going, life’s too short and you don't need the ulcers.” – Brad Lavelle