Guest Blog: Jeffery Baker – THE “WOO” OF VOICE-OVER

Guest Blog: Jeffery Baker – THE “WOO” OF VOICE-OVER

The “woo” of Voice-Over

By: Jeffery Baker

From: Atlantic Voiceovers

When I sat down to write this Wednesday’s blog I had originally meant to focus on some marketing and branding stuff. It wasn’t flowing that great but it was on my mind so I kept plugging away at it — pro tip, this generally means it’s not a great idea to begin with — but it’s what I had so I was going with it.

I’d gotten a paragraph in and paused to make my daughter her breakfast and feed her. Oh, confession time, I write these the morning I post them. I find I like the spontaneity of it. It’s very stream of conscious and fun. Any way! I’m planning what I want to say next in my head when a thought crashed through my internal mumbling. Something that I’ve been ruminating on for a while and even have had discussions with my fiancé about.

Simply put I often think about spirituality in voice over.

Pause, I need to give my dog her medicine.

Back!

I’m not going to delve too deep into my own beliefs at this time but I will say that I’m a very analytical person a lot of time. My “woo” meter is highly tuned and when I hear something that sounds like it I’m instantly turned off. I’ll listen to what the article or person has to say of course but then I’ll work backward to find the practical application for what is being said.

I practiced Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Sanda/Sanshou under a 31st Generation Shoulin Monk (yes, there is a 31 Generation Shoulin Monk who teaches in Norcross, Georgia. For goodness sake if you lookup Shaolin Kung Fu on Wikipedia his picture is first in the article!

Grand Master Shi-Deru, my shifu, is on the left.

Grand Master Shi-Deru, my shifu, is on the left.

I bring this up to demonstrate that I’m well versed in practicing and being immersed in something with a lot of spirituality but finding my own practical approach to a lot of the teachings. I often found that the flowery language hid the real world mechanics behind the action.

Breathing down into my dan tien (the lower abdomen) to gather chi was more about making sure you had proper breath control in order to maintain enough oxygen during the physically demanding forms. The practice had incredible results! I was able to jog and hold a conversation without any problems and if you’re a runner you know how difficult that can be.

So you can see that when I hit those same moments during voice training, when I’m introduced to some kind of woo or spiritual explanation for approaching the craft, I circle around it to find that practical application. What are they really saying that makes sense? How do I incorporate that lesson in a way that makes logical sense?

I’ll be real, it’s not easy to do and a lot of times I can’t find it.

Lately, I’ve begun to wonder if I’ve been doing myself a disservice. I listen to my fellow classmates who are much more open to the lesson and they quickly improve. Their reads become deeper, more lively, more connected. It’s amazing to watch.

When I look at some of my mentors who are much more spiritual I see how great their work is. They’re an inspiration!

So I wonder, have I been cutting myself off from opening up? Has my analytical nature cut me off from properly connecting with the copy? Have I built a wall between myself and my playful nature that I once had as a theatre kid in High School? That time when I would fully give myself over to my part and let it flow.

There was a very stark moment of this during one of my VO Dojo classes. Tish Hicks, our amazing instructor, had given me some promo copy for the movie WHAT DREAMS MAY COME. If you’ve never seen it well first, go watch it now as it’s an amazing Robin Williams movie, and second it’s a heavy emotional rollercoaster of a film. Well in the copy it gets heavy. My read wasn’t hitting that level of intensity. Tish pushed me, made me find a moment in my life to connect the copy to, and let me go.

It was raw.

It was a tough moment to relive.

It made the copy come alive. The messages from my classmates exploded with how real it felt.

Truth is I didn’t like having to go back to that moment. It’s probably one of the most tragic things that I’ve lived through. A part of me doesn’t like the idea of having to trigger myself like that, to relive trauma, to make the copy real. But the results speak for themselves.

And it was a moment that I’d consider spiritual on some level. As I opened up and gave myself fully over to the moment it all landed perfectly.

Now I find myself trying to analyze all of that, ironically enough. It definitely feels like I’ve swung too far in the other direction from when I was an “kid” who played on the stage. Who, as the VO Dojo says, played fully. Which there is definitely something spiritual about that, isn’t there? Watching a child play fully is watching them shine.

I’ll probably still struggle and wrestle with this one for some time. It’s who I am. I’m not quick to make changes until I understand it. But I’ll keep you posted.

Sorry for no big reveal or insight or clever ending. My only hope is that you’re able to find your own meaning and takeaway from all of this. Perhaps you’ve had this same struggle or maybe you’ve found your own way through it all.

I’ll end on this. Maybe it’s ok to be a little “woo.”

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