By Jeffrey Hedquist
If you make your commercial sound like real life, instead of sounding like a commercial, you have a better chance of capturing the attention of that over-communicated-to audience listening in.
In natural conversation, people just don’t stay close-mic’d. They turn, bend and move. Try putting up a few ambient mics in the studio fed to separate tracks to give your actors a chance to do the same, while capturing their voices. These “off-mic” bits of dialogue can help your commercial make a huge leap in believability.
If your actors are good, and know who the characters are, where your story starts and where you want it to end, have them toss the scripts and improvise their way through. You may end up with dialogue that sounds more natural than the script. If nothing else, it gives your talent a chance to pull away from the restrictions of the page and stretch out.
You’ll find that much can be conveyed with just a change of tone of voice, a cough, a throat clearing, a chuckle, a pause, a stretched word, or an interruption.
You want your talent to react to each other and to the situation, not just read lines. A technique I learned from Chuck Blore is, after your actors are familiar with the premise, pace and content of the spot, give each voice a partial script. Actor A’s script has only Actor B’s lines. Actor B’s script has only Actor A’s lines. Each must simply react to what they hear. This will force them to interact with each other.
Dialogue; whether it’s in a film, book, play or a radio commercial is a conversation. The more natural you make it, the more you invite the audience to partake. Listeners have far too many demands for their attention. An invitation can be warmly welcomed.
© 2003 Hedquist Productions, Inc.