By Jeffrey Hedquist
Whether you’re a writer, producer, actor, or director, developing directing skills will make a world of difference in your commercials.
Directing is inspiring, coaching, encouraging, cheerleading, getting inside the psyche of an actor and planting seeds so that that actor will bring to life words on a page. Good directing not only improves the final production, but it improves the skills of the actors being directed.
The result is a more believable commercial. The audience, the client and the station will are the beneficiaries.
Listen to how people speak. The pitch changes that occur when they’re happy or depressed, the audible tension when they’re under stress, the sound of an angry person speaking with a tight jaw, are all reference points for a good director to have. As your talent moves through the commercial, keep asking yourself, “Is this how a person in this situation would sound?” That’s the mark you should be aiming for and nudging your talent toward.
A common mistake is to ask the talent to emphasize too many words. This can make it sound too much like a pitch and not like a conversation. Sometimes just a small rise in the pitch of a word will make it stand out. Remember, your listener is participating in the conversation. Involve their imagination by not having the actor give it all away in the delivery,
Believability starts with the casting. Find the best voice actors you can afford. This will make your job much easier. Instead of telling them how to read the script, tell them why you wrote it the way you did. Let them bring their experience to it. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Be confidant of the performance you’re anticipating, so you don’t confuse and frustrate your talent by changing direction after each take. However, you may also get interpretations you hadn’t planned for. Be open to changing your preconceptions and going with the new direction if it works better than what you had in mind.
Try to make the session fun and keep your talent relaxed, even if you and the client may not be.
But wait, there’s more…
© 2005 Hedquist Productions, Inc.