What is a “flub?” Well, it’s that moment when our mouths seem like stubborn children throwing a tantrum, refusing to cooperate with us when we try to say a word or phrase. It’s the feeling that we are fighting against our mouth, a battle between our brains reading the words on the page and our mouths, shaping them into sounds. When first starting out as a voice-over professional, and it happens in a session with a client, it can feel like it is a sign of our being “new” to the vo game or a clear indicator of our inexperience. Well, the truth is, whether you have been doing voice-over for 30 days or 30 years, you will flub a word from time to time. What makes us professional voice actors are not, in fact, whether we flub or not, it’s how we handle it when we do.
Of course, the more you warm up your articulators before the session, and know the copy well, or don’t but have practiced your cold reading skills, the less likely you will fumble. But, in the event it does happen, the newer voice actor’s impulse is to apologize. Don’t. You do not need to. You simply take a moment, take a breath, and start over from where you made the mistake; a fresh start, a clean slate. The engineer will know what happened and is fine with it, and the client knows what happened and is fine with it. We are humans, after all. We were hired for our humanity.
Now, if you find yourself flubbing a lot, you may say, “I’m sorry, give me a moment, my mouth is not cooperating today.” (ha ha.. keep it light-hearted.) Then mouth the words to yourself quietly, over and over again until you get them under your command. Then say,” Alright, ready!” When you start apologizing and talking between takes, that is just more work for the editor and it interrupts the flow and focus of the recording session. And you might end it thinking, “Okay, I need to warm up more next time; lesson learned.”
Now, if a flub keeps happening outside of a session- when you are simply recording an audition or a job- and a word or phrase keeps tripping you up, don’t just keep doing the ENTIRE piece over and over again hoping that one line will eventually land the way you want it to. That wastes time. Isolate the troublesome word or words and work them out like a kink in a muscle, or ironing a particularly loud wrinkle in a shirt. Then you can return to the piece as a whole.
So, remember, we all flub as voice actors, no matter how long we’ve been doing it. Like most professions, what can really go a long way, is not whether or not you make a mistake, but how well you prepare to limit the chances of it happening, and how graciously you correct it if it does.
Categorised in: Blog
This post was written by Simone Stevens