The Making of a Gaming Reel
One of the more intimidating parts of what I do involves the fairly exposing process of making something new in front of other people. Starting from nothing, the fabled blank page, cracking open a brand new nut and knowing that whatever is inside might not be perfect and round, but, in fact misshapen and a bit wrinkly.
Imagine opening your mouth and just singing something you’re making up right there on the spot. Imagine trying to do it with the full conviction of someone who’s all ‘do not worry, this is going to be awesome’ (whilst knowing full well it might sound a bit silly). I explained this process to a friend recently and she almost threw up just thinking about it.
When I write toplines with someone for the first time I always spend a lot of that first session fighting the urge to obsess about what form of madness might accidentally leak out of me. But how can you make something authentic if your guard is up? I’m almost relieved when I make a couple of blunders, nobody dies, and I just get over myself.
I had a particularly hideous case of this when I worked with a well known rapper recently – as it turns out we have a lovely chemistry, and a trust that we have built over time, but I was doing some serious over-thinking on day 1. More on that later!
And so the spectre of these worries lurked in the back of my mind as I went to the Sounds Wilde studio to make my first ever gaming reel last week. Whilst I was massively excited to be spending a whole day geeking out on new characters with Kirsty, I was also aware that I was going to have to make something new in front of her – which meant making mistakes in front of her. She had of course written and sent me my scripts in advance, but I wasn’t going to set those performances in stone and turn up parroting them – that’s not what this was about. So I knew there was going to be that element of experimentation.
Kirsty encouraged me to move on from the idea that every voice needed to sound so radically different from the next that you shouldn’t know it’s the same person – we can save that for my animation reel. Obviously versatility is a must, but more importantly the voices also have to be authentically yours. As someone who doesn't have formal acting training, I loved the way she lead me into deeper conversations about who each character was, who they were talking to, what was happening around them, breathing colour into my audio head. By the end it felt like the performances just fell out of me.
Kirsty helped me access emotions and 'run them in' with tirades of pre-life, (ad libbing words or sentences that could have come before) whilst adding layers on top of each performance so that my head was buzzing with images. I was really talking to someone, I was really thinking about someone. And so after one minor injury (got a bit too 'into' dodging the imaginary bullets, whacked my shoulder on the light switch) and a lot of expended energy later – we had created seven new characters, who were all me.
It felt really exciting. Acting is something I know I should have been doing all along but haven’t had the opportunity to pursue until now. What’s interesting is that I feel more open and adaptable now that I’m older, I’m less defensive which is important if you’re doing work like this. Maybe, I found myself thinking, I actually couldn’t have done this as a younger person? Whatever the case may be - the time is now, and I’m ready.
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