Saturday, April 12, 2008

Trying To Find My "Center" Among The Hollywood Crowd: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

A lot of people have told me over the years that I would be a good voice actor. More than once, I’ve been told by someone that they can picture my voice on the radio.

With that said, last summer my girlfriend Ramona spotted an ad for this four-week introductory voice-acting class in Studio City that I decided to take to see how my voice would sound trying to sell Tide Detergent over the airwaves.

While I did OK but could use more training, I also found out that classes like these are home to a bunch of folks who are trying to make it in the "biz."

(note: The term is "biz", by the way. During the whole "introduce yourself" portion in the first class, I called it the "entertainment field" and was immediately besieged by cold, icy looks. )

To give you a sense of what I mean, here is a description of my other classmates:

---Naomi: A woman in her early 40s who has some voice acting experience and is now a "fine artist" in Studio City, doing paintings that "can't be described in words."

---Miranda: A mid-20s comedian from Hollywood, who has "conquered the stage and now wants to conquer the 'behind-the-scenes' network."

---Paige: A late-20s Barbie blonde (without the boobs) who is currently living in Hollywood. Paige is an aspiring actress who, while waiting for her "big break", works as a waitress in a Sushi restaurant.

Paige, by the way, introduced herself in the first class by saying, "I just want everybody to know that I’m not here to socialize. I’m her to work. This is business. Hence, I will not be speaking to anyone on a personal level."

I’m thinking she and I won’t become friends.

---Joe: The oldest of the group, a British guy who looked to be in his late 60s. Joe specialized in Shakespeare in the jolly ol' U.K. and wants to "expand his pallet in the twilight of his life."

---Albroon, who goes by "Bruno". Bruno was the only person other than myself with no previous experience in entertainment. He tests sunglasses for the Oakley company and counts drinking three Coronas in the mid-afternoon as part of his daily work schedule.

I asked him how he came about his current job.

"My man," he said, putting a hand on my shoulder, "that's just the luck of Bruno."

Uh-huh.

---And finally, there was Joyce, a late-30s blonde who was commuting from Temecula to attend this class because she’s raised horses all her life, realized one day that "she has the heart of an actress" and is now taking life by the horns and pursuing her "destiny."

Right.

Some other stuff to know about the class dynamic:

---Miranda and Paige are already clashing, which is interesting given that Paige hasn’t actually "spoken" to Miranda (as was the vow she made during the first class). Miranda is this New York-Latina-looking brunette and you can tell that she and Paige are already sizing each other up and considering each other rivals. It's like being on an episode of "Fame."

---Bruno is trying to get into Miranda's pants.

---Joe went on and on for 15 minutes about how he did children's theater in Wales back in the 1840s and is convinced that it will help him launch a "Books On Tape" career.

---And the teacher went on a tirade about how she was once "forced" to live in a "piss hole" known as Winnetka, California, causing the classroom to gasp.

Winnetka, so you know, was where I grew up. I even played baseball and basketball at Winnetka Park when I was a kid. And you know what? There's absolutely nothing wrong with it. It's got nice people, a nice park and a fake Tommy's that serves awesome chili cheese fries.

Honestly, what more do you need?

To give you an idea of what each class was like, here’s a running diary of what went on during one of them:

6:58 p.m. Arrive at the studio and am first greeted by Bruno, who says: "Come give Bruno a fist tap!"

Apparently, the Coronas were flowin' in the evening as well.

7:22 p.m. Get my first studio time of the evening with Naomi (we are practicing a duet commercial). Before we begin recording, Naomi warns me: "Bear with me, Nevin. All day long, I've had trouble finding my center."

7:36 p.m. I realize that Paige is sitting to my right. She has not said a word to me, or anybody for that matter, since I arrived. Truly, she is a woman of her word.

7:45 p.m. Bruno attempt to get into Miranda's pants No 1:

"Why are you wearing those ugly boots?"

Miranda doesn't reply.

8:01 p.m. I am handed a commercial for Carl's Jr. that I will be performing with Miranda, in which I'm trying to convince her to take her shirt off and give her a back rub.

8:15 p.m. Miranda and I are practicing in a back room. After we went through it a few times, she said: "Oh my God, you're sounding really creepy."

"Perfect!!" I replied. "That's exactly what I was going for!!"

8:26 p.m. I'm in the same back room practicing a hospital commercial with Joyce. And she asks me a question that is only asked by those trying to break into Hollywood:

Do you think my boobs are too big for voice acting?

For the record, I said no, pointing out that her voice would be the part of her on display in this field.

She seemed to buy it.

8:59 p.m. Back in the studio doing my stuff with Joyce. The "boob" question remains planted in my memory.9:07 p.m.

Joe puts a hand on my shoulder.

"I haven't had this much fun since doing 'Othello' in Abington with Johnny Winchester!!"

Words escape me.

9:16 p.m. Bruno attempt to get into Miranda's pants No 2:

"Could you read me my Miranda rights?"

No response.

9:20 p.m. Speaking of Bruno:

"Dude," he whispers, nodding toward Joyce, "those boobs were made for voice acting, don’t you think?"

9:27 p.m. "Good times!" says Joe.

9:36 p.m. Miranda shows me a picture of her little puppy Peanut on her cell phone, which leads to:

9:38 p.m. Bruno attempt to get into Miranda's pants No. 3:

"I'd teach that little mutt to hunt and be a killer."

No response.

9:45 p.m. Naomi does a great job on a two-line voiceover, nailing it on the first take. "I finally found my center!!" she exclaims.

10 p.m. PAIGE SPEAKS!!!"Bye," she says.

Progress, people. Progress.

In the end:

Attending four weeks of voice acting classes: $350

Spending a total of 12 hours with those who are trying to find their "center," realize their "destiny" and believe that a suburb that doesn’t have a Whole Foods is a "piss hole":

Included with your class registration.

Sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to say "priceless."

It’s been done.

And now for this week’s:

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE

Last night, Ramona and I went to see Leatherheads, the football movie starring George Clooney. As the movie was about to start, she came to her seat after a brief trek to the snack bar and delivered some exciting news:

I bought something at the snack bar that was only $1.50!!

I quickly looked at her hand to see what sort of delicious delight she found that was so cheap.

It was a cup of nacho cheese.

Only $1.50, Nev!!

At the movies – where junior mints go for $3.25, hot dogs run $4.50 and large popcorns are zooming past $6 – some of us will take whatever bargains we can find.

Do you like my blog? Spread the wealth!! Let them know about nevdogg.blogspot.com

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2 comments:

Elly and Jeremy said...

Now that you're a pro, do you think I could make it as a voice actor in the 'Biz'?

Lainie said...

My favorite one yet!!! As a former aspiring member of the self-important club known as "the biz" I have absolutely met every single one of these people. Different names, different classes, but they're all the same. You nailed it Nev!!

p.s.
How was Leatherheads??