Let’s talk about the Slate! Yes, if you’re a voice actor or any actor, there’s no doubt you’ve had to slate your name before an audition. If you’ve been in the business for a while you’ve probably said your own name so many times it gets a bit nutty! But when it comes to the slate, how important is it with regards to your audition? For me, the slate is a huge part of your audition!
I’ve experimented with my slate over the years trying different things. For a while I used a prerecorded slate that was voiced by a female…my wife actually. I still use that slate every now and then but these days I’ve gone back to slating my own auditions.
So why do I think the slate is so important? The biggest reason is that it’s the very first thing your listener hears. And while it’s not designed to be part of your audition, in reality it is. Believe it or not, a listener might decide to stop playing your audition even before you start the actual script…if they don’t like your slate. So what’s the best way to go about slating? Of course, there’s no right answer here but I’ll give you some insight as to how I approach it.
I almost always slate in the same tone/timber that I will be reading my audition in. Some people don’t have the greatest imaginations. If my slate sounds totally different then when I read the script, it’s possible the listener might not believe my read is authentic. So if the script is more serious, my slate is more serious. If it’s a more upbeat script, my slate is more upbeat.
I may also add something additional beyond just my name. For example I might say…Hey this is Jeffrey Holz. This is something debated by a lot of voice talent as some people think adding anything beyond your name is no no. But for me there’s a purpose to this…especially for anything asking to be read in a conversational tone which is most scripts these days. Right off the bat I’m saying a line that’s conversational. I’m also throwing something out there that maybe the listener didn’t expect to hear. It helps me to stand out a bit. Of course, it could also make me stand out in a bad way depending on who’s listening…but for the most part I think it’s helped me more then hurt me. I’ve even booked jobs where people have told me one of the reasons they booked me was because of my slate. It’s happened on several occasions.
As mentioned earlier I will sometimes use a prerecorded slate that my wife did for me. I like this because it gives me a break from having to even worry about my slate. Saying your name countless times a day can get a bit tiresome. If you do decide to use a prerecorded slate…have it done by someone of the opposite sex. It’s a nice way to give your slate/read some variety.
So what is the future of the slate? Actually, I think the future is that the slate will become obsolete. Some casting directors are already starting to request no slate. If I’m doing an audition via online casting I don’t usually slate. It’s very easy for the listener to identify who you are digitally. And that’s why the slate was created… to identify who you are.
Love it or hate it the slate is still a mainstay in today’s Voice Over world especially if you’re auditioning through an agent.Try to embrace it.Try to make it fun.As I’ve mentioned I believe it can play a big role in your audition.While you shouldn’t think too much about your slate, you definitely shouldn’t disregard it.So get out there and go say that name of yours.It’s your name…make it work for ya!