In today’s digital world, more and more voice over auditions are recorded from home studios. Starbucks is great and all, but PJs on the couch always wins… right?
If your submission deadline is in the next 15 minutes, then you really have no option but to record yourself. But wouldn’t you want to give yourself the greatest chance for bagging that all-important job?
Recording in a professional studio, with the benefit of a directors expertise is invaluable.
We will always tell you the comparable benefits of recording auditions in the studio versus at-home, but how does a seasoned VO artist feel?
Three Types Of Voice Over Auditions: Home, Agency, Casting –
What To Know About Them
By Christian Rosselli
No matter how you look at it, the voice over auditioning process has gone through a wee bit of change over the years. Dramatically.
Well, basically everything went online. And the sheer volume of work continuing to head in this direction has sent one or two tidal waves throughout the industry.
Go ahead. Admit it. There are times when you take auditioning for granted. We don’t realize the work it requires and the realities setting into place.
- ‘Ah, they’ll love me. All I have to do is lay down some money reads and it’s a given,’. Or,
- ‘Gonna lay down a few bangin’ reads and send it out.’
Kudos to you for the confidence! But were you also aware that there are a few layers to the process?
Essentially it breaks down into three different categories, or what I like to call
The Three Tiers of The Voice Over Audition. It’s really quite simple.
1. AUDITIONING AT HOME
Whether we like it or not, auditioning from home is the new norm. And it’s probably going to be for a while.
What’s not to like? You’re in the convenience and comfort of YOUR own digs with YOUR cozy studio. You make YOUR own schedule.
The audition probably has a deadline in a few days. You might immediately send it out, do a little dance and brag about it on Facebook (Oh Glorious Audition!), or put it aside until the last minute, scrambling to get a few reads together, until you realize you misread the deadline and the project has already been cast.
Chances are, you’re going to want to get it out to your agency or casting professional ASAP, as others will be piling in and you risk not being heard.
WHO WILL HEAR IT?
Yes, there’s a downside to all upsides. Of course, a major factor in this is ‘Will you be heard at all?’ It’s obviously beyond your control.
Most of these are usually from online casting sites, or the mass Voicebankauditions that every agency in the country is going to pounce on.
Note: I’m not stomping on Voicebank, as they’re a great way for people to get noticed and amp up their careers! Though more often than not, you may not even be right for the project, yet your agent had to respond because ‘times are difficult.’ You might want to reconsider that agency’s role in your voice over career.
TIME WORTH THE GAMBLE?
The problem with the home audition is really the whole gamble of it all. The uncertainty. Yes, auditioning in general is one big gamble, duh!
When looking at it more closely though, everything seems to not be in your favor. On our own schedule, it may seem like a real privilege. However, home auditioning locks us into our comfort zones and perpetuates the anal self-director in all of us.
For the newbie, this may mean using headphones and getting distracted by the sound of their own voice. Or the pro doesn’t trust his or her instincts, and does 5 or 6 takes and accidentally winds up in a whirlwind of pointless editing, forgetting completely what the message is.
Without someone on the other end directing or suggesting even the slightest adjustment, we may not increase our chances of booking anything.
To me, this confinement stifles any kind of career progress. At some point, you need to ask yourself these questions:
- Am I really getting the creative feedback I need, whether it’s from an agent, casting director or producer?
- Is auditioning from home helping me or hurting me?
- Am I being challenged?
- What are the pros/cons?
Agents are our advocates. Some may send us 20 auditions a week, some may send us 20 a year. Either way, they are in one form or another a bridge to potentially getting heard more often and regularly.
And, sometimes, by a real person. Remember those?
Many of us have agencies all over the world, some of which are obviously not down the street. We may not always have the luxury of an in-person audition. It’s not terrible. It’s not great either.
WALK RIGHT IN
However, if your agency is local and you can just walk in, what’s stopping you?
Agency auditions can be pretty cool too for a number of reasons.
- For one, they get you out of the confines of your apartment.
- Secondly, it’s a great way to build a working relationship with someone.
- And what’s more – they’re in the flesh!
One of my local agencies usually gives me the option to send a few reads from home if I can’t make it in for some reason. But I almost always decide to come in.
Why? Someone else is hearing you in real time. Telling you what you’re doing right or wrong, or asking you to make the slightest change in tone that could make all the difference in the world.
Yes, my agent may be sending my read out into the abyss, but the difference is, I’m not flying solo.
A CATTLE CALL?
The drawback? In the rare instance that the audition may be an office cattle call, you might get the sense that they’re just too busy to spend every precious moment with you. It’s never personal. They have deadlines – um, like, yesterday?
Unlike casting directors, where they seem to have more time to work with you (or at least it feels that way), feeling rushed is inevitable on those days and we might feel our agent is more concerned with getting us in and out of the booth so others can be heard.
So it’s your responsibility to be prepared and make their job easier for your agent, if you can. You’ve just gotta go with the flow.
Unfortunately this often results in not being challenged. I’ve definitely heard, “Ok, that’s great. See you later!” one too many times.
And you just know that wouldn’t fly with a casting director!
Although some might say their role in the voice over industry is dwindling, that statement couldn’t be any further from the truth.
These days, being sent out to a casting office doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, though it is by far my favorite type of audition. To be heard by someone closest to the client, to be challenged by hearing a fresh perspective, is an opportunity for which I am truly grateful.
In that moment, casting directors are not only your advocates, but your best friend on the sidelines rooting for you. Ultimately, they want you to succeed, book and return to their office!
CLOSE TO CLIENT
What is the casting director, if not the second brain of the producer?
Casting works closely with the client day in, day out, and has tremendous experience in hearing talent from a rather vast and competitive pool.
They know first-hand what the client likes and loathes. And, by the way, they aren’t going to take any of your drama. There should be more of them.
LISTEN TO ADVICE
When you’re ‘sent out’ on an audition, something magical happens. I can’t really describe it. It’s a moment when another person’s opinion matters most – not yours, not your agent’s, but the client/producer’s trusted partner.
You walk into the office, sign in, give the copy a few glances (not obsess over it), put it down and smile.
Sometimes I have complete confidence in my read and the casting director destroys me. By this I mean the direction could be:
- ‘I don’t buy it!’
- ‘Did you actually read the specs?!’ or
- ‘You’re sounding too methodical – get out of your head!’
All true instances.
THEN WHAT HAPPENS?
Then the reality light bulb goes on, ‘Oh man, that’s probably why I’m not booking as much’ or ‘Yeah, I do that, don’t I?’
Other times, I’m nervous beyond belief, struggle through the copy and then in the room, that magic happens and I just get it. Here I am getting the opportunity to refine my auditioning skills and develop more confidence as a voice talent.
Either way you look at it, being seen by the client’s right-hand woman or man, is positive reinforcement for your career.
Let’s be honest here – you don’t get that at home where, as far as you’re concerned, those three takes showed enough range and variety. There are always areas for improvement. And in reality, the casting director isn’t going to send three reads to a client, they’re going to send one – or none.
Christian Rosselli is a voice over talent based in New York City who specializes in commercial, corporate and industrial narration, explainer videos, and more! He has worked with a wide variety of companies including AT&T, Bic, Boeing, CA Technologies, Geico, Purina, Tiaa-Cref, United Healthcare and many more. He is also an avid photographer, coffee drinker, and jazz connoisseur.
Christian’s website: www.christianrosselli.com
Original article can be found here