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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How Today’s Voice Actors Can Increase Their Bookings Through Modern Auditions

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Voice Over Casting industry is shifting its focus to online venues if you pay attention to market trends. To put it mildly, it’s rapidly becoming the most cost-effective option for up-and-coming artists to make their mark. Many of these artists test the waters without investing in anything beyond a basic set of skills, releasing demos, packaging, websites, commercial copy, and studio sets of their own design. They distribute CDs that they recorded in their own living rooms, packaged in their own CD cases, and advertised on their own websites. Please don’t look down on me for doing this; it’s how nearly everyone gets their start. The trouble is that now everyone thinks they have what it takes to be a hire voice actor agency, thus the market is flooded with recordings of varying quality from an overwhelming number of hopefuls. I think you grasp my meaning.

Many of these men and women are eliminated as a result of the expense of doing business, and many more give up after a few failed job applications. Which is great news for those of us who, despite facing daily rejection and other difficulties, have decided to stay in the game. The chaff left behind are the people who have gone on to better opportunities. The producer still has a lot of demo CDs and tapes stacked up.

When trying to drum up business, I’ve seen some people send the agents submissions that are so bad they’re nearly funny. The new season of American Idol is proof enough that many people give up on their dreams of making it big in the music industry. We are all guilty of it occasionally. A time ago, I realised that I had gotten “a little lazy” throughout the audition process. Once you’ve been doing something for ten years, you tend to fall into a rut and do the same things every day. My posture when submitting online auditions was analysed in detail. I was at the studio’s mixing console, facing the mic I normally use for coaching, talkback, ISDN, and booth recordings.

It turns out that the mike stand was positioned too low; I had been sitting slouched in my chair, leaning slightly to the right, and hardly raising my voice as I muttered through the auditions. Once I was satisfied with the file, I’d make a few minor changes and send it off. I realised that I wasn’t putting in as much effort as I should have been during tryouts. Until that point, I had been successful. The question is whether or not I gave my all in my work. It turned out to be a negative. There is no doubt that I am capable of much greater achievement. In the first place, I repositioned the mike such that I would have to stand up to use it. There will be no more dismissive sitting down and firing them off. It only seems sense that I would put out the same kind of work into the auditions as I do into everything else that I do. That’s a simple question to respond to… This process of auditioning is tedious and monotonous. You can put up with it only because you hope to get something in return. And it always refreshes you emotionally and mentally.

Just like putting out the garbage, auditioning is one of those things we have to do if we want to get work as actors. No one else will, so there’s no need in bothering, especially since we can ignore it for as long as we like while no one is looking. After how long does it do whatever it does? The odour starts to become unbearable. Very similarly to how auditions might feel when we’ve been doing this for a while and have a good sense of what we’re doing and simply view it as a necessary evil.

That’s really a terrible frame of mind to have. There is a rebirth potential in every audition. We may straighten our backs (or, in my case, our legs) and go after the new job lead with renewed vigour. In the past month or two, I’ve received some auditions where the talent clearly didn’t give a damn, or viewed the position as beneath them. If that’s the case, then there’s no use in applying. Why bother if you aren’t willing to give it your all? Younger talent that was trying way too hard to sound “Cool” was thrown in with some of these auditions.

It permeates every element of the sound file they forwarded. They’re forcing their voices to sound like something they’re not. All they manage to do is sound like someone other than themselves. However, the two samples sound quite similar to one another in comparison to the seasoned talent that “Phoned In” their read. If you must know, how shall I put it? Things weren’t adding up. Almost half of the entries I got (around 100) were immediately discarded due to poor audio quality. What kind of horrors would I be inviting upon myself if I had them produce the audio in their own studio if they were sending crap like that out in an attempt to secure a gig? Some of the remaining 60% or so got it exactly right. That is so spot on it’s not even funny. They received both the read and the voice, as well as the interpretation. Consequently, it was difficult to settle on a single option.

Then there was the self-deprecating Shatner type of person among them. They did something way out of their comfort zone or as an experiment, and it backfired. “Experimental” auditions are never acceptable. On sometimes, it was a minor problem that might be disregarded if no one else was available, but in this instance, there were other abilities that were more suitable. It was more blatant other times; some individuals inserted their own words into the script because they didn’t like the way it was written, and other English teachers felt compelled to reprimand us as if we were the creators of the text. At the outset of their reading, they pointed up issues with the screenplay, such as, “Oh, and by the way _____ is not the correct use of the word” or “this part of the script definitely needs work.” Totally unacceptable behaviour. Not that it makes any difference to me. What is written on the page is exactly what the customer wants to read. If you believe you can insult the screenwriters and producers without repercussions, you’re mistaken. At least we won’t be hiring you. That’s not to say we’d immediately cut off contact with everyone who called and said something like, “I have some reservations about the copy.”

At least in that case, the producer or client might hear you out. Sometimes, talents have pointed out some really good stuff, and they get thanked for it. But anyone who thinks they can sit on a pedestal of authority like Shakespeare and tell their clients and producers what is and isn’t right is in for a rude awakening. Hopefully, it’s not a widespread practise. There’s no need to explain that their presentations were also discarded into obscurity.

Ahsan Khan
Ahsan Khan
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