Auditioning For Voice Actors in the New Era - the Best Way to Ensure More Bookings

 


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If you follow trends, you can tell that the Voice Over Casting business is turning to online sources. At the very least, it is becoming the most economical way for new talent to break into the market and get heard. Many of these talents venture into the market with home made everything; demos, packaging, websites, commercial copy, studio setups and the list goes on. They send out home made CD's that they made in their home made studio, labeled with their home made labels and promoted on their home made websites. Not to frown on this, because it is the way that almost everyone gets started. Problem is now. . . EVERYBODY wants to be a voice guy or girl, which means the talent pool, or somewhat stagnant water for that matter, has gotten quite muddy with demo after demo after demo on the market from talent after talent after talent. . You get my point I guess.

A lot of these guys and girls are filtered out through the cost of doing business, and many get discouraged after a few attempts at getting hired, and they too fall by the wayside. Which is good for all of us that choose on a daily basis to remain in the game and continue to deal with the rejection and other headaches that come with the business. What it does leave behind is the chaff of those who have moved on to greener pastures. Producer’s shelves continue to be lined with demo tapes and CD's.

I've been in a lot of agencies and it is almost laughable what some people will send to agents trying to drum up business. All one has to do is watch the new season of American Idol to witness how people throw half hearted attempts at getting to the big leagues. At times all of us are guilty of it. I noticed a while back that I myself had gotten “a little lazy" in the audition process. After 10 years, you tend to develop a routine where by you do everything the same. I sat back and took a good look at how I was physically positioned when submitting online auditions. There I was at the mixing console in the studio, sitting in front of the mic I usually use for coaching, talkback, ISDN and booth recording sessions.

The mic stand as it turns out was set to low, I was slumped over in my chair, leaning to the right a little, and doing little more than muttering my way through the auditions. Then with little concern, I would do some basic editing to the file and ship it off. I had over time, ceased putting the right amount of effort into the auditions. I was still doing a good job. Question is, was I doing the best job I could. The answer was no. I could certainly do a lot better. I began by rearranging the mic so I had to stand up to use it. No more of this sitting down and firing them off like they didn't matter. I stand up for all of the other production I do, why shouldn't I put just as much effort into the auditions? That's a pretty easy one to answer. . . Auditioning is tiresome and boring. The only thing that makes it tolerable is the idea you might land something out of the deal. And your spirit sure gets renewed every time you do.

Auditioning is also one of those things we have to do in order to get any work, so after a while it becomes like taking out the trash. If we don't do it no one will - and as long as no one is watching, we can let it pile up for a while. What happens after it sits there for a while? It starts to stink. Much the same way our auditions do after we begin to see them as a chore, or something “that is beneath us" because we have been doing this long enough and we know what we are doing.

What a poor attitude to have. Each audition is a new opportunity to be reborn. We can get up, sit up straight, (or in my case stand up) and go after the new job lead with some real gusto. I have gotten some auditions into the studio in the past month or so where you can tell that the talent just didn't care, or thought the job was beneath them for some reason. So why even bother applying? If you aren't going to give it your all, why even take the time? Some of these auditions were mixed up with younger talents that were trying way too hard to sound “Cool".

You can hear it in every aspect of the audio they sent over. Straining and pushing themselves to sound like who knows what. The one thing they accomplish is sounding like anyone but themselves. But compared to the experienced talent that “Phoned In" their read, the two demos sound strikingly familiar to one another. In what way you ask? They just weren't right. Out of the 100 or so submissions I received, almost half of them hit the round file (trash) due to audio quality alone. If they were sending junk like that out in an attempt to get a gig, what nightmares would I have to deal with if I had them produce the audio in their own studio? Of the other 60% or so, some of them nailed it. Just plain old nailed it. They got the read, they got the voice, and they got the interpretation. It made it hard to decide who to pick.

Then there were the Shatners of the bunch - That is the self deprecating Shatner I speak of. They just pushed too hard, or tried to do something that was totally out of their range or experimental. Auditions should never be “Experimental". At times it was just a little issue that could be overlooked if there wasn't anyone else to choose from, but in this case there were other talents that hit the nail on the head. Other times it was glaring; some talents chose to put their own words into the script because they didn't like the way it was written, then there were the English professors who took it upon themselves to correct us as if we were the writers of the copy. I mean they actually took time at the beginning of their read to say, “Oh, and by the way _ is not the correct use of the word" or “this part of the script really needs some work. " Absolute no-nos. I don't care who you are. . The words on the page are the words the client wants to hear. You will never, ever get hired if you think you can get away with scorning the people who wrote the script. At least we wont hire you. It's not to say if someone had the tact to call on the phone and start with “I have some concerns about the copy. " they would be turned away never to hear from us again.

At least then, the producer or client may be willing to listen. Sometimes, talents have pointed out some really good stuff, and they get thanked for it. But anyone who thinks they can stand up on the mountain top like some sort of Shakespearean authority and dictate to clients and producers what is and isn't right has got another thing coming. Hopefully, it's a habit not too many people have. . Needless to say, their demos ended up in the round file too.

Then there were the ones that made you laugh.

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Michael Minetree is the owner of MineWurx Studio, a voice over training studio in Washington D. C. He has been training new voice talent for 10 years and works in the industry on a daily basis. You can find out more about him by searching for his studio on the Internet or by going to http://www.minewurx.com .

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