The audition! It is the life line of the voice over artist. But unlike on-camera or on-stage actors who audition “in person”; voice over artists audition primarily from home. Most of the time the only direction we have is a quick blurb saying something along the lines of “conversational, guy or gal next door, with a bit of a sarcastic smile.” And then it’s off to play the game! That is…the game of self directed auditions. Which is a game I absolutely love!
Back in the day voice actors used to audition in person at a casting director’s office or their agent’s office. This isn’t to say that in person auditions don’t happen any more in voice over. Make no mistake they do. And there are several talent agencies that still operate fully functional recording studios so their voice actors can come in and audition in house. In fact, a few agencies prefer their voice actors to audition in house. They want their talent to receive live direction for the audition which to be fair…does make sense. And there are many voice actors that still prefer to audition in house at their talent agent’s booth if possible because they to prefer the live direction.
When I first started my young career as a voice actor I was lucky enough to be represented by one of the top VO agencies in LA. I spent almost five years with this agency. It was an amazing experience as I would come in and audition at their booths almost every day. I got to sit in the waiting room and hear the chatter of many of the greats in the biz. I read radio partner reads with some of the most talented voice actors. I got direction from several amazing booth directors. It was a huge learning experience for sure!
Thing is, all throughout my time with that agency I always had agents in other parts of the country and did some online casting as well. So I spent a lot of time auditioning from home. Because of this, I realized at a young age that despite enjoying the process of auditioning “in house” at my agent’s booth…for me I was much happier and way more successful when I auditioned from home. So much so that eventually it was one of the reasons I decided to politely move on from that agency to test the waters in other places.
So why is it that I love auditioning on my own from home? Well for starters I actually love working alone. Maybe that sounds weird. But one of the greatest things I love about being a voice over artist is that I get to work alone most of the time. For me it’s where I’m at peace. More importantly, It’s also where I’m the most productive!
Looking deeper though…auditioning from home is a lot like a take home test. With the exception of the “asap audition” aka the “we need it now” audition…most auditions come in one day and are due the next day. Which means you can spend as much time as you want recording until you get it right! Now this doesn’t mean I spend hours on a single audition. I don’t. Today I usually do my auditions pretty quickly. Sometimes as quick as few minutes from start to finish. But that said, it’s nice to know that if a really big audition comes in and it’s not due until the next day, I can spend as much time as I want on it. More importantly when you audition at your agent’s booth…once you actually get in the booth after waiting…you’re in and out within a matter of one or two takes as the booth director has a lot of actors to audition. So the inevitable walk to your car after the in person audition is you having a conversation with yourself saying “man I should have done it another way” LOL. But when you audition at home…again you can do as many takes as you want!
An even greater aspect of the audition from home vs the audition with live direction…artistic freedom! Let’s face it being a voice over artist is a like being a puppet. When you’re being directed by someone else either during a real session or an audition…it’s your job to give them exactly what they want. That’s why they pay you the big bucks! But with a self directed audition I truly feel like it’s the one time you as the voice actor get to play around and offer up whatever you feel will help you to “win the job”. This is your chance to give them something different. Not too different of course…but something that lets you put your own personal spin on the script! Which is one of my favorite things to do. I absolutely LOVE trying to figure out how to approach a great audition script! And while the specs you get are the confines for which you can “play in” the reality is when you audition on your own it’s your audition. And you get to make the final call as to what gets submitted. You get to decide what exactly they meant when they said “think Tom Hanks, or Matt Damon”. You get to be the creative director. And that to me is an awesome thing!
I treat every audition I submit for like it’s my own personal little painting that was born from a simple spec given to me by the casting director, producer, or ad agency.A painting that, moving forward…. is really just the shell of what will hopefully be a great commercial, narration, or promo.But even if I’m not the one who gets to bring the actual spot to life, I still love the process of putting my own touch on something.It makes me feel alive as artist.And that my friends is a beautiful thing!